Technically this is the third time Scott has tried to kill me. There was that one time when we were in a small fishing boat with an oversized engine out in the Puget Sound and he thought it'd be wise to try and outrun a freighter heading toward us. Bad idea. We almost capsized, and the engine actually flew off the boat after we hit a wave in the freighter's wake. Then there was that other time when Scott and I were hiking around Snoqualmie and Scott split from me to see if he could get back to the cabin we were staying at faster. He won. I totally lost the trail and had to hike back up to the summit just to find a familiar path. I think I arrived at least an hour later very dehydrated and shaken up.
We went skiing yesterday as the girls were at Amandapalooza all day (Amanda's bridal shower and bachelorette party. April 10 shall forever be known as Amandapalooza.) I was very excited to ski because I haven't been skiing for about three months. That's what grad school and wedding planning does for your ski season.
I was skiing considerably well and we even went north backcountry once without me causing serious damage to my extremities. Scott and his wife's cousin Mike left me on the upper mountain shortly before lunch to hike south backcountry and I enjoyed a few more runs while rocking out to the new Victor Shade record. I was skiing fast and comfortably. Not bad for my first day skiing in months.
I met Scott and Mike for lunch and Scott had the bright idea that we should all go hike south backcountry. Now there's a reason why I didn't join them on the first go-around and have never hiked south backcountry, ever. It's some of the toughest terrain and has the deepest snow, which was of course why Scott enthusiastically wanted me to join them for a second trip.
South backcountry is a right of passage for Crystal Mountain skiers and also the only reason Courtney has ever seriously threatened to leave Scott. She's that miserable hiking it and despises Scott for every trip he forces her to make. Courtney tells me that south backcountry is their irreconcilable difference because he's so persistent skiing there and she so vehemently opposes it.
I've already placed blame on Scott for my near-death experience, but of course I made the decision to join he and Mike for the hike. I blame Scott because he knows the hike, terrain and my skiing ability. I only knew the later. If I knew what I was getting myself into, I never would have put myself through what was a two-hour psychological and physical trauma.
The hike to Three-Way peak normally takes a half hour, I'm told. It took me that long to hike Stadium Bowl-number of man-made snow stairs at the start of the hike. By the time I reached the end of that first leg I was already out of breath. That's what an office job does for your endurance. The following hour involved little actual skiing and a lot of side-stepping with skiing on to gain elevation (think eternal lunges) and actual hiking in boots. Hiking at 7,000 feet is a little different on the lungs, too. I was huffing and puffing and I was going to give Scott a blow to the face after he told me I was halfway there at a breakpoint that already felt like the end of a marathon.
I yelled at him, "What kind of hell is this! Jesus didn't walk this far!"
We marched on.
I had a GPS transmitter on me in case I fell into some avalanche. I was convinced that no one could save me at this elevation and solitude. Surely the transmitter would only be used to find my body. I was already so close to heaven at this elevation that my soul could take a regional carrier to get to the pearly gates while ski patrol searched for me. I thought about how convenient it would be that the snow would preserve my body and I would look pristine at the wake. My only flaw would be a slightly sunburnt nose. Like I said, the hike took a mental toll as well and this was my line of thinking.
We had nearly reached the of the hike and both of my quadriceps were cramping and contracting uncontrollably. We were far out and my legs had literally hit the point of trauma. How convenient that after all that work I had to now ski the whole way down the mountain. See on the map below the red line that marks our hike and how far we had to ski down to get to the bottom of the mountain.
Keep in mind that I had actually paid for a lift ticket so that I could enjoy skiing. Now skiing was as painful and burdensome as those initial snow stairs. Despite my exhaustion, I only fell once when one of my legs cramped up and stiffened. Thankfully, Mike was behind me and able to help me get up standing. I literally had no strength to lift myself out of the snow. Mike was my lifeline on that south backcountry trip. I hardly knew the guy but he was patient with me and was watching out for me as he recognized that I was in too deep, so to speak, for my skill level. Scott helped out a lot, too, but he also put me in this hell so it really evened out to nothing.
I almost reached the bottom of the mountain before some inexperienced idiot snowboard chick cut into me and we collided. If I didn't already have enough body aches, hitting her and the snow that hard did me over.
After we reached the lodge, Scott became preoccupied trying to find a t-shirt and I just wanted to find some warm place to sit under and die. Everything hurt. I hobbled back to our room at the Alpine Inn and crashed on a bed. I can't remember the next hour but I think Scott was laughing at watching The Hangover on DVD and I countered with equal volumes of moaning and groaning.
And Scott had to put up with it all because he tried to kill me... again.