The Denali Girls “Not Quite Progress” Update

…are reading books, watching movies, and waiting for the time to pass.

Yes, really.

Our trip to Anchorage and up to Talkeetna was flawless on Sunday – from an early morning flight, to grabbing food along the way, to getting to our check in appointment at the Ranger Station, to stopping in at the Talkeetna Air Taxi office, it was a long, long, long day, but it was a good one.

We got our stuff to Talkeetna Air Taxi right in the nick of time, at nine pm on the dot. It was *heavy* – the air taxi gives us 125 lbs per person before they start charging us extra, and when we did our first weigh in we were at 614 lbs! 114 lbs over!

We *really* wanted to be on the first flight out Monday so as to make the most of the day, so we cranked to pull extra weight out and bring our total number down. I pulled out some excess hand and toe warmers, some extra food weight, and some extraneous first aid and personal care stuff. Leigh Ann went through her food bag again, Jenn went through our basecamp sack, and Carolyn took notes as we weighed and re-weighed our gear. In the end, my recollection was we topped out at 574 lbs, total, or an average of almost 20 lbs over per girl, and this is without gas, including 2 liters of water apiece, and including a 20 lb basecamp bag that includes meals to eat when we return, and food for the basecamp manager.

So we finished up, dashed to dinner despite being pooped, and headed back to our lodging to prepare for the day. We were in goooooood shape. My own personal to-do list was done, and done, and done, and I headed to bed filled with anticipation – like a kid listening for the jingle of Santa’s sleigh.

Monday morning we woke to have breakfast, and Carolyn flung open the blackout curtains and announced it was a beautiful day. And it was. She and I had planned on getting up early to eat a proper breakfast while the other two slept in next door, but as we reveled in the weather and the day, a text came across from Leigh Ann, asking me to stick my head in.

Over I went, to find out that Leigh Ann had been up all night, sick to her stomach with what looked like food poisoning.

And so here we are. Yesterday Leigh Ann was both sleep-deprived and nauseated, so it was clear off the bat that we wouldn’t be flying anywhere. Instead Carolyn, Jenn and I arranged to extend our lodging, meandered around Talkeetna, and saw everything this extremely tiny bush tourist town has to offer. The cemetery, the Talkeetna Museum, the library, a children’s playground, ate at every business in town (one twice), went for several long walks, found a viewpoint, and watched every historical movie the lodge has in-house, as we sought to pass the time. It was a l-o-o-o-o-ng day.

By day’s end Leigh Ann had begun to eat a little bit more and to walk around a little bit, so before bed we packed up for the glacier, in case she woke up feeling awesome, laid out our climbing clothes, and got ourselves to bed by 10.

We woke today hopeful (me in my A Woman’s Place T-shirt again, as an expression of my desired location!) and made our way along the ten minute walk to breakfast (the only breakfast place in this little town), but when Leigh Ann only managed to eat a bit of a muffin, we settled in for day 2 of waiting for the time to pass.

There’s not much to say about today, except that we’re all frustrated with the situation, and it sucks extra for Leigh Ann because she is not feeling great (although her condition is improving by the moment). Each of us has managed ourselves well despite disappointment and some pretty extreme restlessness, and spent our days differently, while continuing to check in with Leigh Ann and each other. We are a good, strong team with clear affection for one another, so I think that has helped, and will be a strength whenever we do get onto the mountain!

We considered other options (send an advance team, get on the mountain and let Leigh Ann rest while ferrying loads, etc), but ultimately made the decision that was right for us and most comfortable for Leigh Ann, that she will feel as close to 100% as possible by the time we start to climb.

In the meantime we are again hoping to be the first team out tomorrow, so wish us luck – between belly aches and weather, we’ll take whatever we can get, right now.

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