Collin, Dick, and I started somewhere near the top of Pruhdoe Bay Drive on a sunny September day. The mountains were as of yet clear of any termination dust, and we expected a relatively easy hike. It started off poorly, as we had to bushwhack for hundreds of yards through dense alders in order to avoid a couple of locals who were militantly patrolling their drug-growing-operation, er, I mean "private property." After reaching tree-line, the going became much easier and we were rewarded with the season's best patches of blueberries. We soon dropped down the other side of the dragon-tail into Ram Valley and ate dinner at the shallow lake. We decided to set up camp for the night on the dragon-tail, and although camping out and doing the peak in two days was a tad superflous, a good time was had by all. The next morning we awoke in the clouds. Although the attitude of the group was trending towards the negative, we convinced ourselves that it was a morning's fog that would soon be burned off.
We began ambling up the dragon-tail ridge, encountering mostly very easy terrain with only a few occasions that called for a bit of scrambling and "technical hiking." We soon discovered that Mount Cumulus was nothing more than one long ridgeline comprised of about a half-dozen false summits. By about the third one, the weather had degraded further, and it had started to rain and snow. By the time we encountered a pronounced canyon in between two false summits, Dick's sunny-weather, minimalist clothing had soaked through, and it became neccessary for him to return to the tent. Collin and I pushed on through the bad weather, and after a few hair-raising moves over crumbling cliffs, razor-sharp spires, and loose rock patches resembling ball-bearings on a tilted (and soon vertical) lenolium floor, continued past the canyon on towards the summit. Neither of us were adequately prepared for the white-out that set in after crossing the canyon.
Given that I am writing this trip report nearly three years and a hundred hikes after the fact, few memories remain of the summit bid except the miserable wetness and cold, so bear with the vagueness if you will. We continued on along the ridge, which on the Eagle River side was a gradually sloping scree-field the size of which boggles the mind, and on the other side a big, long cliff plunging into Ram Valley. Before long, we had fumbled through the intermitant white-out to the summit, which we could only identify due to the lack of anything taller nearby. Near the summit, we took shelter from the wind behind a meager-sezed pile of rocks and attempted to cook a package of ramen noodles to heat ourselves up. Despite the best windbreak we could arrange in our rather exposed position, our flame never heated the water up past about 80 degrees F, but even that felt somewhat better than the driving snow, which at that point was blowing side-ways like shooting shards of glass.
The descent was a mind-numbing inner battle with the cold and discomfort, and I hardly recall a thing except that Collin's hands ceased to work. The cold had chilled them to the point of uselessness, and he needed them to function for several critical portions of downclimbing. I had the only pair of gloves, a meager and already soaked pair of leather gloves that I used to enjoy scrambling in. We took turns wearing them, switching whenever the cold would begin to sieze the joints and preclude usefulness.
By the time we reached our campsite, Dick had returned to the comfort and warmth of civilization. Can't say I much blamed him, the weather, although not as cold and windy, was still terribly wet at camp. We were fairly exasperated by the time we packed up and began approaching the treeline, so we opted to skip the bushwhack (which would have undoubtedly been saturated with rainwater) and simply tresspass on the militant's property. We figured that no one would notice two inconspicuous hikers ambling down the privately owned road, but reasoned that if confronted we could always suggest that we had started in Peter's Creek and didn't know we were on private property. We weren't two minutes onto the private land before a half-crazed looking woman with a nervous facial tick drove up in an old pickup and mumbled some psychotic-sounding thing about why we shouldnt't be bothering the sheep in Ram Valley and how she had shot people for tresspassing before. It almost felt like we had surrendered to enemy forces as she demanded that we pile into the bed of her pickup and let her drive us to the border of her property. As we drove, we were closely followed by a shady-looking man in a military-style jeep. Partners in crime I suppose.
It wasn't long before we were back in town, showered, fed, and in dry clothes. All things considered it was a more or less successful venture.