It was epic.
|awww heck yeah!|
Day 1 (in blue), Friday June 14th: Loj to Marcy Dam, Avalanche Pass, Avalanche Lake & the Hitch-up Matildas, Lake Colden, and up the Opalescent River to a tent site near Feldspar Lean-To.
**a sandwich with about 3/4'' of meat and cheese at Avalanche Pass;
**cussing my head off trying to navigate around Avalanche Lake with a pack loaded with champagne and a wedding dress;
**the lovely hike up the Opalescent River, very pretty.
Conditions were pretty good along these sections of trail; everything was about as muddy as I expected (and not nearly as bad as later in the trip). A thunderstorm rolled through in the early evening, but otherwise the weather was decent. Didn't experience too many blackflies, either. The hiking was more tiring than I was expecting; not only were we carrying four days worth of food, we were carrying nicer (i.e. heavier) food, plus some champagne, plus all of our wedding clothes and stuffs, etc.
|looking back at Avalanche Lake|
**Holy guacamole, we got married!!
The quick story... we had been watching the weather obsessively since late May, and it looked like 6/15 would be clear and cold. That'll do!
We got up early and left camp by 7:00. I did my hair at Lake Tear of the Clouds, source of the Hudson River. This is about the point that the butterflies started in my stomach.
The hike from Feldspar Leanto to Marcy is straight forward. I half regret not trying for the summit at dawn, but then again, I like sleeping and wanted to be mentally sound for such an important day. I washed my boots at the timberline so they wouldn't wipe mud all over my dress, and then we finished the hike to the summit. Putting on makeup 10 miles from the nearest road is a surreal experience.
And then it was time to get married.
So how did this all work? We were legally married in the State of New York in early May, so we did not need an officiant for our ceremony. In our experience, involving God or the government in a promise between two human beings does not seem to improve the odds of success. Instead, we had a self-uniting ceremony (legal in Colorado and Pennsylvania!), reading our vows to each other and exchanging rings.
It was one of the most important, emotionally charged, memorable, and special memories of my life. :-)
The weather at the summit was great - clear, cold, and windy, but not so bad that I couldn't take off my coat for a few photos! We stayed on the summit, just enjoying the views and relaxing, for about two hours. We both ended up with sunburn on our noses.
Finally, it was time to drag ourselves away from the summit. We put on our awesome "Just Married!" shirts and hiked back down to Four Corners.
The hike up Skylight was straightforward, and we lingered on the summit, talking to some other hikers. The hike up Grey was also straightforward, though a bit messier, and with fewer views, so we didn't linger quite as long. We returned to camp in the late afternoon, having taken something like 9 hours to cover the 6 mile day.
We greeted a DEC ranger, who would be the last person we would see for the next 36 hours. That was one of my favorite parts of the trip - time totally alone with my new husband, getting used to the feeling of being married.
Good thing we like each other, because our weather window got smashed with a baseball bat on Sunday.
Day 3 (in yellow): Redfield and Cliff Mountains
**We didn't get hypothermia or zapped by lightening. Count yer blessings.
**The trail on Redfield was more fun and more interesting than I was expecting for a "trailless" peak.
**Laying in the tent with my new husband, playing the letter game to pass the time while it rained.
**Running around, collecting our stuff in the rain, and sprinting to the lean-to to set up a dry camp - hilarious!
Conditions on Cliff were pretty bad - extremely muddy. There were a few times that I was thankful for my climbing skills, as it was more secure to throw in a hand jam than attempting to palm a wet sloper. We did our best to climb carefully, not to pull on vegetation, not to slip all over the place, in a lame attempt to minimize erosion, but I don't know if there's much that can be done when the trails look like ^that^ (other than come back another day, but I don't know if this mountain is ever not a huge pile of muddy cliffs).
By the time we reached the top, it was raining. I was not psyched for the descent.
Back at camp, we stripped off our wet clothes and hopped in the tent to dry. 2:00 p.m. Lots of time until dinner and bedtime. Good thing we like each other.
As soon as our tent started doing this:
I knew it was time to make a break for it. We grabbed all of our stuff and moved over to the now vacant Feldspar Lean-To. Finally, some room to spread out, hang up our soaking wet gear, and cook dinner in a dry space!
The rest of the hike wasn't too bad, though my pack was so heavy that I was really struggling. We stopped at Indian Falls for a very quick photo (hmm, look at those clouds over Algonquin), then quickly ran up Tabletop Mountain. Dave commented that we made it up there quickly, and I said "Sure we did - I get to eat a Clif Bar at the top!" Yeah, food was running a bit low at that point. Made it to Marcy Dam just as the heavens opened and a thunderstorm rolled through. Luckily for us, it was a convenient lunch stop, so we ate some food and waited out the rain.
The walk from Marcy Dam to the Loj was pretty special. We entered the woods as individuals and emerged a new little family unit. With the mud, the rain, the blackflies, and the heavy packs, we had no need to smash a glass in the Jewish tradition at our ceremony - we had already experienced our trials and emerged stronger as a result.
|checking out of the trail register... mr. and mrs.|
May there be many miles of happy trails in our future. :-)
P.S. More photos here.
P.P.S. We made an awesome album using Shutterfly - check it out!