Glacier Peak (dakobed)

August 27,2020

"Tessa! This week flew by...

...and I realized today that today is my Friday! How are you feeling about doing something together tomorrow?" My text read as I pushed the send button at 1pm on Wednesday (which is my "Friday", as I have nonconforming weekends working in retail). Last week, Tessa and I had planned on doing something together on Thursday which had been our most reliable days off together. Some weeks however, just fly by and before we knew it, we had only hours to plan our trip. On my lunch break, I gave her a call and we landed on doing Glacier Peak in a day. Tessa is working on the Bulger list and though she had done 64 of them, she had yet to do Glacier Peak.

The last time I did Glacier, I did it in a 2 day push with my husband, Daniel. We had an exhausting first day, carrying our heavy packs with thick 10mm rope and a 4 person REI half dome tent to our camp all the way past Glacier Gap. The second day, we summited the mountain, packed everything up, and trekked back all the way to our car. On the flat river section in the last couple miles, we walked along with our aching feet and tired legs and swore never to do this mountain again unless we took our time and did it in 3 or 4 days. After we decided this, I thought a bit and almost jokingly added, "or unless we do it in a single day and can bring light packs".

A pic from the first time I climbed Glacier Peak in 2018

Tessa cruisin' along the upper sections of the switchbacks leading up to White Pass

Little did I know how much I would fall in love with big days out in the mountains. Sure enough, I had found myself forgetting all the pain of my first trip, and gearing up for a single day push of Glacier Peak. Having done our trip planning so last minute, we decided on sleeping in our own beds that night, and driving up to the trailhead early the day-of. And by early, I mean very early. Wake up at 1:30am early. We left Seattle at 2, met at the trailhead at 4:20 and started walking by 4:40. We cruised through the flat section along the river in the dark, talking about how nice it is to approach in the dark since it isn't broiling hot, and since we get to experience the trail in a whole new way on the way down. The switchbacks seemed to go fast as well, as we watched the sun rise while we climbed up and up. We got to White Pass in about 3.5 hours, found a stream to refill our water, and trekked on.

Now. I don't know how many of you have attempted this remote mountain via the North fork of the Sauk, but if you have, then you know the extreme mix of excitement and disappointment when you get to Windy Pass and see the mountain for the first time. The picture to the right here shows the view. By this time, we had gone about 12 miles and 6,400ft gain in about 4.5 hours, and the mountain still looks SO FAR AWAY. "Whelp, there it is!" I said out loud as we grabbed a quick bite to eat and walked on. We trekked on thru the gullies and ridges and saw the beautiful alpine lakes below us as we traversed along towards the mountain. If you're familiar with my story of my marathon training and race this winter, you'll know that I have been struggling with my hamstrings being tight. And by tight, I mean to the point of acute pain tight. Fear of tearing the muscle tight. I knew that I just needed to do a bit more strengthening in certain areas, but for some reason it can be hard to do, especially when there are exciting trips to go on! The mode that we had been travelling in all day was to press on until something gave us a red flag or stopped us from proceeding further. To turn around because of a fear of something happening can sometimes be a valid thing to do, but when do muscle issues become a concern vs. a real problem? That answer is very hard to figure out. At least in my mind.

Our first sight of the mountain at Windy Pass! So much done, so much left to do.

We pressed onward, with my hamstrings aching along, climbing and dropping, and climbing and dropping as we made our way to glacier gap. We got over the gap, and went up a bit farther to look at the time and grab a snack. We had been moving for 5.5 hours. We had time to keep on going, but my hamstrings were really starting to light up, and I was getting worried about slowing down too much. We were looking up the ridge towards our route, and we still had 3,000ft of climbing left. I sat there, feeling like a failure. But then I realized, "Shoot, this is still going to be a big day for me. Doing this much mileage and elevation gain is a big day in my book still. And it wouldn't hurt to avoid further injury of my hamstrings..." I mentioned my concerns to Tessa, and she explained that she woke up with a funny feeling this morning as well, and was just happy to be out in the mountains. We decided to turn around there, and attempt Dakobed another day. Coming down the switchbacks, my hamstrings absolutely ached, and gave me some confirmation that I had made the right decision. Though I found myself in a similar position that I was in during my marathon. How do you decide when to quit and when to push thru pain? Usually, I take things like astrology with a grain of salt, but I have found that the characteristic of stubbornness that Taurus, my sign, has is quite accurate to my personality. Being a stubborn person, should I keep going thru the pain? I can. Sometimes it is worth it, but sometimes it isn't. How do we decipher when to stop when our body isn't quite giving us a red light, just a yellow one? I don't know the answer to this, but like the Taurus I am, I am going to keep asking that question until I find out.

Tessa, knowing I was in pain, chatted with me down the switchbacks and along the river, and we told stories about our lives. Tessa is a very good storyteller, and for that, I am very thankful. When we finally got down to the parking lot, exhausted, thirsty, and excited to get to our cars, a dude who was pulling stuff out of his car yelled a big, "CONGRATULATIONS!!!" It was so out of the blue and unexpected that we both jumped, smiled (maybe it looked more like a confused grimace), and said "thank you!?" unsure what exactly he meant by it. Seeing our faces, he said, "I am not sure what exactly you did, but I am sure whatever it was, it was an awesome day!" I smiled to myself. In my head, I had failed today. But he was right! I got outside, with a good friend, and I tried really hard at something. I did have an awesome day. And 32 miles and nearly 8k gain wasn't a small feat by any means, even if I didn't hit my objective. I am still learning how to manage my body, and still learning how to push myself. Hopefully in my next training bloc, Ill learn how to deal with these hamstrings! Until next time, Dakobed. You are always an adventure.