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Verbatim: Patti McManus Huber
Patti McManus Huber taught desktop publishing at Peninsula College for about 20 years before taking up her full-time duties at Nash’s Farm Store. She recalls her first backpacking trip with her husband.
“This must have happened in the early ’90s. Nash and I were first married and I had always wanted to backpack. I had taken many, many day hikes into the Olympics but I was always afraid to spend the night out by myself. I was a single mom and in the summers my kids would go to their dad. So I had the summer and I would just take little hikes and I could be home at night.
Then Nash and I got together and he took me for my first backpacking trip.
We went into Olympic National Park and camped on a ridge between Grand Valley and the Lillian Basin.
I was in seventh heaven. I saw my first bear and I couldn’t believe how beautiful it was. It’s really true: You see only so much when you’re on the edge of the park on a day hike. When you’re in the interior, it’s another world. It was so unbelievably beautiful.
So we spent the night and I was so excited I could hardly sleep. I was just happy, happy.
The next day we decided to do a day hike from the tent, so we wouldn’t have to carry those heavy packs. We packed a lunch and we took off and went into where the lakes are in Lillian Basin, and I saw more bears, and it was so great.
We hiked around McCartney Peak and Nash said, ‘From here we can go down into the Cameron Basin, hit the trail and go up to Grand Pass and then around the ridge and back to our campsite for dinner, no problem.’
We went down the wrong portion of the Cameron Basin — the wrong way — and we ended up bushwhacking. The brush was so thick. There were times I would go 15 feet or more and I would be walking on branches before I realized I was a long way off the ground and had to retreat and find a different way. It was hard. We ate our lunch, we had no more food, it got later and later.
Finally we got to the base of that branch of the Cameron Basin and found the trail.
Now Nash was really pushing me because he realized we were in trouble. It was getting dark, we didn’t have a lot of clothes, no food, getting low on water.
We had to hike two miles up a very steep trail to get to Grand Pass. And that was probably one of the harder things I’ve ever done, just to keep putting one foot in front of the other. And he’s behind me — ‘C’mon honey. We can do this.’
So we got to the top of Grand Pass and he realized there was a snowfield between us and our campsite.
‘We can’t cross this at night,’ Nash said. There was just a sliver of moon. ‘We can’t do this. It’s just too dangerous. We have to go down.’
There was a campsite at the bottom and you could still build a fire. ‘We can go down and we’ll get warm and we’ll just spend the night.’
I said, ‘I’m not going. I am not going down.’
It had cost me so much to go up those two miles that I just said, ‘Nope. I’m not going.’
And at that point, he might have thought, ‘Who have I married?’ because I was just saying, ‘Sorry. I’m not going down. I will sit here and wait for the sun, but I’m not going down.’
So we spent the night curled up together right there. There was no comfortable position. There were roots and rocks all over the place.
I did have a couple of plastic bags, so we had our feet in plastic bags and we had light jackets. We were warm enough but we were not comfortable.
One of us would turn over and then the other would have to turn over and there was just no sleep whatsoever.
Just when it got light and the sun came up, I got up thinking, ‘I feel miserable.’
I looked up. The sky had all these puffy clouds, pink and orange with rainbows all through them and in them. All these colors in the sky and I was nudging Nash to get up and look. You could see Mount Olympus from there and it was pink. It was one of the most glorious sunrises I have ever seen.
I would have slept through it had I been in the tent. And there were bear feeding in the upper meadow where we had come up. It was just stunning.
We waited a couple of hours and then crossed the snowfield safely and crashed into our tent and slept the whole day.
That was my first backpack trip.
My poor husband.”
Everyone has a story and now they have a place to tell it. Verbatim is a first-person column that introduces you to your neighbors as they relate in their own words some of the difficult, humorous, moving or just plain fun moments in their lives. It’s all part of the Gazette’s commitment as your community newspaper. If you have a story for Verbatim, contact editor Michael Dashiell at firstname.lastname@example.org.