I looked down, noticing the color of my toes changing from bright red to white. ‘Maybe Chacos weren’t the best choice’ I said to my husband/ hiking-guide-for-the-day, who quickly replied, ‘my toes are very happy with my decision’. ‘What a guy way to respond,’ I thought.
As we reached the first lake on our Saturday morning hike it began to rain… again. Yeah yeah I know, we need the water. I know I enjoy clean, fresh water coming through the faucet each time I lift the lever, but really?! Again?
Although it’s July I can remember many similar days in October when I have been covered head to toe in a wool layer, then goose down, followed by a rain jacket. ‘Ski pants,’ I thought, ‘That’s what I need. Where did I store those again?’
When we reached the second lake on this day’s adventure, I decide it’s time for some lunch and a reassessment of the plan. Maybe stopping here, Washington Lake, will be the perfect end to a cold, wet day. Although we had planned to do 10 miles instead of the 5 miles we have traveled, I liked being on the conservative side when it comes to losing feeling in my appendages (appendage meaning- it’s attached to me and I’d like it to stay that way).
Why am I so conservative and/or attached to my fingers and toes? Well, there’s a story for that..
In 2011 my husband and I were informally, as this race isn’t super formal, invited to run the Lucky Peak Challenge put on by Chad Fisher and Tate Fischer on the first Saturday in April each year, which supports fallen wildland firefighters. Being the wife of a wildland firefighter makes me, without thought, do anything to support this amazing foundation (Wildland Firefighter Foundation). WFF helps firefighters and their families when tragedy occurs, so when asked we emphatically said ‘Yes!’. This race starts at Lucky 13 in Boise, Id and proceeds up Lucky Peak. 13 miles round trip, 3,100 feet of elevation gain (pretty steep!), but you go slow-ish and stay in a group (it’s not really a ‘I made it to the top first! haha I win!’ kind of race..if you get my point). We make a day of going to the top and back, followed by beer and delicious food.
On this particular day in April the forecast said rain. Because of that, we donned our hats and gloves, preparing for a two or three hour run with little water or food. What we were not prepared for was sleet, high winds, and 3 feet of snow near the summit with a round trip time of five hours. Two hours into the journey I lost feeling in my feet and hands. By hour three, they’d turned greyish blue, which wasn’t nearly as overwhelmingly eye-opening to my fellow hikers, as my inability to communicate.
Thanks to a firefighter/ ski patroller familiar with symptoms of hypothermia, who noticed my inability to move fingers and toes or communicate, I was brought down the mountain. Thankfully I regained feeling in my fingers and toes, which was one of the more painful events in my life. I was lucky only to have had frost nip, making my fingertips sore for four or five days. This event gave me a greater respect and just fear of the weather, and how quickly it changes, which is why I am thinking of ski pants and goose down in mid-July.
As we solidified our plan to retreat, we took one more look around, noticing the sea of wildflowers swaying in the breeze. Never before had I seen so many different varieties, all in peak bloom, in one area. The rain is graciously accepted by nature, and represented here in an array of colors and sizes. And as I reflect, I recognize my own gratitude toward it. Cleansed and renewed, I leave Washington and Fourth of July lakes behind in search of hot tea and a fire.