Mount Daniel - East Peak

June 2-3, 2007 Josh, Christy and "Wonder Dog" Reba

Another ADVENTURE from famous "Hummel BOOT Camp Survivior" Christy! We appreciate the Laughs.

Saturday morning finds us lazily taking our time eating breakfast and packing the car. (Josh does most of the work, I'll admit.) He tells me, "We are going fast and light on this trip." Translation: We're going to starve and I may not have a change of underwear.

Sometime before noon, we are on our way to I-90. The sun is high, the windows open, and my eyelids are feeling a bit heavy. I drift off into a late morning slumber, dreaming of Spring corn and sunny skies. I awake to find us bumping along the Cle Elum River Road, headed toward the Cathedral Pass trailhead. "The river's running high!" Josh exclaims, excitedly pointing out obvious kayaking hazards as we (ironically) turn sharply in the car to avoid pot holes and fallen tree branches. Before long, we reach a rather significant, unforeseen obstacle. The road is washed out and the creek crossing is fairly deep. "Can we cross it?" I ask. Josh gets out, ponders the situation and hops back in the driver’s seat. "Roll down your window and make sure one hand is on the door handle. S&^%."

Not a good way to start a climbing trip.

Josh guns it, and we make it across the flooded road without a problem. Josh is sweating a little, though. "Damn, I hope it doesn't get any higher than that, or we'll have a problem!" He is confident, however, that we'll be coming back across much later in the day when the creek won't be running quite so high. (Laugh)

We make it to the trailhead, gather our gear, double check that the doors to the Expired are all closed and locked (Jason, be sure to take note of this).

Off we go! Reba doesn't even attempt to hide her enthusiasm, despite the fact that she, too, is wearing a pack. She eagerly scampers up and down the trail. We decide to avoid the endless switchbacks here and head straight up. After some haphazard creek crossing and even more schwacking, we arrive at Squaw Lake. We decide to camp here for the night and begin our climb toward Daniel in the morning.

As it is still afternoon, we have some time to relax, take (yet another) nap, and eat a leisurely dinner. I must mention something here about the dried-meal connoisseur I have become. I really only have two brands to compare though, Backpacker's Pantry and Mountain House. Of the dried meals that I have had the pleasure to evaluate, I can say for certain, that unless you enjoy eating Styrofoam, stay away from the freeze-dried ice cream. This was a totally unexpected experience, but I won't describe it any further for fear of ruining it for those of you who are anxious to try it. The Beef Stroganoff (surprisingly, one of REI's best sellers in the freeze-dried entrée department) is similar in taste to pre-school arts n'crafts paste (of which I was also a connoisseur of from ages 3 to 5). The Chicken Teriyaki by Mountain House, though. WOW! Look out! This stuff is gourmet; it's very, very tasty.

OK, moving along with the rest of the story…

Morning arrives. Josh is poking me; asking aloud how I might like a "wet willy". I pull the sleeping bag over my head. "It's too early. Leave me alone." He laughs and begins to torment me in my sleep. I tell him how annoying he is. He asks if I'd like to be pulled out of the tent, feet first. "What time is it?" He tells me it is past 8am. Crap! It really is late! I wearily pull myself out of the tent, pack some things for the climb, pull on my socks and boots, feed Reba, click into my skis and head out of camp. As we begin to circumnavigate around the lake, I ask about the time again. Josh laughs as if this is some secret joke. "It's actually 8am right now." He tricked me! He actually woke me up a little after 7am. That tricky trickster. I'll find a way to get him back! In the meantime, I have to hand it to him. He got us out on the 'trail' nice and early.

