Sunday, June 08, 2008

Snow Creek Stories


(many of my short stories use mountains and climbing as metaphors for life)

The Rules of Mountaineering: A Climb Up Snow Creek


At some point in my life I began climbing mountains. I don’t recall the origin of this inclination. When I was a child, my family had a vacation home at Lake Arrowhead, in the San Bernardino Mountains in Southern California. Yet we were the type of family that strolled on light trails in the mountains only when the comforts of enjoying hot chocolate by the hearth of a large roaring fire beckoned in the evening. Nor do I have any recollection of camping with my parents, or even that they owned a tent. My only experience as a child with camping came when I was 11 years old. My aunt and uncle took my brother and me to Mt. Whitney in the Eastern Sierras, where we hiked to the first lake. Perhaps that trip provided the impetus later in my life to head off to the Sierras whenever possible for the beauty and solitude.

Mountaineering differs from hiking. The term mountaineering describes a wide variety of activities related to climbing mountains. At one end of the spectrum, mountaineering can include peak bagging, where little or no technical skills or equipment are needed to reach the summit of a mountain. The other end of the spectrum includes full-blown expeditions to the highest peaks and the worst weather conditions on Earth. Some hikers consider themselves to be mountaineers. They are not. And in truth, I am at best a low level mountaineer.

A mythical, all-inclusive set of mountaineering rules does not exist. However, over the years, I have discovered that each individual mountaineer tends to develop his or her own set of rules. Some are philosophical, frequently with a humorous bent, such as: climb with passion; it’s always taller than it looks; talk is cheap; no guts, no glory; expect dead ends. Some rules speak to ethical behavior as a mountaineer: pack out more than you pack in; don’t leave anyone behind; render assistance to anyone who needs it regardless of the risk. And some rules pertain to the practical aspects a mountaineer should focus on: if you are caught in a storm while in your tent, wait it out; don’t take unnecessary risks; use the correct gear for the situation; buy the best gear you can afford; and my three favorite rules:
1. Check your gear
2. Double check your gear
3. Triple check your gear.

A climber experiences increasing difficulty as the elevation increases. With each step breathing becomes more labored, and the heart races uncontrollably due to the decreasing amount of oxygen available. Headaches, nausea, and dizziness sometimes occur. To me the view from the top is always worth the effort. However, each mountaineer has his or her own reason for climbing to the summit. The most famous reason came from George Leigh Mallory in 1923. When asked why he wanted to climb Mt. Everest, Mallory retorted, “Because it’s there!” Non-mountain climbers do not realize that reaching the peak is only half the trip. Once at the top, a climber can briefly enjoy the view, but then must descend. Depending on the peak, getting down from the top can be as difficult, if not more so, than the climb up.


This particular story of mountaineering takes place in April of 1998. The year before I had trekked through the foothills of the Annapurna range in the Himalayas in Nepal. From the lower levels I gazed up at the massive, snowcapped peaks mystically floating above the cloud line. I was determined to return and visit the Everest region, perhaps to hike all the way to Kalapattar, a site just slightly to the northwest of Everest Base Camp, which has a view of the Mt. Everest peak itself. When I returned to San Diego, I became friendly with a group of climbers, four of whom, WRL, David, Mark, and Andreas, were planning a trip to Nepal to climb Ama Dablam, a 23,000 foot peak just south of Mount Everest and renowned for the technical ice climbing required to summit the peak.

The entire group of friends had planned a hike up Snow Creek for training, and Werner invited me to join them. Snow Creek is a 10,000’ rise on the north face of Mt. San Jacinto, which is famous for the little tourist town of Idyllwild on one side, and the tram from Palm Springs on the other. Mt. San Jacinto stands at 10,500’, far less than the 14,000’ peaks I had climbed in the Sierras. I had been to the summit of Mt. San Jacinto many times using the Devil’s Slide trail from Idyllwild. Werner described Snow Creek as “a day hike,” but also as an “ass kicker.” I was unfazed. I used Mt. San Jacinto for training hikes in preparation for high altitude work in the Sierras as well. The mountain was like an outdoor playground to me.

“I’m in,” I told Werner.

“Good, be at my house by 11:30 pm. We leave at midnight exactly, and we will be on the trail by 3:00 a.m. Don’t be late. And if you don’t have a headlamp, bring a flashlight,” he said.

