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A wedding, a helicopter, two paintings and 3 bears

waiting for the helicopter
waiting for the medevac helicopter

Sue, Lisa and I went to Paradise today. I dropped them off at Reflection Lake. They hiked up to Pinnacle Saddle, then 5 miles across to Paradise to meet up with me. Meanwhile I hiked up to the Skyline trail where the mountain was hiding behind a cloud cap. I set up to paint, hoping it would clear out, but when it didn’t I flipped my easel the other way and painted the fall colors on the meadows.

When that was done I packed up and hiked up to Glacier Vista below Panorama. I got out my partially finished painting of Rainier from 3 weeks ago. The top and middle of the mountain were done, but not the bottom and sides. I began working on that as the clouds continued to drift on and off the summit.

Because I was on my second day of painting, it was looking pretty good and I began to have a lot of hikers, climbers and tourists stop to take pictures of me working. At one point a cute little girl of about 8 walked right up to me:

“I like your painting, you are a really good artist!”

I thanked her and turned around to see a huge crowd completely filling the viewpoint. There were maybe 15 people, all holding up their phones filming me, or staring in wide eyed wonder at the painting.

I took out my earbuds and they started in with the questions:

“How long have you been working on that?”

“Do you sell your paintings?”

“How long have you been an artist?”

“Is that oils or acrylics”

“Are you a professional?”

“Do you have a business card?”

They seemed quite dumbstruck with the whole thing. I’ve never  had that many people like my work before. Its odd because I don’t think the painting was that much better than some of the other work I’ve done this summer. Perhaps it was just a busy day at the park. I suppose it was partly because my painting showed the whole mountain, but if you had just hiked up there, you could only see the bottom. They might have wondered how I painted something that wasn’t there.

no mountain no problem
no mountain no problem

I was perfectly happy with only the bottom of the mountain showing because that was what needed finishing. Anyway…all those people left, but they were soon replaced with smaller groups, all of whom seemed to like the work. By 4:30 I was loosing my light so I packed up and headed down.

Just as I was approaching the y split to the Alta Vista trail a helicopter passed quite close overhead . This always means a rescue and sure enough it landed right in front of me, about 200 feet down the trail. I saw Lisa’s ranger friend down there signaling the pilots and doing crowd management. He couldn’t let us pass until the helicopter had lifted off.

I waited with the crowd for a 15 minutes thinking it would take off. But soon the ranger told us to go back and take a detour trail. Unfortunately that was up a steep trail with stone steps, and I groaned at the thought of going back the wrong way. But soon I was on my way again…until I ran into a bunch of guys in tuxedos. And a film crew. It looked like an expensive wedding. There were at least 5 photographers and video people, even a sound guy.

I didn’t see the bride and her ladies in waiting…until I walked a mile further down the trail…and there they all were, sweating from the steep trail up from the parking lot. And it was getting dark, with threatening rain clouds coming in. Some of the old people coming up the trail in suits looked like they were on the way to a heart attack. Right before I arrived at the parking lot I ran into a huge group of tourists pointing cameras into the meadow. I couldn’t see the bears, but Sue and Lisa had watched the mom and two cubs for half an hour. They must have been just off the trail based on the excitement in the crowd. I felt sorry for the poor animals. They probably could sense the chaos and just wanted to eat some blueberries.

That was not your average trip to Paradise. I will post the paintings later after I’ve had time to review them. I’m hoping they are both good, but I’ve often been disappointed pulling paintings out of my backpack.

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Stadium High painting

For the last 3 days I’ve been painting the morning light at Stadium High School. I had a guy stop his car, lean over and roll down his window this morning: “Hey, I’ve been watching your progress. It gets better and better every day you are here!”

I had a couple with a baby carry some bags of garbage down to my dumpster. They were both very young and handsome. She was totally enraptured by my painting, telling me it was “So Awesome!!” Huh…does an old duffer good to hear that from young people.

Today there were strikers, and I thought they might walk down to the dumpster where I am painting. But they were busy holding signs…working basically, with no time to check out the scenery. The painting is  complicated by the fact that there are a dozen cars in the parking lot. Behind them are some very slender ethereal trees. Both are equally hard to paint. I have a painting from this viewpoint dating to 1997, and I’m tempted to use it for the foreground parking lot. It has no cars, and better landscaping bushes than are currently in place.

I exchanged a couple emails with my old friend George today.  I’ll write more about that later. Climbed at 38 with Lisa and Sue on Thursday. I have a lot of memories of the Far Side. I’ve climbed all of those so many times over the years with a variety of partners, from Dave to Clint, Craig, Marty, Christine, Sue and Lisa. The climbing is fun, and not difficult, starting around 5.6. After climbing the runnout monsters at Darrington, 38 felt very comfortable.

 

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Darrington Climbing

V. and I drove up to Darrington for Labor Day weekend. We climbed Silent Running and Big Tree 1. SR was scary as usual until we warmed up to friction  climbing.  I backed off pitch 2, and even V. had some trouble but got up. By pitch 3 I had warmed up and V. commented that “Mark, you got your mojo back!” After that it was all gravy. On pitch two, it’s helpful to go up the flakes on the right. There are 2 cams up there  before the step left. And after that it’s bolt protected by two close bolts. Pitch 3 was lovely as always, close bolts with a few cams up to a yellow at the top.

Pitch 4 is runnout maybe 50 feet max, but the climbing is 5.4 jugs, so nothing to get worked up about. The chickenheads are delightful, similar to Double Dip at jtree, but easier. I think I could lead the entire thing now. But it’s important to warm up on the routes under the great arch. No reason to head up a 6 pitch route of friction if you are rusty. Under the Boardwalk, left of Cornucopia looks like a super fun 5.9. We scoped it out while rappelling down from Big Tree 1. Looks quite nice for at least 2 pitches. There are a few runs, but only on easy stuff. Bolts are where they are needed.

Darrington is a unique climbing area. It has a distinct learning curve, but once mastered, the joy of flowing effortlessly up steep featureless slab is magical.