Soft pink light washes through the McMillan Cirque thousands of feet below our high camp under Luna Peak. My hands hurt more than ever today. I exercise each digit until the pain fades into background noise. We stuff sleeping bags, gag on a bar, and start moving. A rolling ridge deposits us at a flat bench below Luna. Above rises our last summit. Below lies our escape path out to the Big Beaver Valley.
"Let's do it boys," Sol says. He readjusts his glasses, clicks on a helmet and takes off. Dan and I quickly follow him up the talus laden slope and soon we are all at the summit scramble. The top of Luna is a wild perch reached via an easy, but neat set of edges. We spend extra time on top savoring our high mountain lifestyle. We know that within hours our alpine heaven will fade into the darkness of Access Creek. It's hard to imagine life without the glory of the high country. We've left a bit of ourselves up here. Coming down won't be easy.
Dan on Luna
Back at our packs we squeeze out a gu into empty stomachs. Boulder filled basins and steep heather slopes eventually end in the woods. Bushwhacking down is always easier than the opposite so we make good time. Sol leads the way, bashing through anything that stands in his path.
My foot falls onto soft, almost manicured ground. The trail! I feel the intensity of the last few days relax. From here, one foot in front of the other will take us to friends and food. Slogging on the flat trail gives us plenty of time to reflect, but my mind stays blank. I stay in the moment, watching the forest around me, appreciating it's dark beauty.
Dan emerges from Access Creek
We spend the next half day tighting our belts and finishing the trail to the car. By the time we get there the hunger is at a pinnicle of intensity. A bag of chips dies in seconds and soon we are racing for gigantic burgers in Marblemount. All that matters is food. And then beer. And then sleep. The adventure is over.
Lost a few pounds out there!