Blow, blow, thou summer wind

July 24, 2009 | Filed Under Uncategorized 

We’d drifted in and out of consciousness all the long night, the sonic boom of the wind putting pay to any chance of deep sleep. The tent was a living thing, a pulsating beast of pure noise which bent down with each mighty gust to kiss us on our foreheads. Against the steady background roar would come a noise like a cannon every so often, as the wind hit some rock face deep in the valley below us;  it was as if the mountain itself had declared war. We were tossed around, our tiny red nylon ship, on a malevolent sea of wild air.

Sleep, when it came, was a ten minute loss of sensation, blackness filled with howling dreams, a brief interlude before being dragged awake again like a struggling fish on a line. In my dreams, huge branches were ripped from distant trees, carried aloft before slicing like knives through the thin tent walls. Each time I woke, I reached up through the dark and pulled down the barometer; each time, it had dropped a little more. This wind, which I had hoped signaled the retreat of the day’s poor weather, was in fact the herald of a worse weather system to come. Each downward lurch of the barometer dragged my heart a little further with it. There would be no summit tomorrow.

It was then that Tim punched me in the face.

He said he’d been dreaming. I asked him what about. Punching me in the face, he replied. I couldn’t blame him. Here we were, his first big mountain expedition, and I had him trapped at 9000 feet in a horrendous storm. Was it any wonder his subconscious had it in for me? Thankfully he punches like a girl. Or so I told him.

Nothing was going according to plan. The previous evening, armed with a metric tonne of meat and vegetables, we arrived at the Todai-gawa valley ready to build a fire that would drive back the night and roast our food. As we stepped out of the car, the ground felt soft underfoot and the smell of the forest filled our lungs. It was then that we realised that everything was sodden. The river growled in the unseen darkness, and we dug with our bare hands under logs and boulders, searching out what little firewood had escaped the rains. Tim pulled a Financial Times from his bag, and the flame soon consumed the front page before dying in the damp. Nothing would hold a light for more than a few seconds. The International section came and went. The pages of Companies & Markets were sacrificed. By the Government Bonds page, things were desperate. We dropped to our knees, blowing furiously at the meager flames, alone in the dark as the clouds swirled menacingly overhead. And then, a crackle. A small piece of tinder had dried out just enough. We blew again. Some more took. We piled on the drier wood and placed the rest around to dry beside the nascent flames as they licked higher into the gloom. Suddenly the night was not so dark, and the thought of cooked meat filled our heads. I pulled out the grill and threw chicken and onions onto it, lobbed a few foiled-wrapped potatoes into the embers for good measure, and sat back.

Then the rain started.

We cooked what we could as the heavens tried to kill our tiny hearth, and we washed it down with a bottle of good red wine. And then another one, before we collapsed in the tent, tired, damp, drunk. But not hungry. The rain hammered down all night, big blats of water which killed the fire, but we didn’t care. We’d overcome the odds for now.

The next dawn a weak sun poked through the clouds to watch us stagger up the Todai-gawa valley towards Mt Kai-koma, with sore heads and a thirst that the gravelly water of the river wouldn’t slake. At least it had stopped raining. I pointed to patches of clearer sky to the north, and pronounced the worst of the weather over. Tim pointed to the sackcloth black clouds to the south, our destination, and proclaimed me delusional. But we were making good time. At the fork of the river there were signposts declaring the Roku-gome route closed. I’d climbed it a few years ago, and could see why they’d shut it off. The memories of crossing the river by shuffling across a fallen tree, fifty feet above the grinding waters below, the unmarked trails and constant clatter of rockfall, they stay fresh in my mind. We moved further south and started up the Yaccho-zaka ridge instead, zig-zagging back and forth. I was happy to see Tim keeping a good pace; his boots were so new that he’d only taken the labels off on the train, and I’d had bad premonitions of his feet turning into burger halfway up the mountain.

At the Odaira hut we shocked the lady warden by telling her we were going to the summit that day. Never, she said. It’s too far, and where will you stay when you get there? You’ll have to climb all the way back down in the dark. Our intention was actually to camp on the summit, but I told her instead that we’d head for the unmanned hut at the top of Roku-gome, forty minutes below the peak on the other side. Her look of concern lifted slightly when I told her about my April expedition through the snow a few years ago up there, and how I’d had to spend the night outside the hut, as the snow had drifted inside and sealed the door. You foreigners are survivors, she said, I suppose you’ll be OK. She gave us sweet rice balls to eat with our coffee, and told us that the forecast was for rain the next day too.

