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An Afternoon Climb with Pep
By Maddy Butcher Gray
With a beautiful day beckoning and the sun on its downward trek, Pep and I followed a notion and headed out.
I’ve had my eye on a nearby hill, wanting to get to the top.
Last week, Comet and I had made it up partway with Steve and Jodi. But as we’re learning, hills here are like slices of cheesecake – it’s often challenging to take it all in without feeling the effects. Especially with a foot of snow.
On this return trip, we trotted through scrub oak and juniper and made it to that previous turnaround point in no time. Then, the pony and I continued up the largely treeless grade, spotting crisscrossing coyote and deer tracks.
What I hadn’t realized from a distance was part of that cheesecake effect: the hill got awfully steep, awfully quick. With less than a quarter mile to the peak, I got off and walked with Pep through the crusty snow.
In photo at right camera is level.
We reached the peak after 30 minutes of huffing, puffing, starts and stops.
The summit was exhilarating. For the whole climb, we had been laboring in the shade, ascending the east side. On the 6,800’ summit, we stepped into the bright sun as if stepping onto a stage.
We caught our breaths, had a celebratory snack, and walked around in circles to take in three-counties worth of view. The remaining minutes of sun bathed us in its warmth and glow. The hill's peacefulness seemed to embrace us.
Neither of us is keen on steep downhills. We took a more gradual route home, following another ridge and then bushwacking through junipers.
Dusk found us home, happy, and tired.
The Afternoon Climb
Maddy Butcher Gray
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