Sometimes coincidences happen and they are simply coincidences. Other times, the coincidences pile up so high that you know something is amiss. Today was one of those days when I knew something was amiss. Get ready for another installment of Emma’s lessons about life.
Let me set the backstory for you. A very obscure acquaintance from the Burning Man community, whom I barely know, posted a query to our email list a few days ago to see if anyone wanted to climb to Camp Muir on Mt. Rainier on Sunday. Well, I wanted to go but I had to work with a number of people to make sure that all the logistics would converge. As luck would have it, the stars aligned on the logistics and I got all my gear together and was able to make the trip.
This obscure acquaintance was Ian MacDuff. I knew of him, and probably talked to him at a party or two, but I really had no idea whom he was. Well, he informed me that he was climbing Mt. Rainier with RMI in a few weeks and needed a person to help him up to Camp Muir for training purposes. I’ve been up to Camp Muir well over 20 times in the past, so this all made sense, and since I was still training for the Eiger this worked great for me too.
Anyway, the weather on Mt. Rainier was ultra crappy. Rain and sleet was the norm, with a moderate 10 mph wind. It was pretty chilly still as we don’t see sun in the Northwest til after July 4th. Ian and I started climbing up the mountain, and as we reached the top of Panorama Point, the wind picks up big time. Within another 500 ft, we find ourselves in a partial whiteout. Nothing too crazy, as I’ve been thru massive whiteouts on Rainier before and this one was pretty tame.
As we continue to climb up the mountain, my right hand begins to tingle. I don’t think much of it, and then I make a mental note that the tingle is in the same exact areas that received frost nip on Mont Blanc last year. Weird. I’ve been hiking and climbing a bunch this past winter and I didn’t have any issues with the frost nip. At 7800 ft, I informed Ian that I wanted to stop. Yes, I kinda had my heart set on at least hitting 8000 ft in this whiteout, but I didn’t see the point. I was pretty hungry and my right hand hurt like a mo-fo.
After we put on some warmer clothes, we decide that it doesn’t make sense to keep going in a whiteout, so we head back down the mountain. We get back to Paradise about 90 mins later.
Now hold on to yer hats, this is where it gets weird. Every single time I’ve been climbing on Rainier, I’m hell bent on getting home as soon as we get down. Today, for whatever reason, I have an urge to go to the Inn and get a pop. Ian and I grab our beverages and sit down in the lodge and start to enjoy them. Across the room, I keep eyeing this gentleman two booths away. I swear I know him. Finally he comes over and says hi… “Hey Matt, how ya doin! It’s Martin”. Um…. Are you fucking kidding me? It was Martin Walker, the doctor who operated on Ellen multiple times and initially saved the lives of both Ella and Emma. My jaw dropped. I knew he was a climber, but this is a pretty awesome coincidence….or was it.
As he his talking to me, he mentions that he is climbing Mt. Rainier with RMI in two weeks. Ian’s ears perk up. Ian is on that same climb with RMI in two weeks. Ian was invited to that climb by an old coworker he hasn’t seen in 20 years. What the….?
So for those of you scoring at home, let’s take a look at this.
1) I decide to climb with a person I barely know – not quite sure why I said yes
2) For the first time in a year, frost nip in my hand that I received on Mont Blanc (where I believe Emma lives in this world), forces me to go down the mountain before I was ready
3) I randomly decide (in like 20+ times on the mountain) to actually stop at the Inn at Paradise and drink a beverage
4) Martin Walker just happens to be sitting right by us in the Inn.
5) Ian is invited to climb Mt. Rainier with RMI by a coworker he hasn’t seen in 20 years but regrets not signing up with Climb For Kids
6) Ian is now on a climb with the doctor that saved my kids’ lives.
7) Oh, did I mention that for the first time in Ian’s kids’ lives (he has 2) he is going to miss Father’s day to climb Mt. Rainier.
There’s more to this too. There are few things in Ian’s personal life that aligned perfectly with my story. PERFECTLY. It freaked me out.
So the odds of one of these things aligning are pretty incredible. When you start to hit about 10 of them, you start to realize that it’s not about the odds. Something else is at play. Do you realize how many of these things had to actually fall into place, at precisely the exact right time for this moment to occur. Holy crap, it hurts my head when I think about it. Emma has a message for Ian. Or me. Or both of us. Or who knows what is up with her. Ian and I spent the drive home discussing and it completely freaked us both out.
Thus, keep your eyes open. My other daughter is still active and wants you all to know it. I have no idea how this will pan out, but I am so excited that it is keeping me awake. Father’s Day this year is going to be peculiar.