Santa was laying peacefully in bed Sunday morning, snoozing off the last of the turkey dinner from the night before. Elaine barely stirred. Zeus the Cat was outside and thoughts of hot coffee and the day’s projects were still mired in dream-stuff leftovers…
“Who the hell would call us at this hour?”
“Zero-three-hundred comms check. Location zero-decimal-two-fife miles up Tye Road from Stevens Pass, Washington. Snow-shoeing. Conditions: Moderate snow. Temperature 19. Wind light and variable. Destination Wellington. Repeat Wellington via Tye Road. Negative avalanche control. Risks are low. Comms check in two-hours – Out!”
Oh. That’d be my son.
Most people would (have the good sense to) be in bed Christmas morning. But G2? No waay…not THAT guy.
I would think testing people for AIDS/HIV in a research project and being somewhere north of 400 skydiving jumps now, G2 would be satisfied to just kick-it for a while.
Seems he and a young lady are planning a multiple day snow-shoe adventure in January. There’s a trail set-up around one of the mountains where you snow-shoe for a several hours each day, then stay in yurts on various mountainsides.
Us? “Got the number for room service, honey?”
Some trivia: G2 says snow-shoeing in heavy wet snow can burn up to 1,000 calories per hour. That would give Dad (had me the calculator? Thanks…) umm… about 197-seconds of duration.
G2 goes out on these forays with everything needed for a week in the snow: Two cell phones (different providers), two GPS units, a sat-phone (Iridium ) for when cells aren’t in range. Then there are a couple of handheld radios with both ham radio coverage, plus GMRS and “opened up” so he can listen (ahem) to the Ski Patrol folks at the Stevens Pass ski area.
Well, first you need to know where Wellington is…or more properly was. Wellington, you see, is a ghost town. Wikipedia has an entry about it:
“Wellington (later known as Tye) was a small unincorporated community and railroad community on the Great Northern Railway in northeastern King County, Washington. Founded in 1893, it was located at the west portal of the original Cascade Tunnel under Stevens Pass. It is infamous for being the site of the March 1, 1910 Wellington avalanche, the worst avalanche in United States history, in which 96 people died.
After the disaster, the town’s name was changed to Tye, after the nearby Tye River, because of the negative connotation of the original name.
Tye was abandoned in 1929 when the second Cascade Tunnel came into use.
This ghost town went on to have an elementary school built and named after it. Wellington Elementary is an elementary school in the Northshore School District.”
For the longest time, I had no idea why my son would be drawn to Wellington, of all places. But since I try to keep an open mind to woo-woo, since I’d had multiple run-ins with woo-woo myself, I think it may have something to do with the 1910 avalanche up there. Wikipedia picks up the story:
“For nine days at the end of February 1910, the little town of Wellington, Washington was assailed by a terrible blizzard. Wellington was a Great Northern Railway stop high in the Cascades, on the west side of the old Cascade Tunnel, under Stevens Pass. As much as a foot of snow fell every hour, and, on the worst day, 11 feet (340 cm) of snow fell. Two trains, a passenger train and a mail train, both bound from Spokane to Seattle, were trapped in the depot. Snow plows were present at Wellington and others were sent to help, but they could not penetrate the snow accumulations and repeated avalanches along the stretch of tracks between Scenic and Leavenworth.
Late on February 28, the snow stopped and was replaced by rain and a warm wind. Just after 1 a.m. on March 1, as a result of a lightning strike, a slab of snow broke loose from the side of Windy Mountain during a violent thunderstorm. A ten-foot high mass of snow, half a mile long and a quarter of a mile wide, fell toward the town. A forest fire had recently ravaged the slopes above the town, leaving very little to impede the avalanche.
The avalanche missed the Bailets Hotel (which also housed the town’s general store and post office), but hit the railroad depot. Most of the passengers and crew were asleep aboard their trains. The impact threw the trains 150 feet downhill and into the Tye River valley. Ninety six people were killed, including 35 passengers, 58 Great Northern employees on the trains, and three railroad employees in the depot. Twenty-three passengers survived; they were pulled from the wreckage by railroad employees who immediately rushed from the hotel and other buildings where they had been staying. The work was soon abandoned; it was not until 21 weeks later, during late July, that it was possible for the last of the bodies to be retrieved. This was not the only avalanche in the region that winter. Three days later, 63 railroad workers were killed in an avalanche nearby in British Columbia….”
I hadn’t really talked with him much about this, but on the 7 AM / 5 AM (his time) check, I brought up the question which I don’t know as to whether he ever asked himself:
“George, do you have any idea why you would be so drawn to snow camping in a ghost town where an avalanche killed almost a hundred people 106-years ago?”
“Well, there’s just something about the place…I don’t know how to put it into words…”
“While you’re slogging up there, it might be something to think about, know what I mean?”
“Yeah…let me get back to you on that…Bye.”
I’ve heard stories in my time about people who are drawn to different aspects of their past, aspects that may have to do with unresolved past life stuff.
There’s one such “past” I think about in my own personal time now and then. It’s the image of a Japanese fighter pilot in World War II with his plane hit by American gunfire, he’s wounded, and the plane is rolling and diving to the right. Right wing on fire. I can almost feel the controls and the stick getting heavy….First time I flew a J3 Cub on floats, though, there was something terribly familiar about a stick not a yoke.
Not something I think about up flying our old Beechcraft, of course, but sometimes when it’s quiet you just sit back and wonder: Where do some of my “dispositions and inclinations” come from? Might there be something to this reincarnation stuff?
I’ll keep asking my son “Why the fascination with Wellington?”
I can’t answer my own odd memories from the past involving flying in a war that ended four years before I was born.
But oh, one last point: That’s the typical time “between” incarnations, if you read deeply on the subject. Four-years.
Maybe there’s a brush, a tad, a touch or our previous something-else that sticks to us and sets some apart.
Poet Robert Service maybe sensed it:
“There’s a race of men that don’t fit in,
A race that can’t stay still;
So they break the hearts of kith and kin,
And they roam the world at will.
They range the field and they rove the flood,
And they climb the mountain’s crest;
Theirs is the curse of the gypsy blood,
And they don’t know how to rest.
If they just went straight they might go far;
They are strong and brave and true;
But they’re always tired of the things that are,
And they want the strange and new.
They say: “Could I find my proper groove,
What a deep mark I would make!”
So they chop and change, and each fresh move
Is only a fresh mistake.
And each forgets, as he strips and runs
With a brilliant, fitful pace,
It’s the steady, quiet, plodding ones
Who win in the lifelong race.
And each forgets that his youth has fled,
Forgets that his prime is past,
Till he stands one day, with a hope that’s dead,
In the glare of the truth at last.
He has failed, he has failed; he has missed his chance;
He has just done things by half.
Life’s been a jolly good joke on him,
And now is the time to laugh.
Ha, ha! He is one of the Legion Lost;
He was never meant to win;
He’s a rolling stone, and it’s bred in the bone;
He’s a man who won’t fit in.”
“Wellington, huh? Let me know what you figure out.”
Write when you slog out…
P.S. Been invited to be on Coast-to-Coast with George Noory tonight…market outlook and the Light Crown project on the agenda…