Isabella, Jim, and the two students are descending Long’s Peak. They hike about 2,000 feet down when the two other men decided to take the faster, steeper route.
Perhaps the two students peeled off because Isabella was slowing them down. “I had various falls,” she says, “and once hung by my frock, which caught on a rock, and Jim severed it with a hunting knife, upon which I fell into a service full of soft snow.”*
It gets more treacherous as they go. Sometimes she goes on hands and knees and “sometimes Jim pulled me up by my arms or a lariat, and sometimes I stood on his shoulders, or he made steps for me of his feet and hands, but at six we stood on the Notch in the splendor of the sinking sun, all color deepening, all peaks glorifying, all shadows purpling, all peril past.”
I mean … this is really about as swoon-y as she gets. And I’m still sort of shocked that she wasn’t concerned about appearances. I guess if it were England, it would be more of a worry? Or if she weren’t already well-past marrying age?
All four of them make it back to where the horses are tethered. They settled in for a night’s rest before tackling the rest of the return trip. Isabella falls asleep quickly with Ring curled up beside her. After a couple of hours, unknown wild animals spoked the horses, a merry chase was on, and Jim had them re-rounded up in a half-hour.
They reached Estes Park by noon the following day.
“A more successful ascent of the Peak was never made, and I would not now exchange my memories of its perfect beauty and extraordinary sublimity for any other experience of mountaineering in any part of the world. Yesterday snow fell on the summit, and it will be inaccessible for eight months to come.”
*Seriously. The rom-com writes itself.