Thursday, July 12, 2012

Straight to the Top


Written June 30, 2012 while in Alaska.
Thursday evening, June 28, 2012, I climbed to the Flattop Mountain peak with David, a friend of mine, who was up with his church's mission team.
We had made plans the day before to climb on Thursday evening if the weather held out.  Everything in Alaska is dependent upon the weather.  Armed with water, trail mix, and a sense of adventure, we set out on our journey that would take us straight to the top.  Neither of us had been to the peak before, although we both have wanted to climb it for quite awhile.  Thursday was the day!
Flattop is a mountain that holds many memories for me.
It was good to make a new memory on its slope.
Refreshing, invigorating, encouraging.
After passing the Blueberry Hill area, which is a path that loops around the lower part of Flattop, we first encountered snow that we had to walk through in order to get to where we wanted to be.  I can only imagine how deep the snow must have been because it was still at least two feet deep in parts on the lower level.  We had a great view of Anchorage below us at Blueberry Hill still on our way up, but soon afterward the clouds enveloped us and we could only see a few yards in front of us for the remainder of the climb.  There were times, it was only a few feet in front of us.
I really believe that God sent that cloud.  Without that cloud hiding the height of our climb, the depth of the valley below, and the danger lurking just feet away over the cliffs, it is highly unlikely that I would have made it to the peak.  I have a fear of falling.  Little by little I am kind of...sort of...overcoming this fear...but not really.  Not just on mountains, but even when in skates or climbing ladders, that falling sensation gets the best of me and my legs refuse to work as they should.
I am thankful for that cloud that wrapped itself around me and kept me from seeing the sights along the way.
Along the trail, there have been steps put in place.  Several sets of steps.  (Note to self:  Self, you need to add the stairclimber to your Y workout in addition to the treadclimber.)  Having been to the top, now, let me just say that the steps up were the toughest part physically.  It was a mind game...sheer willpower that kept me going up those steps.  I knew that they ended even though I couldn't see when at the moment.  I was too close to the top to quit on those steps...and I wasn't even that close yet, but still...and, it helped that David didn't like the steps any more than I did.
Upward, beyond the steps, were the rocks.  We were advised to look for the orange dots and follow that trail through the rocks.  It took us a long time on the rocks to even find an orange dot.  When we did, it took us a few minutes to get over to them from where we were.  We thought we were following them rather well until we arrived at a point where the climb was straight up in front of us.  Not a sheer rock wall, but the climb on the rocks resembled that of a ladder...hand and foot straight up, using the rocks like the rungs on a ladder.  At seeing this climb, I hesitated.  I looked at David and said I didn't know anymore if I could make it.  He and I talked about it.  And, encouragingly, he told me that there had been a spot before that he didn't think he and I would make it, but we did.  This climb led to the peak.  There was no upward climbing after this...just the Flattop Mountain peak (which really is flat, by the way).
At the peak!
David led the way and I took his advice on good hand/footholds.  His boot on a rock was what I saw when looking in front of me...it was that kind of straight up.  As we were advancing we see someone to the right of us...we both laugh as we see two people apparently on the "easy" path, probably where the final few orange dots were...pretty much making the final steps up the mountain with relative ease.  We made note of it for our descending path of choice.
Once at the top, the clouds still encasing the mountain, we enjoyed some of our trailmix and chatted about our trip up and the fun fact that we both had cell phone service at the peak better than a lot of other places in town or at home.
We made our trip down at a good speed, not having much of a problem with loose rocks or tough spots.  And, going down the mountain, the dreaded steps became a very welcome tool for an easy descent.
Roundtrip was 3 hours.  It did not seem like 3 hours on the mountain, but having skipped dinner for an early start up the mountain, we were both ready to eat once at the car.
view at the top

Thanks, David, for being there every step of the way as my friend!
Thanks, God, for the cloud that held me on the mountain...I couldn't have kept on climbing without it!  A bonus on the way down was seeing a critter and discovering bear tracks in the snow...mama and cub prints.

Starting down...this is the snow at the top of the
snowy slope in the pic above

an infamous orange dot


on the right trail down :)



mama bear

baby bear(s)

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