Monday, February 15, 2010

Tails of Whoa!

When I was about 9 years old, my family and I moved to a new house on an acre. My dad wanted a place to have horses to use for hunting. He had a horse named Boots and she moved, from where she was boarded, to our new house also. Sometime later, my Uncle Jim also acquired a horse. He bought it from an Indian who lived on the reservation. Uncle Jim brought his horse to our house and pasture. My Uncle had 3 boys, all older than me. They talked about a name for the horse for weeks. They never did decide on a name. I guess all the good names were taken. For example, another hunting friend of the family was Jay Drake. He had a horse named ‘Sa Nova’. His last name was Beach. I thought it was a great name and can even remember looking at a map with my brother to see where “Sa Nova Beach” was. I assumed it was in California, but I never found it on the map. It took me a few years to figure out that it wasn’t a real beach. Well, Uncle Jim and the boys were slow in naming the new horse. I thought about calling him the Horse with No Name, but it turned out that that name was also taken. So we started calling him Brownie, since he was brown. The name stuck and he was always known thereafter, as Brownie.
Brownie was the smartest, coolest horse I’ve ever seen, and he had a mischievous side to him. He was all brown, with a white face, and he was always the Alpha male among other horses. I watched him fight for that title more than once, and he always won. He had a black mane and tail, which we liked to keep long, since it was the mid 70s, and long was in. He also had a split tongue. I was told that the Indians would do this to horses as part of their breaking and training. The split didn’t run down the middle of his tongue, it was off to one side. It looked like a mitten with a 3 inch thumb. How cool is that?

We lived in that house for 6 years and Brownie was a permanent fixture. I loved taking care of the horses and just hanging out with them in the pasture. We were kind of like best friends. One day when I couldn’t get Brownie to do what I wanted, my Dad said, “You have to be smarter than the horse”. I don’t think he meant it as a challenge, but to this day, I don’t think I’ve gotten over that hurdle.

Brownie probably should have been named Houdini, as he was a master escape artist. He was always getting out of the pasture and into trouble. We often awoke to find him in the backyard, front yard, or at the neighbors. I also chased him through the neighborhood streets several times, and up and down State Street, through 4 lanes of traffic, more than once. I eventually learned that when I found Brownie out of the pasture, I could immediately put him back behind the fence, go inside the house and watch him through the window. I saw some amazing things.
The main gate from the pasture to the backyard was a big drive through gate. It had a hook and eye latch system. In fact, it had two, one on the inside and one on the outside. Lifting the hook on the inside was child’s play for Brownie, so we always tried to hook both latches. I watched from the kitchen window one day as Brownie lifted the inside hook with his nose and the outside hook with his tongue. We had to tie that gate shut after that. My Dad once parked his truck in that gate opening while loading it with manure. He left it there and went into dinner. There was just a little space on each side of the truck to each post. When we came back out after dinner, ol’ Brownie was stuck between the gate post and the driver’s door. He couldn’t move in either direction. We pulled and pushed on him but he wouldn’t budge. My dad finally picked up a good sixed 2X4 and started coming up behind the horse. When brownie saw him coming with that board in the air, he gave a huge lunge and forced his way into the yard. He left the whole side of the trucks door caved in.

As part of the horse pasture, there were a couple corrals that we could use to separate horses. The corral opening had a sliding pole system to close if off. There were 3 poles about 12 feet long that lay parallel with the fence. These poles could be slid across the opening to close it off from the rest of the pasture. One summer, my mother decided the corral would make a good garden area. We knew Brownie could easily slide the poles out of the way at will, as we had watched him do it more than once. We tied these poles in place at both ends as tight as we could, and for extra protection my Dad strung 2 strands of barbed wire across the coral about 10 feet inside the poles. The garden went well for a year, or maybe two. One late summer day just as the garden was ripe and doing well, my mother headed out to the garden and found all 3 horses there. They had eaten almost everything, including the raspberries, down to the roots. The only thing that remained untouched was the zucchini, which to me, was another confirmation of just how smart Brownie was. My mother was very upset and cried and swore and chased the horses around with a big stick. My Dad offered to shoot Brownie on the spot if mom wanted him to. It was a big disaster. I even cried, because the only thing left was the zucchini. When things settled down everyone went inside. I fixed the fences and went inside to the kitchen window. After a bit, Brownie came back to the poles across the gate. I watched him work each of the top 2 poles out of the way by putting his neck under them and sliding them inch by inch through the ropes and out of the way. He stepped over the lower pole and walked up to the barbed wire strands. He put his head under the top one and lifted. He put a foot on the bottom one and held it down. The other two horses rushed through as he held the wires and then he made his way into the garden to see if there was anything left.

