Depths and Heights

SummitFor Team One, we would leave into the field with less definition of what defined us, whereas Team Two had given themselves mustaches.  They were team mustache!  But who were we?  Even when the mustaches were chanting down at us from the top of Steele Butte and across South Creek we didn’t know the answer.  Whoever we were, we were not the guys to try to identify ourselves just because another group had.

We went out on Friday and walked over rugged terrain to an old Freemont cliff dwelling.  For such a new group the hike was a real challenge and the men looked quite worn out for the most part upon our arrival, and many for this reason quite disinterested in the actual dwelling with its evidence of long ago days and perhaps simpler way of being.

On Saturday we climbed Steele Butte, most of us.  There were a couple of gentlemen who were perhaps, a little too afraid of heights for this one.  There are rare occasions when all or part of the group does not complete an event.  I find that if we process it well afterward, there will be as much, if not more to take from the experience.  This proved to be the case.  There was such a tender outpouring of courage and ferocious support of one another around the fire that we discovered who we are as a group, the Sensitive Spartans.  Let all Mustaches beware.
For the final day of the adventure we awoke to a world brightened by the white snow.  It was that first day when the weather changes and nothing works right or easy for anyone.  We were undaunted and combined with the Mustaches to climb Mt. Ellen with her 11,522 ft. peak, most of which was veiled in cloud and receiving extreme winds and more snow.  This time we all managed to arrive at the top together in the first “snow ascent” of Ellen.

Many of us had carried rocks to the top symbolizing resentments each wanted to release.  We trudged through whiteout conditions to the summit.  We gathered in a large circle laying down our stones in turn and naming them aloud.  By coincidence or act of God, depending on your world view, at the very instant when the last stone was placed down, the sky cleared above us and we were bathed, albeit briefly, in a warm golden light.

I felt the group engulfed in a new confidence, seasoned now by cold and peril, heights and depths, insights and reflections.  We were bound by an intoxicating respect for each other, genuine expression, and adventure.

Charlie Hopper, Senior Field Guide