Sunday, October 16, 2011

Hilarity at Holden

SO I guess this blog is continuing outside of Africa..First I'll tell about the past month at Holden Village in Chelan, WA. To get there one must take a 2.5 hr boat ride and then an 11 mile bus ride. Aside from wonderful people, local organic homemade food, and a BEAUTIFUL place being on the border of the Glacier Peak Wilderness, oh and I can't forget the insane double triple word bingoed word scrabble games (Thank you @Hunter), I had some pretty insane hiking experiences and my first experience with splitting and stacking wood even in the pouring rain along with being thrown into Hike Haus from day one while my supervisor was on his "out" (when they leave the village and go into the real world) so from day one people were asking me, "Which trail should we go on?" and me of course referring them to a map having never been there before. This also involved waking up at 5:30 AM daily to set up what they call the hiker bar (sandwich bar for hikers) which was a grand change from sleeping til at least midmorning with no plan back in Afton. In the month, a toenail fell off and I lost my glasses and then got conjunctivitis which of course resulted in me walking around semi-blind for several days and a realization I could hike a mountain, and cut vegetables, everything except read from a distance. And by week two, I was willingly waking up early on my breaks to go fishing and climb Mt. Fernow, which is the adventure I will share with you below!

It all started out at 4;30 AM when I had been warned we should leave at the ABSOLUTE latest at 5. I went to the dining hall to eat breakfast and was promptly ready to go at 5. Our leader decided 5:30 would be plenty fine and took his time with eating breakfast. Figuring he had done this three times before, I waited patiently and so we began our hike in the dark, the two boys debating if the bright star we saw was Venus or Jupiter and then guy gossip about relationships of people I didn't meet, quite amusing. We reached the top of copper basin around 7 and began the beginning of the trek up to the saddle, which is the hardest part. After many a rock field and scree, we came to a snow field and I used my ski instructing skills to walk up wide footed like a duck. M thought it would be easier (having led the way) since the snow was slick if we made it to the edge and went up the rocks. BAD idea! I tried to do this and ended up slipping clinging with my hiking pole to the snow not wanting to have to climb up again. I managed to get up and my friend John used an ice axe to carve stepholds. Thank goodness he had brought that cuz M said we didn't need one (correction: he didn't need one!). Upon reaching the summit, we saw the Entiat Valley and Mt. Maude which truly looked like a mountain out of a fairytale with its silver color and snowcapped peak.
Then it was just up, up, and more up of boulders, rocks, and snow. At 8000 ft J decides to tell me he's afraid of heights and I'm asking in my mind why in the world he decided to do a 9200 ft mountain if he is afraid of heights. But he overcame his fear and we made it to the fake summit of 9100 ft. M didn't feel comfortable with bringing us up the last 100 ft because of how slippery the snow was and we could see everything but Glacier Peak which I had seen in an amazing view from Image so I was content. If the leader isn't content, it's never a good idea to do it. So there we were with multiple layers in the wind (and a bar of cell phone service!) looking at peaks in Canada, Mt. Rainier, St. Helen's, Baker, and I think Adams. VERY beautiful and cool!

And so the descent began...I've always thought going down was more difficult than up and especially agree with that statement after this! We began the descent at 2 and had only made it down the first 500 ft in an hr when M realized he forgot his hiking pole. J was the closest to it b/c he was the slowest in the group and M decided to ask him to go back up and get it. In all honestly, I'm quite sure M could've gotten it in the time he succeeded in yelling back up the mtn and being comprehended and then J trekking for it. I told M it was 3:15 and he insisted we had plenty of time so I slowly continued trekking down. We made it back to the saddle and thus the snow fields downward began in a form even a child is familiar with-sledding. M showed us how to use our hiking pole as a brake..Jon had an ice axe. I went with my feet first, but my feet nor my hiking pole worked as a brake and I went flying, legs in a scissor position. M said I was starting to slow down but he grabbed my hand and feeling my heart beat inside was so relieved. I decided sledding was not the best idea and so tried to go down step by step with my hiking pole until that rolled down the hill. J gave me his yak tracks but they were too big and that too rolled down the hill. SO I waited there clinging to the spot I was in for dear life and waited for him to retrieve the two items that had fallen down the hill. An hr later we made it down that part with him carving spots for my feet and hands lowering me down one step at a time..until the 15$ ice axe decided to break and then we were literally just using the end. By this time it was 5:30. But the rest was a piece of cake in comparison. Boulders, rock fields, and scree. I decided to go ahead knowing I was slower coming down and decided to go in the trees being from MN and familiar with the woods. I felt like a monkey flying from tree to tree and descending rapidly. Until all there were were branches semi-rooted to the ground to which I clung to and decided it would be best to go back to the rock field bushwhacking through the trees until I reached the rock field. At this point, M and J were significantly behind me, but I didn't know which rock field to go down so I waited..and the sun began to go behind the basin (not sunset but the mtns are tall so the sun "sets" early). I realized we were going to be hiking down in the dark and so it began. We got our flashlights out just like we had that morning and began going down. Of course my hiking poles had to get caught in the crags of the rocks, but eventually we made it down to Copper the pitch dark. So we start to go down to the path and realize we're on the wrong side of the creek. So backtracking, filling up water (we had been out for hours at this point), and with nothing on our minds but the Village we begin to descend radioing in telling them we will be back by 8:30. M told us he was only stopping for med emergencies and I agreed! Then J's headlamp bulb dies out...and then 30 mins later the battery. Of course we had to stop and hiking in the dark exponentially slowed our hiking down and something that took 1:45 to climb up took the same to come down when usually we had flown down this in 45 mins. At 10:15 we arrive back at the village, never been so happy to see it in my life!, and the HH guy and our emer contact are waiting there for us. I collapsed into lodge 6 and my roommate had already fallen asleep. 17 hours! G'night! But we did it and it was beautiful and all were safe!

And now my next adventure begins. I'm realizing I"m waiting for the unknown which could be forever and after taking an enneagram test (I'm a type 7 to the Tee!) realized I need to cease life to the fullest and found an opportunity to teach in Thailand for 4 months and receive my TESOL. Something in me was hesitant and questioning if I wanted to continue the nomadic life, but after friend, family, and stranger all saying nothing but GO! and then two sermons relating to getting out of your safety zone and the unknown, etc. I realized it was out of my hands and it's four months. What do I have to lose? A cafe job? I can do later if I really want to. So I'm going. Nov. 5! Between now and then I have to start and finish the 60 hr online portion, get my workshop CD for El Sistema ready to mail, and volunteer at a music festival in Black Mountain, NC, where hopefully more connections could arise. I'm committing! And Yes I'm excited even though it does seem crazy I'm jetsetting yet again. Thank you all for your support and of course I will continue to post!

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