Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Day 6: They Don't Call it Rainy Pass for Nothing

I arrived at the Rainy Pass parking lot at 2:30; exactly the time I had estimated I would. Pretty impressive, I thought, considering I had switched around my plan and had ended up hiking all the way from Snowy Lakes that day. My husband had told me he would try to be there at that time, but there were no guarantees.
We had agreed that I would stick a note to the reader board telling him when I had gotten there. It said that I had waited 15 minutes, then left at 2:45, and that I would see him at the camp site later. (yes, I was sad to not hike with him; I was of course hoping pretty badly that he would be there)
This picture showing bears marauding a supposed campsite
at Lake Ann was pretty disconcerting...
until I noticed the picnic table in the photo. 
The Maple Pass Loop is a busy place. Not everyone takes the spur down to Ann Lake, but enough people went by that I definitely didn't feel alone. I tried to be patient and not look up with too much expectation every time I heard someone coming. I tried to keep a positive attitude and tell myself that he would get there when he could. I think I was even fooling myself that I was succeeding in this posture of acceptance.
After two hours, this "peace" was more what I would call a concession that he just wasn't coming. I told myself that it was okay; we had talked about that if he didn't show, I would assume that the car broke down or there was some work emergency or something. (makes you appreciate how much we rely on cell phones. If you're thinking you can get service in this area, forget about it) I told myself it was just another night biggie. But of course, I was broken hearted. (and fighting all the other thoughts as to why he wasn't there that were much more unpleasant)
At just about the time I was losing the battle and making funeral arrangements in my head, there he was! Joy! I went to hug him and found he was drenched in sweat. What the heck? It's an easy two miles to the camp site and not exactly a heat wave. He saw my bafflement and just said, "I've got a funny story for you".
I'm afraid if I try to explain how he ended up going clockwise on this loop instead of the specifically instructed counterclockwise direction, I'm only going to confuse you. I had to actually see the signage to understand it myself; because Ken is not someone to get something like that wrong. I'm sure he would have figured it out sooner if he was someone to doubt himself...but instead, he kept thinking I must have gone the wrong way! I can't say I really blame him for that, but it still makes me laugh.

He got my note just 15 minutes after I had left it, and thought, "I'm going to catch her!" In his haste, he blasted by the obvious sign to Lake Ann, and instead just saw the more vague "to the lake" sign. (that would be Rainy Lake) He knows how slow I am, and really should have turned around after not passing me in the first five minutes. But, he kept pushing hard up the much steeper clockwise direction, even with all the red flag thoughts going off in his head. After 50 minutes, he finally accepted he had gone the wrong way, bolted back down, then raced back up the other way to meet me. (knowing I would be worrying)
After all that, his knee was starting to give him fits, (sucks getting old!) making the next day's plan of finishing the loop debatable. (not to mention the weather was very iffy) I knew having my sixth day of hiking consist of a pathetic 2 miles back to the car would be sorely unsatisfactory to me; but I tried not to pout. I had a lot to be grateful for...understood.

All night we listened to the rain hitting our tent. I tried to find my zen place of being okay with abandoning ship in the morning; with little success if I'm honest. I really wanted to do the loop, damn it!
In the morning, the rain was gone and there was a little blue in the sky. I couldn't get my hopes up too high though, because the way Ken hobbled off to get the water let me know the knee was really hurting. I knew it wouldn't be very nice to pressure him to do something he wasn't going to enjoy, so as we headed out and got to the intersection for the loop, I just kept going down. "Hey", Ken called after me, "you're going the wrong way". Hooray!!!! Maple Pass, here we come! (the loop is seven miles total, if anyone is wondering)

I thought that maybe this loop would be a little anticlimactic after all I had seen, but I actually think it was my favorite part of the trip. There were snow flurries, fog and clouds being swept through dramatically...even a rainbow! It was sensational in every way.

And then a grand finale finish of the skies opening up and dumping on us for the last hour as we slowly made our way down through the forest. It was sort of fun...mostly because we knew we could retreat once we got to the car, but also just the ridiculousness of the down pour as we watched the trail turn into a stream.

A couple drowned rats!
We took our time driving home; stopping at our favorite Birdsview Brewery, and also the Challenger Ridge Winery. (yes, I looked like complete crap; and I didn't care!) As always, it was very sad to see it all come to an end. It helps to already have my sights on a specific trail for my 7 day adventure next year. The classic section J of the PCT, Snoqualmie to Stevens Pass, ye shall be mine!
Snow already collecting on the mountains as we drove away
Ken's creative drying techniques


  1. Great Job! So glad it all worked out and you were able to finish your loop as intended!

  2. Your photos are so beautiful. I'm envious. I dream of doing what you have been doing from here in snowy Chicago.