Thursday, August 02, 2007

Run For the Hills!

Last week our dream became a reality. After about 3 weeks of planning, purchasing, preparing and perspiring, our hiking boot-shod feet hit the trails in Washington's renowned Olympic National Park. But first, a brief preface.

Our family is fortunate to have Mt. St. Helens virtually in our backyard--well, about 20 miles actually--and we've even climbed it once, but after seeing the craggy peaks of the Olympic Mountain range jutting through the distant clouds from Seattle, there was something irresistable about them, we really wanted to go there. What better way to experience them than backpacking? Mom encouraged us to plan a trip with Daniel and Stephen Bittner for Christopher's homecoming. None of us had done any serious overnight hiking before, so we were rather amateur as we mapped out our first route. "Let's see, we'll probably be carrying about 30-40 lbs on our backs, and since we can easily hike at least 10 miles a day and can handle an elevation change of several thousand feet we'll do a 33 mile loop, leaving plenty of time to climb a 5,000 ft. mountain and fish at an alpine lake..." "Uh, guys...that's actually about a 50 mile loop, and it took about a week for some people with 50 lb. packs to travel--time for plan B." With Christopher's help we decided on a wiser route that would take us about 21 miles through the rainforest, up ridges around 4,000 feet high, through alpine meadows and down to the Quinalt river in the valley. Good choice.

Since none of us had very much gear, the initial investment was pretty large. It took about 5 trips to Sportsman's Warehouse, a trip to [G.I.] Joe's, a stop by Walmart, and several visits to Fred Meyer and Albertson's to get stocked up. Now that I have my license (woohooo!) Mom can send me to pick up Daniel and Michael from work, so on one occasion I stopped to get them some slurpys (how in the world do you spell that :? ) and then tactfully asked if anybody needed anything at Sportman's Warehouse. "Well, I kind of need some socks..." "Yes!, Daniel needs socks! Perfect, I'm happy to stop." :) I'm pleased to say that I hardly bought anything there that I didn't use.

On Sunday evening, July 22, Christopher, Daniel, Michael and I arrived at the Bittner's house in Olympia, our agreed upon rendevous point. The funny thing is, the Bittners weren't home--they were camping down in Oregon--and their ETA was about 12:30 p.m. We had been told to eat the steak in the fridge, so our master chef Christopher created a smashing dinner of dijon mustard steak, and barbecue sauce steak on the grill, while I concocted an impromptu side-dish of steamed broccoli and impressionistic sweet-and-crazy barbecue sauce :)

I can't cook worth beans, and actually I get kind of lost in the kitchen...

but when it comes to sauces, oh boy. A note on the fridge told us to go ahead and take the boy's beds, but we were sure that they would need them more than we did so all four of us opted to sleep on the floor in our sleeping bags. That was mistake #1. I decided to try using my sleeping bag's stuff sack filled with 2 inflated gallon Ziplok bags as a pillow. It seemed serviceable at first, so Christopher followed suit. That was mistake #2. Then someone started cracking stupid jokes, and we laughed until we started gasping for air. It was getting really late, but the heat wouldn't let any of us drift off. Finally Christopher started breathing heavily, like REALLY heavily! I felt obligated to give him a gentle shove, so now we're all back to square one--awake and hotter then ever. Daniel announced that if he ever made it home alive he would sell his sleeping bag to a bakery! At about 12:30 p.m. Daniel Bittner stumbled into the room and, finding us awake, told us to take the beds after all. Daniel and Christopher promptly siezed them, so I just ditched my sleeping bag and counted sheep.

We were up bright and early the next morning at about 5:45 (I have no idea how that happened) and were treated to a wonderful breakfast by Jacqueline and Priscilla. With our final packing finished, we loaded into our two vehicles and headed out west.

Stay tuned for my next post.


Stephenb said...

Did it go against the grain for Chris to grill w/ gas?

Benjamin said...

Dunno, if it did we were hungry enough not to care :)

Jacqueline said...

It was quite amusing to hear of all the things ya'll did, and just in case you were wondering the room is hot because Stephen accidentally dismantled the fan.
great post.

Benjamin said...

So it was Stephen...he should be thankful we didn't know that then :) It was all part of "the experience" and we sure had a blast.

Happy birthday btw!, I would have told you yesterday, but I didn't know.

Jacqueline said...