“Never let your horse do something he knows he shouldn’t do, as it will be almost impossible to cure.” This wise piece of advice was given to me by a friend who had spent many years training horses and in the rodeo business. Unfortunately it was about 20 years too late.

When I was about 12 or 13, my brother and I discovered a new game to play with Brownie. We would jump on his back with no saddle, bridle, rope or anything. We would just sit there. Brownie didn’t particularly like that. He would walk around the pasture and try to get rid of us. He would never buck or run. He would slowly plod around the pasture and try to rub us off on posts and trees. He would also raise his back up while going under branches to try to knock us off. We had a stall with about an 8 foot doorway. He would walk under that and raise up to scrape us off. Sometimes we got knocked off but we learned to lean way to the side and hold on with one hand and the heel of a foot as he went under. It became a pretty fun and creative game for me and my brother. To Brownie, it was one big annoyance. He kept working harder and harder to get rid of us. Finally, he would swing his head around and bite us. It took me awhile to get back on him after that first bite, but I learned to dodge that also. We had a lot of fun at Brownie’s expense that summer.

When hunting season rolled around in the fall, my dad and Uncle Jim planned a hunting trip with the horses. My brother and I got to go, as well as Jim’s son, Darrel. Jay Drake and his son came along with Sa Nova. I think we had 4 horses altogether. We drove up the Boise River to Plantation Creek and camped for the night. Early the next morning we started up the trail on horseback. Jay and Bick Drake took the lead on Sa Nova. Jim and Darrel were next on Brownie. My brother and I were on one of our horses behind them and my Dad brought up the rear. As we moved up the mountain we came to a tree that had fallen part way across the trail. Jay and Bick leaned forward and ducked down and went under the leaning tree. Jim and Darrel followed ducking low to get under the branches. Ol’ Brownie took the opportunity to rise up as high as he could. The tree caught Uncle Jim right in the chest and it scrapped Darrel off the back of the horse and onto the rocky trail. Jim came off next and landed right on top of Darrel, knocking the wind out of him. Brownie continued on up the trail as if nothing had happened. Uncle Jim got up yelling at the horse and checking on Darrel. The last thing I remember him yelling is, “Where did that lousy horse learn to do something like that?” My brother and I tried to maintain a look of utter astonishment and innocence as we rode up from behind.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Moby Doe

The Saga of the Great White Mule Deer
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Call me Ishmael, or Steve, or whatever, or don’t call me at all. Anyway, back on January 15, 2010, my wife and I were at a New Year’s Eve party with some friends. Yes, I realize it wasn’t really New Year’s Eve, but everyone was busy, or out of town on the real New Year’s Eve, so we decided to do it 2 weeks late. I’ve pretty much been 2 weeks behind lately anyway, but I did keep this year’s New Year’s Resolutions longer than usual. At this party, a friend of ours, Mark, mentioned that he had seen a white mule deer in the foothills behind his subdivision in the past month. I had heard rumors of a set of white twins born in that area a couple years ago. Every once in awhile someone would see one wintering in the area, but the other had disappeared. Mark went on to describe the deer as being bright white, like a Mountain Goat, not the grayish white in my mind. Leon, another friend behind by 2 weeks, said he didn’t believe there was such a thing. It got me to thinking.

I awoke the next day to cold, overcast skies and a slight wind from the west. It happened to be Saturday, and one of my New Year’s resolutions was to get more exercise and to see if there was any truth to this urban legend of white mule deer. Walking from my house with my camera and my dog Queequeg, we headed for the foothills north of town. Queequeg (actually her name’s Ruby, but Queequeg works better for this day’s quest), and I climbed the hills through the subdivisions and came to the end of the pavement. There was nothing but oceans of sage and bitterbrush ahead of us. We sailed across the ridgeline at a steady pace and I watched the ridges and canyons for deer. There were patches of old snow on the north sides of the hills and bushes. I kept my eyes on them also. We had journeyed all of 15 minutes when I saw another patch of snow in the bitterbrush out on the steep end of a finger ridge. I kept watching it as we walked on the trail above. After a minute or two, it looked like this patch of snow had moved. I stopped and pulled out my binoculars for a better look. Through my binoculars I could see a pure white doe with 3 other normal colored mule deer. I couldn’t believe it. I almost yelled out, “Thar She Blows”, but I had seen some other hikers on the trail. From where these deer were at, it looked like I could cross the top of the ridge they were on to get downwind. I could then go down the backside of the ridge and come over the top just above them. I put Queequeg on her leash and pulled the camera out of my pack and made sure it worked. The hike down was quick and well hidden, but was a bit noisy working through the brush with a dog. I got to the point where I thought the deer were directly over the ridge from me. In stealth mode, I worked my way to the top and part way down the other side. No deer. I must have spooked them. I took a few more steps and the 4 deer were right in front of me and they began to run slowly. I grabbed my harpoon, pointed it at the deer and started clicking, as Queequeg jerked at my arm. The deer stopped and looked back before ambling on. I let them go, rather than scare them and make them run hard. We climbed back to the top of the ridge and followed some other trails back home.

