Type 2 Fun
Sunday I co-led a hike for my locals group (which has been very slow to start) with another friend. There would be a small but mighty group of three. The original plan was to do Mary’s Peak from Conor’s Camp and connect with the North Ridge trail for a 9 mile loop. The forecast called for rain, but it seemed that the freezing level was pretty high, so we didn’t anticipate much snow, but definitely knew it was a strong possibility for the summit. Plans changed a bit based on the time my friend arrived in Corvallis and based on the pouring rain, decided to do the North Ridge Trail instead (still a little over 9 miles round trip), since the road to get to that trailhead wouldn’t be going up towards potential snow and ice.
The drive out on the muddy and curvy one-lane road was longer and slicker than I anticipated and I felt anxious by the time we finally met our other hiker at 11:30 a.m. It was consistently raining and we all got our raincoats, gaiters, gloves, pack covers, and trekking poles ready to take on the trail.
After the first 3 1/2 miles, crawling over several large newly fallen downed trees, we ran into some very wet packed snow on the trail. As we got closer to the parking lot near the summit, rain had turned into very wet sleet, making it impossible to feel dry.
My gloves were wet, my socks were wet, and I felt tired. I had a moment where I really just wanted to turn around and forget the next .5 steep mile. I questioned my life decisions for a minute. Is this what I do for fun? Why am I not just relaxing at home and watching Hulu?
But, we convened as a group and decided to do the summit for the sake of training, and made our way up deep snow as the sleet turned to snowflakes and near white-out conditions. We were the only hikers on the trail as we looped around towards the top, seeing no view other than pure white.
We took photos at the top and booked it back down to the parking lot, where I changed into a dry layer in the bathroom, the only dry place I had been in about 3 hours. We had some snacks and I felt better about going down, especially with my 2nd pair of gloves on and a change of socks.
The way down passed quicker and the rain became a light Oregon drizzle. The forest was alive with what seemed like 35 different shades of green, and I of course, felt very happy I had come out that day. The three of us hiked with some distance between us, and it was nice to be alone with my thoughts for the week and the month amongst the tall trees.
In the last mile, I wanted to just walk fast, thinking about the warm heat in the car, the hot shower that was waiting, and the tacos I was going to make for dinner.
I then looked down and saw a beautiful white Trillium flower blooming on the side of the trail, and noticed there were lots of them, but I had just been focused being done and thinking of the next thing.
Moments like this are constant reminders to slow down, be present, and experience the magic that is around us. Yes, the shower and the post-hike food are great, but only if you can truly appreciate what the experience offers you while you are in it. The “I’m miserable, cold, and tired” ‘Type 2 Fun’ memories are still there, but what overpowers them is the friendships, the conversations, skill training, and confidence that the trail provides. And it is worth it, no matter what the weather.