I was lacking crampons and an ice ax, so Werner took me to Bill's house to borrow some equipment. Bill is a long time mountaineer, and Werner’s ex- father in-law. He was 76 when I first met him, and his wife, Ginny, was 77. Although Bill and Ginny settled in San Diego after Bill’s duty in the Navy during WWII, he still characterized himself as an old Georgia farm boy. His grandfather’s farm implements, authentic antebellum hand tools, hung on the wall by the kitchen. Age had not dulled the sharpness of mind for either Bill or Ginny, but something had affected Bill’s ability to verbalize his thoughts. Occasionally the flow of words stopped. His thoughts were there and his frustration grew as he struggled to speak.

Bill took to me instantly, and started in with his ol’ Georgia, southern gentleman routine. . His long worn away accent began to creep into his speech as we spoke.

However some tension arose when Werner indicated the equipment was for me, and we would be climbing Snow Creek. Bill’s face clearly expressed deep concern, but the words did not flow easily from his mouth.

“You can’t …not…take her…. up……. Snow Creek!” Bill exclaimed.

Werner did not respond. In retrospect, this was the first installment of a lesson I learned about Werner, although I did not realize it at the time. His strength and athletic skills were far superior to anyone else. If something was an ass-kicker to him, it could put the average person in the hospital. On the way out, Werner told me that Bill’s memory wasn’t the same since a climbing accident he had several years prior.

On the day of the climb, we left San Diego precisely at midnight. Once we arrived at the tiny community of Snow Creek, we unloaded the cars, settled our packs with the gear and supplies, and began hiking by 3:00 a.m. Werner was in the lead. I had been sure about my abilities, but only 15 to 20 minutes into the hike, I knew I was out of my league. The pace was fast. I had only a flashlight, which was inadequate to the situation. I wore only low-topped approach shoes with no support, and I stumbled easily, twisting my ankles frequently. The others had headlamps flooding the way before them with fluorescent light. The first leg of the climb was not technically difficult, but I was unaccustomed to hiking in the dark. I fell behind quickly, and I found my way only by following the flickering headlamps in the distance like a line of fireflies.

We stopped for a rest around 5:30 a.m. The darkness hid the shadowy outline of the mountain, preventing me from orienting myself. Werner sat beside me and offered me some of his orange juice.

“When we get to about 5500 feet, we’ll stop for another break. We’ll be at the lower edge of the couloir and the snow. We’ll put on our boots and crampons. Then I will show you several techniques for climbing, especially how to stop yourself with your ice ax if you fall. We stick together to prevent falls. But once you fall, the only one who can save you is you,” Werner said.

We started up the trail again, and the incline changed significantly, becoming much steeper. The pale light of dawn arrived adding to the sureness of my steps. We were in an extremely narrow chasm with huge granite walls that blocked any view of the mountain peak above and the desert floor below. We gained elevation swiftly, and the trail included some bouldering. Again, I was the caboose, and I fell so far behind I could not see or hear the group.

A staggering wall of huge boulders stretching across the entire chasm stopped me dead in my tracks. Obviously, there was no other way to go. I struggled for several minutes to find an initial hand hold, and then shimmied my way up the cracks between the boulders. Several times I resorted to the very ungraceful, and frowned upon, technique of using my knees.

I could hear voices laughing and talking as I pulled myself over the lip of the last boulder. As I did, the laughing turned to cheering. We were finally at the edge of the snow tongue and the beginning of the real climb.

I sat down facing north, away from the mountain, to catch my breath. I pulled out a Powerbar and water from my pack for breakfast, although the exertion had diminished my appetite. I turned around for a first look at the climb ahead, and the sight took my breath away. The mountain rose 5000’ from our site at what seemed to be a nearly vertical rise. Later I learned the angle was only 35 degrees at most, however it did not matter. This was more than I had anticipated. For the first time, I realized that hardcore mountaineers do not look for the quickest way, or the simplest way, or the prettiest and most pleasant way to the summit of a peak. They deliberately choose the most difficult route up a mountain and then make a race of it.

Once I was outfitted with boots, crampons, and the ice ax, Werner gave me brief instructions in front pointing and the French technique of standing flatfooted to climb. He demonstrated the correct grasp of the ice ax for the self-arrest position, with the thumb under the adze, and the palm and fingers over the pick near the shaft. Self-arrest is the most effective recovery measure from an uncontrollable fall, and the most desirable position for self-arrest is head uphill, face down. Once in that position a climber centers his body weight over the ax, and hopefully the ax catches the ice and stops the fall.

