Commentary

"Aasgard, yeah... That mountain pretty much just up and kicked my ass, quick like. "

"Remember the last day, the way back down? I was sore, my shins bruised and my leg muscles quivering, then we saw those three guys jogging up the pass, JOGGING FER CHRISSAKE!!! They sneered and something inside me just snapped…"

It is truly amazing that in a span of a few years, a man can physically deteriorate from a vibrant youth to a soft shadow of his former self. Memories of my first visit to that lofty place go back almost a decade, years since yesterday right? That first time was much worse up at the lakes. Faulty gear, snow, hail, unexpected first time vertical rock climbing adventure in the rain, getting lost…

Still, all these things don't add up to jack compared to the strain, pain and general physical duress experienced when I returned to this idyllic place. I simply was not prepared. Serious athletes probably don't even get worked up about such a short distance, hazardous trekking aside. To one who finds himself increasingly sentient as adulthood sets in, those few short miles posed an incredibly effective barrier between myself and my friends, and the top of that pass, the upper Enchantments beyond.

Me? I was a few tortuous cramps short of turning the hell around. My pals didn't let me get too far behind though and I'm glad for that. They kept a good eye on me and I made it up the pass around an hour after they did. That's when you start to get your first glimpses down into the many glacial bowls of the Upper Enchantments and it was at that point that I realized that my suffering was, momentarily, over and that it was merely a pittance to be paid by a humble man upon entering into this realm of majestic beauty. All night in my tent at Colchuk I heard the boulders fall, crashing down the face of that pass, but now I was safe at the top, where virtual isolation and surreal surroundings assured a great stay over. Sweeping glacial lakes, fortress like peaks surrounding the valley, lil Annaperna and the view of mount Rainier beyond to the south, mad fingers of rock in multiform display, the ever present sound and sights of the glacial water and snow melt, tinkling over boulders, running in thin, even sheets over flat, table like rocks tipped by clumsy giants, amazing vitality and diversity of flowering plants and foraging animals buried under feet of snow for nine months a year, now set free by the suns rays, and of course the never ending antics of my three friends. All these things and more were my reward for pushing up that slide, and it was worth it, every last bit of it. The guide books and warnings about Aasgard seem to be a little on the scary side but there is a reason for that. When it rains those rocks the size of automobiles can and do come tumbling down. At it's steepest grade Aasgard pass is untenable for those who are not fit. First time hikers certainly not advised, weekend warriors better start hiking during the week too. But to those lucky few who enter and win in the lottery for the camping passes, and successfully navigate and endure the terrain, there is also the reward of a few days in a place whose beauty rivals that of any other on this earth.

Ken Graves Team Aasgard

ken graves

Ken Graves currently resides in sunny San Diego

 

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