Isabella, Jim, and the two young men, after an evening of singing ‘round the fire*, settled in as best they could for the night. In the morning, they’d take on Long’s Peak.
Isabella didn’t sleep well. It was below freezing and the wind was picking up. The rest of the crew got a good rest. Still, she says, “it was exciting to lie there, with no better shelter than a bower of pines, on a mountain 11,000 feet high, in the very heart of the Rocky Range, under 12 degrees of frost, hearing the sounds of wolves, with shivering stars looking through the fragrant canopy, with arrowy pines for bed posts, and for a night lamp the red flames of a camp fire.”
Honestly? This sounds delightful.
After they watched an amazing sunrise,** they had breakfast and hit the trail. It is harrowing, with steep drops and “awful chasms deep with ice and snow.”
Isabella at this point confessed to her sister that the climb was more than her beginner mountaineering skills could match. Had she known what would be required, she would not have attempted it.
“As it is, I am only humiliated by my success, for Jim dragged me up, like a bale of goods, by sheer force of muscle…Two thousand feet of solid rock towered above us, four thousand feet of broken rock shelved precipitously below; smooth granite ribs, with barely a foothold, stood out here and there; melted snow refrozen several times, presented a more serious obstacle; many of the rocks were loose, and tumbled down when touched.”
She wants to return to safety and the younger men said that “a woman was a dangerous encumbrance.***” But Jim said that if Isabella did not make the trek, he would not go at all and the two young men could find their own way.
That, however, is not what happened.
* a Latin student’s song, two Negro melodies, “Sweet Spirit Hear My Prayer,” “The Star-Spangled Banner,” and “The Red, White, and Blue.” Jim recited a “very clever poem of his own composition and told some fearful Indian stories.” I don’t think they made s’mores.
** the phrase "Tyrian purple" was evoked
*** T-shirt slogan?