Sunday, September 14, 2014

Humbled on Mount Jumbo

Route: Bernice's Bakery to Mount Jumbo Trailhead to summit to Van Buren Street to Mount Sentinel Trailhead to summit to Bernice's Bakery.
Elevation Gain: ~3,500
Distance: I have no idea!
Fuel: two cups of Bernice's coffee
Elapsed time: 2 hours 58 minutes (from Bernice's-to-Bernice's)

I approached Saturday with big ambitions: a 25+ mile loop through the Rattlesnake Wilderness with ~5 summits and ~7,000 vertical feet.

Realizing, I had not the energy to force a 4:00AM start, I went to bed Friday night opting for an abridged outing of 24 miles with 2 summits. Upon waking on Saturday morning, I decided that a 19-miler on Stuart Peak would be sufficient. Then, realizing I had other life obligations that needed attention, I opted for a romp up Missoula's 'alphabet mountains.' And this I committed to.

After a delightful morning with Linds at Bernice's Bakery, I grabbed my pack from my car and walked down Higgins to Spruce and over to Van Burn Street and the Cherry Street trailhead of Mount Jumbo.

I had a lovely walk up the hill. ~30 minutes later I was on the summit of Mount Jumbo. I ran into a group of three sizable bucks on my way down from the summit.  As I reached into my pack to fetch my camera, they split, narrowly escaping the focus of my lens.

About 1/3 of the way down, I saw a woman about 100 feet down the trail on her way up. Adjusting my gait to the left edge of the trail I misstepped and promptly found myself on my hands and knees on the downhill side of the trail. My right knee screamed! My first reaction was to look up and see if the woman and seen me. She hadn't. She was calling to her dog to sit alongside her and had not seen me, now 50 feet away, take a spill. In an as ungraceful manner as possible, I roused myself and began the hobble in her direction. From what was a swift 4+ mph walk downhill, I was now limping along at 1mph or less. Oy vey. How silly!

Last year, I made it up and down 203 summits - some of them treacherous - without a single incident. Now, here I am with a swelling knee on the shortest, easiest mountain in the area. As I continued down, my limp became a hobble which became a stilted walk before turning into a semi-graceful downhill gait. It got better. Or at least those chemicals kicked in that keep your mind off the pain and the injury.

I decided to postpone my decision about going up Mount Sentinel until I had reached the bottom and could examine my knee. Back at the trailhead, I concluded that it was fine: nothing more than a surface wound. I continued my walk back to Van Buren Street across the Clark Fork River and over the Mount Sentinel Trailhead.

I made quick work of Mount Sentinel, gaining the summit in 29 minutes by way of the ridge trail. I spent .5 seconds on the summit before heading straight down. My goal was to hit the 45-50 minute round-trip range. I came in at 51 minutes and considered it a fine performance in light of my fall on Mount Jumbo. Back at the base of Mount Sentinel, I grabbed a drink of water at the fountain and then grabbed the river trail back to Higgins and up to Bernice's Bakery. Ahh.

Although the day turned out very differently than I had anticipated - both in terms of the outing and the injury - it was a delight. It had been awhile since I had done the 'alphabet mountain' jaunt and got me excited for my birthday hike next month. Now, here I sit with an icepack on my knee and joy in my heart that I was able to move with such confidence, ease and freedom. If it weren't for those factors, I would not have been able to put myself in a position whereby I sustain a minor knee injury: and for that, in a very strange (and rationalizing way), I am grateful.

Next weekend, I head to Camp Mak-A-Dream for 'Camp Limberlimbs' a camp for kids 7-17 with arthritis. I can't wait!

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