Jack Mountain, Round 2

Jack Mountain nags at Pat 'O'Brien like a sore toe. Not only does he peek down coyly at Pat every time he drives the North Cascades highway, at 9,044 feet, Jack parks stubbornly atop Pat's dwindling list of unclimbed mountains in the state, and has so for a long, long time.

These alone would arouse only longing, not pain. The hurting comes from Pat's two passes at Jack, both with me, both lugging ropes and iron up 6000+ vertical feet from the miserable 1,900-foot trailhead, neither of which gleaned so much as boot print on Jack's ass. That's right, despite two full-on assaults, Pat's never so much as touched the object of his desire, and it's driving him a little crazy.

Last year's failure was entirely my fault: I wore brand new boots and they gnawed holes in my feet. We pushed the ultra-light fad a little too far and enjoyed a capricious Cascade shower sans rain gear. (Pat insists to this day that his Patagonia Dragonfly keeps out rain, hah.) Beating our retreat we smooched Crater Mountain, Miss Congeniality, but she failed to slack our lust for Jack. We vowed never again to crank out that brutal approach without a bomber forecast and comfortable shoes.

Adorning Jack's toes are Jerry Lakes, two gorgeous alpine gems. Word is that some dude named Jerry hauled a rubberized canvas bucket loaded with hundreds of swimming smelties up to these lakes long ago, seeding his fishing habit. We convinced our loves, Nadia and Cherry, to join us up to Jerry Lakes this year and either climb Jack or bask in the sun as the mood struck.

Long story short: the entire state of Washington enjoyed a beautiful, sunny weekend except for Jack Mountain. He rustled up his own private nastiness and hosed us silly. The only good news is that the competent fisherfolk in this state seem to prefer lakes that are less than 6000 feet and a crevasse-riddled glacier away from their car, and therefore Jerry Lakes teem with ravenous trouts who gobble up any lure lobbed their way.

As fishers, we basically suck. Every single time I'd handled a fly rod before I'd sunk a hook deep into innocent bystanding human flesh, and Cherry had never caught a single fish. "They always come up, sniff my hook, and swim away", she said gloomily. But not at Jerry Lakes: she caught 10 trout in one hour on spinning gear purchased in a gas station using a #1 Meps lure with a single barbless hook. If you can't catch fish in Jerry lakes you should give up fishing. The major gear failure of the trip was leaving home the big honkin frying pan.

So back we go next year....