Feeling small

When my head is a bit full and life seems a bit harsh, there’s nothing like the mountains to put me in my place and make me realize that it doesn’t matter… and to see how small I am, and hence my problems are.

A few years ago we decided to get out and try out Mt. Olympus. It’s not the tallest mountain around here, but it’s one of the most remote. There’s a well known glacier on the way to the summit called Blue Glacier. We had all heard that it was beautiful. We packed our 3 day packs, and on a good weather window (we found only a two day window, but that’s better than most in the Olympics — which houses rain forests. If you think it rains too much in Seattle, live in the Olympics to learn what ‘raining a lot’ means) headed to the Olympic NP.

The Hoh rainforest is a sight to behold. Massive trees with moss all over them, the raging Hoh river nearby, and brown walking trails. It’s perfect. Our path to the summit took us 12 miles on this trail, then we turned off the trail and 6 more miles, a washed out section and a bunch of creek crossings later, we reached our campsite.

We pitched our tents, made plans for the next day, and the area being bear country, hung all our food from the tree on the wires provided by the park services.

Next day, just as the sunlight broke, we got to the top of glacier meadows — our camp, and got our first view of the Blue Glacier. I don’t know how to explain what it means to look at a flat river of blue ice with age-old crevasses. Most glaciers are generally covered with new snow of the season, but we had visited later in the season so all the new snow was gone, and what was left was bare, old, blue ice. A vast, wide river of it.

We put on our crampons, roped up and started crossing the glacier. We picked a route with the least deep crevasses. In places, the glacier pools had collected crystal clear glacier melt water that reflected the now blue skies. My crampons squeaked on the ice as the points tried to find purchase. My ice-axe clanked on every step as it hit the ice.

I stood in the middle of the glacier, just taking in the surroundings, and really not being able to express the feeling of awe. I fell in love with that glacier. Unfortunately I didn’t take many pictures of my surroundings, but the memory is etched in my brain. And it also gives me another reason to make that trip again.

The rest of the climb was incredible. We summited quite early — around 9:30 AM. Since the weather was going to come in the next day, we made the crazy decision to walk out the same day, covering 46 miles and 7000+ ft in 38 hours.

On our way back, as we unroped after crossing the glacier, I saw another rope team crossing the Blue Glacier. You have to see people on that glacier to realize the scale of the glacier. I took this pano stitch, there’re people in there, but I can’t find them anymore. Nature does a fantastic job of making me feel small :)