Peak days are different. On a peak day, you wake up early, but you do not have to worry about packing up camp, or carrying EVERYTHING in your backpack. When I was in Team, we used the brain of our pack on peak days. It could unhook and become a large fanny pack. At Outward Bound, the sleeping bag stuff/compress packs can double as small daypacks. The first rule of LNT is to be prepared, so when climbing a peak, one must be sure that they have enough warmth, water, and food for if they needed to spend the night. For us, that meant bringing full water bottles, one sleeping bag, and our snacks and lunch. I also brought my down jacket, just incase.
Day 7 was our first peak day, and I was VERY excited. I am somewhat of a mountain goat, there is climbing in my blood. As much as I love the calm serenity of the trail, my favorite thing to do in the backcountry is climb. In this case, it meant a lighter pack, and using my hands for balance and holds as we moved upward and over the piles of Boulders.
We began hiking toward the peak, and were just returning to our ongoing war with the bloodsuckers, when Thad had us stop and circle up. He told us to find a rock (but Caroline liked her pine cone better) and for us to attach some meaning to it, a problem that we want to overcome.
“Look up,” he said. “We are about to traverse from that peak, all along the edge, to that peak” his finger traced the five peaks of Rainbow Ridge as he spoke. It rose and dipped like hanging party streamers.
“You are about to climb a mountain,” stated Thad. “People use this in metaphors, but you guys are actually going to do it! I want you guys to attach some meaning to your object, and when you reach the top, you can overcome it.”
I found a smooth, specked stone about the size of my palm, and stuck it into my bag. Then we headed up.
Matteo explains peak protocol
Because most of our group had never attempted a peak, Thad and Matteo did most of the leading. The climb was mostly class two and three, with a little bit of class four. We reached the top of the ridge and ate a snack. Royden and I tried to get people to eat more, and thus lighten our lunch load (especially the salami). I sat on a rock and swung my legs back and forth as a sucked on a jolly rancher, euphoric and excited.
The route ahead appeared to be a series of knife ridges between each peak. I thought back to my first peak attempt of Tower Peak with Team last year. When we had reached the knife ridge there, we were at the base of Tower Peak and I was in a state of elation. I think that poor Lily was hyperventilating at this point, but I was powering on in the front, in my own world. We paired up to help each other across the knife ridge, and I paired with Bea. She is afraid of heights, but she followed me across the ridge, as I showed her the good and bad places to step, and what to hold onto. I felt so comfortable climbing over boulders with a drop of hundreds of feet right beside me. Is that natural?