Monday, September 13, 2010

200 stories

No, not stories as in tales... there's but one of those here.

Every year at this time I am confronted once again with my mortality.

When I was young, each birthday signaled another expansion of my world, and was a joyous, exciting occasion.

In the middle years, the birthdays flew past, essentially uncounted, although there was some vague unease, as the piles of years allocated to me slowly dwindled.

Now, each one is special once again. The old guy that looks at me in the mirror each morning tells me that I am getting old, and that I ought to get used to the idea. This weekend, I proved him wrong, one more time.

In what may be becoming a tradition, we did an overnight backpacking trip for my birthday, this past weekend.

We drove out of Granite Falls and parked at Barlow Pass, in the Cascades east of Everett.  Donning our packs, we hiked in the 4 miles to what is left of the old mining town of Monte Cristo.

Aside: When you are backpacking, your pack takes on a special meaning to you - you are carrying everything in there - your larder, your kitchen, your closet, your whole house in fact. It is not unlike the feeling you develop for your boat when you are away from your home dock (obligatory sailing reference: satisfied).

Don't look down...
Over the 4 miles, the trail gained an elevation of 500 feet - it was almost imperceptible. Still, carrying 50 lb for 4 miles is not entirely trivial. We had lunch at Monte Cristo, and then started the last mile and a half, up to Poodle Dog Pass (who thinks up these names? There must be an interesting story here...), and then down slightly to Silver Lake.

In this last mile and a half, the elevation gain was 1500 feet. Tho the scenery was spectacular - huge old growth fir trees, mountain streams cascading, and Friday Falls dropping hundreds of feet, that is a lot of elevation gain in quite a short distance. When we reached the pass, we had, in perhaps 5 hours, climbed 2000 feet. Now I know that there are rock climbers and mountain climbers out there who read this site, and that they will have an appreciation of what this means. For the rest of you, pick out a 100 story skyscraper and imagine bypassing the elevator and climbing up its stairs.


With a 50 lb sack of cement on your back.

The view from our tent
It was worth it. We set up our campsite on a knoll above the lake, with a spectacular view, right from our tent.

And then we enjoyed a glass of wine, sitting with our backs to an old gnarled tree, enjoying that view - we had truly earned it. Yes, tho pride is a sin, there is an undeniable feeling of accomplishment.

Why yes, that is a glass of wine...
I give Jane all the credit on this. She is the one who did the planning and provided the encouragement that I, sadly, needed to set out on this adventure.

We did it.

I'm not old, yet.


Anonymous said...

Great post and I love the shot of the lake from your tent. This sure is a beautiful part of the world! Having done a bit of backpacking I can definitely appreciate the gain in elevation and the weight of the pack. You must be devoted wine lovers to have carried it all that way (we usually carry a flask of something to sip in the evening but I admit we have carried wine in as well). Your post makes me want to get out there before winter sets in, but every free moment is spent on the boat these days...

bob said...

rmadix: They sell 4 small plastic (light weight) 187 ml bottles of wine that total the 750 ml of a standard bottle... that's what we had. One bottle for cocktails, and one after dinner.

But the flask has its benefits too...

Mike said...

Sounds like a great trip. Happy birthday.

bob said...

Mike: Thanks! Happily enjoying the 34th anniversary of my 29th birthday.

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday!


bob said...

Richard: Thanks!

Happily enjoying the 29th anniversary of my 34th birthday as well!

SV Estrellita 5.10b said...

Happy Belated Bob!

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