This is a good example of 'stotting'. Mule deer hop on all fours at times.

A few days later, I sent some of these pictures to friends and relatives. I got a mixed response. Some people were amazed, while others called ‘Photoshopped’. Meaning they weren’t convinced the pictures were real. I also got some kangaroo and rabbit comments about the first picture.

My brother-in-law, Captain Ahab, is an avid hunter, fisherman, hiker, and an adventurous kind of guy. He was intrigued, and wanted to see this spectacle for himself. So I told Captain Ahab, where he could go. Actually, his name is Bill, but I must keep to the story line. Bill spent the next windy afternoon hiking in the indicated area. He saw 75 to 100 deer, none of which were white. After talking to him about his hike, we planned a joint venture the following morning to continue the search.

Bill picked me up in the morning and we sailed up the subdivision hills in his vessel he called Starbuck. It’s really a BMW, but the name fits the storyline. Starbuck was one of the whaling ships under Captain Ahab’s command. And, this same Starbuck ship is the inspiration for the name of the Starbuck's Coffee chain. But I digress. Bill and I parked at the end of the pavement and began walking into the waves of brush covered hills. We hiked about 10 minutes and to our astonishment, the first thing we saw was ‘Elvis’. I talked to Elvis’s owner for a few minutes as Elvis ran back and forth in the weeds. Elvis is a very unique looking black collie, and I have seen him in the hills on occasion. His owner left us with an “Elvis has left the building” salutation. Shortly after Elvis left the building, I looked out on the north end of the finger ridges and spotted our white deer. It was no more than 150 yards away. We watched for a moment and saw that there were 15 to 20 other deer milling around. The only way to get closer was to stalk her from the east. We worked down the outside of the ridge, out of sight of the white doe, but we bumped into some other muleys. We avoided these by rounding the end of the ridge rather than crossing over the top. As we came around the steep end, the white deer was coming towards us. We stopped and took photos and watched 15 deer mosey away to the southwest.

After the deer crossed to the other side of the canyon, we felt we should move away as not to startle them any further. We walked away to the north east for 30 minutes, checking out some new trails. We then crossed the summit into the next drainage. We were about a mile from where we had last seen the albino deer. Bill was talking about how he had been hunting and hiking for more than 35 years and had never seen a white deer before. I mentioned that the Idaho Dept. of Fish & Game knew that there were a few around, but the birthrate was around one in 800,000. As we rounded a hill and headed into the next canyon, Bill said, “That’s the first albino mule deer I’ve seen in my life, and I’ll probably never see another one”. He stopped and stared straight ahead, and then added, “except that one, right there”. As we had entered the small canyon, there was another white deer directly in front of us lying in the shadows of the hill. It was with another normal doe and they did not seem too concerned to see us.

There are still two white deer in the Boise foothills.

The second white doe

Monday, February 1, 2010

Putting in at the Take Out
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August 31, 2009

