2086ft gain/1986ft loss. 7.62 miles. Today, we head out. All we have to do is hike uphill to Hannegan Pass, and then it’s all downhill from there. We pack wet belongings, and hit the trail. There is a light rain, or mist, that starts to send us off on our journey home, and at this point, I expect nothing less. In fact, I don’t even bother donning rain gear this time, just wear my shorts and shirt, resigned to the fact that I’m going to be sweaty, wet, and cold as soon as we start our climb uphill, so why fight it?
It’s an uneventful hike out, as the gray cover obscures everything from view, and all we’re left with is the sound of wet boots slogging through slop, broken up only occasionally by the sniffling of a cold nose that I won’t shake until we get back to the truck. We take bets, wondering where we’ll see our first people, if any along the way, and we think it will be from Hannegan Pass onward, certainly not on this part of the trail.
“…That, and you can only take so many pictures of things obscured…”
The rain is constant, and by the time I reach the pass, I’m completely drenched, looking every bit like a drowned rat. I have Greg take my picture, so I won’t forget how I felt that day. It’s a balmy 45 degrees out, but I don’t notice, being slightly overheated coming up hill, and probably a little acclimated to the temp, given our last few days out. It’s only one of five pictures taken on this day, since it’s so wet, we don’t want to ruin our cameras. That, and you can only take so many pictures of things obscured…#$*& North Cascades…A half hour from the car, we run into 2 couples on their way in, still fresh, to the point you can still smell shampoo, and they’re covered head to toe in raingear, warm and dry, I’m sure…
“…They suggest it may have something to do with us, and could we please hurry and leave, and take this foul weather with us?”
We stop and talk to them, as they are the first people we’ve seen in 3 days, to find out where they’re going, where they’re from, etc..They ask us a few questions, and we find out that they are from Wisconsin and Michigan, and will be out for about a week. They also tell us that by Tuesday, the weather is supposed to be better, so they will be able to see the things that were hidden from us…Oh, yeah…North Cascades…We make mention of the fact, that every time we come to the north, we face the same kind of weather, and it’s beginning to give us a complex. They suggest it may have something to do with us, and could we please hurry and leave, and take this foul weather with us?
We say our goodbyes, wondering if they were joking, and make the remaining easy trek back to the truck. Seeing them all covered up to avoid the rain, I was wondering…They probably thought I was a complete nut job, soaked, standing around in nothing but a summer tee, and shorts. At least, I wasn’t overheated…Back at the truck, it’s a mad dash to strip out of water logged clothes and boots, and get in something dry. Oh, what a relief!
Sitting at home, writing this in the comfort of a warm house, with all the attendant comforts of living indoors, it’s possible that I’ve lost some of the essence of what it was like on this trek, as I write from memory. It’s also likely that some of the emotion, wonder, disappointment, and just plain frustration with the weather and lost hope of not seeing all that this hike would offer on a clear day, is lost, vanishing like a puff of smoke on a windy day. It seems likely, given my memory, that I won’t recall, or have selectively blocked out a lot of what I was feeling, just ask anyone that really knows me.
However, one thing that will not be forgotten, or lost to the obscurity of time, is a new epithet that is now forever added to my vocabulary. North Cascades. Let me explain why this term now has such significance in the hallowed halls of Dave’s verbiage. You see, it seems that on every hike that we’ve ever ventured into the North Cascades, we’ve dealt with rain. Thunder Creek? Check. Got rained on hard, on that one. How about our foray into Monte Cristo, and Twin Lakes. Yep. Wet again. Not to mention cloud cover that obscured some of the distant peaks. Sound familiar? And, here we are again. So, North Cascades has a new meaning, for me…
“Dude. You got so North Cascaded!”
Let’s say you got passed over for that promotion you had been hoping for. “Oh, man, you got North Cascaded on that one, Bob.” Or, say your parachute fails to open, and you know you are so North Cascaded, that all you can think of on the way to a sudden stop, is, “NOOOOOOOOOOORRRRRTTTTHHHHH CAAAAAAAAAAAASCAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAADEEEESSSSS!!!” And, just in case the point is missed, remember when it was Christmas, and all you wanted was that BB gun, and instead, all you got were socks, and some other forgettable tinker toys? “Dude. You got so North Cascaded!” So, I guess some of the feelings and emotions managed to make it home, perhaps stuffed into my wet clothes that were oh so gleefully jammed into my drenched pack.