On Monday at noon thirty the snow was up to the eaves of the cabin located at 8200 feet in the Sierra Nevada of California. Getting to the generator house was a half hour endeavour. The covers on the wood pile were buried. You couldn't see the bridge railings because the drifts were a good foot above them.
We left the cabin with daypacks and a snow shovel to head for the Toyota pick up that was parked next to the road closed sign at the bottom of the mountain four miles and two thousand feet below us. The trek should have taken no more than two hours even with my almost healed October sprained ankle and my Thanksgiving sprain that was doing better, but still quite swollen.
The day before it had rained on the mountain and four snow shoers had made a path down which we intended to follow as soon as we were through the campground and past the lower gate. Grant broke trail that started out at chest height as soon as we were on the other side of the bridge..
The previous day he had taken the car down in case the NOAA weather folks were too conservative in their estimates of six inches of snow fall. I had followed his trail out to the road where I encountered two 30+ mountain/rock climbers coming up the road without snow shoes. They parked at the hairpin where the road was clear. They had seen Grant and told me he was on his way back up. I offered a cup of hot chocolate, which they accepted back at the cabin.
They were headed farther up the road to snow camp. As it turned out, they camped at the gate to the lower camp ground and the next day preceded us down the snowshoe trail without their snow shoes..urgh..post holes, holes, holes. Bottom line, we left the cabin at noon thirty on Monday and arrived at the parked Toyota at 4 a.m. Tuesday morning. Snow at the hairpin was six foot deep.
Several times I tried to get Grant to go on and just let me lie there in the snow where I had fallen one more time. He refused and harassed me into climbing out of the snow and moving forward. What a night. Being 70 has its perks, one of which is stamina even when exhausted. Guess I'm pretty damned fortunate to have a partner like Grant to keep me going, to break trail, etc etc..
The Toyota was sitting in four foot of snow at the road closed sign. We turned on the heater and spent the next three hours resting/kind of sleeping in the cab. Grant actually warmed up enough to move to the bed of the truck for an hours rest. At 7:30, I called the town Hostel and asked if they could pick us up.
They had picked up the two mountain climbers the night before. It had taken them eight hours to do the trek down. In the morning, the hostel said we would have to walk an additional mile down the road because the ice and snow on the incline were so deep that the three axel six wheel drive V8 truck wouldn't negotiate the road.
Back on with the boots and the very wet gear and in the morning sunlight we headed east to where the hostel met us. There we dug out the now stranded V8. The snow was three foot deep at that point.
Grant went back up the next afternoon with a rental car and a brand new snow shovel, dug the Toyota free so that he could attach the truck chains we purchased earlier in the month. The incredible Aussie got the Toyota out. It is parked next to our room at the hostel as I write.
It's been harrowing. Don't think I've ever been so close to giving up in my life. It’s taken a while to regain energy and my thighs think that walking down anything is just too much to ask. Stairs are slow.
I had no dry clothes, so the Aussie when shopping at Evolution, the little mountaineering shop in town, and bought me shoes, socks, fleece pants and two fleece tops. The only real injuries are to my thumbs that got a tad too cold in the wet, but they are improving. Feeling is returning to the tips.
I am endeared to the idea of having a partner who cares enough to make sure that we both survive. All that really matters in life, methinks, is that we are loved and love and that we make time to be with those who love us and whom we love. Things are of little importance except, of course, for the ski pole that I snapped one of the times when I fell. What did Grant do? He walked with one pole and gave me his other.
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