Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Unexpected Mountain Climbing

The weather reports said that there would be a snow storm coming. "Snow and possible thunder," it said. Thundersnow? Cool!

Throughout the day, it didn't seem so bad though the clouds had an ominous look about them. Very dark and low. Around 4:15, the storm started with a torrential hail downpour which gave a base for the big puffy snow to follow. Around Redmond, it was only 34 degrees so usually things wouldn't stick but on top of a bed of icy gorp, it stuck just fine.

I left work about 15 minutes later, trying to beat the traffic but, sadly, I was not the only one to think of this. Getting to the highway wasn't bad. Driving on 520 wasn't even bad yet. By the time I got off the highway, though, it was clear that this was going to take a while. After moving about one mile in an hour, and hearing stories of all sorts of cars abandoned on the hill up to the plateau I started thinking of alternate opportunities. Sadly, there are only 4 ways up to the plateau and all have steep hills that people with 2 wheel drive cars always get stuck on and then block it for everyone else.

There is a back way, though. One that few people know about since cars can't go through the roadblocks set up but I could always walk up. I parked my car at David's house and after some very generous peanut butter crackers for energy (thanks!) I started the trek up the hill. The snow was heavy and crunchy under my shows (thank goodness I wore my waterproof Merrells...) but it was not very slippery. At first the hill wasn't too bad but there is a part that Zach and I had ridden down a few times last summer on our bikes that got very steep. Lots of fun going down on a bike. Not so much going up in snow.

Along the way, I was kept company by a number of ongoing email and SMS threads on my blackjack phone. It turns out that all of the roads up to the plateau were closed due to abandoned cars so it is good I took this route. I wasn't going to make it up any other way.

The walk was actually really nice. The thick snow muted all sound and lay heavy on the trees, bushes and fences along the way. Occasionally kids would run out with their sleds trying to find a good hill to ride. During the steepest parts, I was strategizing ways to bring my snowboard back in the morning and ride down to my car though I bet it will be much icier by then. About 2.5 miles and 45 minutes later, I was finally home. Total commute time, 3.5 hours.

Now I just need to figure out how to get my car back...

Jan 11 - Around noon today, I drove down off the plateau and picked up my car. Under the windshield wipers was a ziploc bag with some crackers and peanut butter and a note that said, "Just in case..." Thanks David :)

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