We turned the corner of a long, narrow, steeply winding road and the big parking lot was in front of us. I had looked at the maps and literature and decided that I could do this trail to get a close-up view of Angel Glacier on Mt. Edith Covell. It wasn’t a long hike and on the map it was really flat. I was pumped and ready – with my new hiking poles and just the right amount of clothing. Jim had his walking stick he bought on New Foundland on the East Coast of Canada several years ago.
There were lots of young people getting ready – some in tank tops and shorts, some packing their backpacks with bags of potato chips. Jim parked in the first of two lots – furthest from the trail head and I’m wondering why he didn’t park in one of those empty spots much closer. Yup, this 75 year old was ready for this hike, fueled by the increase in exercising I had accomplished before we left on this trip two weeks prior to this hike. My fibromyalgia was under control (mostly) and my joints were good to go.
The trail was wide and easy to walk but quickly got steep. Even the young people were stopping to catch their breath and eat some snacks. I realized that the air was thin as a result of driving up and up and up to get here. I do what I always do when I can’t walk any further – I stop for a photo or ten.
Jim walked ahead and periodically he stopped to wait for me. I have never been a fast walker because of the structure of my feet and ankles. Today reminded me of a lifetime of walking with people who would stop to wait for me to catch up, me thinking just a few more painful steps and then I can stop with them, and as soon as I catch up they start off again all rested. But I am determined to go at my pace and to make it to the end.
A bridge crossing a stream gives me a perfect opportunity to rest my aching lungs and catch my breath while I take some more photos. There are places where the trail levels out to a slight incline but mostly the trail in some degree of steep.
As I climb higher I realize that I am on a edge of a mountain with steep, rocky slopes on both sides where pines are struggling to grow. I am walking on the right so hikers on coming down can pass on the customary side, but my height anxiety is kicking in so I move to the inside.
As we get higher there are benches along the trail and I take advantage of them. A woman about my age stops to chat and says that I should just take it nice and slow – that a can make it. I meet a woman along the way who had heart surgery 6 weeks prior and was walking a few steps and stopping, walking a few steps and stopping. She said she was going to make it. Jim is concerned and asks if I want to go back but I am determined. This seems worth the pain and effort. People start telling us the end is just up there where the people are standing. I know I can make that – and I do.
It is the end of August and the glacier is showing its rotting process. It isn’t the pristine white that I always expect glaciers to be but seeing it through my lens reminds me of the work a glacier does – carving stones and moving dirt and boulders across the landscape. How exciting to see the underbelly of a glacier.
They post warnings not to go down to the lake because large pieces of ice have been breaking off causing flash floods that can be life threatening.
There were several people who didn’t believe them.
The sun was moving behind Mt. Covell and without the sun it was getting cold so we started down. To my surprise going down was almost as hard as walking up. I was happy to have my walking sticks to slow my descent.
I continued to stop for photographs and Jim got way ahead, but occasionally he would turn to make sure I was okay and I would get a huge grin and wave at him. It was fun to see where I had climbed from another perspective.
No, this wasn’t a part of my climb, this is the trail to the alpine meadow and is considerably longer and harder. I didn’t see many people attempting it and I knew it was one for someone who is much younger and fit than I am.
So long, Edith Covell. I am so happy I persevered to be able to see you up close.
This mountain was named after Edith Covell who was an English nurse who treated soldiers in Belgium. She became involved in a resistance movement after Belgium came occupied by the Germans and helped English and French soldiers escape to the Netherlands, neutral territory. She was arrested and executed even though the German army didn’t charge her with espionage. She is considered a British hero. (https://www.britannica.com/biography/Edith-Cavell)
This seems like a perfect post in response to the Word of the Day Challenge – View.