Some trips keep you awake all night. You stew in your own cold sweat, wondering if you are up to the challenge, if the crux will go, and if you have what it takes. Hope mingles with doubt, and you ponder, “Can we do this? Have we bitten off too much? Will our lives ever be the same?”
Then as you get up and move, fear begins to fade and the excitement grows. The sun rises. You know you are in the right spot at the right time. The right spot in the whole world and the right time, ever. It is why you are there. It is why you are.
This was one of those trips. In fact, it was the granddaddy of them all.
The weather looked good and we had run out of excuses not to do this trip. This was the test – of months of planning and preparation, of trial runs, of our commitment and resolve. We were in this together with no turning back.
So, leaving the purple prose behind, Chrystell and I packed the gear and loaded the car. The gear, I should say, is sort of specialized for a trip like this:
We left the house at the break of noon. The ride seemed endless until we pulled into the trailhead – the UW Medical Center triangle parking lot – at 12:30 p.m.
The objective was on the sixth floor, which towered above us like Baring’s north face.
The first decision: siege or alpine? We had considered a siege assault, but in the end we stashed the rope, pro, and grappling hook, and settled on a quick-strike alpine approach.
At this point we took advantage of a local terrain feature: the elevator. Some people might consider this cheating, or at least unaesthetic and unworthy of a nwhikers.net trip report. Criticize if you must, but we needed to preserve our strength for the difficult part of the journey – which is to say, the next 18 years. So we stashed the grappling hook and rope, and instead pushed the “6” button in the elevator.
The effort went well until, 10^(-1) hours from the car, we had to negotiate the grade 1.0 crux:
… Until we reached our destination. Now, up to this point I’ve been mum about our mission, and the reason for the cold sweat and excitement. We were there to help two little future summiteers bust loose from the NICU. Their code names give a hint about two of the things in their future: they go by Little T (Thor) and Storm King. At first they seemed a little wary about our motives, or maybe they objected to the paparazzi taking their pictures:
One of them was being guarded (read: protected, cared for, saved) by the NICU Wizard:
We whipped out the essential car-seat gear for the getaway:
As is all-too-common, the descent turned out to be more tricky than the ascent. But after a couple hours of paperwork, stashing gear, goodbyes, and a few tears, we carefully retraced our steps to the car, making sure to avoid such unnecessary detours as the stairway. (How many times have you wanted an elevator to sweeten up one of your excursions?)
Almost immediately, the little summiteers settled into their new digs. They are so calm that I am beginning to wonder about their parentage. Maybe they are aliens. They definitely are our new landlords.
Grappling hook (did not use, since we found an elevator)
50m 8.5mm rope (see above)
Small rack (ditto)
Car seats (two - essential)
Dr. Spock’s On Parenting (who has time to actually read this stuff?)
Valium (18-year supply, for parents)
(This is the closest we will ever get to a birth announcement for Carmen Isabel and Clara Lilian. Carmen came home January 18, and Clara came home January 22 – the pics are from both days. This report is for all the amazing docs and nurses at the UW Medical Center, and friends and family who kept us fed and sane these past few weeks. Thanks.)
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