Sheltering in Place
August 17, 2021
Monday night was freezing. I wore my sweatshirt and socks to bed. Nevertheless, I am up at six on Tuesday. I am bored in bed when I’m not sleeping. Water is heating for coffee when I discover I have forgotten my insulated mug. Wishing I had not thrown out my coffee kiosk paper cup, at small tin cup will have to do. I’m grateful I have a least that.
I walk across the road and sit on a bolder with the wee cup of quickly cooling coffee to watch the mountain emerge from her cloud blanket. I would take a time lapse of it, it was that amazing, if my phone battery hadn’t drained, I surmise due to the cold.
The weather forecast was for clouds this morning and sunny tomorrow, though I hadn’t been able to get an updated report. I have a plan to hike Naches Peak Loop at Tipsoo Lake today, and save my Sunrise hike for tomorrow. I eat a quick breakfast and head out. Well, I try to head out. My key fob won’t open my car door, which happened last time I camped. I panicked then, thinking the battery had died, until I realized what I suppose I once knew and forgot, that the actual key is inside the fob. (Good grief, technology makes me feel old.) This time, I roll my eyes, and pop the key out. But then the car won’t start either. The dash tells me I have an unrecognized key. What the hell? I take the key out of the fob and put it back in. Same thing. I do it again, my anxiety rising, and it starts. My blood pressure drops back to normal.
As I drive out, I see the sky that was clearing earlier is closing back in. Herself is going back under the covers.
There had been a chance of overnight rain, and though there was none at the campground, the main road is wet for miles. The clouds deepen as I drive the twenty-two miles, finally enclosing the car as I turn toward Chinook Pass. A fat marmot gallumphs across the road in front me. Yes, I swerve for marmots. At the lake, which I can’t see, the fog is so dense, I can barely see a car length ahead of me.
Cloudy, or even misty, would be acceptable for this hike; though I was hoping to see the mountain on the back side of the loop, which was cloud covered when I was here two years ago on an otherwise mostly blue-sky day. I hiked the loop in mid-August that year and the flowers were stupendous. I’m hoping for the same today, but they won’t be visible in this vichyssoise.
I sit in the parking area and read in the warmish car for an hour—wishing I had a thermos of hot coffee—while the sky clears not one bit. I return to my tent, under the covers, with another tin cup of coffee and my book. I’ll try again this afternoon. I fervently wish I could build a fire, but there is a ban on everything but propane.
The clouds thicken throughout the morning. There will be no hiking today; I’m a fair weather adventurer for the most part. I drive to Enumclaw for lunch, where not even the servers in the restaurant are wearing masks. And I thought my town was bad; at least employees there are back to respectful, if not customers. I’ve become anxious again. It’s just the way this virus is going to go. It’s not done with us yet, and we don’t get to choose to say, “I did my part and got vaccinated and now I’m done.” I fill up with gas—thanks to all the unexpected driving—and stop at a Safeway Starbucks for a mocha latte and buy a cool orange thermal mug that matches my car, then head back to my tent and take a two-hour nap.
My adventure today is to keep warm. I wish the minimal-though-it-is lodge at Sunrise was open. I wish I weren’t such a grump about hiking at the mountain when I can’t see the mountain. I’m not doing a good job of “pivoting,” as a friend admires me for, today. But tomorrow is, hopefully, going to be better. And I am only a third of the way through my 600-page book.