The Outdoor Junkie | All Blogs

The Finest Hour

By Ann Driggers

"The finest hour that I have seen
Is the one that comes between
The edge of night and the break of day
It’s when the darkness rolls away."
- Kate Wolf, Across the Great Divide

Through the dark forest we hike, headlamps bobbing, as we wind our way up the mountain side. With my vision focused solely in the narrow space illuminating the trail before me, my other senses are heightened and define the world in which I move. I hear the crunch of granite beneath foot, the clink of pole tips on a rock and the gurgling of a mountain stream. I smell the musty undergrowth of a waning summer after a night’s rain, and the pungent odor of mountain goats bedded down nearby. I feel the downdrafts of cool air descending from the high peaks, and the warmth arising from my body as we climb the steep switchbacks. But every now and then, between the giant pines looming above, I catch a glimpse of the night sky and stars glittering in the inky blackness.

After a thousand feet of climbing we reach a bench atop the headwall and stop to catch our breath. We turn off our headlamps and stand, let our eyes adjust to the darkness and then cast them upward. The moonless sky is dense with its radiant celestial bodies - sparkling stars, gleaming planets and crystal-clear constellations. And through them all the Milky Way streaks like frothy waves in a sea of ebony. We gaze at the heavens in wonder until we are reminded that time is of the essence.

Headlamps back on, we continue hiking in the quiet darkness, across the tundra into a high alpine basin. For a short while the ascent is gradual and then becomes steeper as it zigzags through boulders and around scree fields. Our breathing becomes heavier. Another half an hour and we are feeling our way through the twilight, up a rock ramp, which delivers us to a saddle at the base of the final climb before the summit. As we stop to put away our poles, the eastern horizon starts to glow orange, crimson and purple behind the sawteeth of distant mountains. The brightest stars and planets still vaguely wink above but most are lost to the diffused light of the impending break of day. We turn off our headlamps for the night is ending.

On the summit ridge, the mountain above opens to us, bathed with the soft glow of dawn. We scramble quickly out of the shadows, enjoying hand over foot climbing on solid granite until we are there. From the summit we can see miles and miles in every direction, the expanse and grandeur of the views infinite. To the west a rosy glow surrounds the Earth’s purple umbra arched over distant and hazy mountain ranges. We turn and sit to watch the brightening sky to the east.

Slowly gold fades to flaxen blonde, then little by little to an insipid yellow and then, all of a sudden, the horizon is on fire and the sun presents itself, a dazzling orb, blinding bright, spinning us in its glorious gilded rays. Standing strong on a mountain summit, in the gleam of the sun, cast in its golden patina, I think, if there is a moment, just one, where one is touched by the glory of life, this is it.

All around the mountains are a kaleidoscope of every shade of pink and purple and blue and gold imaginable. We wheel around first to the west, then back to the east and west again, taking in, no - devouring, the splendour of the mountains at sunrise.

I do not want to leave, but the sun is rising fast now, stealing down the mountain sides, flooding valleys with light and banishing shadows from the earth.

I do not want to leave, but we have more summits to climb. So we begin our descent, tingling from the warmth of the sun, invigorated and so vitally alive. The finest hour may be over, but the mountains are awake and so am I.

Note: This is the third installment from the backpacking trip in the Weminuche Wilderness. Over a period of two days we camped in Chicago Basin, rising early in the morning and summiting the four 14ers which surrounded our camp. These are: Windom Peak (14,082 feet), Sunlight Peak (14,059'), South Mount Eolus (14,083') and North Mount Eolus (14,039'). The pictures above were all taken from the summit of North Mount Eolus with the exception of the last which was on Sunlight Peak. My partner in climb was Holly. Christy stayed with Keira, our four-legged friend, back at camp where they fought a running battle with invading mountain goats.

Despite being warned about how crowded this area was we experienced total solitude on every one of our summits and saw only two other groups on the more technical aspects of the peaks. Perhaps this was because of our desire to experience the Finest Hour.

My first report from the multi-day backpacking trip is Adventures in the Weminuche. The second is Where Rivers Change Direction. Thank you for joining me on my travels through the mountains. I hope you find them as inspiring as I do.




Please Login or Register to leave a comment.

Pretty amazing!

It is an amazing post you have shared the pictures and the views are so beautiful which is like a relaxation point i think you enjoy the hiking there in that dark and lonely forests which is looking very dangerous at night time but that was a memorable view and moment.

What a view of your picture that you have to share in this blog post I like to see or visits that kind of information or places.
Thanks for posting this type of blog.
Human Resource Assignment Help

Hmm Nice Article Which Will Help Students in the Future and Who are Still in this Process. Do Visit my Blog too :)

international economics assignment help
| Nursing Assignment Help

Ah, this has been such amazing work to go through and so much informative! I was looking for essay writing help and this actually did provide me with quite some ample help. It has been a nice work to learn from, thanks!

As with every other written piece, there are ways to secure that your blog post is of premium quality. Since writing compelling, high quality content is the only way to have a go at a blog salary, you must be very particular about such detail. You should keep it in mind whenever you are starting to make a post.
custom essays

The best way to avoid getting hungover is simply to prevent it rather than waiting until you the next day when the pain is already there. The unfortunate truth is that many of us forget to take a vitamin drink or to have the right amounts of water, fruit juice and food after drinking and before sleeping in order to prevent their hangovers.
eaadhaar correction

Finding the job in business that is a good fit for your skills in these days can be tough. A slow job market and recent economic troubles have piled the job applications and resumes up in almost every human resources department.
sbi hrms salary slip

Hiking is a passion for people who really like it. The article that describes about the beauty of raising the sun. A view from top of the mountain gives it a different feeling and it refreshes our mind and body. Keep update more pictures over here.low cost android tablets

Recent Posts
By Nic.Korte
Saturday, June 3, 2017

By Nic.Korte
Sunday, May 14, 2017

By Nic.Korte
Sunday, April 23, 2017

By Nic.Korte
Friday, April 7, 2017

Tech Education a Must for Tech-Starved Mesa County
By David Goe
Friday, March 31, 2017


734 S. Seventh St.
Grand Junction, CO 81501
970-242-5050; M-F 8:00 - 5:00
Subscribe to print edition
eTear Sheets/ePayments

© 2017 Grand Junction Media, Inc.
By using this site you agree to the Visitor Agreement and the Privacy Policy