Climbing trips often take on new meaning a few days or weeks after the return to civilization. Sometimes the most successful trips paradoxically elicit a bout of depression, a casting about in the drudgery of every day life. On the other hand, the failures, and even the semi-successes, if coupled with the right amount of sheer suffering, can somehow seem in retrospect like a good time – maybe even a good idea! A few days and a few hundred miles can change the perceptions of an intense experience.
So it is with my recent trip into the Gunsight Range of the North Cascades, a remote ridge of granite in a wild and committing setting. 36 hours after getting back to Portland, I pulled off my socks in a hotel room in Detroit on the 45th floor of the Marriot Renaissance. I looked down and saw swollen ankles bulging over the tops of my shoes. As I peeled away my black dress socks, I revealed track marks in my skin, where my legs had swelled around the confining mesh of the material.