Granite Mountain Hike
The pain was dull and stretched out over time. It hurt in my lungs, as the air got thinner with the
slow gain of elevation. It hurt in my legs as I took giant strides in the traction less snow. A feeling of angst strangled my resolve and determination; maybe comparable with that feeling when you're under water and kinda feel like a drastic drink of air. Like that, however obviously less urgent and felt over a longer period of time. I was winded only an hour into one of the most demanding hikes in Washington state.
Accompanied by my mountaineering crew White Ghost, Nighthawk (civilian names Parker and Cole) and Wolfman as my call sign, we decided to ascend Granite Mountain near snoqualmie pass on a grey and cloudy April Sunday. In our conversations the previous day, I in no way took the hike seriously:
"yeah dude, lets do it."
"I was gonna watch some basketball, maybe some 'Dog the Bounty Hunter' (garbled through a mouth busy with walnuts and raisins) after, but what the hay, lets go hiking."
Fast forward 24 hours and there we were....humping 30lb loads, in bulky and layered cold weather gear, getting closely acquainted with frigid temperatures. All I could think about was how unenjoyable it was....the inner stream of thoughts in my head reading something like: "Why the @$*(^#^ am I doing this, how do people get joy out of this? Damn my glutes are on FIRE
and Richard Simmons is not even involved.
It took roughly 4 hours to reach the top which sat lofty at 5629 ft. Those four hours were dark for me, brightened occasionally by some ignorant usually racist comment from Cole or conversation of music and film with Parker at those moments when my alveoli were not screaming like some anguished beast being slowly
tortured. After the first mile, cut backs or the paths that cut back and forth from left to right which take the vertical aspect out of the mountainside disappeared; and for roughly 3 miles, we climbed at an estimated 60 degree incline. Some places were of an angle more fierce. Our snowshoes helped, but were big and awkward making progress slow. Once out of the
forest it was a landscape barren and blasted by white, feeling like what Tibet would have looked like. To think Seattle was 45 minutes down the road was absurd.
The one reassuring thing amidst all of the physical discomfort (aside from the delicious sack lunch I packed myself) was that simple feeling of accomplishing something. Being pushed mentally or physically brings a quiet contentment to my being. I feel like I am doing the right thing. Making use of my time on this planet by reaching my human potential.
We breaked just before reaching the top to eat our lunches in a small collection of rocks that blocked some of the blizzard like conditions. A turkey sandwich (made correctly) is still amazing in deplorable
blustery snow blowing conditions. And as the White Ghost, Nighthawk, and Wolfman gorged on calories the commrodery began setting in. Enjoying our meal, we banded together at the top of a
mountain reached by few. The weather flirted with our eyes, as visibility would change from being able to see miles to 10 feet in minutes. At the top was a frozen structure serving as a fire lookout, looking nothing more than a raised cabin hut held hostage in shackles of ice. For myself it was like finishing a marathon...finally breathing easily knowing I would not have to climb anymore that day. Even with the view being masked by cloud and snow, it still felt amazingly euphoric. And that's what it is all about isn't it? Finding and doing those things that are great, that make you great, that release euphoria in your heart and mind. So do and find those things, just as long as those euphoria releasing things are not always drugs.