Climbing Ptarmigan Ridge in the North Cascades with my buddies, eating lunch in the above-the-clouds sunshine, then, heading back and not being able to find the trail through the driven snow. We got back to the timberline, searched for the head of the trail back down, to no avail. It was already a grueling hike up the mountain, through deep woodland, then in the alpine meadows, through snow.
We regrouped, discussed our options, used our compass and topomaps, and decided to head down slope to see if we couldn't intersect with the trail at some point. We crossed through some pretty tough terrain, through snow and underbrush, stopping to consult our compass, and discuss further options. We stayed really focussed and worked as a team, sharing ideas and talking out contingencies. Once we got below the cloud-line, it became clear that it was getting dark fast, so we continued down slope.
After about 45 minutes of rocky, loose, and now wet soil, we finally hit the improved trail. We patted each other on the back and smiled at each other. My friend Marc said he would rather be lost with us than anyone else in the world. We're all still great friends, though I don't live up there anymore.
To prepare for it, I had been hiking since I was about 13, but really started gun-ho about 16, with my cousin and our friends. We would go anywhere in the North Cascades, especially out-of-the-way places where we would encounter NO other hikers. We were seasoned hikers and had been mildly lost before and we always had the right equipment, extra clothing, food, and water.
I guess it's clear that we all learned that we could count on each other. We were all kind of freaked out at being lost so far into the wilderness. A couple of guys started to get a little anxious, so we talked them down and distracted them as best we could. We really worked as a team, supported each other, and exhibited the best of true brotherhood. This solidified our relationships. These guys are irreplaceable to me.