An epic escape

We woke up at 4:30 to the gale that hadn’t stopped all night. Brian’s leg has not improved. We wrapped his leg in athletic tape and began up Glen Pass. Didn’t look so bad compared to some of the other stuff we had come over. Two words, “False Top”.

note: This is a phrase we coined which is pretty self explanatory but describes a common occurrence on the JMT. Only when you believe with all your heart that you are NOT at the top of a mountain will the JMT allow you to pass. Any mumbling of “nearly there” or faint hope in the last few sweaty steps of the last ridge  and all you will see is another mountain range expanding infront of you.

So after we cockily walk up the first little baby hill we idiotically surmised was Glen Pass we got to see the real thing. It was the steepest thing I had ever seen. Dark crumbly rock, steep and exposed , it looked like Mordor. This is the first time I have been scared for my life going over a pass. With Brian doing his best to keep me calm about his injury, limping behind me. But as it was said in Lord of the Rings, “not nearly frightened enough”.

An hour of climbing in Gale force winds while boulders are flying down from the top of the pass threatening to literally knock us off the mountain and we find that the top of this pass is a 25 yard narrow crumbly trail with a 2,000 ft drop on either side. And it is really freaking blowing, like 60 miles an hour. So in between gusts of this crazy wind we had to get across this section. Half way into my mad dash the wind blasted and I had to drop to my hands and knees to keep from getting thrown off balance and over. It was like an action movie, or a horror movie, whatever.

Brian limped all the way down the others side, he is in a lot of pain. We have come to quite a predicament. If brian can not hike an average of 18 miles a day on his bum leg for the next two days we will not have enough food to get out of the wilderness! We will starve and then we will die.

Ok maybe not, but we won’t have enough to eat that is for sure. Here comes a very hard but obvious decision for us, we can not finish the trail with brian in this injured state. We had to hike out now. Miraculously, this discussion took place at the only trail junction to civilization for 100 miles. We have been ridiculously  blessed on this trip. The JMT is not going to let us pass for free though. We have to hike over another 12,000 ft pass and it is blowing harder than it was this morning. After a last sad glance up the JMT me and gimpy hobbled up kearsage pass. This was scarier than the first one.  It was blowing so hard. I am going to say 90 miles an hour at the top and only brian can know if I am exaggeratin, but I don’t think so. Those 7 miles went something like this.

“Be careful”

“I will, you too”


“keep a wide stance, wide grip on your trekking poles”


“If it is a really crazy gust just stop and squat down”

“ok, I love you”

“I love you too”


“If you get thrown off try to get your poles into the side of the mountain to self arrest”


“Holy Shit!”




“are you ok?”


“we are never getting off alive!”

We did make it though. Brian actually did get blown into the side of the mountain. The light at the end of the demon hurricane vortex was that as soon as we got over the top we met two middle teachers eating real sandwiches and huddling under a rock for shelter. They offered to take us all the way to lone pine. Joy! a bed, a shower, a burrito supreme.

Bob and becky dropped us off at a hotel with the vanilla ice creams they bought us and wished us farewell. People are amazing. In less than 3 hours from our near death experience we were showered, drinking a pitcher of bear and inhaling (people in the restaurant were literally staring at us) two large pepperoni pizzas.

So that concludes our adventure. We are physically exhausted but mentally bright and spiritually clean. This has been a trip of love, realization, danger, beauty, determination pain and great peace. We are sure to do it again.


~ by elenimonos on August 31, 2008.

One Response to “An epic escape”

  1. People are amazing

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