Wednesday, January 5, 2011

When I woke up at eight, the thermometer read -3. Damn. It's okay, go back to bed, wait for the sun to rise. No rush, let the day warm itself up. By the time I had the car packed and a thermos of coffee ready at twelve, my patience had paid off: It had warmed to a reasonable 4 ...

We planned to climb Ousel Peak in the Bob Marshall, a five-mile hike that climbs a little over three thousand feet. We didn't get to the trailhead until almost two. By two, the sun had already crested the nearest western mountain -- the entire hike would be in the shade. And the trailhead is about a thousand feet higher than my front stoop -- the temperature had dropped back to -3. And there's three feet of powder I need to snow shoe through. And it gets dark in about three hours. Oh, and Cody's threshold for cold is about fifteen degrees before his brain freezes and he acts/reacts like he's half-drunk.

This adventure was doomed when I hit snooze on my cell phone alarm six hours earlier.

We got maybe a mile up the trail before we turned back. Cody looked confused and scared. It felt darker. When I opened my water bottle to get a sip of water I found it was already three-quarters frozen.

No, the neck warmer didn't really help.

By the time we got back to Highway 2, Cody couldn't walk straight. I gave him most of my turkey sandwich to nurse him back to warmth. I stayed hungry; I'm a noble friend.

No one got frost bite, so I'll consider this a lesson learned, not a failure. We'll try again when it gets warmer ... and there’s more daylight ... and there's less snow ... and when Cody can take it.

We headed home to a growler of Fred's from the Great Northern Brewery. My porch thermometer read 0.

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