It was dark, and Westy was digging out a rock in the ground with his ice axe. He scraped around with his hands to find the edges. It took ages to shake loose a toaster-sized rock in the way of the front tire.
I tried to stay out of axe-to-head range and looked again at the back tire, which was making no contact with the road. “Huh, wow,” I said unhelpfully. We were in a Toyota Matrix, and this road was something I’d never have tried to take this car up if I’d been alone. But Westy was making a noble effort.
It was at the end of a 3 hour drive from Seattle, during which I had randomly squealed “Dakobed” at intervals. We had been babbling about plans and having read trip reports saying the route was in and nearly snow-free on the trail (surely it would go by fast!) Dakobed in a day seemed like the perfect plan for the day. I hadn’t even forgotten my headlamp or crampons. But just as Westy was apparently about to comment on the high chance of success of the trip, we encountered a washed out road, somehow not mentioned in anyone’s reports we’d seen and not the condition of the road last year.
It was frustrating, to be sure, because I even have a 4WD vehicle. It just gets way less good gas mileage, so I didn t bring it on the long drive. But it was 3 hours away in Seattle, which would put us doing something I’d really looked forward to for months on approximately zero sleep after the world’s most frustrating drive and the biggest waste of gas in the history of time.
So, after a few attempts, we determined the risk of damaging the car was too great. Defeated, we headed back to service and looked at other options. We didn’t have a rope, which ruled out some other objectives in the area. I sleepily tried to care at all about other options through my disappointment, and we settled on sleeping in and doing a “regular hike” in the morning. We stayed positive, but processing my disappointment took time, as I had been an unhealthy amount of excited about this trip. There was a super pretty hike nearby with nearly 6000ft of gain which I had somehow never done, so at the very least I needed to see Mt. Pugh/Da Klagwats sometime.
We settled into the car once we were back on the forest service road, which was very tilted and objectively not good for sleeping. Still, I slept really well until later than usual, probably drained of the spunkiness that makes me almost too restless to sleep normally. We sat around in the car for hours drinking extremely questionable cold brew coffee and talking and being unmotivated. I felt stiller than I had in ages, not even sad but paralyzed like an animal that doesn’t know what to do about an oncoming car. It wasn’t entirely disappointment, as I knew we’d get another chance. It was also just realizing how weird it was how many things I had been successful at this summer. I’ve never been so happy and so generally able to pursue what I love. I think the amount of change in my life in the past year hit me at once and I just stared at the fogged over windows of the car.
Eventually I got over myself and at the hilariously late time of 11AM, we started up the Mt. Pugh trail. I walked in front, feeling not in the mood for the usual Westy out-the-door sprint. The trail was soft and shady. I loved walking on the spongy pine needles. We saw some other people, looked at a kind of gross lake for 5 seconds, stopped once to put on sunscreen and eat guacamole. Then we were at the steep part. There’s a big talus field, a kind-of-maybe scramble, and a ridge walk. At the steep part, he went in front and I found myself sprinting up the hill behind him, unable to turn off my following instincts even if it’s an unsustainable pace for me.
He stopped at the beginning of the ridge and we looked around for a second. We saw a lot of people coming down who were absolutely floored about the hike, sharing their feelings as they passed each other. The trail is pretty exposed, and it was cool to see so many people so excited about it. We continued on, and even when I was setting the pace I was actually doing the excited-nastassia-hikes-faster thing. I guess I can’t stay disappointed for long.
Still, while I was definitely cheered up, disappointment had made a lot of space for reflection, and I stared at Dakobed from the top (it’s only 10 miles or so away). I felt like staring at mountains and doing nothing else. We joined everyone else at the top in identifying Dome and Eldorado and Sloan and watching as clouds gathered over Dakobed.
Eventually Westy took a nap and I talked to a couple next to me. The woman had a very relaxing voice, and I just wanted to listen to her narrate every single climb she had ever been on as I watched the storm on Dakobed darken. It was still extremely sunny and pleasant where we were, with a slight breeze.
After various other dawdling, we headed down. The light was already looking eveningy and soft, and we had a lot to talk about, so it felt like no time at all. We drove back home through some golden hour farmland and weird sunset clouds and took advantage of the extra time to finally get some pupusas I had been talking about for ages but that we hadn’t had a chance to get. In an entire day, we’d been actively hiking for barely more than 3 hours, but still, how beautiful the day had been for a consolation prize! I wondered how many times I would relearn the lesson of how to relax.