One of my favorite hiking buddies, Amy, has been injured but she finally came off the "injured reserve" list and as always, when able, up for any hike. We met at the trail head in Ventana Canyon at 8:00am and struck out for not only the Window but also Window Peak, a spot I had not yet visited. The trail, rolling at first, winds toward the ridge line above but bypasses it for another ridge, much higher and much more distant.
The rolling nature of the trail, into and out of a running creek, soon begins the inevitable rise as views begin to open to the southwest. The day was sunny with a high of 79 so as we rose, the temps would stay moderate. I carried 4 bottles which turned out to be jusssstttttt enough.
After about 3 miles, which included some steep climbing, we arrived at the Maiden Pools at the 1:06 mark. A fit looking couple had started about 15 minutes ahead of us and both Amy and I wondered why we had not caught them. Both of us set a fairly quick pace and being somewhat competitive, that there is someone ahead is always in the back of the mind.
Ahhh, there it is, our destination although at this point there is little to differentiate it from a number of other high rocky ridges.
Still going up we begin to pass some rock spires which from past experience, signaled that the saddle from where you turn right for the final assault on the Window, is near.
Amy yelled that she could see the Window and I yelled back, "Great but I ain't coming down to take a pic." so did so later, on the return. At that point, the climb was steep and going back a couple of switchbacks was not an option. For a variety of reasons, I have not done a hike so long and so steep on this visit so adding one length or climbing was undesirable.
We caught and passed the twosome...hurray....and reached the saddle at 2:45 and yet the rocky crag still looked so distant and so, so high. Groan.
For a few hundred yards, the way is level with fantastic views both to the southwest but now also to the northeast. In the distance is the community of Saddlebrook. Then the trail turns up, rocky with climbing difficult as usual (I never find it undifficult). The sun is on the other side of the rocks, there is snow on the ground, it is kind of cold, I think about picking up golf again, being played down in the valley where it is 79.
At last, at 3:10, we reach the back of the window, somewhat obscured by this tree but the views from inside the window looking at the front, superb.
Amy convinces me to climb a boulder for a pic out the back of the window. Off my shoulder, to the left and unseen, higher yet, is Window Peak.
The Peak is not far, about .4 of a mile but at the base of the peak, it is kind of confusing how best to reach the rock spire. As a veteran hiker, I have learned never to waste energy so when Amy thought this was the way to go, I encouraged her to go and yell back if correct.
It was and then another wall like barrier to be climbed and at last....
....we reached the small space that defined the peak with grand views of Cathedral Rock, slightly higher, in the distance. We thought there would be a can or something that would contain a notebook to register the fact that we had made it so we looked around.
Actually, Amy did most of the looking as I did most of the pic taking. A rock spire, similar to that on which we were standing, was slightly below us with the valley way down, 7 miles distant.
How about that? No register to be found but we did dig a bottle of something, maybe a Belgium beer, from a crevice, well hidden. We returned it to the hiding place so it would be there if/when the owner returned. We headed back down.
Walked through some grassy sections but I thought it unlikely the rattlers would be out so did not slow too much out of concern for that.
About 3 more miles to go, finally reaching our cars at just under 8 hours, 14 miles and around 4500' of climbing. Time for a glass of wine....or two.