We drove up and met at the Starbucks in North Bend where we met our hiking group. We were only running five minutes late, and we were thankfully not the last ones there. I used the time to tie my boots properly and put gators on over my shoes/snow pants. We met a group of people who were fast on the mountain, and I was hoping because of all my training thus far, that I’d be able to keep up. I was pretty confidant that I would. We carpooled with New Zealand Peter out to the New trailhead of Mt. Si and parked. Outside, it was still raining and the drops were growing in circumference and quantity.
We gathered around and said the Serenity prayer, which I’ve almost memorized and continue to flub the word ‘give’ and ‘grant’ up, but at least I haven’t screwed up the important part, and then we kick our feet up, tell each other to not slip and “WhooHoo!”. Starting up, Reid, the group leader had a good pace out ahead and I was already 10 paces behind. I thought I was ready at the Starbucks, but I had forgotten how accomplished Reid and the group was. It was similar to watching a race horse vs the horse carrying a pretty cart around NYC Central Park. I am still in the process of shedding my plumes for some mountaineering racing stripes.
As we worked our way up, the snow became heavier and thicker. It was cold, but since Teneriffe, Bill and I had purchased quite a bit of gear at REI to be prepared and so my core was warm. The snow was beginning to stick to the trees and to the trail. I was in such a state to be a mountaineering race horse that the hike was becoming very laboring and my psyche was sinking faster than my breathing. It’s funny now, looking back, ever since Mt. Teneriffe, how quickly an image that I had of quitting has infected this Mt Si trip, and the thought came at an earlier point in the trail then I’d ever had. Bill, bless his heart, kept telling me to slow down, to enjoy the trip, enjoy the snow, and not to worry about anything else. Instead, I had the Offspring (Self Esteem) playing in my head, … “I know I should say No”.
I grumbled, and threw back a verbal, “I know Bill.” He kept his positive “You’re doing great Heather” and “Slow down!” comments which I was appreciative of (much later). It was difficult: the snow acted like sand and so each step was doubly hard, and we had extra clothing on. I had ‘other’ things going on (girly stuff) and had also gone to a happy hour the night before for a friend returning on a 2 week excursion to France and had a large glass of wine. All of these things contributed to a harder hike. Some of these things were in my control and some of them were not. And I wanted so badly to be with the pack though and yet I had alternating thoughts of quitting. How the mind flipped and flopped with opposing arguments and no logic as I worked through the mental game of getting myself up that mountain.
I was in such a foul mood again that I didn’t take any pictures on the way up, and now I was having to rely on my mind’s eye to describe the scenery. I wish I could take it back, and that my sourness would have subsided enough so that I at least had pictures in my digi cam, but it didn’t happen. Moving on … a picture is worth a thousand words, but sometimes words tell me something that a picture doesn’t. On the way up, we passed a moss covered tree that was covered in snow. The color contrast of brown wood against the bright green moss and the clean white snow was spectacular. How lucky am I to live in a gorgeous place, full of surprising images.
As I hiked, I tend to be very ‘down’ focused, watching my feet rather than the horizon and the scenery around me. I had to remind myself to look up, and appreciate what’s around me. We walked into a clearing, and I looked down the mountain. The wind was blowing sharp snow into my eyes and stinging my cheeks, and yet as I peered down, the evergreen branches were heavy with snow which reminded me of old timey cartoon characters and the Christmas song of “Gramma Got Run over by a Raindeer”. Even though the (four letter word here) snow was striking my face, I forced myself to appreciate the splendor of snow in the woods.
We made it to the top, walked halfway up the rock face and the wind was blowing incredibly hard so that the sharp slaps we felt earlier could be reclassified as ‘gentle.’ We touched the top rock and headed back down. Deep down, I was glad we weren’t going to stop for a food break because I knew my fingers were going to turn white soon. Continuing down the hill would be the best thing. I popped in my hotties, which I’ve got to do that BEFORE the ascent instead of after, and only the tips turned white. We stopped for a quick bite to eat and then headed down the mountain. All of us were cold and wanted to get into town as soon as possible. We hightailed it down the mountain, running in places. The snow was getting heavy and it was starting to warm up and it was dropping off the trees in big hunks. Splat! Sometimes it fell like hail, and other times it was so wet that when it made contact it splat across the jacket.
It was so hard going up, that going down was a pleasure. I experienced the yin and yang of hiking where pain was followed by pleasure. The snow was beginning to melt and the trail into a slushy mess which made it easy to sort of “ski” down. I loved the big mud pockets and happily splashed in them. I let my long legs swing to gain a little distance. My Yaktraks had come halfway off , which was irritating, but I kept going. We took them off about 3/4 of the way back to the trail head. I had to slow down because it was much more slippery, and the last thing I wanted was an accident. Soon, we were at New Zealand Peter’s truck and heading back into town. Thirty minutes later, we were enjoying the “house” special at Jay Berry’s pizza place with a diet Coke.
I don’t know how it’s all going to end. I do know that I’m going to try again, and just keep trying. One hike at a time. Sorry if you hear cuss words from under my breath (or maybe not quite ‘under’) or in full plain view on the blog, but I am working on the, uh, whole package.