Fall Day at Index

October 14th, 2007

Fall day. The colors stood out amongst the evergreens. The air was cool but the sun warm; the combination made the perfect temperature. A twenty minute hike straight uphill through the woods took us to the Upper Town Wall and the base of Davis-Holland, a three pitch crack climb. Dan had left some of our climbing gear at the car so Fred and I began the climb. By the time Dan returned, Fred had heard enough stories to decided Dan and I were an old married couple, so intimate was our knowledge of each other.

A sport climber, and unfamiliar with cracks, Fred slowly worked his way up the first pitch testing his protection and trying to figure out how to hand-jam and finger-lock in the granite. Watching and encouraging him to work it out was uplifting for me and, on a later pitch while I struggled, the positive enthusiasm was returned.

We swapped leads on the steep face, climbing higher above the toy-sized houses of the Index town site. Trains would rumble by, crossing the Skykomish river with a wail of their horns. Miles away, towards the mountain passes, we could seen their bright headlamps in the forest-carpeted glacial valley.

Halfway up the wall we transitioned onto another climb, Lovin’ Arms. The energy we had was good and, below us, Kasi and Andreas were grunting their way up a much harder route. Hello’s and laughs were exchanged.

We topped out to a pine-needle forest, still in a breezeless afternoon, and sat there looking up at the towering summit of Mt. Index and the recent snow clinging to the northern shadows of Gunn peak. Hunger and thirst beckoned, but bodily desire could wait; we were unwilling to break the spell of the moment.

Several rappels later we were in the cool shadows of the forest, hiking down to the car. Beers from the Korean-owned General store, a walk across the street to the river bank, and in the fading light of a fine fall day we skipped stones on the blue waters of the Skykomish.

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