Saturday, August 22, 2009

Trials of the Weather, Pleasures of the Trail - Waterfalls and Wild Flowers

We are the first at the Summit shelter. Quickly we make hot soup and eat our lunch, sausage, cheese and expedition bread, our staples. By now the others have arrived and we gird our loins with gortex once again. The walk to Happy Camp is relaxed. More rocks to cross and more streams to ford, but there is no climb over the summit ahead. As we drop out of the fog we appreciate the waterfalls. dozens of streams of water, some feathery wisps, others raucous and noisy, marking out the crevaces and fault lines in the black rock of the mountains towering over us. Further along, the wild flowers are in riotous bloom, red dwarf fireweed, deep purple monkshood, bright blue harebells, frilly creamy white blossoms of grass of parnassus and dozens of others in yellow, white, red and blue. We walk alongside a rocky wall the flowers cascading down past us like the waterfalls.

The tent platforms at Happy Camp are soaked, the water held by surface tension in reverse puddles. I try to wipe the water off the platform for the tent but it is hopeless. The tent and fly are completely soaked, the sleeping pads are soaked. The tent floor glues itself to the wood and only reluctantly allows me to stretch it out. Thankfully the sleeping bags are still dry.

The shelter is soon filled with with wet, cold people. Soon stoves are blazing under bubbling suppers, the walls and ceiling lines festooned with wet clothing in faint hope of drying. One woman has broken her finger in a fall at the summit and is trembling with hypothermia. First aid, some hot food and she is bundled into a double sleeping bag for the night. Otherwise we've come through without major problems. If we have another wet day though there will be more serious problems tomorrow.

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