| Following the Ridge | 🎵"Mountain Town" - Jon and Roy🎵
Parked on the side of the road, we gazed up a steep mountain "pass" that supposedly would lead us to a trail. The trail was nowhere to be seen, buried beneath at least a few feet of snow and tucked between a thick subalpine forest maze of evergreens with arms outstretched full of more snow waiting to drop on an unsuspecting victim. Only a discreet, carved wooden sign indicated our location at a trailhead. With our trusted friend-turned-mountaineering-guide, we strapped on our snowshoes and headed up a near vertical incline, grasping for whatever ledge was within reach.
After a rapid incline beyond the treeline to the alpine zone, we found ourselves in an inhospitable, barren landscape. I looked out upon the mountain ridge and beyond, which appeared like the spine of a sleeping dragon. The narrow ridge consisted mostly of broken stone and hoarfrost, with most of the snow blown over the steep avalanche-prone slopes. Any remaining trees were krummholz or like flagpoles - stunted, slanted, and bare on the windward side due to the unrelenting high winds.
Despite the bitter cold wind, we were fortunate to have beautiful clear blue skies for most of the trip to our campsite. By the time we could see our predetermined campsite, it was still nearly an hour climb away. Seeing our goal within reach, but still so far away, is one of the cruelest illusions of the mountains.