Archive for June, 2009

On top of Old Smokey

Thursday, June 11th, 2009

Ever since we moved to Washington, we’ve had a thing for volcanoes (as you might have noticed) and ever since we spent a fantabulous night in a fire lookout last summer, we’ve had a thing for Mount Baker. Seriously, who wouldn’t – just look at it:

Classic

When we signed up for the mountaineering class this winter, we were excited to learn that Baker would be our “graduation” climb. Unfortunately I didn’t get that far since I am a recovering wuss, but JK and the gang have been preparing all spring. I was happy to learn that I would at least be able to join them in camp on Mount Baker for their climb.

I was really dragging ass on the hike in to camp on Saturday since I had spent the whole week withering away on the couch, eating nothing but mashed potatoes and chocolate pudding to appease my throbbing jaws after the wisdom teeth extraction. I was also carrying ten pounds more than my regular overnight pack weight – I brought my climbing gear in case we were going to do some crevasse rescue practice. We didn’t, so it was all in vain – but lord knows I needed some extra training.

After a week of absolutely insane warmth and sun, the weather unfortunately decided to go all Pacific Northwest on us as we started hiking, effectively removing any motivating views along the way. At least we got our first marmot sighting of the year, which pleased me to no end – they are my absolute favorite animals (apart from Bobbys and Wellingtons) and I feel a strong kinship with them (they’re fat, they eat plants, and they hibernate – sounds familiar).

I love you!

We set up camp at 6,400 feet and enjoyed sporadic views of the mountain and our surroundings as the cloud cover came and went.

Tent cities from my perch

We went to bed at six in an attempt to get some snooze time; the climbers were scheduled to start moving up the mountain at 1AM.

I shall say good night 'til it be morrow

I popped out of the tent to see them off, then went back to have the best alpine sleep of my life (I used JK’s stuff to make a double Thermarest-and-sleeping bag fort) while the poor suckers roped up and slogged on up the mountain in the dark.

JK and the Alexes

I guess it’s not so bad when you get views like these along the way:

String of ants Looking down on the Black ButtesCresting Summit in sight

Finally they reached the summit of Mount Baker, 10,781 feet (3,286 m) – huzzah!

JK and Carlos

Above the clouds

As the sun came up, I lazily rolled out of tent to watch the climbers making their way back down the mountain:

Lots and lots of little ants

On the way down they could see all the beautiful (but slightly unnerving) crevasses they had passed by in the dark on the way up.

Where did that come from? CrevasseToppling Big blue

Now, of course, I really want to go on a big climb myself – hopefully I’ll get my chance later this year or next summer. I try to tell myself that the mountains aren’t going anywhere, but then I remember our hike to the crater rim of Mount St. Helens and realize that this might not be true…

Layouts and lack of wisdom

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009

As part of my big plan to fix all the little (and big!) things I have neglected in my life during the Great Depression, I had all four of my wisdom teeth extracted on Monday. Finally. I should have done this so many years ago, but I just kept putting it off. They have caused me quite a lot of annoyance and more than enough pain. The worst was when one of them got badly infected in India – man alive, that’s a situation I never want to be in again – and now they are finally gone. Huzzah!

Unfortunately I will have to endure another week or so of discomfort until my mouth is happy again and I stop looking like a greedy hamster, but at least I have drugs, ice cream and books galore.

In the meantime, here are some layouts from last year. I love this first one; it perfectly sums up our summer:

Summer 2008

..and this one is somewhat bittersweet, about our oh so cute niece and nephew and how sad it is that we live so far away from them the rest of our family as well.

Aunt & Uncle America

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