Wednesday, March 13: 2300 feet hiked, 2300 feet slayed, 5.2 miles
Even sleeping in, pounding a plate of pancakes and at least four shots of espresso couldn’t erase the residual throb of tired muscles. And an early start? Yeah right. Getting out of bed — for me especially — was as easy as eating 50 raw eggs (Cool Hand Luke… anyone?). If the early bird gets the worm, I definitely never even knew there was a worm. Eleven o’clock saw us finally bursting forth like excited baby birds into an already warm, sunny spring day.
Although the spring weather meant t-shirts and excess sunscreen, the soleil masked a more sinister side: glop, or the wet, warmer snow that attracts to the bottom of one’s ski therefore creating a problem. There are three terms the reader should become familiar with for the first part of our journey:
1. Protests outside the embassy: When snow sticks to the bottom of at least one ski in a manner that slightly annoys the skier.
2. Civil unrest: When snow sticks to the bottom of one or both skis in a manner that begins to impede progress/piss off the skier.
3. World War III: When snow sticks to the bottom of both skis or at least one ski creating a ski-letto and bars progress entirely.
During the first half hour, protests outside the embassy caused a minute delay in our progress, but a light breeze and delectable snacks helped us persevere. In the latter part of the hour, civil unrest resulted in the blockage of supplies to most of our forces and morale took a nosedive. After more than an hour, we were in full-fledged World War III: complete gear malfunction, constant strategy changes and deployment of fighter jets/ice scrapers/more chocolate. Things were going about this well:
However, as our forces are resilient and not prone to surrender, we did make it out of the war zone to cooler, more peaceful slopes. World War Three had taken a considerable chunk out of our reserves and progress up to the top was slower than anticipated.
Once we reached the entirely warmer/more enjoyable lunch spot from yesteryear, the sun shone anew — both literally and figuratively. Our forces wasted no time emptying the coffers of all MREs and other edible goods before resuming our mission with new zeal.
And then it was down, down and down… straight across the avalanche path again. Looking up while darting across reminded me of my smallness. Seeing the great white expanse above and below me was exhilarating. Down through wide trees and over to a secondary slide path where the snow was warming up but not yet turning to thick chowder. Tele turns through wide trees and down along the shady right side of the path, where the snow was an enjoyable tofu-like variety. Further down the snow turned warm and grabby, like randomly skiing over giant strips of masking tape. The bottom of the run found us tired, satisfied and of course, starving.
We left our skins off for the 3.8 mile slog out. A group of five or six dudes was arriving at the hut as we shoved off, most already with adult beverages in tow. As we turned our backs on Cascade Mountain and Vagabond Ranch, it felt symbolic — like turning our backs on winter (and the best skiing yet this winter) and looking towards spring. The sun bathed us as we poled over warm, crunchy snow. The weekend was (as I apparently often say) quite epic.