Monday, July 21, 2008

Snain in July

Date: July 21
Mileage: 12.1
July mileage: 480.9
Temperature: 49

I shuffled across yet another petrified snowfield, rain-washed to an icy sheen and so slippery I was sure my soon-to-be-horizontal body was destined to slam into a tree. But I kept it vertical and splashed down into yet another puddle, beginning the climb anew atop foot-repellent roots and glistening boulders. The weather forecast had called for a 20 percent chance of rain - 20 percent! Which in my experience means little to none, and I dressed for it. But now my thin shell felt about one ounce of liquid away from dissolving completely, my polyester pants were saturated, my toes and fingers were numb beyond usability, and still the rain came down. It showed no signs of letting up. If anything, the rain was picking up velocity, and the temperature was dropping, and I was woefully underdressed. And why was I still climbing Mount Jumbo in the rain, when the storm was so socked in I couldn't see beyond the next boulder and the footing so treacherous and tentative that I couldn't even count it as good exercise? I think I was afraid of the mild chill already creeping into my core, which only promised to get worse once I stopped climbing. And the snowpack wasn't as bad as I'd feared and I was making good time, so there was still a chance of making the peak. And after everything I've put up with while hiking this month, I deserve a peak.

But then I started to feel a strange sensation on the back of my neck - still like driving rain, but with an edge. A sharp, icy edge. I looked up from the slippery trail to see thick, spear-like drops shooting through the air, mostly gray but with flecks of white. They hit my skin like needles, like daggers, like ... could it be? ... that icy mixture of snow and rain that plagues this place for much of the winter? Snain? Snain in July? Even at 3,000 feet, I could hardly believe it. But my reaction was swift and decisive. Peak was out of the question. I will now forever call my arbitrary turnaround spot "Snain Summit."

And I will return to hike another day. I am not going to let this anti-summer month beat me.