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You Forgot What?! A tale of forgotten gear in the Goat Rocks Wilderness
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You Forgot What?! A tale of forgotten gear in the Goat Rocks Wilderness

You Forgot What?! A tale of forgotten gear in the Goat Rocks Wilderness

Freshly reborn from the pages of Jack Kerouac’s Dharma Bums, my buddy and I were in a predicament. We were here, we were alive, we needed nature, we needed a reset, and we had one weekend left before college classes started again. Fed up with our vices and our earthly attachments we piled ourselves and our gear into my buddies’ Volkswagen GTI and mobbed south to the Goat Rocks Wilderness. Our slim weather window was the only chance we had left to truly live.

The Snowgrass Flat – Goat Ridge Loop, starts out steep right at the trailhead. We huffed and puffed upward past piles of pack animal dung. Elk Hunters. As we climbed higher the clouds got thicker and the light fog turned to heavy mist. My pack was nice and light on my back. To facilitate a quicker departure from Seattle, my friend and I divided and conquered our gear list. I brought the kitchen, he supplied the tent and water filter, our personal gear was on us. We shivered as we climbed above the tree line.

The view was gray and massive. The better weather was supposed to be moving in but at that moment we were stuck in wet gray columns of mist and clouds. The wind would build up in the lower valleys below the ridgeline and explode upward separating the columns and momentarily reveal incredible views of alpine meadows. We shivered as we trudged upwards towards the pass.

At the pass, marmots scurried above us on the scree slopes creating micro rock slides with each step. We smiled, waved, and bid them a good winter. The pass was our gateway to the sun. As we crossed the threshold my shivering stopped, and I smiled into the sun. My buddy asked, “Do you know when we are going to get to camp? My feet are freezing.” He removed his soaked hiking boots to reveal white cotton socks. “I forgot wool socks.”, my buddy muttered. “You forgot what?!”, I retorted. The camping spot was not too much further so after putting his boot back on, we boogied down the trail as fast as his icicle feet let us.

I was worried about my friend, so when we got to the campsite, I sprang into action. Without wool socks, the best way to warm up his feet was a Nalgene bottle full of boiling water. To kill two birds, I planned on using the leftover pasta water from dinner. I told my friend to build his tent while I started dinner. All would be well. As I stared into the little pot of half-cooked pasta well on its way to being ready to eat, my buddy spoke up. “I forgot the tent poles.”, he muttered. “You forgot what?!”, I retorted.

Nature provided exactly what we left behind in civilization. Using my food hang line, I tied the top of the tent body to the line and pierced a hole in the rain fly. After threading the food hang line through the rain fly, we tied the line to a tree branch. Next, we gathered rocks from a close scree slope and put the heaviest rocks inside in all four corners of the tent. We then stacked the other rocks in little cairns around our tent and connected guy-lines. It didn’t look like much, but our shelter was cozy and effective.

Inside our cozy shelter, I stirred a can of salmon into the noodles and we passed the pot back and forth. Inside his sleeping bag, my buddy had the Nalgene bottle of hot leftover-noodle water resting on his feet. My buddy looked at me in surprise, “I forgot the whiskey.” “You forgot what?!”, I retorted. My buddy laughed and passed me the pint of Jim-Beam he had hidden in the depths of his sleeping bag. All was well.

So often we focus on what we could bring that will make the trip the best trip ever, but more often than not it is what we forget that creates the best memories.

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