Caught between the slide alder and Charybdis

James Gillray, Britannia between Scylla and Charybdis (1793)

James Gillray, Britannia between Scylla and Charybdis (1793)

Brad over-estimated my climbing abilities and I didn’t know enough to know I had, too. We got the idea to climb a couple peaks in the Olympic mountains in early November, which is hard because you have about half the time and day-light, and there’s snow.

We started late due to a mis-communication about the ferry schedule, and had about three hours of light by the time we got to the trailhead. There was an illustration of an angry-looking cougar posted to a sign with other notices, and when I called for Brad to read it, he was gone, up the trail.

I didn’t see him again for an hour or so, and I was pissed. I was carrying more weight than I needed and my gear was primitive, most of it second-hand from garage sales in the late 90s.

The plan was to hike in near the base of Mount Deception, then get up around 2 in the morning, summit, and perhaps climb another nearby peak on the way out.

We never made it up any peaks. We got deep into the forest, deep enough to spot cat tracks in the snow I had never seen, and saw no one for two days but each other. We got off-trail, which meant bush-whacking, and I got introduced to the delightful combination of slide alder and devil’s club, got tangled up in it and frustrated with my ice ax, and had my shoulder go in a direction it shouldn’t.

I also didn’t bring enough alcohol: just those mini bottles they give you on airplanes. Brad made a snow camp and we burrowed in, trading sips off the whiskey and making male-noises in our sleeping bags.

I went to a physical therapist for my shoulder, and he gave me a series of embarrassing exercises to practice, to relieve the aches there. It’s still wrong, 12 years later. Shoulders were made for one thing my doctor said: throwing spears.

About pinklightsabre

William Pearse publishes memoir, travel journals, poetry and prose, and lives in the Pacific Northwest.
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6 Responses to Caught between the slide alder and Charybdis

  1. ksbeth says:

    and for supporting jazz hand action. glad you made it out alive.

    Like

    • pinklightsabre says:

      That’s funny — hadn’t thought about the jazz hands part. Yes, one of my nine lives wasted there, perhaps. Thank you for reading; I appreciate it.

      Like

  2. Snoring Dog Studio says:

    Gah! Nature! Best left alone and viewed from a window, I say. Glad you made it out with both your arms and legs.

    Like

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