What was I thinking? If I stayed huddled here any longer, I would surely freeze to death, which would be a completely unoriginal thing to do on a mountain named such as this. The stunted pine tree branch wasn’t providing any shelter at all in the sideways wind, and the rainstorm showed no signs of stopping anytime soon. I was crouched on a decayed log, trying to conserve body heat as water continued to trickle off my rainjacket and saturate my shorts. Leaving my rainpants behind was, on hindsight, a ridiculously ill-conceived decision, but I was already halfway up the side of Froze-To-Death Mountain and I wasn’t ready to back down, even if hypothermia had already begun nibbling at the edges of my health and spirit.
I’d had every reason to hope that this second storm would pass through quickly, for the first thunderstorm of the afternoon had blown through in less than half an hour. I had taken shelter from the initial downpour at the edge of Mystic Lake, beneath a rock outcropping large and cozy enough for a tea party. The sunshine that followed renewed my faith in the success of this expedition into Montana’s Beartooth Mountains.
Now in the midst of the second storm, my success had become dependent upon my ability to keep moving. Gritting my teeth against the uncooperative weather, I hoisted my heavy backpack, cinched my hood tighter, and forced my constricted muscles to carry my chilled body up the switchbacks towards treeline. I was almost embarrassed that I had stayed put for so long.