I read in the paper a couple weeks ago that some people had tried to float Idaho’s North Fork of the Payette River from Zimmer Creek down to Banks—a hideous stretch of water that is not rafted. Rarely has a kayak ever gone through this 3 plus mile stretch. Boaters often float the North Fork above this section and take out at the Zimmer Creek camping area. The people that attempted this lower section were from out of state, and had little experience with the Payette. Rumor suggests that 2 different, experienced rafters had warned the tourists to get off the river and not float the treacherous lower section. They floated; they flipped; one person drowned. As I read this story, the thought sprang to mind that they had “put in at the take out.”
Mt. Borah is a 12,662 foot peak in the Lost River Mountain range. It is the highest point in Idaho. My wife, Sue, has desired to climb Mt. Borah for a while. She says it’s been on her “bucket list.” It wasn’t on mine. Around July 4th, she talked over the proposal with her brother Mark. Mark--an experienced climber and canyoneer—has scooted up better than twenty of Colorado’s fourteeners (peaks over 14,000 feet). He was all in. Sue’s nephew, Billy, (as in Mountain Goat), is a 26-year old who, at 6’ 6” and 225 pounds, was also up for the trip. Both had summited Borah in prior years. Brodi, a friend of Sue’s, was also interested. The trip was set: Mark would fly in on Aug. 7th, Bill would pick him up at the airport, and we would all meet at the base of Mt. Borah that evening ready to climb early Saturday.
I began researching Borah and how to climb it. I talked to several people who had climbed it and whose kids had climbed it. The road to the trail head was suitable for cars, trucks, and even camp trailers. Start early, avoid the lightning, enjoy the views, and Chicken Out Ridge is the only difficult part.
I read some reviews on the internet, and looked at some hiking guides. Mount Borah was called a “very strenuous” hike, as the trail gains over 5,400 feet in about 3.5 miles. I read about some scrambles and again about the infamous Chicken Out Ridge. Chicken Out includes a bit of vertical climbing and a crossing of the “Knife Edge” or there’s an optional route lower down that traverses a steep snow field. I learned that many people climb Borah every summer and it’s often accessible to both young and old. The best time to climb is mid-July through mid-August. The internet contained several differing accounts, from hikers who made it sound easy, to people who took one look at Chicken Out Ridge from the trail below and promptly turned around and went back down the mountain. The prevailing wisdom seemed to be to know your limitations, go at your own pace, and avoid unnecessary risks.
Sue and I are in decent shape for our respective ages. I’m 49 years old and she is not (self-preservation demands ambiguity at this point). We run in the foothills, and I kicked my weight lifting up a little in preparation. The biggest problem I’ve found in lifting weights is that they’re heavy. We both bought new boots and broke them in prior to the big day. Our biggest obstacle seemed to be that we’re afraid of heights. Luckily, we were going during the day, because I’m afraid of the dark too.
My preparation had motive: my reading of accounts on the internet, talking to people who had experienced Borah, and adjustment of my physical training were measures to keep me from “putting in at the take out.”
In the days prior to the trip, Idaho experienced record rainfall for August, and unseasonably cold temperatures. The weather station forecast showed the system moving out on Saturday with partly cloudy skies and cool temperatures. Friday, August 7th, began with heavy rains falling in the Boise valley. However, the storm appeared to be breaking up as we packed the car for the drive. We drove to Arco and then up the valley to Mackay and the Borah trailhead camp ground. We arrived around 3:30 pm to partly cloudy skies with some sunshine and a few short rain showers. There were 6 rigs in the campground. By 10:00 pm everyone in our party had safely arrived at our camp, along with 70 or 80 other people. There were over 30 vehicles there and space was getting tight. We threw out tents and the night was calm and dry.
We woke up around 4:30 am to people stirring around in their campsites. The moon was shining, the stars were out, and the thermometer registered 33 degrees. As we got ready to go, I could see flashlights going up the lower trail just outside the campground. I looked at my watch with my first steps on the trail. It was 5:35 am. There were people ahead, and many more to come behind. We quickly spread out on the long initial ascent. Mark and Bill headed up the trail quickly to burn up some early energy. Brodi fell behind with complaints of nausea and lack of conditioning. We left her behind after the first half mile or so, thinking she was too sick to hike. During our climb, we could see across the valley to the west. The skies were clear and the sun was beginning to shine through to the valley floor. A few clouds were hanging around and the wind was relatively calm. After about 2 ½ hours of steep climbing, Sue and I found Mark waiting for us a couple hundred yards below the first scramble. It had clouded up some, but there was no wind or rain. We figured we had gained about 4,000 vertical feet.
We hiked up to the first obstacle. It required us to climb with our hands and feet, or scramble, up a steep rocky climb about 50 or 60 feet. We then had to traverse a rocky ledge to get back on a narrow trail leading up to a small knoll. Sue struggled with this initial scramble. Mark showed her handholds and footholds and got her through the first problem area. It was slow going and Sue appeared a bit scared. Her confidence seemed to grow, however, as we dropped to the right of the knoll to get to a small saddle. We then started out on a side hill path to the left of the next rising ridge. The weather began to fog up a bit as we worked our way through rocks and scree. We reached a junction in the so-called trail as we saw the end of this second ridge up above us. The trail either climbed steeply up a rock gully to the top of the ridge, or went along the side hill down to a snow field crossing at a very steep angle. Mark set out forward instead of climbing up. He climbed off the rock and onto the steep snow traverse. Mark walked out onto the snow field on the narrow trail to check the footing, and decided the trail was probably our best option, as climbing up the rocky coulee would be very time consuming and then we would have to make a vertical climb down the ridge. We climbed down onto the ice trail and used holes in the snow on the uphill side of the trail as finger holes to help stabilize our traverse. The holes were made by an ice axe and were frozen solid. It was at this point that we met up with Bill again. He had been to the summit and had come back to join us. We could see him on the trail above us as we crossed the ice. We made it across the snow field successfully and made another steep climb up to the trail where Bill was waiting. We looked back behind us and realized that we had gotten past Chicken Out Ridge. The snow traverse went under the climbing portion of Chicken Out. We could see the flat snow crossing at the base of the vertical climb down from the top of the ridge. I watched a climber on his way down from the summit cross the flat ice field and climb up to the top of Chicken Out. He made it look easy but the ice crossing on the side hill worked for us and was definitely faster for our group.

