class 4 slope
- Class 1: Hiking.
- Class 2: Simple scrambling, with possible occasional use of the hands.
- Class 3: Scrambling, a rope can be carried but is usually not required.
- Class 4: Simple climbing, with exposure. A rope is often used. Natural protection can be easily found. Falls may well be fatal.
- Class 5: Technical free climbing. Climbing involves rope, belaying, and other protection hardware for safety.
I asked myself on the way home: would I have done this if I had known what I know now?
Yes, yes, absolutely yes.
Life is rarely simple. Life becomes extraordinarily simple when the only decision you have to make involves the next placement of foot or of hiking pole; when you have room for minor mis-steps but major ones will send you tumbling down the side of the mountain. Life then becomes a matter of relaying information to the person behind you. "Squishy here." "Rock's loose." "Slippery."
Everything else—even snapping photographs—had to wait.
My introduction to hiking was a class 4 slope. No rope, though there was a spot on Wallalah Mountain that I might not have minded the extra bit of security inherent in having one.
I entered the trailhead not sure if I got it, if I understood why I was doing this; two hours later in the middle of climbing up the side of a perfectly good rock outcrop while trying to puzzle out where the trail went, I figured it out. Years ago, when I started workouts, I did it because I envisioned a life in which my body was not my limiting factor. I got on the machines and I ran not because I had a goal, but because I'd lived so long without them that I was willing to do whatever it took to get myself to a place where I could make choices.
I climbed those little mountains because they were there, and I wanted to prove to myself that all this work I've put in over these past two years hasn't been just an exercise in mental toughness.
Realistically, I shouldn't have started here, on this trail, on this section; it was too much too soon and I wouldn't have had it any other way, because I don't have to wait and wonder if I can handle "the tough stuff."
As several of my friends will undoubtedly tell me, I've always been able to handle it. I just had to see it for myself.
Looks like I'll be wanting to price some equipment. I think I'm going to need it.
[Full photoset is available on flickr.]