(a bit long but …)
And that we were. I’ve been dying for an adventure but who knew I’d get it so soon. God is faithful. A friend calls me up for a hike, and I was itching to get out, 70 degrees and it’s so hard to find a good hiking partner. So ignoring the thunder storm advisory (“I don’t melt” he says the one time I bring it up) and the slight rain we head out. Into the Adirondacks, we notice some snow on the way, remarking but thinking nothing of it. We’re off to Snowy Mt a friend had told me it was a nice hike with a great view, I couldn’t find it previously but my partner knew right where it was. He had never been, but as he was used to high peaks he was sure this would be a cake walk. Jew-jitsu master.
Any way starting out was nice climbing over felled trees, a little mud (spring thaw), balance beam walks over rivers bulging, you know all the fun stuff. Halfway into our walk up (aprox. 2 hrs) we notice a bit of snow cover, nothing to worry about. A bit farther, snow to the knee and we run into some people coming down wrapped in winter parkas with ski poles and snow shoes with spikes. “Quite a bit farther they say” “might have to claw your way up” “sheer ice wall at the top”. Pay no mind, pay no mind, we are conquerors and stubborn, and we came all the way out here. Still I’m wishing for more than my sneakers, light summer pants and two t-shirts with a sweater over top. But if wishes were nickels or whatever they say. So on we go, “there are 10 more following us,” they say as we depart “let them know we’ve come down ahead” and we do. Ciao. On we go. Oh we are waist deep now and my toes are quite frozen, painfully so, but I know they will have no sensation soon. Another hour of waist deep passes and we finally meet up with the 10 also clothed in the appropriate tundra ware. We ask of length and heighth and time. “If you make it” they say out of their hoods, “another hour or so” Very warm they look, internally I stick my toung out at their gloves and warm hats. If HA … “we’ll make it” I say to my partner, “of course we will” he says. We stop occasionally to stick hand warmers in our socks and keep the purple to a minimum. All the while neither of us mind anything but the top. Not the time, not the cold, nor the endless holes in the snow, beyond waist deep, our predecessors had made on their journey. Usually I sing when I hike but I am not sure I could spare the energy and we babble occasionally.
An hour and a half goes by, now we are climbing straight up, my sneakers don’t grip too well. 20 minuets more straight up on packed down, slippery as heck, holey snow with icy-water underneath to wake you up if your lucky enough to fall through. I’M CLIMBING MT EVEREST UNDERCLOTHED!!! YOOOHOOOO. Finally we make it to the ledge with a view. Pure white greets us as we are surrounded by a snow storm …ahh the view, go figure atop Snowy Mt.. I’m so glad to be done climbing up, I cannot feel below my hips now. Te,he at least no more cold toes (small blessings). “Wanna’ go up the fire tower” my partner asks. ‘Yup’ can’t go to the top with out going all the way. Climbing the tower was a bit of a challenge as I couldn’t feel my legs, and about half way up the snow storm we saw enshrouds us, gale force winds and ice and all. We just huddled at the top not much to see and I didn’t want to freeze my glasses to my face. Waited for a moment for my legs to de-ice and headed down. Sure am glad for light summer pants (now torn on the way up during a tree climbing excursion). We settle down to eat and I make a small tent around myself out of my poncho (you know in case of the rain HA) and attempt to warm my toes. He tries to make a fire out of wet wood, doesn’t work and we eat. Sit for a minute and were ready to go. All the way up I’d been going on about how I wasn’t walking down the Mt I was going to slide down on my poncho. My partner stands at the top of the ledge that leads down the Mt. and I watch in glee as he scoops his poncho underneath him plops and goes. Making my way to the edge, wow man that was fast, I plop and go. A bit late I realize my plans to dig my heels in wont work as I’m on hard packed snow. Speedy though, as long as I don’t hit anything. I fall into an aforementioned hole, finally able to stop, and thank goodness for my book bag it kept me from falling further because I don’t recall any ground beneath me. Slowly I pull my self out (i’m a pro now by this time but it has lost its shine) and remove the bag from my back. It works quite well to slow me down and is much less cold than using my hands. I catch up to my friend easily and almost take him out with my speedy sliding. We continue on down enjoying the slight degree changes as we make our way. Eventually we are back to knee deep snow and I feel my knees again.
Slowly the temperature increases as we descend and we are thankful for the snow as the light fades and it lights our path, he (and I) repeatedly thank his grandmother for the handheld crank light she gave him for Christmas. Our focus shifts to the four rivers left to cross. The first one I fall into oh so gracefully our light goes for a swim in his attempt to catch me, but it’s not lost. I climb out (which I seem to be doing a lot of) and we continue on. The light grows less and I stop to put my poncho back on to stop the wind chill, out of the corner of my eye I see someone standing. I figure it is my partner waiting and give it little thought. Lifting my head out of my poncho I see no one and I realize it wasn’t my partner as he is beyond my line of sight. Within I hear ‘i’m with you come-on’ my Christ ever faithful. And my previous visions of my 2 guardian angels are renewed. I am ever thankful. Catching up to my partner with our third tree/river crossing behind us we on to the fourth and most dangerous the pitch black surrounds us and I am so thankful for the companions as we are stronger. The river is so full and black, deep and strong, the crossing is long and the tree appears to have grown more stumps. I cross with the light feeling my angels uphold me my personal stores of strength and balance exhausted. My partner crosses we are without mishap. Now just to find the trail again, walking thru the black woods on and near vertical slope “bushwhacking” he says. I have no strength left for climbing, I remark. We see two ridges over across the stream the party we had run into earlier camping, their fire light is lovely. I contemplate stealing over to surprise them claiming to be a wood nymph who lives off campers beans, but it is much too far for such fun game.
And my partner asks for trust to find the way out again. Giving it is easy as we have no magical balloon to float ourselves out of the woods. On we go. “Follow the water down” he states. Thirty minuets later re-finding the trail. With no light now except for the hand held crank light. Thank you to the men and horses that carried bits of wood up to solidify the trail, thank you. We know, two hours left, and by now the babble has left to make room for concentration. We walk and Jesus whispers words of encouragement into my soul. Finally 10:30 arrives and so do we at the trail head. “I’m so happy” I begin to repeat joyfully. The sight of the truck was the view of the day. I imagine the heater as we walk closer. Ah toes get ready for bliss.We say a prayer of thanks before we head home. And remark on how we should do that Mt again sometime with warmer weather. But there are so many more Mountains… God reads the inner yearnings of my heart without batting an eye. I’m alive, check. Adventure, check. Good company, check. In and out of the storm (spiritually and figuratively), check. All my toes, check.