"Gentlemen, this is a football" Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi said to his team during his pre-season speech. The saying has become synonyms with mastering the basics, not only of football but can and should be applied to anything. Northgate Peak East is my "football" for hiking. It is a small ranked peak in the Kolob section of Zion National Park with a rise of 319' feet. More importantly it offers one of the highest reward, lowest risk peaks in the park.
The temperature gage reads 77 degrees when I pull into the Wildcat trailhead, there are a few spaces available which is a surprise because this is also the trailhead for The Subway, one of the most popular slot canyons in the area and allows dozens of permits per day. Other slot canyons in Zion offer 6 - 12 permits per day by comparison. I haven't come to hike The Subway, I have come to re-motivate my passion for peak bagging. Mastering the basics or in my case, getting back to the basics is one of the easiest ways to reignite the desire to climb peaks.
It all started a little over a month ago with a sharp pain in my heel. I recognized the flaring pain of Plantar Fasciitis and starting wearing my night time boot. It surprised me because I haven't had Plantar Fasciitis in years since I gave up Racquetball due to the constant pain. But the recognizable "nail in the heel" is back and feeling as bad as ever. Couple that with a long weekend ride to the 115 degree temperature of Palm Springs for Summer Regional Meeting and I've been slowly sinking in motivation. Add some failed summit attempts and a 60 peak goal this year that seems to be getting close to out of reach and I needed a simple win.
This is my 6th ascent of Northgate Peaks East since I've been keeping track via Lists of John website. Everyone else claiming an ascent of the peak has made it a one-and-done event. Perhaps it's just me, but the peak sits at the southern end of the Northgate Trail and frames the eastern side of the trail at trail end. Dropping off the eastern side and follow the single track trail through the Ponderosa pine trees onto the slick rock and with a short scramble the summit is achieved.
This simple scramble up Northgate Peak East has never failed to put things into perspective as I gaze out over the red and white Navajo Sandstone that is Zion National Park. A sense of awe and reverence brings peace to my soul, there is truly something amazing about climbing to a point where the only direction is down and reaching a summit, any summit often brings the desired result.
I hike back along the sun drenched trail feeling respite under the shade of trees. The temperature has risen to 93 degrees during the 3 hour hike, and my heel is beginning to hurt, I'll ice my foot when I get home, but sitting on this mountain summit, like getting the football into the end zone has served its purpose. New Quarter.
For more pictures of this amazing area of the park see the 11/6/2016 Northgate Peaks East post.