We hike up along the ridge, peering down at Deep Lake and traverse down to Peggy's Pond. We filter some water here, lather on more sunscreen and begin the skin to the base of Mt. Daniel. Throughout the day, I battled a dead iPod battery (NOOOO!), blisters that began to form upon previous blisters (is that even possible??), glaring sun, miserable heat, and a bad hang-nail that I ended up just biting off. Once we reached the West Spire, Josh told me that the West Summit was only 100 more steps to go. I think his sense of both time and distance is seriously warped. I silently counted 100 steps and stopped, not much further from where I had just been. Not much further, he promised. Once we got to the West Summit, I slumped into a sweaty mess on a pile of chossy rock. Sweat had actually dried in salty runnels down my face. We ate a quick lunch and prepared for our much-anticipated descent. And where has Reba been all day, you might be asking?? She has been running along, rolling in snow, chasing her shadow, and keeping us in check. Now that we are peering down the center chute, I wonder if she can keep up. Josh instructs me to take a few turns, and I feel my heart quicken. This is pretty steep skiing for me! But I am loving it! Turn after turn, and I am pumping it down the mountain. Beautiful. I stop and turn to see how Reba is going to navigate one of the small crevasses I skied around. I am hoping she will follow my ski track around it. I see that she sees my tracks. I see that she is seeing me seeing that she sees my tracks. And to my surprise, she comes barreling down the mountain and actually hucks the crevasse! Thatta girl!

The ski is over before I know it, and I want to turn around and do it all again. The steep skiing may be over, but the tree skiing has just begun. We fly down one last slope before entering the tree line. On this last slope, we run into another skier. He is hiking up the mountain, alone. I say 'Hello' and I wave as I ski past. Josh's route-finding is impeccable, again. We find our way back to camp, pack it up and head down to the trailhead. The tree skiing is great! I comment to Josh that it is much like a video game …quick, go left…look out for that fallen log, careful across that creek, don't look down that tree-well. About half-way down we hear a voice calling out after us. It is that lone skier whom we ran into earlier. His first words to us are, 'Where did you park your car?'
"Why, at the trailhead!" I respond. He is elated! He and his buddies had to leave their car at the creek crossing and had to hike the two or three miles to the trailhead. He asks for a ride, and we whole-heartedly oblige. "Only if you don't mind the smell of wet Golden Retriever!" I remark. Quite the opposite! He was openly taken with Reba from the beginning; commenting on her obvious good training and impeccable manners. The hiker's name was David and we chatted with him the whole way down to the trailhead. He is with two other skiers, whom he has lost. He is confident that they made it out ahead of him.

As we approach the bridge, we see one of David's buddies. It's Justin Ashworth! We talk and laugh briefly with Justin before crossing the bridge to our car. Their third buddy, we quickly discover, is not at the trailhead. He is somewhere still up on the mountain, on his first backcountry ski tour without a flashlight. This is not good news. As we discuss what to do next, I hear the sound of cracking thunder above me. And then…rain. We quickly pull on our rain jackets. I begin scouting out the meadow for some firewood. As I head back to the parking lot, I see Josh and the missing third skier come rambling down the trail. What a relief! We begin to pack all 5 of us, and the wet dog, and all our gear into the Ford Explorer. As we begin our drive back down Cle Elum River road, our talk turns to the creek crossing and the washed out road ahead of us. Josh is eerily quiet at this point, pondering the conditions we are about to encounter. As we near the creek crossing, I am amazed at the volume of water washing over the road. There are actual rapids here, where there was, just yesterday morning, not much more than a swirling puddle. This is not good. Josh gets out to survey the situation; scratches his head, and comes back to the car.

"I think I am going to try and make it across." We roll down our windows, hands on the door handles, as Josh guns it across the washed out road. The front end of the Explorer dives into the water and the creek is washing up over the hood. Josh hits the gas harder and we inch our way toward the opposite bank. So close!! But, not close enough. I can feel the back end of the Explorer moving with the current. The engine dies and we are floating there, one wheel precariously holding onto the opposite bank.

We’re f*&^%d.

 The car is still holding. Josh tries to start it again. No go. We decide to wait and let the engine "dry out". Josh's third attempt gets the engine going. What luck!! Relieved, we drop off our friends and wave good-bye. Our drive home was uneventful, except for the fantastic fajitas we ate in Cle Elum. YUM! Why don't those come freeze-dried, I wonder??

Three Things I learned on this trip

1. Some logs are not meant to be crossed.
2. Always, always recharge the iPod before a climb.
3. Ford Explorer’s really can float!

~Thanks for the story Christy and Josh! And way to survive Christy! Stay tuned for next weeks adventure.


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