Bold return to the Wasatch
I spent all day Friday driving from the Bay Area to the Salt Lake Valley. Eight hundred miles on a desolate yet crowded Interstate 80. I actually quite enjoy long solo drives, for many of the same reasons that I enjoy long solo runs or rides — I can retreat into my quiet personal bubble, ponder all of the deep thoughts that I don't mind forgetting later, view intriguing landscapes, listen to music, sing out loud if I feel like it, get worked up over news, and snack on junk food. I also dislike long solo drives for the same reasons I dislike long solo runs — some boredom is unavoidable, as is at least one segment when I struggle not to doze off on my feet/at the wheel. I can't always find good places to stop and pee. My legs cramp up. I eat too much junk food and then I feel icky. Then, once it's all over, I'm really tired and feel vaguely hungover. Yeah, that's endurance
Things got steep while I was fixated on my own oxygen deprivation. On top of that, the avalanche-scoured snowpack had all the structural integrity of a tattered piece of lace. It was effectively a thin layer on top of a large boulder field, and much of the snow below the surface had melted and run off. We couldn't see the boulders, but we started to punch through the cracks between them, wrenching knees, bashing shins, thrashing to pull stuck feet out of holes. I experienced several anxious minutes when I wasn't sure if my dad was going to be able to pull himself out of a hole, and I hadn't found a spot that could hold my weight close enough to help (he was leading, so unfortunately did most of the deep hole finding, too.)
So we were both a little spooked when we reached the saddle, and it took us exactly zero seconds to call "no way" on the summit push to Twin Peaks. There was an even steeper and likely more rotten snowfield on the south face, and the other option is a Class 4 scramble on the exposed knife ridge that had its own razor sharp point of snow. A harsh and surprisingly cold wind nearly knocked us over, and we were happy to just look at the view and turn around.
Proper taper? I might have to take an extra rest day to get over this one. It was still worth it. A grand adventure with what was really just the right amount of scary, careful management, and success, topped off with some jaw-dropping scenery. I do miss you, Wasatch Mountains.