The trail where Bill waited was the best we had seen in a while. It was fairly flat for what seemed like a quarter mile or so. We made good progress and eventually crossed another wide flat saddle with no snow on it. I saw some goat manure on the trail and realized I hadn’t seen any animals on the whole hike. I hadn’t even seen a bird. I checked with Bill and Mark and neither one claimed responsibility for the manure, so I assumed there must have been other goats on the hill.
Bill told us that we were coming to the final ascent to the top. The trail quickly grew rocky and steep and there were many different ways to ascend. We scrambled through the rocks and ledges on the western face of the peak. A light but steady hail began falling through the clouds that had settled in on us. We could only see about 40 yards in any direction as the altitude began to slow us down.
As we plodded along, we passed a man and his son who were slower than us. In fact the man had stopped completely as we worked on past them on a very steep and slick section. Anywhere the trail had dirt on it, it had become wet and slick from the hail. When I caught up to the man and was going by him, he asked “How old are you?” I told him I was 49. He immediately replied, “I’m 51” and that was the extent of our conversation. The top of this slick climb led to the final the ridge and the final short and much easier ascent to the summit. The 4 of us reached the summit around 11:15 am. It had taken us 5 hours and 45 minutes to get there. We signed the logbook, took some pictures, ate a little and enjoyed the view of what was now about 30 yards through clouds. There was no hail or snow accumulating on the ground, but it was wet.
As we started back down the trail, the snow began falling in earnest. A hundred feet or so below the summit we ran into a logjam of people. There were about 30 people strung out on the trail and hanging onto the rock wall struggling to go up on the slick trail. Some of the people seemed ill-prepared in shorts and tennis shoes. A few looked wet also, but they were all moving up towards the top. We bumped into our camp neighbors, Ryan and Brandon. They were doing well and were getting close. Then the biggest shock of all: we came face-to-face with Brodi! I could not believe she was this close to the top. I didn’t think she would make it above the tree line as sick and slow as she had been. She said she had stopped after we left her and she threw up several times. After that she felt better and began climbing again. She met up with a couple guys and stayed with them all the way up. Mark decided to go back to the summit with Brodi and then go down with her. Sue, Bill, and I headed on down towards Chicken Out in about an inch of snow. Going down through this rocky section was a bit tricky in the snow, but we made pretty good progress. Snow kept falling and the accumulation on the ground was a growing concern.
The side hill approaching the snow traverse was getting slicker, and we had to slow down. A man and his 12 year old son had caught up to us on their descent and were following along behind us. They didn’t want to pass us, as they weren’t sure where the trail was. Sue was pretty wet and cold at this point, and couldn’t stop because she would just get cold. We moved on steadily. Bill and I had rain shells and stayed mostly dry. As we approached Chicken Out for the second time, we decided that the snow traverse would again be the fastest route for us. The vertical climb up Chicken Out and the long scramble back down to the trail would be very slick and time consuming, and the snow kept falling. We made our way down from the trail to the snow crossing, which had gained a couple inches of fresh snow. The snow obscured the ice axe holes we held onto on the way over early that morning.

There are 2 groups of people crossing the ice field in center of this picture.

