Our Pathfinders series is a collection of guest posts from Adventurers all around the world. If you'd like to contribute, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Today's post is by Alec McKeand.
So it's Valentine's Day, 2015 and I'm not sure I would want to spend Valentine's Day anywhere else other than a mountain. I had wanted to reach Grand Turk Peak for quite some time. It's not the highest mountain by any means, standing at 13,160 feet or 4011 meters. I wanted to reach the summit because it looked like the view would be incredible based off of its location, surrounded by high 13ers and many 14ers. It was a nice sunny day, around 45 degrees Fahrenheit or around seven degrees Celsius. I started in the parking area and I had a feeling that there wasn't a trail leading up to the peak. I stopped three middle aged women and asked them if they happened to know if there actually was a trail or not. The first thing they said was, "oh honey, you really shouldn't be doing that. If we're honest, we don't think you can do it."
Things like that really annoy me, so I didn't respond. Then they decided to mention that I wasn't wearing proper clothing. I was wearing a T-shirt, shorts, and a pair of Vans Sk8-Hi Mountain Edition shoes. Those Vans have been nothing short of great for hiking if you ask me. Anyway, I told them that I had warmer clothes in my bag and that I was in shape and was perfectly capable of at least trying. They came to the realization that I wasn't a middle aged woman and that I was in fact capable with my fit, 18 year old body. The route that I decided to take started off in waist deep snow. How great right?
I found some snowshoe tracks to follow and eventually found snowmobile tracks to follow as well. After roughly two miles, I started up one of the steepest routes I had ever taken. Without a trail to followl, I was hiking straight up the mountain trying to reach the part that looked like it had the smallest about of snow. After sliding in the muddy mountain side multiple times, I reached the rocky section that I had wanted to get to. From here it was a traverse across the mountain side. The terrain was a constant switch between loose rocks and snow. This was by far the most treacherous hiking I've done. The basin is shaped like a "V" and you have to go between two mountains and through the point of the "V" after the traverse. Hopefully the pictures make that a bit more clear.
I had to put my recently obtained rock climbing skills to the test seeing as though the "V" was too snowy to simply hike up. Once I reached the top of the basin the view opened up. It was just another short but steep hike up to the peak. Once at the top, I had a 360 degree view of all the mountains I could ever want. I just laid there, enjoying my cranberries and cashews, happy as can be because the mountains didn't ask me for chocolates or a nice dinner date. On my descent down I decided to have a little fun. The snow was nice and compact so I slid on my butt all the way down the peak and basin. The route back was rough. Not only because I had frozen cheeks but because I was tromping through waist deep, sometimes as high as chest deep snow the entire way. I really couldn't complain though.
Once I got back to my car I gathered all my statistics and came to the conclusion that the route gained 3,600 feet or 1097 meters in elevation over a distance of eight miles or about 13 kilometers, which took me roughly an hour and a half. I found a note on my windshield from the three women that I talked to before I started. It said that they were going to call a search team if I hadn't called them by 8pm that night. I gave them a phone call and told them that I had reached the summit and was ok. They were shocked and told me it was quite a feat considering it was winter time. I guess ill take their word for it. It was a Valentine's Day well spent and I'm very thankful for the ladies who were looking out for me. -Alec McKeand (Instagram: _al.ec)
Sign up for our email list to see more from our Pathfinders series.