Thursday, September 16, 2010

Mile 2285.4: Good or bad decisions in Goat Rocks?

I knew this would happen. Last night, We camped 24 miles from "bleak alpine campsites," 27 miles from better campsites, 20 miles from good alpine campsites, and 40 miles from White Pass, where Micro's parents will pick us up, feed us, and take us to a hotel in Yakima. In between the 20 and 24 mile alpine campsites lies the "Knife Edge," a very steep and narrow ridge that we hike along. No camping up there.

Reports on the conditions awaiting us along the Knife's Edge have varied, from, "no problem," to, "sketchy, don't be up there during any kind of weather or near dark." So we were pulled by two conflicting interests: try to go far, do the Knife's Edge in the evening, and have a shorter day to get into White Pass during the afternoon; or, camp early, give ourselves plenty of time to do the Knife's edge, and not a lot of time in town.

I was torn, but prefer safety to risky indulgences, had I been the sole decider, we would have stayed at the 20 mile campsite. Micro and 16 did not hide their preferences: more today, less tomorrow. Since I also really want to spend time chillin in Yakima, we had 2.49 votes FOR trying to do Knife's Edge tonight, 0.51 votes AGAINST.

Another compounding factor was the weather: it stopped raining this morning, and the cloud cover was starting to slowly lift. Would it be prettier to do it tomorrow morning? Would it snow tonight?

We got to the 20 mile campsite at 6:00, and Micro and 16 rephrased to, "I'm fine either way, I'd just PREFER to keep moving." We went up a one mile, 6.1% grade rocky slope to some spots with rocks for wind shelters: last known bailout, 6:30, 2.7 miles to the "bleak alpine" sites. The others turned to me, I was to have the final word. My gut instinct said "stay!" but knowing and sharing my partners desires, not wanting to be Debbie Downer if the sketchy section was actually no problem, etc convinced me to put on my game face and say, "Let's do it!"

At 7:10, we had gone maybe 0.75 miles across permanent snow fields and narrower, rockier terrain. Deciding that we'd probably not make it as far as we wanted by dark with an exposed but flat campspot beckoning to us, we parked ourselves here for the evening. We really should have taken those sheltered spots, but instead we are really high up, and the air temp is definitely below freezing. We were inside the clouds, but now we're above them. It's barely breezy, I just hope it stays that way.

- Typoed on my iPhone

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