Which Way to Go?
By Alice Schenk
Dreams can come with a price, and mine was exacted in the operating room. Last fall, after a season of scaling mountains, I developed a full tear and a partial tear on the same rotator cuff and a torn bicep. It’s been said that dreams come a size too big so you can grow into them, and I’ve been growing a lot lately. My return to the mountains from the operating table was difficult and at times depressing, yet consistent progress was made, and at last I was ready to face Monument Peak.
Located in the southern end of the Seven Devils Mountains, Monument Peak is part of the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area. It’s also the Adams County High Point, rising to a formidable 8,940 feet. In the pages of IDAHO magazine over the past several years, I’ve chronicled my efforts to reach the highest points in each of the state’s forty-four counties. Monument Peak would be number forty-three. From the top, you can see the peaks of He Devil and She Devil, which are recognized as two of three potential high points in Idaho County.
My husband Wayne and I first tried to conquer Monument Peak last fall, in the midst of my rotator cuff injuries. On that trip, we took a side road before Black Lake, intending to make the final push to the peak from Crystal Lake. As we were setting up camp near a creek, we met a fisherman from Oregon who had hiked in to fish Crystal Lake that day. He offered insight into a new route that would save us more than a mile (two miles round-trip) on Jim Langdon’s GPS track, which I was using. The fisherman was not young, so I thought his route should be less difficult than the way we had planned to go.
We hiked part of the way on a closed ATV trail, headed up the mountain following the fisherman’s suggestion, and then cut right to intercept Jim’s GPS track. Soon we were climbing steeply up to the ridge line and then we located a cairn that signaled it was time to go down to Crystal Lake, from where we could reach the peak. The angle was very steep, with a traverse through huge, downed trees and significant bouldering. It was beautiful but the hike had been challenging and by the time we got there, Wayne wasn’t feeling well. It was one more mile to the peak and I still felt strong and desperately wanted to continue, but I didn’t want to stress Wayne.