We began the climb up the couloir. Very quickly the group fell into rhythm. Steve took the lead, cutting switchbacks in the snow, and the other climbers followed his footsteps. I was no longer last in line, since Werner was directly behind me bringing up the rear. However, the group ahead climbed at a much greater speed than I did, and as such both Werner and I fell behind. As we gained elevation, my heart was racing and my breathing was shallow and fast. I stopped every fourth or fifth switchback to catch my breath.

“ What are you, my private Sherpa? Why don’t you go on ahead? I’m just holding you back. I can follow the tracks myself,” I said to Werner.
“No. This is good,” he said.

The group stopped for lunch at about 7500 feet. Werner, David, and I sat together on a rock. I had a cheese sandwich but I could not tolerate the thought of even a bite, or even a sip of water. Waves of nausea from the physical exertion rolled over me, and I struggled to overcome the feeling. David noticed I was not eating, and he gently insisted that I try.

Werner’s attention was focused on his brother-in-law, John, as he crossed the couloir and inspected a large bush on the other side. John looked morose as he kicked around in the ice as if he were searching for something buried.

Werner finally turned away to eat his lunch.

This is the first trip up Snow Creek for any of us since Bill’s accident. John and Bill were climbing this alone 5 years ago. Bill was behind John when he slipped and fell almost 1000’ down the ice before he stopped. He was badly injured and unconscious, and that’s the bush John secured him to while he went down the mountain for help. They sent in a Huey from the Marine base to pick him up off the mountain. He almost died,” Werner explained.
(the reader can click the link above for John's account of Bill's fall down Snow Creek)

“This is where Bill had his climbing accident? And he was climbing this at 71 years old?” I asked.

“Yes, he’s strong, and he’s climbed this mountain more than any of us combined, but I should have gone along,” Werner answered.

“Am I wearing the gear he was using?” I asked. There was no reply.

After resting about 30 minutes, we began climbing again. The summit was less than 3000’ feet above us. I have never struggled so hard with any climb, even those at higher altitudes. I stopped at every turn in the switchbacks to breathe; my heart raced at the speed of light, and with each beat it came up through my throat. My head pounded with a throbbing pain that seemed to split me in two. My vision became blurred, and every muscle screamed in pain. I could feel the skin on my right heel rubbing off from the friction of the boot. I thought about turning around, but one look down the mountain convinced me that going up was the only option.

Again I suggested to Werner that he go ahead of me. Again, he said no.

I barely reached the saddle of the chute we were in. The rest of the group turned right to finish hiking to the top but I could not join them. As I waited for them to come back, I looked up at the peak, and felt the deadening sense of defeat grip me. How could this mountain, this playground, conquer me? The answer from the mountain came to me like a soft whisper in my mind. “You underestimated me. You did not know this side of me existed,” the mountain told me.

The group came down from the peak, and we started off for the second half of the climb, the descent. However we did not climb down Snow Creek. We continued over the saddle to the other side of the mountain, hiked across Round Valley several miles to the lodge, and caught the tram down to Palm Springs. With the danger of slipping down the ice on Snow Creek gone, Werner took off at his own speed again. I was hiking alone, although I knew my way. I was beyond exhaustion, and several times I fell forward onto my knees, retching with dry heaves. I reached the lodge at 4:00 p.m., fully 13 hours of climbing. Once there, I removed my boots, and my right sock was soaked with blood.

It was four and a half years before I returned to Mt. San Jacinto. My best friend and I hiked up one day using the Devil's Slide trail over Labor Day weekend, and we each tried to outdo the other with the gourmet picnics we brought along. There at the top, I went to the north edge of the summit and looked down Snow Creek. I thought of the long list of mountaineering rules I have heard, and none of them would have helped me reach the summit via Snow Creek. But that day the mountain taught me there is only one true rule of mountaineering. All other so called rules are merely extensions of it. Know and respect the mountain.

4 comments:

Black Cat said...