We climbed on. Kitazawa-toge was a city of primary coloured tents set against the deep green of the valley floor, the way a child would draw a mountain campsite. The rain was beating down again by this point. At intervals, groups of bedraggled climbers appeared, fresh from the summit. No views, they said. And the wind’s getting up. You boys had better get a move on. Up through the Sensui-toge pass, and the steep ridge which leads to the peak of Mt Komatsu. We passed the last group climbing down. Finally we had the mountain to ourselves, but as we cleared the ridge I looked to where Mt Kai-koma’s peak should be and saw only thick black clouds. The wind blew harder. It was a tough call. We could probably make the summit by dark, but there was no margin of error. I looked back at Tim; he’d put in a strong day, and it was easy to forget this was his first time out. At the nearest patch of flat ground I unrolled the tent.

We woke at 4:30 the next morning, and lay listening to the wind. The peak still boiled with black cloud, worse even than the day before, and it spared us any discussions of whether we might, or could, or perhaps should try. Some days you get to the top, some days you don’t. We were going home, and it felt like a good decision.

—————————————————————-

I’ve been asked a lot about the ten deaths on Tomuraushi up in Hokkaido last week. My response is that I’m surprised it doesn’t happen with more regularity. Over-zealous guides on a tight schedule taking large groups of elderly and inexperienced climbers into the mountains is a recipe for disaster. It must have been blindingly obvious to the guides that the pace of their group that day in those conditions was woefully inadequate to make their destination. To press on until two dropped of hypothermia, then leave them and three others in a tent with two of the three guides, with one guide taking the rest of the group on was an act of staggering negligence and incompetence.

But it’s sadly not unusual. I’ve seen idiots come down avalanche bowls, and heard of guides sending exhausted single members of a party back down mountains on their own. Everywhere, enormous groups of elderly alpinists, slow and struggling under huge loads, yet always perversely ill-equipped. Team leaders who bully and batter their charges, and groups who climb through ever worsening weather to die by the half dozen just meters from the safety of the huts, and all because “we’ve come this far, it would be a waste to turn back now”.

The heaviest and most dangerous thing you can take to the mountains is your ego.

Comments

37 Responses to “Blow, blow, thou summer wind”

  1. George on July 24th, 2009 1:16 pm

    I have to admire your tenacity.. even though I live surrounded by mountains, I’ve spent very few days hiking up them this summer. I suppose the daily afternoon showers might have something to do with that.

    But anyway, we have a few ideas for August and September, just waiting for the weather to shape up.

  2. holdfast on July 24th, 2009 1:49 pm

    Globally we all seem to be suffering with the weather. The first half of the summer we suffered from sunburn and sweat rash, now it’s pruning and hypothermia…

    Great pictures as ever Chris.

  3. Tornadoes28 on July 24th, 2009 4:39 pm

    You have to know when to turn back. It is hard though. The drive to complete what you started is huge. Several years ago I climbed Mt. Whitney in California in July, a 14,500 foot peak. Only a few hundred meters from the summit, a fierce thunderstorm with snow and lightening started moving towards us. Yet we scrambled to the summit. We literally spend only a minute or two at the top as it became clearly extremely dangerous with lightning surround the summit. A common cause of deaths in the California Sierra Nevada is lightning. But it would have been so hard to decide to turn back after 8 hours of hiking with another 6 hours or so back to the base.

    But when being led by guides as those in Japan were, it is the guides duty and responsibility to make those decisions.

  4. Jason on July 25th, 2009 3:38 am

    That is a very kind metaphor to use, the tent sides kissing your face in the wind one. Whenever that has happened to me, I always thought it an annoying slap in the face!

    The conversations you have with ojisans and obasans in these mountain areas are often my favorite parts of the posts! If I ever learn to speak Japanese better, it would be to speak with them (and my wife, ha).

    I like your very wise summiting instincts.

    One post I’d like to read your analysis of is why are there so many elderly or at least senior hikers in Japan, and if the number of them in Japan is greater than elsewhere? And also, what are the rough demographics (ages mostly) that you encounter on your climbs? I know I always thought it rare if I saw another hiker under 40 in Japan.

