Sunday, July 5, 2015

We survived and thrived!

We are so lucky to have a great community around us.  Since my parents live in Germany, and Steve's in Minnesota, we don't get frequent grandparent breaks/babysitting stints.  But we have amazing friends who take our kids for four days every summer so Steve and I can have a vacation alone.  Four days! Without kids! 

Our awesome neighbor took over our homesteading duties for us, which is nothing to sneer at.  Milking goats, feeding pigs, feeding and herding ducks, taking care of our senile dog... 

This time, our getaway coincided with our wedding anniversary and Steve's birthday.  We celebrated in style.  A romantic bed and breakfast stay, you wonder?  Nah!

Instead of luxury and candle light, we battled swarms of mosquitoes, risked our lives sliding down a rocky scree cliff, and beat up our bodies climbing thousands of feet.

We loved almost every minute of it.

You know why?  Because we got to do what we love: hiking, backpacking, spending uninterrupted time with each other, and communing with our friends, the mountains.  In this case, the mountain in question was Mount Rainier.  Here (s)he is:

I know, I know... How many pictures can you take of a mountain with wildflowers in it?  I took way too many pictures, but how could I help it?  Every bend in the trail revealed a better vista.  Once we got up to the pass and saw in the other direction, we glimpsed the famous chains of volcanoes (of which Mt Rainier is one): Mount Hood, Mount Adams, and Mount St. Helens with its top blown off (which happened in 1980).

The wildflowers were spectacular.  

Steve made fun of me for lugging my pillow up the mountain, but if I sleep in a tent, I want a good pillow.  Period.

This hike was recommended to us by a mountain-climber friend who monitors glaciers in national parks for a living.  She gets around in the wilderness, and she knew that this hike wouldn't be crowded with people.  She was right.  By the time we left the main trail to head to our destination called "The Castle", there were no people at all.  No wonder.  The "trail" was treacherous, exposed, unstable, steep.  A paradise for mountain climbing types, of which I am not one.  At all.  I spent the last part of the hike holding Steve's hand in a vice grip for fear of falling.

Talk about bonding.

Just before reaching "The Castle", we lost the trail and thus scrambled up to a saddle, which revealed a gorgeous lake on the other side.  The lake was located hundreds of feet down a scree field.  We wanted to be down there, which meant descending down this steep field of loose rocks.  Steve thought I would never go for it.  Not wanting to be a wussy, I suggested to slide down.  He looked at me skeptically, then led the way.  I had to wait since I didn't want to loosen an avalanche of heavy rocks on top of him.

When he was far enough down for me to follow, he yelled up at me and coached me how to best survive this: sliding on my butt, bracing with both legs, letting the heavy backpack slow me down.  I did just that, and in the middle of it, my sleeping bag detached from my pack and started bouncing down, down, down, towards the lake.  Steve yelled, "Don't worry, it will stop!" 

We watched it merrily gain speed, and a minute later, cheerfully land in the lake.

"Don't worry, you can use my sleeping bag!" Steve yelled.

A few harrowing minutes later, we made it to the lake.  My butt is still scratched up today.

This is why we got lost.  Do you see a trail here? No? We didn't either.  That's why we took our "shortcut" to the lake.  On the way back, however, we took "the trail", hugging the steep slope.  It was insane.
Happy to have survived, we found a place to set up camp, cooked dinner, rested our weary legs, watched the sunset, and reveled in our good fortune.

Ahhhhhhh.... How I love this wild country.  How I love my life.  How I love my man.  Happy anniversary to us!


  1. WOAHH!!
    What an amazing trip! In every sense imaginable!!
    Wild places, views, adventure, love.....

    *grinding teeth & clenching fists* I am soooo envious....

    Nah... The images and the tone of this post made me feel happy too. Tack ska du ha!!

  2. Wow what a fantastic trip! I'm so glad you survived and thrived! Beautiful pictures. Again Switzerland comes to mind.

    That reminds me of a time when my ex-husband landed his hang glider in wilderness and we had to retrieve it some how. He couldn't carry it out all by himself so I volunteered to help. We were newly married maybe a month old. First we encountered a bear (go the other way as fast as you can without running) then we tried to go down a scree slope. Part way down it really wasn't working so I decided to go back up. Up until then we were really going down on our butts like you but there were a lot of trees. It wasn't that easy going back up on hands and knees grabbing hold of trees and inching my way back. You can't really stand up in scree without slipping and sliding, can you?

    I don't know whether you were foolhardy or plucky but I'm glad you made it. Your pictures are wonderful!

    1. I used to hang glide, too. So how were you able to carry that stranded hangglider back out????

    2. Oh it's quite a story with a joke ending. We scoured that country trying to find a way to get to the glider. It was rugged mountainous terrain let me tell you. (Don't ask me why he was flying back there. Mistakes happen.) Finally we came upon a group of young fire workers who were idle at the time. They volunteered to help pack the heavy glider out over the rough terrain. We found a logging road and drove to the bottom of the creek ravine across from where we thought the glider was farther up the slope. I waited in the truck expecting to wait a long long time. After about an hour there they came. It turned out that if my ex had just gone DOWN the slope instead of up the glider was right across from an old logging road and was easily packed out. We had considered hiring a logging helicopter, everything, to get that glider back. It was some adventure.

  3. Those pictures are breathtaking! And what an adventure you had!


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