I’m in my car almost before the school bell’s echo fades. The sun still shows through a growing veil of frontal-system clouds accumulating from the west, and I’m hoping to make the best of what’s left of dry weather. Traffic is halted on the main road out of Dodge with construction; I force myself to breathe easy and take it all in stride. It works, at least long enough to reach the Northway and head homeward.
One chore to tackle before going home. I toss frequent glances at the growing cloud cover as I complete the task, hustle home. Ugh, gotta change. In, out, maybe another five minutes lost. Up to the trail, still in sneakers. Oh well, there’s very little snow left in the woods at the moment. I plod through one stretch of wet white glop, pull the icy hitchhikers out of the footwear and continue jogging up the path. The sun is no longer shining. There’s a definite chill in the wind, and the clouds are dark and pregnant as I scramble upward. Looks like the Measles Wall or nothing today.
The main face is still a sopping mess, but ah, the Righthand Face is dry, completely. I run around, yank rope and harness from the pack, throw a hasty rappel around a tree and make a dodgy descent leftward to snag the anchors of I Am Lesion. That done, a quick batman back up and then more safely over to the H1N1 hardware. Hanging from a cow’s tail, I pull the rope down, then thread it through the rings. It now runs across most of the face. I tie in to the upper end and rap on the other, pulling a long bight down as I go.
H1N1 goes first, and it’s almost easy now; rehearsal helps so much. Reaching the top, I quickly rap down again. Without changing the rig, I shift down and left to tackle the center line. This is definitely harder, but once again past experience pulls me through and I’m at the top without a fall. Down again, this time I switch tie-in to the other rope end. I Am Lesion is about as hard as its uphill neighbor, though the moves are more familiar. It takes a bit longer to reach the anchors, and by now there’s a definite lack of warmth in the air; no rain yet however. I figure “why not?” and rap again, this time heading as far left as I can go without stepping in muck. This is definitely a tough nut to crack: I spend considerable time standing in tenuous balance on tip-toe holes, struggling to pull slack without falling backward or overflexing a foot. I manage the entire feat without a fall, but I did move quite far right at one point, standing closer to an I Am Lesion bolt than my imagined line. Hard to say if it will go as easily over there.
Down one more time. It still isn’t raining, but fingers are cold and feet are sore: no more, no more. In ten minutes, I’m back home, walking into that wood-heat warmth as the first frosty raindrops begin to fall.
The forecast suggests snow on the ground tomorrow morning, and this time it looks like the weather prognosticators may have it right. March is not giving up without a fight, even as it draws to a close.