  5. Peter Skov on July 25th, 2009 9:12 am

    I was going to start by saying, “On the one hand…” but I realized I would run out of hands. First, (let me start with that then) I loved your opening paragraph. I have experienced that myself and once at the camp outside the lodge on Jonen my poor tent took so much battering from the wind that it collapsed right over me and I dragged my sleeping bag outside and slept on top of the flattened tent. Your description of a night in a tent under those conditions is perfectly expressed.

    Second, (and maybe here I can begin with) on the one hand, I know that persevering through harsh weather can lead to incredibly dramatic displays of light and atmosphere. But on that other more emphatic hand, I would have canceled my plans before even heading out once hearing the weather report.

    As I was reading I thought about the ill-fated Hokkaido expeditions. Like you, I wondered how the professional guides could think to lead hikers into such weather conditions. First, they are not experienced enough hikers to go without a guide hence their decision to hire one. Second, (I’m counting again) the guide should have made the call not to continue. As a pro he should know when to call off the trek for everyone’s safety. But you know, you don’t have to look any farther than the stations and streets of Japan to confirm that stupidity is everywhere. I loved the last line of your post and I’ll add to it by saying that the world is full of idiots and sometimes the most difficult thing is to avoid becoming one yourself.

    Glad you called it off and came home safely.

  6. Mikael on July 25th, 2009 1:26 pm

    Nice capturing of the wind in your pictures. As always, they add that little extra to your already great writing to make one able to truly feel the place and the elements.

    The Tomuraushiyama accident was regrettable, but I have spent enough time in Japanese mountains to have to agree it wasn’t a big surprise. Hokkaido hikers are quite well equipped usually, but people from down south (the group that had the major accident was from Tokyo) probably expect the same balmy post-tsuyu experience they have in back home. I’m in Asahikawa now staying with my in-laws (Tomuraushi is visible from here), and it’s been raining pretty much for two weeks straight. Just yesterday it started to get even a bit warm. The deaths were naturally big news here in the neighbourhood, and the talking point of many family dinners. Since everyone got really concerned, and you wouldn’t see much anything up above 1000-1500m anyway, I decided to skip Asahidake for a later visit. I’ve been up it three times, so it’s no big loss. I was thinking of checking out some places around the nearby peaks too, but with this weather it wouldn’t have been that fun. mountains don’t usually run away, so I can always go there sometime when the weather is better. Too bad those guides on Tomuraushi didn’t see it that way.

  7. Arran on July 25th, 2009 3:29 pm

    Ego can kill a good flight too. I enjoy your blog – thanks.

  8. Martin Rye on July 25th, 2009 5:34 pm

    To turn around and come down or not go up is the persons responsibility ultimately. Guides who act as you write are morally bankrupt. The client must take ultimate responsibility for their safety. I doubt many do? Great post as always.

  9. Ted T on July 25th, 2009 10:41 pm

    Love that last line.

    I’d like to address Jason’s question by saying that it is only the older retirees who have time for hiking. Most everyone else is exhaustedly slaving away, or sleeping through a perfectly good Sunday.

  10. CJW on July 26th, 2009 4:38 am

    George – it was good to get out, even though the weather didn’t measure up. Like you, though, I’ve got *big* August and September plans…

    Holdfast – aye, funny weather this year. I heard that the volcano which blew up in Alaska would disrupt the monsoon season, so I was prepared for a wet, cool summer, which so far we’ve had. Hopefully late summer and autumn will make up for it!

    Tornadoes – it’s the hardest thing to turn back, but deep down you know when it was right and when it was worth the risk. I guess what bothers me is when people don’t even consider the risks.

    Jason – it was more like a kiss from a 400 pound gorilla at times, but a kiss is kiss :-) Ted T nailed it on the head in his later comment – time and money is the big issue for many younger climbers. Also demographics – Japan now has more +60 year olds than -18 year olds. It’s very rare in the big mountains that I meet anyone my age or younger.

    Peter – the forecast was all over the place last weekend. At 8am on Friday, it called for sun over the whole 3 days. An hour later, it said rain. On the Saturday afternoon, the barometer started to rise and the wind got up, which I though might mean that better weather was on the way for Sunday. But no luck. It was definitely worth going to the ridge to camp on the offchance, but not going to the summit was exactly right. And it did remind me of how much I love my Hilleberg Nallo 2 tent – that thing is a rock!

