Dallas Cowboy Fan and I had our noses pressed against glass, looking inside the Ranger station, but on Veterans Day the Wildlife folks weren’t there.
We’d stopped to see if a trail was open. It had snowed last week, but temp and rain had risen since then, so we went ahead and drove the 18 gut-jostling miles. When we reached the trailhead, a posted sign read: TRAIL CLOSED due to the BURN.
“Forget that,” Cowboy Fan said. “That happened 4 months ago.” And I was reminded again how I loved the man for saying those epitaphs found on the gravestones of Rednecks: “Hey Watch This!!” So we pulled out contour maps and found another path to the glacier.
Trails in Oregon don’t waste time with a leisurely warm-up. No, we were plopped right onto switchbacks that had us wheezing and stripping off jackets in the first half-mile. And then we hit snow.
I was a bit nervous about the white dusting because I was trying out new boots and trekking poles. My old gear knew how to keep moving forward with little willpower on my part, but I’d retired them after the death march around the Wonderland trail.
As we climbed upward we passed the edge of the burn and several inches of snow had hidden the trail, but the eyelets on my wondrous new boots were able to squint and see gaps between the blackened trees. They found the trail.
When my heart was bursting through my chest in an effort to pump air, I remembered a ranger once told me it took 3 days of altitude to develop enough red blood cells to adjust to elevation. No problem, in 2 more days I’d have enough oxygen to wrestle down one of those bunny rabbits that left prints criss-crossing the trail.
Now, the snow had turned to soft powder about a foot deep. We navigated with compass and contour maps. The Super trekking poles anchored into the mountainside while Wonder Boots spun like a cartoon character until they could find traction.
We broke out of the forest a mile below the glacier and WonderBoots didn’t like what they saw. They were quite verbal. The wind had picked up. The storm, due in 4 hours was now roiling over the top of the mountain. WonderBoots tromped like an anxious racehorse until we headed back down. I looked around for one of those bunnies to stuff inside my jacket and warm me up.
Super Poles often clacked together like a cheerleader urging us on. About a half-mile from the car, the heavens puckered up and shot sleet at us. Super poles stitched down that mountain like a sewing machine needle with WonderBoots skidding around switchbacks like a cat on ice, trying to keep up.
We made it home safely. I’m impressed with the new equipment, but I’ll be heading to REI to get new lungs with a bigger capacity. It was such a successful outing; I’m offering a Don’t Die On The Mountain Kit for only $7,000. It comes equipped with the 10 essentials including instructions for bunny snares. It also has real protein bars, not those soccer mom kind. But what you’re paying for is the Walking Talking Wonder Boots and Super Trekking Poles.
You see, I’ve decided to sell them. I’m not crazy about change, and I don’t want gear that’s smarter than me. Right now, they’re in the garage, cleaned, conditioned, and sniggering about the slug they carried up hill.
I prefer nonjudgmental equipment like the headlamp. It’s stays stupid until you ask it to perform, then it’ll show you how bright it is—with no extra comments.