What an amazing post! I could no more climb a mountain than fly to the moon but I admire those who do. You learnt a powerful lesson that day I feel. Nature has ways of teaching us I think:) xxx

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Sunday, June 08, 2008

Snow Creek Stories


(many of my short stories use mountains and climbing as metaphors for life)

The Rules of Mountaineering: A Climb Up Snow Creek


At some point in my life I began climbing mountains. I don’t recall the origin of this inclination. When I was a child, my family had a vacation home at Lake Arrowhead, in the San Bernardino Mountains in Southern California. Yet we were the type of family that strolled on light trails in the mountains only when the comforts of enjoying hot chocolate by the hearth of a large roaring fire beckoned in the evening. Nor do I have any recollection of camping with my parents, or even that they owned a tent. My only experience as a child with camping came when I was 11 years old. My aunt and uncle took my brother and me to Mt. Whitney in the Eastern Sierras, where we hiked to the first lake. Perhaps that trip provided the impetus later in my life to head off to the Sierras whenever possible for the beauty and solitude.

Mountaineering differs from hiking. The term mountaineering describes a wide variety of activities related to climbing mountains. At one end of the spectrum, mountaineering can include peak bagging, where little or no technical skills or equipment are needed to reach the summit of a mountain. The other end of the spectrum includes full-blown expeditions to the highest peaks and the worst weather conditions on Earth. Some hikers consider themselves to be mountaineers. They are not. And in truth, I am at best a low level mountaineer.

A mythical, all-inclusive set of mountaineering rules does not exist. However, over the years, I have discovered that each individual mountaineer tends to develop his or her own set of rules. Some are philosophical, frequently with a humorous bent, such as: climb with passion; it’s always taller than it looks; talk is cheap; no guts, no glory; expect dead ends. Some rules speak to ethical behavior as a mountaineer: pack out more than you pack in; don’t leave anyone behind; render assistance to anyone who needs it regardless of the risk. And some rules pertain to the practical aspects a mountaineer should focus on: if you are caught in a storm while in your tent, wait it out; don’t take unnecessary risks; use the correct gear for the situation; buy the best gear you can afford; and my three favorite rules:
1. Check your gear
2. Double check your gear
3. Triple check your gear.

A climber experiences increasing difficulty as the elevation increases. With each step breathing becomes more labored, and the heart races uncontrollably due to the decreasing amount of oxygen available. Headaches, nausea, and dizziness sometimes occur. To me the view from the top is always worth the effort. However, each mountaineer has his or her own reason for climbing to the summit. The most famous reason came from George Leigh Mallory in 1923. When asked why he wanted to climb Mt. Everest, Mallory retorted, “Because it’s there!” Non-mountain climbers do not realize that reaching the peak is only half the trip. Once at the top, a climber can briefly enjoy the view, but then must descend. Depending on the peak, getting down from the top can be as difficult, if not more so, than the climb up.


This particular story of mountaineering takes place in April of 1998. The year before I had trekked through the foothills of the Annapurna range in the Himalayas in Nepal. From the lower levels I gazed up at the massive, snowcapped peaks mystically floating above the cloud line. I was determined to return and visit the Everest region, perhaps to hike all the way to Kalapattar, a site just slightly to the northwest of Everest Base Camp, which has a view of the Mt. Everest peak itself. When I returned to San Diego, I became friendly with a group of climbers, four of whom, WRL, David, Mark, and Andreas, were planning a trip to Nepal to climb Ama Dablam, a 23,000 foot peak just south of Mount Everest and renowned for the technical ice climbing required to summit the peak.

The entire group of friends had planned a hike up Snow Creek for training, and Werner invited me to join them. Snow Creek is a 10,000’ rise on the north face of Mt. San Jacinto, which is famous for the little tourist town of Idyllwild on one side, and the tram from Palm Springs on the other. Mt. San Jacinto stands at 10,500’, far less than the 14,000’ peaks I had climbed in the Sierras. I had been to the summit of Mt. San Jacinto many times using the Devil’s Slide trail from Idyllwild. Werner described Snow Creek as “a day hike,” but also as an “ass kicker.” I was unfazed. I used Mt. San Jacinto for training hikes in preparation for high altitude work in the Sierras as well. The mountain was like an outdoor playground to me.

“I’m in,” I told Werner.

“Good, be at my house by 11:30 pm. We leave at midnight exactly, and we will be on the trail by 3:00 a.m. Don’t be late. And if you don’t have a headlamp, bring a flashlight,” he said.