We carefully got on the snow covered ice and worked our way across and down. A slip here would not end well. We successfully made it across the trail and to the rocks. Bill climbed up the rock to the trail, but Sue wasn’t able to climb up this section. The rocks were too steep and there were no handholds or footholds within her reach. Meanwhile, I stood out on the ice trail and couldn’t get to a rock to hold onto. Bill was up on the trail, and I threw him Sue’s pack. He set a body anchor, his heels firmly in the rocks, then reached down, grabbed Sue’s hand and dragged her up onto the trail. Sue was covered with snow and I noticed the huge icicles in her hair as I watched her bounce off of rock wall. She had her ears covered with a head band, but her hair was freezing up fast. After Bill got Sue up to the trail, I was able to move forward and to my relief, grab onto the rocks. Back up on the trail, we figured we had made it through the most dangerous part but we had a couple inches of snow added to the rocks and scrambles that we had struggled with in the morning’s ascent. Sue held onto rocks and footholds as we worked our way across some difficult edges on this side hill section. This area had the poorest trail of any part of the hike. Just when I thought we were doing well, Sue slipped above a slick sandy chute and went down. She self-arrested just below the trail. I sat down on the trail and grabbed her. Bill grabbed her from the other side and the man behind me grabbed the straps of my backpack. I looked down the chute and figured there were enough rocks and boulders to stop someone before sliding out of sight 50 yards further down. I was also happy that the clouds prevented any view of what lay beyond the chute. We worked Sue back up to the trail and over to the saddle that marked the beginning of Chicken Out Ridge, or the end of the ridge when going down. All that remained was the climb around the lower knoll, crossing a narrow ledge that led to the last scramble down to the main trail. This last section was uneventful compared to what was behind us. The ledge crossing was my biggest concern, as Sue had struggled there on the way up. Sue crossed it quickly and more easily than on the way up. Bill showed her the handholds and the big step to a good foothold. We made our way over a hump and onto the last scramble. We crab walked down the 50 foot section and got onto the trail. Sue was frozen, tired, and her pants were completely soaked through. However, it looked like the ice dread locks were beginning to melt off.

As we made our way down the slick rocky trail, the sun came out briefly and the snow eased up. We looked back up at the mountain occasionally, and at one point we could see people crossing the snow traverse just below the band of clouds. The chute below the snow crossing was very steep for about a hundred yards, and then it dropped off almost vertically. It would be a very dangerous place for a slip. We watched 15 to 20 people cross over on their way down the mountain. Mark caught up to us on these talus slopes and told us Brodi was out of the rock climbs and was on the main trail not too far behind us, but her knee was bothering her some.
We had at least an hour of remaining steepness, so Sue headed out ahead of us. After a picture or two, Mark ran my trekking poles up to Brodi. I caught up to Sue, who was beginning to dry out and warm up. It wasn’t snowing at this elevation and we could see down to the campground and out into the valley. Soon, Bill and Mark came running by. They were running down the trail to get this downhill over with. It turned into a bit of a race and Mark lost control and ricocheted off a tree and went down in the dirt. Sue and I made it down to camp at about 3:30. Mark and Bill had been down for some time. It had taken us 10 hours to make the round trip. We didn’t hear of any accidents or injuries from any of the rest of the climbers, so we assumed that everyone got off the mountain safely.
As far as the snowstorm goes, we know that the weather in Idaho is predictably unpredictable. But it was August 8th and we hadn’t given much thought to snow. Our group, and several others, was past Chicken Out Ridge prior to any snow falling. The groups that started an hour later than us reached the difficult climbs after the snow began to fall. These people stopped, or turned back rather than climb through the rocks and side hills in the snow. We passed several groups of people on our walk down that had not climbed Chicken Out Ridge due to the snow. They had stayed up high on the mountain to enjoy the view and wait on a weather change.
A couple of times during this adventure I asked myself, “Did we put in at the take out?” “Were we ill prepared and unsure of what we were doing?” I decided the answer to that was clearly, No. We had the proper equipment, food, and clothing, for the most part. (The exception being, I forgot my gloves, thanks Mark). I had done some research about the mountain, and the trail up it. I spoke to some people who had ‘been there done that’ as well as some who had ‘been there and hadn’t done that’. But the biggest thing we did right was take experienced hikers/climbers with us. If we had put in at the take out and had been headed for dangerous rapids, they would have pulled us aside and told us so. And I would have listened.