The Game is rigged.
Mother Nature is going to win. She always does. Yet we go back into the ring for another bout.
Not to win, but to see how many rounds we can take.
Find out what I’m made of.
This round starts off with two days of sunny weather. We luxuriate in it. We are dry, warm and well fed. Life is good again.
The snow drips off the trees, the fall colors pop back out. The world is gorgeous again.
We get up high and start to get vistas of mountains. Adams is now far behind. Helens is to one side, and then we enter Rainier National Park. Well that’s a surprise. Didn’t know we’d be in the park. We start to wonder when we’ll see the mountain.
Now that’s a mountain.
Just 80 feet shorter than Mt Whitney (and really much more impressive than Whitney. Even hiking up to the tip, I wasn’t sure which one was Whitney). She is a majestic mountain. I understand why native peoples thought the mountains were gods. I believe it. Clouds are forming around her top. The mountain brings in the weather. I wouldn’t want to anger the mountain gods.
We have grand plans to hike really far while it’s nice out, but the world is just too pretty. We take a long lunch break staring at the mountain, eventually muster on to other lakes and views. The hillsides are alive with oranges, yellows and reds.
There’s something special about knowing this weather won’t last. I want to take in the moments as long as possible. You can see so far, the colors just pop, the sun is just an amazing thing. I forgot that the world was not always gray.
We take in all the moments to remember them when the rain comes again.
And rain it does.
Soaked again very quickly. We hike thru some of the night to get to a shelter. A nice little cabin in a meadow. We are hoping we can dry our stuff out so we can have one more chance to start out dry before battling the rain again. There is no wood. Everything is used up from last winter. Nothing around that’s dry enough to burn, but at least we are inside. It is some kind of respite.
Mother Nature has another trick up her sleeve.
We’re expecting three days of rain.
We wake up to snow.
Well that’s different.
We’re up in the loft of the cabin eating third breakfast, getting up the courage to go out in the cold, when we hear voices.
A group has come up to the cabin from a nearby road to have lunch. To us, it’s like some magical people with halos have appeared. They share their lunch (which is so much better than my spam burrito, which I had just a few minutes ago been in love with). And they have donuts! Our magical friends load us up with all kinds of snacks for the trail. These snacks keep us going for the next day and a half. I keep pulling surprises out of my pockets. Their energy gives us such a boost in morale (and the food). We muster ourselves, pack up our gear and start hiking through the snow.
Three days of snow.
It’s a different game. It’s much easier to keep warm in snow than in rain. It’s colder but not so wet. Taking down camp is probably the worst part of the day. Fingers freeze. Both setting up and taking down camp takes longer as we’re trying to be careful with keeping things dry.
Breaking trail through snow is work.
We can’t walk as far every day. But we do what we can.
We push a 19 mile day to try to get out to town a day earlier and there’s a moment we realize that it’s no fun. I’m feeling the pull of Canada now that we’re so close, we want to minimize the time we’re out in the cold between stops, and we have this idea that we can get to a little mountain village for Halloween. It’s a hard moment to let go of that last idea. We can push ourselves to get there, not have fun doing it, and burn out. Or we can continue as we’ve been going. Wake up when we do, eventually get out of the tent, walk, warm up, enjoy the dazzling snow. Get as far as we can each day. When it comes down to it, this trip has been about enjoying the walk, not getting to a destination.
We get out of round 2 much happier and in better shape than round one. Friends are there to meet us at Snoqualmie Pass and thaw us out for a day. (More magical friends whom I met early on in the trip at Julian. Early Girl and Waterboy).
We thaw out, dry our gear, get our resupplies. Going North one resupply at a time. Only 250 miles left of the trail, and yet we are still so far from the goal. Step by step we go.