On principle, I can’t tell you exactly where I went. Well, I would gladly tell YOU, but not everyone. These places are too special, and how few visit these places is a big part of what makes them so special. I wandered glorious alpine meadows, scrambled along exposed ridges, and saw more alpine lakes than I could shake a trekking pole at. And the best part- It was almost all off-trail, and I didn't see another human the entire time.
That said, this trip was supposed to be my 5 day, 4 night soul-rejuvenating solo backpacking trip. The Frying Pan river valley and the Holy Cross Wilderness became very special places for me this summer. Seth, the trail crew leader, also has strong sentiments for the area, so you can imagine the Aspen-Sopris trail crew found a lot of excuses to drive up the Frying Pan road this summer. This has been added to my top ten favorite/most beautiful places in the world list, and I had been dreaming about a big trip in the area for a couple months. It fell into place one weekend late in September, which also happens to be my favorite time of the year in the mountains (well, it’s a close call between fall and late spring/early summer- I do love my snow climbs!)
My trip got cut short by an Achilles bursitis flare up on my right heel. I started off wearing a pair of shoes that were new to me (Salomon XA Pro 3D, or whatever they are), though they were bought used from an REI garage sale. I had the same model years ago and loved them, but in more recent years, this is the second pair of Salomon shoes to do this to me. I could feel the rubbing right away and tried to mitigate it early on, but by the end of the first day it was pretty hurtey, and it was still quite swollen the next morning, so I cruised out on the second day.
When I finally made the decision to call it and head out, what I felt rather than disappointment was an overwhelming sense of freedom. Though I myself had planned this trip to maximize my personal enjoyment, there was still a latent, lingering pressure to fulfill my plans. Just a bit of stress. When I made the decision to head out that day, I was completely free from obligation- no one knew where I was or expected me back for three more days, and I was completely free to go wherever and do whatever I wanted. It's hard to explain, but when I coupled this with an all day, off-trail ramble through some of the most beautiful country one couldn't even imagine, I felt nothing but pure bliss and contentment. So good.
Having to skip out a little early on my adventure only gives me more reason to go back and spend more time in this glorious place. Can't wait!