A recent Sunday afternoon found David, the girls, and I sitting in the truck – in the rain – on Big Mountain.
Reluctantly, I waited for the rain to stop with the prospect of hiking the Danny On.
When the rain stopped, I put on my pack and followed everyone up the sloppy trail.We were there due to the fact that we had been sitting around most of the weekend because of rain. David thought a hike on a cold, damp mountainside would be a change of pace. He also wanted to take pictures.
After the 2nd switchback, we came across a mature blond woman dressed in a fitted knee length skirt. Before she spoke, I knew what she was going to say.
I had seen her eyes drift away from my face to look at the bear spray attached to my belt.
In a German accent, she asked David and I about trail conditions and whether or not there were any bears in the woods.
“I’ve never seen a bear out here,” I told her, “but with all of the lingering snow this year, the bears have been driven to lower elevations to look for food.”
“As for the trail, it’s supposed to be snow covered about 2 miles up,” I said.
I invited her to hike with us. She accepted and said that she loved hiking and would follow us only for a short distance because she wasn’t wearing the proper boots and that a friend was waiting for her back at the car. Soon, we came to a clearing with a view where she thanked us, remarked how beautiful it was, and said that she would be turning around.
David and I continued hiking, playing leap frog (a term used when hikers repeatedly pass up one another on a trail) with Mallory and E. As we walked and talked and took pictures, we noticed large cracks in the soil along the edge of the trail.
Soon, a male hiker with a nice camera strapped across his shoulder passed us up as we neared a favorite huckleberry patch. He claimed he hadn’t heard any of our bickering. I think he was being polite.
The guy with the camera was on his way back down. He said the trail was snow covered all the way up to the summit – and pretty nasty. At this point, David, the girls and I were precariously standing off to the side of the trail in slippery snow. It didn’t seem prudent to continue, so we turned around.
At the turn off where David and I decided to go cross country back to the parking lot, there was a man facing the creek.
I said it looked like he was taking a pee. But when the paper came out the next day, David said he was most likely looking at the slump.
The newspaper had reported that a ski resort maintenance crew had noticed a mountainside slump. They saw it the same day that we had been hiking the Danny On. They said that the slump most likely was caused by heavy spring rains. A tower was found to be tilting in the soil nearby, making it necessary to take a chair lift out of service. As the Danny On crosses beneath the problem tower and lift, it was also necessary to close the trail.
In the future, I’ll try to remember the advice of Mark Twain,So although the weather was dreary and I didn’t feel like going to Big Mountain, we got to meet a nice German tourist, see the mountainside slump, take a hike on the Danny On before it was closed and see some blue skies.
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”