Getting Out

October 28, 2009

I groaned and rolled over as the alarm released a series of deafening high pitched beeps into my sleeping ears.  3:00AM, why am I doing this to myself?  I shut my eyes and drift back to sleep.  Half an hour later I wake up and realize that I’m supposed to be across town at Marcus’s house in two minutes.

We roll through Hood River on the way to the North Cascades.  “It’s not raining now,” says Marcus.

Hours roll by under an increasingly menacing sky.  The forecast calls for a “significant hydrological event” on Friday with up to an inch of rain, then the models show the weather clearing for a brief window on Saturday, and then more crap weather on Sunday.  If we can just approach during the rain on Friday, we’ll be all set to climb the route when the weather window materializes on Saturday.  Desperation really, but such is the mindset of the North Cascades alpinist come autumn.

Marcus tells me, “You know, when you didn’t show up at 3:30 I thought maybe you had decided to bag it and went back to sleep.  I was getting ready to do the same thing when you showed up.  It’s like a game of chicken, I’ll go if you go…”

The rain in Leavenworth is torrential.  We stop at the faux Bavarian pharmacy and buy four dollar ponchos.

We keep driving and the rain doesn’t stop.  The gray sky is oppressive.  The rain isn’t warm.  It is a bone chilling, hypothermia inducing type of rain.  We should be sleeping in and then hanging out at a coffee shop with our significant others.  Instead we’re at the trailhead packing.

Marcus puts his poncho over his head and pack.  I laugh and throw mine on.  Marcus says, “No pictures.”

We walk up the trail for miles.  It isn’t long before everything is soaked.   The pitter patter of raindrops on cheap plastic occupies my thoughts.  We arrive at an alpine meadow not far from our objective and set up the tent.  The mountains are socked in, their tops hidden under a shroud of gray.

That night the rain never stops.  It pounds our small nylon shelter until water starts to sneak in the seams.  Drifting in and out of sleep, I am annoyed by the fact that my butt is wet.  Eventually the loud rain gives way to the soft whisper of snow hitting tent fly.

We wake up with the alarm but the stubborn gray skies remain.