Wed 20 May 09

Every year our neighborhood puts on a gigantic block sale. Three blocks of people hawking old junk in their driveways. Some people get creative and set out tables full of fledgling plants or sell homemade pastries for the occasion. It’s quite festive, really. I usually spend an hour trying to sell a few things and then just end up slapping a “free” sign on everything and head off to find something more entertaining to do on a sunny Saturday morning.

I’ve learned that a garage sale really is not the place to sell anything nice or anything that you intend on getting a fair price for. Sure, those snowboards may be sixty percent off, barely used, but they’re still 100 bucks. If something is priced at a dollar people will ask you if you’ll take a quarter for it. Don’t even bother trying to sell a good TV without a remote because people will be baffled about how they’ll ever change the channels (lady, universal remotes are $5 at Target). Tools move quickly though, as does ten-year old furniture under $20. And people love to ask you if you have a lawnmower or washer/dryer for sale. So in the end I spent an hour with the masses, made a little extra money, and cleared a little clutter from the garage.

That was Saturday. Sunday the forecast was for temperatures in the mid to upper 80s and everyone knows that it’s crazy to hang out in that kind of insane heat, so I decided to go find some snow. I wanted to find a peak that I could access this early in the season (almost all of the dirt Forest Service roads are still snowpacked) and that would offer some views on a clear sunny day. After a bit of zooming around on Google Maps I opted to take a chance on Mt Aix, the highest peak in the William O. Douglas Wilderness east of Mt Rainier. Mt Aix should be a good early season hike, in the rain (snow) shadow of Rainier, with southern exposure along the trail.

When the dogs and I rolled onto FSR 1800 an hour and a half later though, we were met with mud and snow on the dirt road. Spying dry road up ahead, I gunned it through the first stretch of slop, the bottom of my car shaving off a layer of snow as we careened through. We swerved around and through mud and snow for another half mile before finally bumping up against an impassable snow blockade. Well, I thought, I guess we’ll just have to see the rest of the road by foot. I figured it was still a couple of miles to the trailhead and the roundtrip hike was supposed to be about 13 miles with 3500’ of elevation gain after that. But the day was reasonably young, I had plenty of food and dog food, and we had water all around us.

The dogs always seem to light up when we’re out in the woods. Trammell just sprints and sniffs and sprints some more. Taylor perks up and looks at everything, cocking her head with one paw raised at shadows in the distance. On foot we followed the snow-covered road along the base of Nelson Ridge, hitting patches on snow three feet deep in places. The dogs alternated between coats plastered in mud and coats semi-plastered in mud as the snow wiped them clean in places.

Our pace was slow and I realized pretty quickly that, unless the snow magically thinned, we wouldn’t be climbing any mountains that day. Maybe solo, not with dogs plopping chest deep into the snow though. So I just enjoyed the moment rather than setting any goals for the day. The rich pine smell. The abrupt blast of cool air across your legs as you round a snow-covered bend in the road. Nelson Ridge sparkling with snow in the background. We hiked for about an hour before turning around and retracing our footprints.

Back at the car I fed the dogs and made them walk around in the snow to clean off. We stopped at Bumping Lake on the way out. I always think reservoirs with their massacred tree remnants are kind of ugly places, but the surrounding scenery was nice. The dogs were too worn out to romp in the water, so we didn’t stay long.

2 thoughts on “Wed 20 May 09

  1. Josh Post author

    You are correct to not believe that. I made it through a few shorter stretches exactly like that picture, but I think that might have been the section of snow I deemed impassable.

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