In lieu of actually working on preparations for exams, I am here writing once more.  The last several weeks have been a flurry of activity of one kind or another, culminating in Renn Fayre and the aftermath thereof.  Renn Fayre ’09 can be cliff noted as a brilliantly happy Friday with a truly exuberant thesis parade, followed by a hurricane, mud, and March Fourth producing a party filled with the kind of redeeming happiness that comes after spring storms.  Much like Burning Man was last summer, Renn Fayre ’09 was challenging in ways that brought out both of the emotional extremes as Reedies looked for catharsis under difficult conditions.

As to the outdoors of late, two nights ago (or rather, very early on Friday morning) found me skinning up the Palmer glacier of Mt. Hood in the little light bubble of a headlamp.  It was a beautiful night, with a near-full moon illuminating a low-lying layer of clouds settled amongst the mountain’s foothills.  As the moon set to the southwest, it sank into a deep red oval which disappeared just as the glow of dawn started to show itself over the eastern flank of the mountain.  Knowing that we had no chance of summiting, my group of friends under the auspices of a Reed Outing Club trip had chosen to climb to just below crater rock, where both slope angle and avalanche danger would increase.  Strange storms (likely those that dampened Renn Fayre) had deposited several feet of new snow a few days before, an odd event for May and one that brought the snowpack back to near the season maximum.  A north wind had loaded the whole South side with a heavy slab, which settled upon faceted snow and some grauppel offered to slide easily.  By remaining on the lower-angled slopes, we opted nonetheless for fresh air and hard work in lieu of studies and were amply rewarded.  When day broke, it brought with it perfectly bluebird skies, and following the obligatory morning wind, perfect temperatures as well.  To the South we could see the whole cascade range, with Mt. Jefferson and the Sisters trailing off into a barely visible Mt. Bachelor on the horizon.

We reached our apex at about 9,500 ft after several hours of climbing, and after a brief break to peer down into the White River glacier and admire the rime-coated Illumination Rock to the West, we began our descent.  At the infamous Doug Ironside’s suggestion, we had brought several sleds with us, and while I enjoyed making late-season turns in the surprisingly good snow, my comrades descended in gleeful clouds of kick-up snow on the sleds and shovels.  It is always somewhat surprising to find the product of a four hour climb reduced to a 20 minute descent, but the release of gravity is always better savoured after storing its energies under one’s own power.

I look forward to the time that will come in several days when I am released to enjoy the summer as I will.  Many plans have been born under the constraints of schoolwork, and I have never felt as inspired to actually undertake them as I do now.  Laila is leaving far too quickly after graduation to go far away and pursue her own adventures, but such is the way of things.  Perhaps life will allow me the time to wander off and visit her in Gunnison, but plans for the summer are anything but concrete.

The two mountains of concern.

The two mountains of concern.

My declared goal for the summer season is to climb both Mt. Adams and Mt. St. Helens in one weekend.  Its an optimistic project that ought to entrain many aspects of my abilities, requiring serious physical fitness, perfect weather, excellent planning, and good energy.  Not to mention four hours of driving in between mountains.

The weather is warming, and soon I’ll be without excuses.