Sunday, February 22, 2009

Dawn over Lone Pine Lake

The following quote is from the remarkable book "Into the Wilderness - An Artist's Journey" with photographs and paintings by Stephen Lyman and text by Mark Mardon.

"I am only a speck in this immensity, but connected as I am to everything in sight I am as tall as the mountains and as wide and deep as the canyons. I am here for only an hour, but while I am here time has no meaning and I am as ancient as the rock beneath me. On my own in these surroundings I am powerless, but with the mountains girding me I am as strong as Earth herself. My knowledge of the world is limited, but here I find wisdom - the possession of which is more valuable than all the facts stored in all the libraries and computer banks of the world. Here at last I unite in my mind all the disparate parts of my universe and understand how the pieces relate. I have absorbed the world and am now complete."

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Mt. Pinos

After our adventure on San Gorgonio, I waste no time ordering an ice axe (Black Diamond, Raven Pro) and a set of lightweight crampons. It is love at first sight with that axe - I almost catch myself murmuring "My Precious" to it as I balance the weight in my hand, turning it to catch the light, imagining the ice chips flying as I ascend the frozen ice falls......however the ice falls will have to remain in the imagination for now, as neither the axe nor I are designed for technical ascents.

Eager to try out our new gear and improve our snow/ice skills, we head over to Mt. Pinos - about an hour's drive inland. Initial weather reports are dismal: rain mixed with snow - but we are compelled to see for ourselves.

It is delightful - the whole day: On the deserted mountain, it snows for most of the morning and we hear nothing but the soft ceaseless whisper of flakes, see the delicate grasses bending under the weight of the snow. Tracks of wild hares slither across the trail, smudging into invisibility under the fresh powder. It is cold, but not unbearably so - especially as we set a good pace as we move uphill.

By mutual agreement we turn back before the summit - the winter days are short and there is still the long trek back to the car.

After a reviving cup of hot tea with honey, we head for home. Today there were no frightening traverses with crampons clinging desperately to icy crusts, no dramatic self arrests with new ice axe.... but an entirely different mountain experience: calm, quiet, immensely satisfying.