Denali - The Inner Journey (Day 2)
Denali National Park
September 6th 2017
I didn't find the pass yesterday. I thought I did when I saw an opening, vertically split in two by a stream flowing down. I followed the creek, climbing among rocks. Up and up, hours passed, the slope got steeper and steeper and finally the stream plunged back into the ground. I looked up and seemed to notice for the first time a ridge on the horizon.
I had no idea if I could join Unit 12 on the other side or if I would be greeted by the vertiginous heights of a cliff. The problem was that I couldn't know for sure where I was on the map. I could see the Green Dome on the map and the little mark I had put to indicate the location of the mountain pass. But, I couldn't decide if any summit around me looked like a dome, let alone a green one. I had gone too far to backtrack anyway. So, I started climb up the steep scree. And the closer I would get to the ridge, the steeper it would become. I was already on four paws mimicking the bear but still, unlike them, I was sliding down every step I took. With great effort, I finally dragged myself onto the ridge.
*Fwuuuush...!* An extremely strong gust of wind penetrated between my backpack, bending the rain cover like the sail of a Viking Drekar. I tottered, lost balance, tried to grab the rain cover that was about to fly away, felt a few snowflakes land on my face as well as the gusts of wind blowing from changing directions, pushing and pulling me towards either side of the ridge while finally falling down on my four paws again. Gosh, it suddenly became cold up here... ! I rushed to put on my gloves and my hat which wasn't an easy task in this capricious wind. I looked up. An infinitely vast and wide range of colourful mountains opened in front of me. Dunes of greyish gravel with stripes of pale red, blue, brown and gold painted a new deserted world in front of me.
Nobody here. I sat on my butt, trying to stay as low as possible while the wind kept slapping me from all sides and carefully took my map out of my pocket. I had to stay focused and concentrated to keep my map away from the windy thief. I took out my compass and tried to get my bearings in the tempest. I must have turned West too early... Mm yes, I'm probably somewhere here in Unit 11... Unit 12 must be about there, South - Southwest... There was no way I could climb down on the other side of the ridge, it was way to steep. However, I could follow it southward, hoping I would eventually find a pass down to the West. I started to walk staying low on my knee, otherwise being too vulnerable, my backpack offering such a great resistance to the wind.
I walked on the ridge for about an hour until I found a spot sheltered from the wind where I could warm up a package of pasta alla carbonara. This time I wouldn't have to worry about bears. Even if they do walk on mountains like ballet dancers, I would be able to see them come from a safe distance. I savored both this peaceful serenity and my warm pot of pasta before moving on. I must have reached Unit 12 already. The sun was slowly setting on the horizon so I had to find a spot to set up camp as soon as possible. Luckily, the scree wasn't so steep anymore and I decide to attempt climbing down to look for the valley. I took a few turns around the toes of the mountains chains surrounding me and finally entered a small valley covered with read and green moss, perfect to set up camp. Didn't even brush my teeth, so exhausted I fell asleep instantly. Tomorrow, I'll copy my GPS location on the map. I'll mark it with a cross and a label saying Camp Night 2...