Saturday, April 26, 2008

No time to waste...

I always think that winter and early spring are going to be down times for me. Lots of free time to catch up on things like sleep and just getting things in my life organized. That definitely hasn't been the case this winter. That's why I've been slacking off on my updates here. I have been doing things to prepare for the Rainier trip, but finding a few free minutes to write about them has not been easy. So here is a quick recap of my Rainier prep over the last few weeks:

Thien-An very graciously accompanied the ladies of the group (Rachel, Mihae and myself) to REI for a gear session. We took the list of recommended items for summiting Rainier (see an earlier post with this list). He was extremely helpful in giving us information on things like ice axes, gloves, crampons, etc. REI staff were ready to give him a green vest by the end of the night.

Bram had us over with one of his mountaineering friends to have a ropes course so that we could learn the knots that we'll need to know for trip. Of course some of the knots are used more for rescue attempts if needed - hopefully we won't have that need, but it's still good to be prepared. I found a fun website with animated steps to show how to make most of the knots we'll need to know so I have a feeling I'll be consulting it when I practice.

Last Tuesday we had a group conditioning hike at Rattlesnake Mountain. The goal was to make it to East Peak (4.4 miles each way), but due to time and possible bad weather rolling in, we turned around at about 9pm and headed back down. Someday I do want to make it farther up that trail, as it's very beautiful. I'm still doing well with carrying 40-50 pounds of weight during the training hikes. I <3 my backpack! I think my boots are getting more comfortable with each hike, so hopefully they'll be good when it comes time to wear them for 2-3 days straight.

The group has a snow camping and then rescue training planned for the second weekend of May near Stevens Pass. In late May we're planning to climb Mt. Shuksan in the North Cascades. I also want to try to organize a trip for some of us up Mt. Adams since that's a mountain I've been interested in climbing for some time now.

I need to finish up acquiring my gear in the next couple weeks so I see another trip or two to REI in my future. I'm still overwhelmed by all the possibilities when it comes to gear. I do like that I'll have great equipment for any hiking or snowshoeing I do in the future though!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

On the trail again...

I've been bad about updating this lately, but there hasn't really been much to tell. For a couple weeks I didn't have a lot going on in the way of training or collecting gear so there wasn't anything update. I did get a chance to get started reading the Mt. Rainier guidebook which is great for giving you all the information you need to know about the mountain down to the nitty gritty details.

On a recent visit to home in North Idaho I did check out one of the local sports shops and was happy that I did. I found some North Face gore-tex shell pants - only one pair left, in my size and on clearance! It's always such a thrill to find deals like that. Normally I only find those kind of deals on things that I don't happen to need. I tested the pants on a snowshoeing expedition around my parent's place and I was quite pleased with how they did their job. This means a majority of my clothing for the journey has been acquired. Besides head protection, the last major item I'll need clothing wise is a down jacket.

I finally got back out on the trail again last Sunday with Mihae. We decided to go check out Wallace Falls State Park. I hadn't been there in at least a couple years and remember it as being one of the most beautiful trails in the area. It's still one of the most beautiful trails in the area - to the point of being almost magical. We both carried a significant amount of weight in our packs with a couple gallons worth of water among other things. I'm happy to report that my backpack is still super comfortable even with 40+ pounds! While we meant to go on the Wallace Falls trail, we ended up taking the Wallace Lake trail instead. We agreed that this ended up being better because we ran into a bit of snow on this trail. Since we're both trying to get used to our mountaineering boots, having to try them out in various conditions is helpful.

Tomorrow our Rainier group is planning to do the cable line on Tiger Mountain. It's great for training as it will be similar in steepness to the Mt. Rainier climb. I'm sure it will be a good reminder of how decent of shape we'll need to be in for the actual climb in June.