We started out on the hike around 6am and got going at 7am. The trail was flatish and in the woods. For about 3.5 miles, it was a walk in the park. Then we came out of the woods to look directly up to the boulder field and the peak. It looked close but in reality, it was hours away. The group started up with me at the tail end and started to trudge straight up. If you guess that I didn't make it...you would be right. I got to a part where I was climbing on the rocks and Jim was waiting for me...but yelling directions...and I told him off. "Just go and leave me alone" I yelled up the mountain. To my surprise...
he left. He headed up the mountain and when I got through the rocks that move, he was gone. I kept going and then my head got to me. "You never leave anyone alone" I thought..."What kind of mountaineer is he anyway?" Finally, I sat on a rock and cried. It started to snow and he had taken my water and my sweatshirt. After about two hours of trying to make it to the ridge, I gave up and started hiking down. In the distance, higher than me, I heard him calling my name. He ran down and reached me...he handed me water, gave me my sweatshirt. I took a drink, put the sweatshirt on and let him have it. "You never leave someone on a mountain alone" I said..."I can NEVER TRUST YOU AGAIN" and started walking. Let's just say, he was madder than he had been in awhile. I am sure he wanted to kill me but realized that he didn't want to raise the 3 teenagers alone. We got down the mountain and hiked/walked in silence. Finally, he started to talk. "I'm sorry, honey, but you said leave and I just decided to." I answered..."I always tell you to leave me and I really don't mean it and I didn't make it to the top and I am so dissappointed." He reminded me that it is was a hard mountain and we underestimated the whole thing. "Yeah, but I am the only one who didn't make it" and then I burst into tears and said,"YOU LEFT ME!"
After awhile, he told me that my kids had decided to try to bag another peak. They and another couple of teenagers had gone on the hike Harvard Peak. Not an easy one and longer than they had planned. "They should be back at the car around the time that we get back" he said. Needless to say, they were not and we got back around 5:30. When we got to the car and the kids were nowhere in sight, Jim headed back up the trail looking for them. At 7:10, my sons showed up at the car exhausted and with a message..."The Queen and the other hikers are okay but it's going to be awhile." Well, it was getting dark and I was getting anxious...not to mention that my youngest son was puking his brains out in the parking lot. Finally, a friend decided to hike in with his flash light. After about an hour, he came out without seeing them or Jim or the other father that had gone in to find them. At this point, darkness had come over the mountains and all I could think of was my daughter and those kids out on that peak. My older son and friend decided to hike in one more time before we called the Search and Rescue. My youngest was trying to calm me down..."Mom, it's not helpful to panic" and I wanted to smack him. I was in a panic and that was that. I finally decided that we would have to call for help and we picked 9:45 pm to call the sheriff. We sat and sat and looked for head lamps and didn't see any. Then, through the darkness, we noticed light in the darkness. Light in the darkness...on a church campout...how appropriate! Running toward the car was my oldest "we found them"..."Who"..."All of them with Dad too!" I looked at the clock in the car and it said 9:43!
The story on the peak went like this...the kids were in the saddle and realized that they were screwed. It was too long to hike back up to Columbia but Harvard was far away. My daughter, the oldest, decided they just needed to keep going to Harvard and then find the trail. They peaked at 5:30. They were tired, almost out of water and needed to get down...so they did. It wasn't easy and they battled alot of fatigue. When it was getting dark, the Queen heard a voice calling her name. It was off in the distance but she recognized that it was her father. He was in the woods, no water, no flash light looking for those kids. When she got to him, she ran into his arms and apologized and then sobbed. He comforted her and they headed down. It took more than 2 hours to get off of that mountain and into the car. We estimated that the kids hiked about 20 miles that day. Jim hiked about 15.
We slowly drove away...all the hikers and the kids in the car. Jim didn't say much but was chugging soda because he was so thirsty. My youngest had stopped puking and the complaints were about how hungry they were and what they were going to eat when we got back to the campsite. I grabbed Jim's hand and drove home.
When we arrived at camp, the group who didn't hike came to the car and started offering hugs, tears and food. I had a margarita in my hand before I could ask for anything. The mood of thankfulness and relief was in the night air. Turns out...the folks back at camp had called the sheriff and Search and rescue already because they were worried for the worst.
It's funny how things turn out. I was so mad...so mad at my husband. I am sure now that he was so mad at me too. After about 8pm that night, none of that mattered. What mattered was getting those kids off the mountain and safe with us. The rest was just a power play that I tend to use more than I should. I guess the man is a keeper. Why is it that I need these times of crisis to realize that?
Hope your labor day was good and safe and restful and that you held those loved ones real close...
We'll tawk soon,
I love you all,