I feel like most people have a built in tendency to feel a bit anxious when they are alone. When I say alone, I’m not talking about having the house to yourself. I mean the kind of alone when you’re driving through the country and suddenly realize you haven’t seen a town for 15 miles. The sudden thought of breaking down in the middle of nowhere can easily send a chill down your spine.
This past weekend I set out to climb the remaining two Vermont high peaks I have yet to summit, Mansfield and Camel’s Hump. Due to an annoying GPS mixup I ended up going down a Jeep road from hell, just to end up at the wrong trail head for Camel’s Hump. I didn’t have time to climb Mansfield due to the extra miles.
The trip up Camel’s Hump from the Monroe Trail was punishing due to the ice. Slips and falls seemed to happen every third step. The trail never plateaued to make things that much worse. It was the shorted climb I’ve ever done for a mountain above 4,000 feet, but you pay the price in a relentless elevation gain. All in all, the climb was a pleasurable solo hike, with the craziest of views from the summit.
It was on my way down that I realized Woodstock (my Camry) was the only car in the parking lot and I came across no one the entire climb. Mine was the only name in the trail registry for the day. I had the entire mountain to myself! It was an exhilarating and frightening feeling. I was king of the mountain, but really the mountain still reigned. If I were to injure myself or some other craziness were to happen, it would have been Stephon vs. nature; I wouldn’t even place a bet on me in that fight.
I guess that’s the price you pay for that level of solitude: you potentially risk everything. So be it though! Wilderness, at least from time to time, is a human need.