Monday, February 9, 2009

Full Moon Hike- Iron Mountain (2,700 ft.)

My friends Fahme, Kevin. Ellie and Me start our hike at 11 under a strong blue full moon, and the coyotes howled for us the entire night. The moon shone over us and in treasured little spots all along the trail it reflected itself in large puddles to give us its glow from below. If you move fast in close quarters under moonlight you succumb to a magical dizziness, your field of vision gets chopped during the bushy switchbacks as your brains tries to process the changes in the blue light, it feels like you’re your stumbling through a ghost world.

With leftovers of rainclouds the light was changing back and forth from humming electric blue to a black/white movie whenever the moon went behind clouds, partial eclipses close to blackness would happen every 10 minutes or so on the passing of more giant cloud masses and we would stop to listen to the brief deep darkness. 

Half of the hike up Iron Mountain is sheltered from the wind inside of little valleys and the 4 of us are warm the entire hike until the last ½ mile where the trail is exposed to huge gusts of wind from the West and it wakes us up. We resort to piggy back rides up the last steepest sections to try and keep warm, and at the summit we find a rock slab out of the wind where we rest and look at ourselves with the GPS on Fahme’s iphone.

Then… a bout of Freezeout Freezeout is an either glorious or stupid game of self-torture where the participants remove their clothes and see how long they can stand exposing themselves to the cold. For the numbing ½ mile descent back into the warmer valleys we got bare-chested and suffered a brutal bout of gusts and when finally put our shirts back on our hands had gone numb and it felt like we were getting stabbed on every square inch of our chests, it burned down our sides when we put our shirts back on, but our adrenaline and smiles were reward enough.

At the end of our hike, among the bushes in the little meadow next to Highway 67, the coyotes sounded like they were out in bigger numbers and by now they were howling like hyenas. I imitated them howl for howl and wondered whether I was a good enough counterfeit to confuse them, and if perhaps I had made some poor coyote ask himself "Who is this idiot repeating everything I’m saying?"