The turning of gears: Part 2

The Paul Harvey style "rest of the story" - in which our gear and its owners reunite.

My Camera:  It was 2 days after our climb until I got around to cleaning out the car and taking inventory. All gear present and accounted for, minus the camera. My only clue as to its whereabouts came from a picture taken in the dark atop Mt. Alice, showing the camera around my neck at that point. Calls to the visitor centers in Estes Park and the trailhead yielded no turned-in cameras. Faced with a responsible ultimatum from my wife ("I don't think we can afford another camera just to get it lost again...") I set out hiking.

I ran 7 miles up the Wild Basin trail to a pair of lakes where we had stumbled onto the trail 4 or 5 days prior. Much of the trip up was interspersed with off-trail diversions, crashes through brush, logs, and snow adjacent to the path, where I imagined I may have stopped for a snack or headlamp resurrection, and left my camera on the ground.  Despite concocting innumerable scenarios to explain where I "must have left it", I returned empty handed. If it was still up in this valley, it was above treeline, laying in the creek or sitting amid rubble and snow up higher.

A few days later, now at least a week since our trip, I parked at the Wild Basin trailhead yet again. After 5 miles of iPod-fueling hiking and passing dozens of other hikers, I strode past a couple hiking down, both listening to music and carrying ice axes. Several steps beyond them, I stopped turned and shouted. I'm not sure why.

"Hey... um... you didn't go hiking up there by those lakes, did you?"


"You didn't go up toward Mt. Alice, did you?"


"You didn't by any chance happen to find a camer, did you?"

Pause. Mouths fall open.

The friendly folks had indeed found my camera (sans lens cap) and had also gathered up the remnants of its fully-obliterated camera case. Marmots are hungry up there. Despite a week of laying amid snow and rock at 13,000', it still functions perfectly.

Scott's Jacket: After climbing Thin Red Line on Liberty Bell, Scott and I descended down the trail to the Blue Lake Trailhead. We had parked and hiked up to the wall from a spot on the other side of the peak. At the trailhead we hoped to encounter someone I might know, or at least someone with a car and the inclination to give two smelly climbers a ride down the road. We found both. AAI guide Mike Pond, who I had met a few years ago in Red Rock, was there with some friends, having just climbed The Passenger. They happily gave us a ride down Highway 20, and Mike casually mentioned he'd heard we'd been up in the Enchantments. We told him yes. He asked if we had climbed at Colchuck Balanced Rock, to which we also applied in the affirmative. He and another friend from Leavenworth had been up there a week or two after our climb, had found Scott's Jacket, and had "just figured it was probably ours". It was waiting for us back in town, safe and sound.


Mt. Ruth Camera: As Garrett Grove and I slip-and-slid our way along a muddy gully on Ruth Mountain, we clung to the limbs of krumholtz to keep from sliding back down with each step up. Snowmelt was flowing down the steep and eroding terrain, and I veered off the path, preferring brush to class-3 mud slicks. Beneath a clump of recently snow-matted mountain Azalea, I spotted a mud-covered digital camera. It had seen better days. And probably very few worse ones. Upon bringing it home and changing the batteries, I was actually able to get some of the lights to flicker, but no other signs of life. The memory card, however, worked perfectly. I posted some of the included photos on a lost-and-found section of a climbing website, and within 24 hours had been emailed by the owner, the owner's neighbor, and another friend who had gone climbing with them. They had lost the camera in 2008, and via the magic of the internets, were getting their pictures back. Digital is great, but even when we all used to drop off our film to get developed, it surely never took 3 years!

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