    Mikael – thanks for the on-the-ground report, I can imagine it is big news up there. “Mountains don’t usually run away” – you sum it up perfectly, I wish more people would remember that!

    Arran – those are some awesome videos you have on YouTube. I wonder if you’ve ever paraglided around Mt Myogi in Gunma? I often see half a dozen paragliders circling around there, it looks amazing.

    Martin – quite agree. It’s worse in Japan, as there is societal tendency to follow the leader without question, and many of these groups are comprised of elderly and inexperienced climbers who put all their faith into the guide. The more I read of the Tomuraushi accident, the worse it becomes – apparently, the only rainwear several members of the group had was plastic cycling capes. It makes me very angry.

    Ted T – spot on. I recall your account of a 200 person party you once passed…

  11. damian on July 26th, 2009 7:29 am

    Hi Chris, this rain is a real treat, hey? Never ending. Locals here expect it to last well into August.

    As for your footnote on the Hokkaido incident – I’ve heard a few qualified non-Japanese guides wonder just how much longer Japan will last as a member country of the UIAGM. Indeed I’ve heard that a warning of ‘get better or get out’ has been floated.

  12. damian on July 26th, 2009 8:39 am

    (A follow up post, for want of a central online community to discuss, in English, the outdoor life if Japan… I’ll put it here)

    With the help of my wife I have been learning a little more about the 10 deaths in Hokkaido. It is genuinely shocking. Those ‘guides’ should end up in prison. TEN deaths?! The details reveal appalling planning and preparation and an utter absence of leadership. Bad weather, even very bad weather, should not result in 10 of 19 clients dead. Recreational mistakes are one thing, even professional mistakes happen from time to time – with consequence… but this is in a whole different realm. An experienced backpacker with some common sense could have managed the situation better than did these paid guides.

  13. CJW on July 26th, 2009 9:07 am

    Hi Damian – I quite agree, the two guides who survived should be brought up on manslaughter charges at the very least. My concern with all of this, though, is that Japan will react as it often does: with kneejerk regulation rather than a sensible, well thought-out response.

    The guiding agency claimed on their website (before it was taken down last week) that all their guides were JMGA qualified, and clearly some of the investigation should concentrate on how they certified not one but three of these guys. Getting kicked out of the UIAGM would certainly be a wakeup call.

    On an unrelated note, a buddy & I would like to come up this winter & take one of your backcountry tours. I’ll shoot you an email!

  14. C-chan on July 26th, 2009 9:55 pm

    I think that the roots of the Tomuraushi accidents are not just in the guides, but also in the clients, or, (this is hard to put into words but I’ll try) the Japanese way of blindly following the group and trusting that “the group/leader will take care” – this starts right at school, I see that every day as my daughters receive Japanese school education and I get this flood of instructions and cautionary notes and (unwanted) advice that parents get (and probably expect), do this and don’t do that and don’t forget to …
    No one learns how to think for themselves and I suppose that’s one of the problems that the guides had, but also the clients who over-trusted them.
    And, I also heard that some of the clients did not have warm clothing with them although they were told to take some. Of course, the guides should have checked but then again I think that this is simply unrealistic in “tour trekking” and the Japanese way of treating “okyakusan”.

    Anyway, I think that this accident is not just about the guides but much more complex!

  15. CJW on July 27th, 2009 12:42 am

    Hey C-chan, been a while – how’s things? You make a good point (and I think I made a similar one in the comments above) – Japanese society does tend to follow the leader without question, which surely added to the problems on Tomuraushi.

    However, from what I read of the incident, several of the clients were against setting out that day, but were talked into it by the guides. Also, it was the clients that demanded, and eventually forced, the guides to call for help – so at least some of the clients were thinking for themselves.

    Overall, though, I agree with you. Being guided doesn’t mean you should give up all responsibility.

  16. hanameizan on July 27th, 2009 12:53 am

    The wet weather must have been miserable for you, but as a result, your readers get to enjoy more interesting pictures of broody, gathering storm clouds and a vivid account. Thanks!

    The Todai-gawa seems to be one of your favourite routes, and I’m always impressed that you choose to walk up from the bottom rather than take the bus.

