Monday, September 10, 2007

Life on the non-proverbial edge

I will have nightmares tonight.

There is nothing quite like taking your Jeep Grand Cherokee on its first no kidding 4-wheeling excursion along a road no wider than the Jeep itself and bordered on one side by rock and root and on the other by . . . air, and a long roll before the first tree might stop you, or might just cut the vehicle in half. "Oh, this is all pretty much just category 2," says my friend. "And they go to category what?" I ask. "Five." "[Deleted]! I don't ever want to see even a three."

I'm pretty sure my knuckles were white on the wheel, but I was just hoping my friend wouldn't notice and wasn't about to take my eyes off the road long enough to check. I kept going for two reasons. First, pride. Second, there was no where to turn around anyway. We gained a little over 2000 feet in three miles at just slightly more than a walking pace. It's the first, no kidding four-wheeling I've done in my Grand Cherokee. I had an Isuzu Trooper out on a similarly rough road that no two-wheel drive vehicle could have navigated, but that was up through a forest, not along the side of a fripping mountain.

I admitted to my friend later that I would never have even tried it without him along. He's got a couple decades of four-wheeling experience, so, I knew I could always just stop and put him behind the wheel. His presence gave me the courage to try something I'd never done before. All in all, the drive up to the radio towers at 11,200' on Mt Princeton is probably the thing I'll have flashbacks to for years.

There was so much more to this weekend--dinner at a Cantina on the way up, building a fire in the dark, shivering around it drinking 12-yr-old Dewars Special Reserve and smoking Fuente cigars, a full day on the Taylor River failing to outsmart the trout, but not caring too much thanks to the beauty of the scenery, and another day making a run at Mt Princeton before dark clouds over the summit made us turn back short (as the proverb goes in aviation, "It is always better to be down here wishing you were up there, than up there wishing you were down here").
But for now, I'm off to those old archetypal dreams of falling off a mountain. And because I skydive, people don't believe me when I tell them I'm afraid of heights.