Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Living in the Clouds in the Tatoosh Wilderness

My younger son Ryan and I backpacked into the Tatoosh Wilderness on Sunday.

After 3000 vertical feet on a renlentless trail, we reached the saddle separating us from our planned destination, a small valley where we had camped several years before. But we were stunned at what we saw below us. All of our plans and expectations were dashed.
I didn't know what to do.

The entire valley was covered with snow. We didn't want to slide down the steep slope only to tent on the snow. We weren't mentally prepared for that with our shorts. We decided to camp on the narrow ridge in a cluster of trees one hundred feet above the trail.

After a quick pitching of the tent and one sunset photo of neighboring Mount Rainier, the rain clouds zoomed in. They smothered us. And they didn't leave. As the clouds flew up over our ridge, the trees above us captured the moisture and rained it down on us. For two nights and the entire day it rained on us.

Most of Monday we stayed huddled in the dry tent.
We measured visibility from our camp site by the number of trees we could see below us. One tree visibility was about 50 feet. A record three-trees visibility was about 200 feet. For a change of pace around noon, we ventured on a short hike, only to be totally drenched with rain. We scrambled back into our REI cocoon. We read, wrote, napped and rushed out for potty breaks. That night the rain continued nonstop.

Since I had injured my back before the trip, it started hurting big time from laying around so much. Tuesday morning, the clouds continued showering us. About 10:00, we decided to head back down to the car.

Regardless, the trip was not a disaster. In fact, this was probably one of the best trips Ryan and I had done. Outside, the wet wildflowers were fresh with huge water drops. A bird kept singing much of the day. Inside, we talked honestly. We shared personal stories. We even developed a business plan for me.

Life just doesn't get any better.

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