Thursday, July 14, 2011

An Unexpected Turn of Events

Our Wonderland Trail adventure departs on Saturday - three days from now. We had to put in our reservations back in March and be locked into our route at that time. You are not allowed to backcountry camp, and they are rather strict about headcounts. Much thought went into this process, lots of reading, a little bit of gambling here and there with mileage, but in the end a challenging but highly doable trip. Oh, it is just so cute how we thought we could control all the variables of nature.

Fast forward a couple months to tonight. Currently, it is just past 1:30 in the morning and Jules and I are still up scouring the Internet and pining over maps. You see, in a normal year the mid to end of July has only about 30 percent snow coverage on the higher peaks. This is not a normal year. The 30 percent snow coverage or less areas are far fewer than the 65 to 100% snow coverage areas. That means some places are under 9+ feet of snow. The mountain isn't projected to melt off until sometime in mid August or later.

This is what it looks like about 25 minutes from our house where we have been teaching The Barracuda to kick steps. At points on The Wonderland we are at over 8000 feet....


We are having to skim pounds where we can to add ice axes, webbing, the GPS, and a snow shovel. The Barracuda's harness is being added so we can rope up when necessary (extreme exposure and feet of snow can make Mommy a bit nervous) and belay him through a couple of rather gnarley looking river crossings (which make Dad nervous). The MSR Whisperlite is being switched out for MSR XGK. This means a higher fuel consideration, but that sucker is like a blow torch and can melt snow for water if needed without skipping a beat. Sneakers have been upgraded to boots and the seam grip is coming out in force (Jules has gone through 2 tubes already on our boots and has us both higher than a kite.). We are going to have to upgrade maps to get one with UTM coordinates and a grid reader so we can check our route finding as many places of the trail are still at 100 percent snow coverage for miles at a time.

But we are still going. The Barracuda has shown extreme interest in route finding, GPS, and compass skills in off trail and low visibility situations (our son is a weirdo). Now he can learn first hand. He wants to be a Mazama and summit a 14; this can prepare him. More than anything, we can really meet the mountain on her terms. After all, what fun would circumnavigating a mountain be if you aren't momentarily terrified by the magnitude of what you have taken on or potentially scaring yourself into wetting you pants a few times?

Looks like there is going to be a lot of this!
Hoorah!

I'll take lots of pictures as long as the camera's battery can hold out. It tends to freeze up when temperatures hover in the teens too long, but if I carry it against my chest it tends to hang in there long enough.


5 thoughts:

Mr. H. said...

Well Merry Christmas, looks like you will be having quite the adventure in that winter wonderland this summer. The little mountains we have been hiking into still have snow too so I can only imagine how much there is over 8,000 feet. I can't wait to see the pictures and stories of your trek.

Mel said...

Well, that looks like an adventure. I'm sort of feeling like a wimp now because I keep postponing my 4 year old's first backpacking trip due to snow...

Granola Girl said...

Mr. H ~ We are hoping things will just keep melting off as much as possible. Who knows, we might get there are it has all been quite a bit of hype....but probably not :)

Mel ~ As Jules is quite fond of reminding me "There are bold Mountaineers, there are old Mountaineers, but there are no bold, old Mountaineers." Don't be so quick to declare yourself a wimp. We might get up there, take one look, and decide to come back home to do another trail :)

Damien said...

I am looking forward to seeing where this goes. Be safe out there!

Alice said...

WOW ... have fun and be safe!!

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