So we're not mountain climbers, but we play
them on the web.
Our weekend started out late Friday after
work. The car was packed, the tank was full and the taste and aroma of
a freshly made Jack in the Box Sour Dough burger caressed my senses as I
drove out of Boise. I was off to meet Lester and Michelle in Kuna.
We would transfer my gear into her truck and all ride the eight our trip
together (okay, so never mind what I said about having a full tank, that
doesn't even matter).
After a rather late start, we wouldn't arrive
at Timberline Lodge until 2:00am the next morning. Oh, here's an
interesting side note: The Timberline Lodge is none other than the the
Overlook Hotel from the film The Shining. Timberline Lodge doesn't
actually have the infamous "Room 237" from the movie, as the lodge owners'
specifically requested the number 217 used in the book be changed to a
nonexistent room number.
We pulled the truck to the far end of a gravel
parking lot, within view of our lofty destination, pulled out Michelle's
tent and wasted no time settling in for a few hours sleep.
The cramped quarters were reminiscent of
Boulder Lake, without the wet stinky Certs loving dogs to keep us awake.
In the morning, I say, in the morning... we
were greeted by the mouthwatering smells of bacon, eggs and pancakes long
before we had any firm evidence that the restaurant was even open for
business. What a cruel joke it would have been had we been forced to
eat power bars and icy Gatorade for breakfast. It was bad enough that
when we finally found the cafeteria, we were immediately kicked out again.
Something about a private buffet. But as it turned out, it wasn't the
cafeteria that was closed to us, just the dining room that we were tromping
through. Seemed rude restaurants would be the hallmark of this trip,
after spending an hour waiting for hamburgers in Baker City.
Actually, it may have just been Lester who was
having bad restaurant karma. As his Mountain Man Extravaganza or
whatever it was called, took twice as long to prepare as did mine and
Michelle's. No worries though. We were going to climb a
After doctoring (pampering) feet and slopping
down our slop, it was finally time to start hiking. Everyone's packs
were too heavy and we were carrying them too high. But this was the
plan. We were getting ready for a Rainier trip that was planned for
two weeks hence (is that the right word there?). But to the other
day packs, we admittedly looked a little silly. I wanted to tell them
that we would be staying on the mountain for a week or two depending on how
long the firewood that we were carrying on our packs lasted. Instead,
we just smiled and listened to stories of how windy and cold it had been the
We were ready for bad weather though. In
fact, we were a little shocked that it started out so nice. Half of
our climbing party elected to stay in Idaho where the weather was sure to be
peachy. The forecast wasn't great, and that usually means crappy.
So we had mucho layers, ski goggles, four season tent, you name it. I
even brought my altimeter remembering the debates we had about our elevation
before climbing out of the clouds on attempt number two. the GPS said
one thing, and the altimeter watch said another and the top chair lift
wasn't even on the map so we couldn't use that as a reference.
It's not like this route is all that easy to
get lost on, but people do. My brother's friend Steve is on the search
and rescue team for Hood, and said climbers often get lost. I laughed
when I heard that. But in white out conditions without a compass or a
brain I guess it's possible (ooh, did I say that?). It's only after
making statements like that that you get lost yourself... so I brought the
We were moving slow. Lots of stops for
this and that, and the other thing too. But we were having fun.
Lot's of people to talk to, and the ski slopes were fully active. We
even got booted off the ski area at one point. Something about being
on the receiving end of the artificial jumps when they open the snowboarder
flood gates. We thought that was pretty silly but complied anyway.
Our ice axes were still stowed.
Eventually, we pulled out the crampons and
pretended that it was steep enough to use them. It was a good thing
too, because we ended up spending a couple of stops working out the bugs
from Michelle's system.
The snow was just wet enough to be a major
balling nuance (sounds like I'm swearing). Michelle grew an inch or
two taller with each step. Oh, the comments I could make here... Anyway,
lacking the requisite duct tape, we tried to remedy the situation with some
strategically laced webbing. That was a major improvement, but she
still needed to toe in every few steps to dislodge the clods.
It wasn't looking too promising, but then
Michelle noticed some guys just ahead. We could ask them for some duct
tape. But as we approached, I began wondering if that was such a smart
idea. There was something very strange about this group of mountain
reminded me of farm cats out in the field just after the hay is cut.
They were running around pouncing on invisible snow shrews. Pounce,
run around, pounce again. Very strange. We got closer and
decided that we'd have better luck if they heard a female voice call for
help. "Sure we have duct tape" came the reply. I dropped my pack
and headed over to meet the big one half way. He wasn't interested in
talking to me though, he wanted to see who was behind that damsel in
Lester and I began working on Michelle's boots
while she kept him occupied with conversation. His name was Scott B...
B... Oh, I'll remember it later. Turns out our duct tape hero was on
the mountain rescue team and they were there to practice the art of locating
avalanche transceivers. A more difficult task than I had imagined it
would seem. Not only that, he knew my brother's friend Steve as well.