I was lacking crampons and an ice ax, so Werner took me to Bill's house to borrow some equipment. Bill is a long time mountaineer, and Werner’s ex- father in-law. He was 76 when I first met him, and his wife, Ginny, was 77. Although Bill and Ginny settled in San Diego after Bill’s duty in the Navy during WWII, he still characterized himself as an old Georgia farm boy. His grandfather’s farm implements, authentic antebellum hand tools, hung on the wall by the kitchen. Age had not dulled the sharpness of mind for either Bill or Ginny, but something had affected Bill’s ability to verbalize his thoughts. Occasionally the flow of words stopped. His thoughts were there and his frustration grew as he struggled to speak.

Bill took to me instantly, and started in with his ol’ Georgia, southern gentleman routine. . His long worn away accent began to creep into his speech as we spoke.

However some tension arose when Werner indicated the equipment was for me, and we would be climbing Snow Creek. Bill’s face clearly expressed deep concern, but the words did not flow easily from his mouth.

“You can’t …not…take her…. up……. Snow Creek!” Bill exclaimed.

Werner did not respond. In retrospect, this was the first installment of a lesson I learned about Werner, although I did not realize it at the time. His strength and athletic skills were far superior to anyone else. If something was an ass-kicker to him, it could put the average person in the hospital. On the way out, Werner told me that Bill’s memory wasn’t the same since a climbing accident he had several years prior.

On the day of the climb, we left San Diego precisely at midnight. Once we arrived at the tiny community of Snow Creek, we unloaded the cars, settled our packs with the gear and supplies, and began hiking by 3:00 a.m. Werner was in the lead. I had been sure about my abilities, but only 15 to 20 minutes into the hike, I knew I was out of my league. The pace was fast. I had only a flashlight, which was inadequate to the situation. I wore only low-topped approach shoes with no support, and I stumbled easily, twisting my ankles frequently. The others had headlamps flooding the way before them with fluorescent light. The first leg of the climb was not technically difficult, but I was unaccustomed to hiking in the dark. I fell behind quickly, and I found my way only by following the flickering headlamps in the distance like a line of fireflies.

We stopped for a rest around 5:30 a.m. The darkness hid the shadowy outline of the mountain, preventing me from orienting myself. Werner sat beside me and offered me some of his orange juice.

“When we get to about 5500 feet, we’ll stop for another break. We’ll be at the lower edge of the couloir and the snow. We’ll put on our boots and crampons. Then I will show you several techniques for climbing, especially how to stop yourself with your ice ax if you fall. We stick together to prevent falls. But once you fall, the only one who can save you is you,” Werner said.

We started up the trail again, and the incline changed significantly, becoming much steeper. The pale light of dawn arrived adding to the sureness of my steps. We were in an extremely narrow chasm with huge granite walls that blocked any view of the mountain peak above and the desert floor below. We gained elevation swiftly, and the trail included some bouldering. Again, I was the caboose, and I fell so far behind I could not see or hear the group.

A staggering wall of huge boulders stretching across the entire chasm stopped me dead in my tracks. Obviously, there was no other way to go. I struggled for several minutes to find an initial hand hold, and then shimmied my way up the cracks between the boulders. Several times I resorted to the very ungraceful, and frowned upon, technique of using my knees.

I could hear voices laughing and talking as I pulled myself over the lip of the last boulder. As I did, the laughing turned to cheering. We were finally at the edge of the snow tongue and the beginning of the real climb.

I sat down facing north, away from the mountain, to catch my breath. I pulled out a Powerbar and water from my pack for breakfast, although the exertion had diminished my appetite. I turned around for a first look at the climb ahead, and the sight took my breath away. The mountain rose 5000’ from our site at what seemed to be a nearly vertical rise. Later I learned the angle was only 35 degrees at most, however it did not matter. This was more than I had anticipated. For the first time, I realized that hardcore mountaineers do not look for the quickest way, or the simplest way, or the prettiest and most pleasant way to the summit of a peak. They deliberately choose the most difficult route up a mountain and then make a race of it.

Once I was outfitted with boots, crampons, and the ice ax, Werner gave me brief instructions in front pointing and the French technique of standing flatfooted to climb. He demonstrated the correct grasp of the ice ax for the self-arrest position, with the thumb under the adze, and the palm and fingers over the pick near the shaft. Self-arrest is the most effective recovery measure from an uncontrollable fall, and the most desirable position for self-arrest is head uphill, face down. Once in that position a climber centers his body weight over the ax, and hopefully the ax catches the ice and stops the fall.