  17. billywest on July 27th, 2009 2:31 am

    I can hear Kenny Rogers singing now:

    “You’ve got to know when to hold ‘em.
    Know when to fold ‘em.
    Know when to walk away, and
    Know when to run.”

  18. CJW on July 27th, 2009 5:36 am

    Hanameizan – it’s good to walk in bad weather every once in a while, it reminds you how lucky you are when you get blue skies and hot sun. Todai-gawa always impresses me for some reason. It actually only adds another 3.5 hours or so onto the trip to Kitazawa-toge, and it’s so much nicer to camp in the valley rather than the tent city at Kitazawa.

    BillyWest – spoken like a true poker demon. Funny, we sing that song a lot at the office too.. Hope you’re making the most of your time off!

  19. Tom on July 27th, 2009 10:08 am

    Hi Chris,
    Wonderful to see your posts going through the summer and an interesting discussion on the Tomuraushi accidents, particularly with regards to the ‘leader knows all’ attitude. Japanese people I know who have nothing to do with the mountains seem quite startled by the news so hopefully a change of some sorts might happen. But, like you say, you can’t hold out for that…
    The 2nd photo of Todai-gawa valley is gloomy: what a contrast to one of your last posts! What do you do with your camera on wet hikes? (I ask after reading your photography guide: perfect for someone like me with their first SLR, many thanks!)

  20. Mikael on July 27th, 2009 1:37 pm

    The Tomuraushiyama (and related Biei-dake) accidents seem to be a hot topic here as well, which of course is as it should be. That day brought many problems to the surface. I’d like to add one piece of information to the discussion, which I think brings to light a very unfortunate Japanese way of thinking: Some of the clients who came down with one of the guides and were rescued were anonymously quoted in the local press saying they thought the guides did a good job in those circumstances. Makes one wonder what a bad guiding performance would be in their eyes! On the other hand one man who got rescued (and was reported to sensibly have brought a down jacket) said the guide who went down with the clients still able to move practically ran down the mountain, leaving some stragglers behind. One can only hope this accident isn’t hushed up, and the guided hiking scene in Japan (and why not elsewhere too) will have the backbone to learn something.

    On a side note, I’m in Tokyo for this week, so if Chris or anyone else have good suggestions on climbing and outdoor shops to visit I do appreciate it. I know L-Breath in Shinjuku and heard there are many shops around Kanda, but wouldn’t want to spend too much time searching blindly.

  21. Andy Duggan on July 27th, 2009 5:23 pm

    On a side note, …

    If you want some shop info in English with maps, there are a few good ones on our website at Outdoor Club Japan.

    Information>Other Information> Outdoor Shops

    Sakaiya usually has the best sales (footwear 40-60% off), some cheap stuff in Ishi sports in Jimbocho and occasionally at ODBox in Okachimachi.

  22. CJW on July 28th, 2009 4:08 am

    Hi Tom – a friend forwarded another great tutorial (http://www.luminous-landscape.com/tutorials/mountain-climbing.shtml) which is worth it for the photos alone… In answer to your question, I usually stick the camera back in the pack if it’s raining, the chances of a good shot are pretty low. Although i do have a Granite Gear silnylon sack that I sometimes wrap around it if I think something interesting might be coming up. Those DSLRs are hardy, though – a bit of water doesn’t harm them too much.

    Mikael – it seems to me that the client who has been most vocal was the only one who understood the situation (he’s been climbing for 35 years apparently). He was clearly kitted out properly, and as I understand it was the one who forced the guide to call for help eventually. As you say, hopefully something is learnt from all this. Re shops, in addition to Andy’s comment (thanks Andy!), I’d recommend:

    ICI Sports Harajuku – right outside the station, next to Oshmans (which also has some gear).

    ICI Sports Tozan Honten in Jimbocho – it’s not easy to find, best thing is to look for the fancy bagel shop on the ground floor (http://ici-sports.com/shop/tozanhonten.html)

    Haglofs (either in Harajuku or Ebisu – pricey, but awesome kit: http://www.haglofs.jp/dealer/index.html). Sale now on!

