Yes, today I wanted to go after a geocache that hadn't yet been "found". I also wanted to hike to the top of Golden Horn. Coincidentally enough, the cache was located at the top of Golden Horn, so I got to kill two birds with one stone.
My neighbour asked if he could join me, but I thought that it would be good if Nanuq and I had a day alone. And my neighbour is glad that we did.
The trek started with a walk up the Coal Lake road. The sun was strong and the air was still and, consequently, I was hot. Before I left, I couldn't find my large water bottle, so I settled on the small one and one for Nanuq. Halfway up the road, with my bottle half empty, I wondered if I shouldn't have looked a little harder for the other water bottle.
Peering off onto the side of the road, I spotted a lot of of little "lean-to"s. Judging by the ground cover, I guessed they were made in the winter time. If anybody reading this knows who made them, I'd love to find out. Some of them are quite good.
We also passed some grouse on the way up the road. Finding them was pretty simple. It's always easy to find a chicken when it's flying at you from the side of the road, flapping all around you in an impressive display aimed at distracting you from chicks that are going "peep! peep! peep!" and running into the bushes, drawing attention to themselves. I could have reached out and grabbed one of the hends and I'm surprised Nanuq didn't.
I have politely asked him to stop. I have also screamed and yelled (the squirrels thought I was crazy), but Nanuq ignores my polite requests and only cocks his head when I yell, as if to say, "Hey! You're crazy if you think I'm going to find my own way through this stuff! You brought me here, you figure it out!"
Following a maze of moose and caribou trails and creeks that came from nowhere and lead to nowhere, we wound our way over the plateau, closer and closer towards the final climb to the summit. As I slogged through water and shrugged aside brush, I debated philisophical questions in my mind, such as, Is it better to follow the moose trails that lead down into the deeper water or is it better to follow the moose trails that lead upwards where the willows are taller and thicker?
1,000 year-old caribou droppings?" Not really knowing the source, I decided to save the water for a desperate situation.
thermocline" and its cool air never materialized. The air remained hot and still and the blackflies started to bite around and in my ears.
Walking past a snow patch, I grabbed some of the damp snow and made a snowball. I threw the first one against a rock and kept the second for mopping down my neck, face and ears. The cold snow on my neck, mixed with sweat, made a nice thick layer of moisture that the blackflies couldn't seem to get through. I walked upwards with my ball of snow and only dropped it when I felt cooler and more refreshed. Nanuq ate what was left.
amazing views towards Whitehorse and Lake Laberge, the rocks hidden under the willows, and the blackflies creeping into my ears and hair. And I was hot.
Eventually, I felt it. A gentle puff of air caressed my cheek. Climbing a few more metres, I felt it again. I was near the ridgeline now, and would soon be able to see over the mountain, towards Mount Lorne. Cresting the ridgeline, a strong, if still warm, breeze blew up the side of the mountain. During my climb, I had been on the lee side of the mountain.
Now, I could enjoy the breeze and everything that it meant. The bugs started to blow away, though some were still hanging out on my lee side. I could finally stop for a snack and feel comfortable. I peeled three eggs that I had hardboiled before I left, feeding one to Nanuq and eating the other two myself. I was not so much thirsty but hungry. I pumped some more food into me and felt ready to climb another mountain.
As you likely already know, being on top of a mountain is pretty great. As I ate my lunch, I watched a bush plane fly over Coal Lake on one side and a larger passenger jet flying into Whitehorse on the other. I was looking down on both of the planes.
The walking was easy on the alpine tundra and, even if I didn't locate the cache, I knew that the trip was worth it, partly for the chance to explore somewhere new, partly for the opportunity to have some fun being challenged, and partly for the astounding views all around.
From the cache, I spotted an easier, but longer, route back home. We took it.
Back in the plateau, Nanuq and I stopped only to look at a helicopter coming in for a landing on top of the mountain.
"Cheaters," I thought.
By the way Nanuq kept looking at them, I could tell he agreed.