We began the climb up the couloir. Very quickly the group fell into rhythm. Steve took the lead, cutting switchbacks in the snow, and the other climbers followed his footsteps. I was no longer last in line, since Werner was directly behind me bringing up the rear. However, the group ahead climbed at a much greater speed than I did, and as such both Werner and I fell behind. As we gained elevation, my heart was racing and my breathing was shallow and fast. I stopped every fourth or fifth switchback to catch my breath.

“ What are you, my private Sherpa? Why don’t you go on ahead? I’m just holding you back. I can follow the tracks myself,” I said to Werner.
“No. This is good,” he said.

The group stopped for lunch at about 7500 feet. Werner, David, and I sat together on a rock. I had a cheese sandwich but I could not tolerate the thought of even a bite, or even a sip of water. Waves of nausea from the physical exertion rolled over me, and I struggled to overcome the feeling. David noticed I was not eating, and he gently insisted that I try.

Werner’s attention was focused on his brother-in-law, John, as he crossed the couloir and inspected a large bush on the other side. John looked morose as he kicked around in the ice as if he were searching for something buried.

Werner finally turned away to eat his lunch.

This is the first trip up Snow Creek for any of us since Bill’s accident. John and Bill were climbing this alone 5 years ago. Bill was behind John when he slipped and fell almost 1000’ down the ice before he stopped. He was badly injured and unconscious, and that’s the bush John secured him to while he went down the mountain for help. They sent in a Huey from the Marine base to pick him up off the mountain. He almost died,” Werner explained.
(the reader can click the link above for John's account of Bill's fall down Snow Creek)

“This is where Bill had his climbing accident? And he was climbing this at 71 years old?” I asked.

“Yes, he’s strong, and he’s climbed this mountain more than any of us combined, but I should have gone along,” Werner answered.

“Am I wearing the gear he was using?” I asked. There was no reply.

After resting about 30 minutes, we began climbing again. The summit was less than 3000’ feet above us. I have never struggled so hard with any climb, even those at higher altitudes. I stopped at every turn in the switchbacks to breathe; my heart raced at the speed of light, and with each beat it came up through my throat. My head pounded with a throbbing pain that seemed to split me in two. My vision became blurred, and every muscle screamed in pain. I could feel the skin on my right heel rubbing off from the friction of the boot. I thought about turning around, but one look down the mountain convinced me that going up was the only option.

Again I suggested to Werner that he go ahead of me. Again, he said no.

I barely reached the saddle of the chute we were in. The rest of the group turned right to finish hiking to the top but I could not join them. As I waited for them to come back, I looked up at the peak, and felt the deadening sense of defeat grip me. How could this mountain, this playground, conquer me? The answer from the mountain came to me like a soft whisper in my mind. “You underestimated me. You did not know this side of me existed,” the mountain told me.

The group came down from the peak, and we started off for the second half of the climb, the descent. However we did not climb down Snow Creek. We continued over the saddle to the other side of the mountain, hiked across Round Valley several miles to the lodge, and caught the tram down to Palm Springs. With the danger of slipping down the ice on Snow Creek gone, Werner took off at his own speed again. I was hiking alone, although I knew my way. I was beyond exhaustion, and several times I fell forward onto my knees, retching with dry heaves. I reached the lodge at 4:00 p.m., fully 13 hours of climbing. Once there, I removed my boots, and my right sock was soaked with blood.

It was four and a half years before I returned to Mt. San Jacinto. My best friend and I hiked up one day using the Devil's Slide trail over Labor Day weekend, and we each tried to outdo the other with the gourmet picnics we brought along. There at the top, I went to the north edge of the summit and looked down Snow Creek. I thought of the long list of mountaineering rules I have heard, and none of them would have helped me reach the summit via Snow Creek. But that day the mountain taught me there is only one true rule of mountaineering. All other so called rules are merely extensions of it. Know and respect the mountain.

4 comments:

Black Cat said...

What an amazing post! I could no more climb a mountain than fly to the moon but I admire those who do. You learnt a powerful lesson that day I feel. Nature has ways of teaching us I think:) xxx

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