Great 48: Day -1 & Day 0

Sunday saw another glorious brunch of fresh salmon, farewells with my friend, Kristen, and the train from Seattle to Portland. Kristen sent me off with a very appropriate care package: one package of sardines (her favorite glacier snack), an extra bottle of DEET, a handful of Second-Skin, and a book of Wallace Stegner essays on the American West. 

Most of the 3 hour ride to Portland was filled with stories of the "old Vegas" colorfully conveyed by a dear lady who spent most of the 50's and 60's working on the strip. She possessed a mythic amount of stories about Carlos Santana and the origins of his tour van, the Wynn family, working at the Horseshoe casino, and so many more. I had to resist the temptation to take notes. When I arrived in Portland, I met up with Josh, Lindsey, and Dave in the most appropriate of locations: REI. 

An iPhone video of Josh crossing a knee-deep stream in Montana's back-country last week was marketing enough for the rest of us to upgrade our flip flops to closed-toe sandals. I also purchased another expensive handful of socks as further vaccination against the worst hiking malady of them all: damp socks. Rounding out my eleventh-hour purchases were a clutch of peanut-protein-sugar-berry-bars of varying size and purported excellence, and one of the only hats in the store that fit my head. 

Our last evening not spent in a van or on a trail was consumed with exploding our gear through a gracious cousin's house (and then overflowing into her backyard), then re-folding, rolling, and packing everything into need-tomorrow/need-later categories. We managed pretty well: 

Following a very Portland dinner at Burnside brewery (my dinner of smoked bone marrow seemed a suitably Thoreauvian blessing for the trip ahead), I plugged in all the camera batteries I could manage and we all had a long night of sleep in a bed. 

This morning, we showered, re-checked the rooftop straps (secure, but currently making a wasp-swarm sound behind the driver's head), and started our long approach to Rainier. Josh, Lindsey, and Dave will sleep tonight at Camp Muir in their 3-person/4-season tent and begin their 6-hour summit attempt behind the guides tomorrow morning. The clocks start when they summit. I'll chase down as many photographs at whatever altitude I find them for the next 12 hours, and be the freshest of the bunch for the drive to Hood later tomorrow. It may be the longest chunk of time for photography I'll have in the next weeks.

Just prior to our departure: