October 7, 2012: North Twin

A 3 day weekend during the peak foliage season?  Yep, it was time to head north again for what may or may not be my last hike of the season.  I settled on North Twin as my targeted peak and got dropped off at the trail head around 10am.  The parking lot was surprisingly full which made me all warm and fuzzy inside knowing somebody would find me if I caught a little hypothermia.

I hit the trail walking and quickly noticed my colorful surroundings as the trees were trying their best to distract me from the task at hand.  I fought my way through the distractions and came to the first obstacle of the day…..a tree that had thrown itself across the trail in dramatic fashion.  I leaped over it with a shout and moved on towards whatever the forest would throw at me next.

After some nice scenic leaves, I came to the first of the three river crossings I would have to be rock hopping over.  These crossings are all over the same river and are considered dangerous during high water so I felt myself pondering why the trail even bothers to cross. But as I learned long ago, pondering the ways of the trails is best left for better minds than mine.  As luck would have it, I found a nice walking stick that I was able to use for balance so that I did not take a tumbler into the angry river.  As luck would not have it, I proceeded to leave my trusty walking stick behind.

I got to the 2nd river crossing thinking I was prepared for anything but the one thing I was entirely not prepared for was the lack of suitable balancing walking sticks in a forest full of trees.  After wandering around for a few minutes, I realized I was going to have to pull some drastic measures to get across safely.  There was no way I could balance myself on the rocks with my heavy backpack so I took it off and heaved it over the river.  I grimaced when I saw it land on the pocket I had stuck my camera and phone in for safe passage. After a harrowing river crossing I breathed a sigh of relief when I found all my electronic hiking devices in tact.

Onwards and upwards I went until I came to the scene of the third rover crossing.  This one seemed to suggest I should pull a high wire balancing act by walking over a tree bridge.  Just as I was about to make the stupidest decision of my hiking career, a light bulb went off in my head and I realized I could just hop across the rocks in the river using the tree bridge above to steady myself.  This worked as planned and what looked like certain doom ended up being the easiest river crossing of the three.

After the third crossing, the trail turned towards the grueling side as I started to climb briskly. Speaking of briskly, it was about this time that I started pondering whether shorts was really the wisest choice of apparel I could have made.  I did have a pair of jeans in my bag but knew I would lose all credibility with the wildlife, not to mention my fellow hikers,  if I threw them on.  The jeans stayed in the bag, I stayed chilly, and my feet pushed on towards the sky.

After making some enormous strides up the mountain, I overtook a group resting in the trail discussing their adventures hiking in the alps.  As I passed, I smiled and assured them that I did not have any jeans in my bag contrarily to popular belief.  I was starting to get to the part of the mountain known as the alpine zone which basically involves a lot of little trees  who all try to shelter from the wind by hiding behind one another.

I was starting to hear shouts and singing from above, so I knew I was getting close to something…..either the summit or an insane asylum.  I finally broke out into a clearing which I hoped against all hope was the summit but was told by a jolly man eating a sandwich that I still had some minor hiking to go to reach the true wooded summit.

I got to to the wooded summit and found a man singing about mud who wasn’t sure if we were on the summit or not…..i’m not sure he even knew his own name to be honest.  I decided to leave him to his own devices and went to check out the nice viewing area I had heard much about.  It did indeed have some fine views but the other groups milling around were as clueless as me about where the actual summit was.  I soaked in the views and some Oreo cookies before heading back.

I arrived back to the point where I had found the singing hiker and decided to gamble. I went all in on the fact that the wooded summit with the live entertainment was the true summit and took my standard summit pictures to prove to myself later that I had actually reached it and wasn’t dreaming.  After some photo ops for my magnetic friend, I started the trek back down.

I threw on my rocket shoes and settled into my speed hiking down. Nothing much of note happened besides eventually catching my jolly sandwich eating friend at the river crossings where he did the honorable thing by letting me cross first before his group went.  I eventually made it back to the parking lot where I immediately whipped out my iPhone to Google “summit pictures of north twin” to make sure I had actually just crossed one off the list.

Summit was confirmed…….7 down, 41 to go!

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