We were at the mouth of the forest. The service road that we had hiked went on but the forest came to an abrupt halt at the edge of a large reservoir. Rain fell in white sheets obscuring our vision tracing a path in our wake as we sped across the open expanse. The sky was ashen brown; lightning illuminated the darkness and a cacophony of discordant thunder rung in our ears. Visibility was going from poor to naught quickly. “We are completely exposed out here,” I said panting. The only thing that stood between us and the car was a half mile jaunt across the top of a dam and a cascading deluge of water that covered our descent down the other side. No trees, no buildings, no shelter, the car was tantamount to being in another state. Lightning flashed again, closer. Along with it came a crippling explosion of thunder. It was a ground strike to our right. The hair on my arm rose and fell with the undulating charge filling the air; a thought manifested itself and a growing concern that we might be felled by lighting. I broke out in a sprint. Another lightning strike, I could feel its discharge as it arced into the ground. My eyes struggled to regain focus; I had lost contrast from over exposure to the searing white light; it seemed to be permanent. My pace quickened and my mouth filled with the familiar taste of copper as my lungs struggled to maintain pace with the blood forcing its way outwards and the cool air forcing its way in. I was not going to slow down. Like the rain, I intensified my pursuit to the car. My stride widened, I rounded the bottom of the hill forcing myself to take large gasps of air. The silver car sat amongst the darkening evergreens and barely stood out in the dimming evening light obscured by the storm. It was only a hundred yards ahead. The headlights flashed, the car unlocked. I swung the passenger door open as the sky flashed and my surroundings were again thrown in stark relief.
|J and Gault looking happy despite the rain|
The next day was much of the same, rain. Mist floated down gently coating any surface exposed. The morning progressed and the cool mist began to dissipate leaving behind a damp feeling but at last we would be able to enjoy a precipitation free trip into the woods. We made a decision to head back to the Blush boulder and spend time cleaning and scrubbing obvious lines. I spent roughly an hour working on a line that will trend up a blunt overhanging double arête feature right about the same time I finished cleaning we were stymied by a gentle rain that began to fall. The rain began to fall faster and we made the obvious decision to head back to the car. On our short walk back we discussed using the rest of our day to investigate some boulders that sat on top of a hill not far north from where we were. It seemed like it would be the best use of our time seeing as by this time the rain had fully saturated the earth all hopes for climbing would have to wait until the next day. This diversion into the unknown lasted the rest of the day and included a nearly class 5 ascent of a steep muddy slope. Brian and I pushed forward as the path we hiked in on became a small strip of unclaimed earth barely bigger than a hair and almost invisible from our vantage on the hillside. We found a few things but the hike wasn’t sure to bring us back anytime soon. Our hike out on this uncharted terrain was just as challenging and the rain continued to fall. This is where my story picked up, when we reached the opening of the forest.
|Brian about to get FA of "Red Riding Hood"|
|Overhaning pinch problem at Upper Golden.|