The hiking was fairly easy to begin with considering the high altitude and icy patches we encountered. We were experienced and we were careful. But close to a mile down the trail we became faced with difficulties we had hoped we wouldn’t encounter. The trail continued to climb which was fine but the ice became more menacing. Our footwork had to be very precise or we would easily slide off the trail and down an embankment.
We maneuvered through a few places like this until we finally came to an icy spot that left us just standing there wondering if this was the end of our hike. Thick ice spilled down on the trail from the upper embankment, covered the entire trail, and spilled over the lower embankment. Naturally, this left nothing to hold onto and only the grip of our boots to rely on, as we did not have the crampons that we needed to progress with ease.
After much discussion we decided to cautiously cross the ice. We tried to move forward on foot and on hands and knees but it wasn’t meant to be. With each step forward we slid back to where we started. Knowing the dangers that could lie ahead of us we made the decision to turn back and not complete the hike.
Those that know me and know how much I value my hiking time, understand the disappointment that a canceled or incomplete hike creates for me. I wouldn’t say I’m devastated but it takes me a little while to get over the disappointment. Maybe some day I’ll explain it. So we safely made our way back down the trail with me unsatisfied on the inside and wondering what else we might have experienced had we been able to move on down the trail.
One thing that bothered me was that I was not prepared with the proper equipment. I have always educated myself and tried to be prepared for my hikes, but this time I had failed. Had I been better prepared and helped the others be better prepared, we would have been able to finish our hike.
As with the Championship, I prepared like I thought I should but found out in the end that I had not completely thought through everything or made sound decisions about equipment. In Arkansas I should have been trying to concentrate more on finesse fishing. In the mountains I should have been better prepared for ice. I had great anticipation for a great outcome only to have to leave with great disappointment.
This was the case with fishing and hiking. Both situations allowed me to experience what it takes to start at the bottom and work hard to try to get to the top. In fishing, the bottom is the beginning of the season with the top obviously being the points’ winner. In hiking, the bottom is the trail head with the top being your destination no matter what the distance or terrain. When we make it to the top we can stop, take a deep breath, realize the hard work, and surely know the taste of victory.
The 2008 WBT season is now in the books and only a memory. We have been blessed with a daughter-in-law. The Bassmaster Classic has come and gone and allowed me time to personally visit with sponsors. So now it’s time to look forward to the 2009 season, which will begin on Lake Neely-Henry in Alabama. Time continues to fly with no mercy for any of us.
I would like to thank my sponsors who have supported and encouraged me through my 2008 WBT season: www.fishing.about.com, Triton Boats, Cleveland Boat Center, Kick’n Bass Fish Attractant, Big Bite Baits, and JJ’s Magic.