When we woke up here still weren’t any ominous looking clouds although wisps were starting to coat the sky, creating for a brilliant red sunrise. You know what they say, red sky in the morning… We packed up and headed down. I would actually prefer to climb first thing in the morning and go down at night but we always seem to be starting with a descent and finishing up with a climb. We went all the way down to the Suiattle River, where we saw our first side trail in a couple of days. There was also a huge bridge allowing us to cross the river which was huge and the same color as chocolate milk, even this late in the season. Apparently for a long time there was no bridge here and people had to cross via a sketchy old downed tree. I can’t even imagine. After crossing the bridge we saw a couple more day hikers and we began a long climb back up to elevation. Unlike the last few days this day basically involved one big down and one big up, and then back down to camp. Although it was still a lot of elevation this seemed mentally easier for me to handle. You just accept down as your life for a while and then when you start climbing you accept up. Kyle helped me pass the time quickly by practicing his speech for Chris’ wedding, choking on a disturbing amount of bugs while doing so.
The sky continued to develop clouds, although not just hazy ones. Strange lenticular clouds that looked like spaceships were forming all over the sky, more traditional fluffy ones were starting to get a grey cast to their bottom side, and long riffled clouds lined the sky. It was a cloud bonanza. A cloud yard sale. Every type of cloud joined the party. Hey, you know what kind of underwear clouds wear? Thunderwear!
Eventually we went through a pass at the top of the climb and passed into yet a new realm. We were standing looking down at a huge valley, one long ridge to the east and peaks to the west. Our path took us on the west side of the valley, weaving its way all the day back into smaller hidden valleys at the bottom of each peak. At this point in our stint out we were pretty hungry. We had rationed well but hunger seems to grow the longer you stomach goes without a really solid meal. It is as if it’s memory grows shorter and shorter and pretty soon it is growling right after you scarfed down a cliff bar. So we began to play the food game, you know, the “I would do blank for this kind of food right now.” Kyle made a pretty appalling statement about what he would do for a pound bag of Skittles, which I found both repulsive and ridiculous. After a while of thinking though I got back to him and let him know I would do the same thing but only if there was an unlimited taco bar waiting for us when we got to camp. We both contemplated this in our own little hungry worlds for a bit before my craving really revealed itself. I informed Kyle I wasn’t even looking for a super authentic amazing Mexican taco, no I was actually craving the classic white mother made American knock off- the crispy shelled taco.
Now my mother is an amazing cook, but she didn’t exactly got into the traditional authentic side of Mexican food until I went to Mexico and lived there and became a taco snob. Growing up we always had the Ortego shells, crisped hanging over the rack in the oven, the ground beef seasoned with a flavor packed, the shredded cheese and lettuce, diced tomatoes and a little sour cream. That was a taco to me for years. Turns out that was exactly what a taco was to Kyle as well when he was growing up. Despite living on different sides of the country and our slight age difference we both still enjoyed this very salty tasty treat. And in that moment, that is exactly what we were both craving. We talked about it at length, until we were both salivating, drooling, licking our lips in anticipation. Except that no crispy shelled taco would ever come. Instead we would eat freeze dried meals for dinner.
When we got to camp we set up our tent and tarp, pretty confident that although we had managed another day without rain, it wasn’t far off. We ate our feeze dried meals and we went to bed, our stomachs still dreaming of crispy shelled tacos.