Construction Journal Entry Week of 1/7/24

1/8-9/24 I went up to Camp Serendipity for two days: Monday and Tuesday.

The week was cut short by threatening weather conditions. There was intermittent light rain when I started out. That began turning to snow when I reached Skykomish. Chains, or AWD, were required over the pass, but the Eastbound lanes had been plowed recently so even though there was snow and ice on the roadway, there was almost always a clear track of pavement for the tires.

I drove 40 MPH from Scenic all the way over the pass to Cole's Corner. The road conditions stayed the same, but the weather improved. I pulled into the driveway at Camp Serendipity almost exactly at noon. There had been a lot of new snow that hadn't been plowed but with AWD, I was able to turn around and park normally at the foot of the concrete stairs heading out.

I shoveled the left half of each step which didn't take long. Then I stomped out the trail to the cabin and began bringing up my gear. I had a lot of gear with me, so it took three trips, two of which included a fully-loaded Trapper Nelson backpack plus at least one item carried in my hand.

I hoisted the flag and then it started snowing. It had been nice and clear since my arrival which made it nice.

After lunch, and putting away some of my gear, I took a very welcome nap. When I got up, it was getting late, but I took a little time to play the piano. I showered and shaved and had a normal, cozy, and pleasant evening.

I was asleep at 9:30 when the telephone rang once. I woke up and rolled over to turn on the light, being somewhat disoriented figuring out where I was, but the light didn't go on. I was fumbling with the telephone trying to answer the call, but it was dead. Once I had gathered my wits in the dark, I turned on a battery-powered light and realized that the power was out and so was the telephone. The timing was good because I didn't need power to go back to my cozy bed and go back to sleep.

But as soon as I settled in, I realized that it was going to get a lot colder if the power stayed out all night, so I got out of bed, got a sleeping bag from the loft, opened it up and spread it over the bed. Then I crawled back under the covers and back to a comfortable night's sleep.

On Tuesday, I woke up at my usual 5:00 and learned that the power was still out. That meant that I couldn't listen to the usual morning radio programs. Instead, I did some exercises and thought through my options for the day. The temperature in the cabin had gone down to 55 degrees, so one of my first objectives was to get some firewood and build a fire in the wood stove.

I got dressed, put on a headlamp, and went out the front door. I brought a load of wood up and piled it on the front stoop. Then I took a few pieces inside and built a nice cozy fire. Then, just about the time you could feel the warmth of the fire, the power came on at about 6:00. That simplified all the contingency plans I had been mulling over while I munched on Pistachios while watching the fire grow.

In a short time, the temperature inside the cabin was up to 68 degrees. I cooked, and ate, a ham and eggs breakfast and began putting more gear away as I planned my day. Then the power went out again.

Fortunately, it was out for only 5 or 10 minutes and then it came back and stayed on. The telephone, however, never came back on.

It was snowing heavily, and I saw that the truck was buried under 14 inches of new snow. Since there was a severe storm forecast for the rest of the week, and I had an important doctor's appointment on Friday. I decided to pack up and leave for home as soon as I could.

I had a lot to do to get ready to leave, including digging the truck out and loading up a lot of gear. That included filling and loading up 14 one-gallon jugs of water. I started by working on the truck. To get there, I first stomped out the trail to the staircase. Then I postholed down the stairs, pushing the deep snow off the treads and letting it avalanche down the staircase ahead of me. That went fairly smoothly with gravity assisting me.

My first objective was to retrieve my aluminum grain scoop which I keep stored in a big garbage can in the truck bed. But that, too, was buried under 14 inches of snow. I easily pushed the snow away from the garbage can, but I couldn't move the garbage can. There was barely enough clearance between the can and the toolbox to wiggle the scoop shovel around the obstructions to get it free, which I eventually did.

Then I started scooping away in earnest to uncover the truck and get it started. Just as I did, a truck stopped on the road in front of the driveway and Dave Picarello, who lives a mile up the road, asked if he could help me. He offered to nose his truck into my driveway and make a track to the front of my truck so that when I went to drive out, I could follow his tracks and not get high-centered as I have done many times in the past.

I gladly accepted his offer, and I thanked him profusely when he finished and drove away. Then I used the scoop to clear snow off the truck and allow for the door swings. Then I dug out channels for the front tires to follow to get out of my parking place and I cleared snow away between the tracks to avoid high centering. I joined my track to the one Dave made and I was confident that I would be able to drive out onto the road without any further problem.

Next, I tackled the problem of loading up the water jugs. Using the scoop shovel, I cleared the snow from the left half of all the stair treads on the concrete staircase. Then I stomped out the trail between the stairs and the cabin, wearing my Sorel boots with ice-grippers attached.

Back in the cabin, I filled the jugs and staged them by the back door. Then I loaded three jugs into the Trapper Nelson and got into the harness. I was wearing a heavy flannel shirt and the friction between the shirt sleeves and the canvas straps was so strong that I had real difficulty harnessing up. The backpack was sitting on a table with the straps facing out at shoulder height. It should have been easy to back up to the pack, stick my arms into the slack straps and pick up the load. I have done that many times, but not with a flannel shirt.

My plan was to carry three jugs at a time in the pack, and also carry something in one hand. That left one hand to handle one ski pole and to grip ropes and rails on my way down.

The first trip went well as far as the walking went, but to unload, I planned to sit on the open tailgate, lean back to transfer the weight from my shoulders to the truck bed and slip my arms out of the straps.

Unfortunately, the falling snow was mixed with rain, so my flannel shirtsleeves and the canvas straps were soaking wet. They didn't slip nicely. So, there I was sitting on the tailgate hog-tied. It was a long struggle to get loose, which I eventually did. I discovered that a short (12-inch) cord which was fastened to the pack frame had gotten wound around my left arm at the elbow and it was the primary element of my restraint.

It didn't get much better on successive trips as I would try some remedy for a problem only to run into some other difficulties, which I then tried to remedy. Long story short-with two trips to go (5 jugs) I gave up and left those five jugs for next week.

By then, all my normal gear was loaded in the truck, I had had my lunch, the flag was in, and the cabin was locked up. I easily drove out onto the road over Dave's channel and was on my way at about 1:30.

The road conditions were good: it had been freshly plowed west-bound, but the visibility was terrible. It snowed most of the time but it was not a blizzard. The biggest problem was the whiteout conditions. The whiteout was extreme from the tunnel portal all the way over the pass to Skykomish. Fortunately, the traffic was light. There was just enough oncoming traffic so that I could see which way to aim the truck. Fortunately, I came up on a truck and a car going my direction and both vehicles had their hazard lights flashing. I decided to get in line and follow them, which I did, and I turned on my flashers as well. I had no more problems dealing with the whiteout conditions. Our little parade ended just before Skykomish.

I got home at about 5:00 and was very happy to be safe.

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