    Mammut off Omotesando (http://www.mammut.jp/). My wife’s favorite…

    North Face (personally don’t like TNF, but..) in Harajuku http://shop.m-tnf.jp/tyo/

    Aigle in Harajuku: http://www.aigle.co.jp/

    Montbell for basics, either in Ebisu or Shibuya: http://store.montbell.jp/search/shopinfo/?shop_no=618851
    http://store.montbell.jp/search/shopinfo/?shop_no=679919

    And of course L-Breath in Shinjuku (and I think there is an ICI there too, now). Make sure you get a point card in ICI and L-Breath if you haven’t already – in ICI, it’s an instant 5% discount, in L-Breath it’s 5% worth of redeemable points (or 10% if you spend enough for the black card :-)

  23. Peter Skov on July 28th, 2009 12:31 pm

    Yeah, I know those weekends where the weather report won’t stand still. Thus I have ended up on the ridge in some poor weather a few times. I used to think I was cursed, an ameotoko. Now I have better luck.

    I saw on TV the other day some people were talking about if the strange weather recently wasn’t a sign of climate change. They always do that in summer. If there’s heavy snow or a cold snap in February they say it’s winter. If there’s stormy weather in summer they say it’s climate change. One thing I once read that is a good to remember: weather is not climate. Storms happen.

  24. Project Hyakumeizan on July 28th, 2009 4:51 pm

    Well, firelighters might have solved the damp wood problem – but then we would have missed your hilarious account of lighting the fire section by section of the FT. It’s a good newspaper to have with you, by the way – it’s also possible to use it as additional bivouac insulation, at least at low altitudes. Am vastly impressed too with your ability to conjure dramatic photography out of such unpromising weather….

  25. mikesblender on July 29th, 2009 12:01 am

    whoops, just realized I posted my comment on the wrong article (below post)… Meant to put it here.
    Anyway the same holds true for both articles so no problem.

    Your description of sleeping on the summit reminded me of an experience I had trying to sleep in a tent on a beach while a typhoon was coming in.

    The painting is coming along nicely btw

  26. damian on July 29th, 2009 3:52 am

    This is proving to be quite the discussion area! A meaningful number of people have meaningful things to say. It is good to share views and information – thanks Chris for the platform to do so. Looking forward to spending some backcountry time with you this coming season.

  27. CJW on August 2nd, 2009 2:02 pm

    Peter – weather is not climate, I like that one. But will this rain never end??

    Project Hyakumeizan – indeed, in retrospect firelighters would have been a good choice. But such was my misplaced confidence in my firelighting abilities… I firmly believe the insulating properties of the FT have vastly improved over recent years, such is the volume of hot air that once venerable organ now produces :-) The photos are, on the whole, the product of about 30 seconds when the cloud lifted for a brief instant. A triumph of luck over judgement!

    MikesBlender – I can think of nothing better than when someone says they’ve been inspired to get out into the mountains of Japan by something they’ve seen on this blog. That’s high praise. Very much looking forward to seeing that painting, too!

    Damian – it’s been great to hear everyone’s opinion on the matter. Hopefully some good can come of this tragedy. Definitely looking forward to getting into the backcountry with you this winter, and will send you an email this week.

  28. Clint on August 23rd, 2009 6:37 pm

    Great writing Chris. Your photos do a great job of conveying the absolute torment wrought onto your plans by mother nature. It HAD to be pretty nasty to turn you back I would guess after reading about all those nights bivouacked in a minuscule snow drift on the top of a mountain ridge in the middle of winter.

    Cannot wait to see and read about your next adventures in Japan.

  29. Hendrik M on August 24th, 2009 7:55 am

    A wise decision to turn around – it seems the (weather) gods weren’t on your side on this trip, despite the visit to the shrine (?). As others, I might have stayed at home instead of heading into the mountains with such weather, but then again, a plan is a plan and if there’s a back-up plan then hopefully nothing can go wrong.

  30. RedYetiDave on October 20th, 2009 12:27 pm

    (Forgive the late reading/commenting – trying to catch up with so many things after the GR5…)

    Brilliant! I was laughing hard at “Tim punched me in the face” and harder as you burnt each section of the FT.

    I can relate to your not cancelling plans because of a bad weather forecast. For a start, they’re often wrong, and secondly even if they’re not, if you have the experience and the will to turn back if the conditions really deteriorate, bad weather can make for some really memorable trips.

    We wild-camped three days across some of the most popular parts of the Lakes one August Bank Holiday (taking in High Street for instance) and had the place to ourselves because the weather forecast predicted the end of the world.

    We had not one single drop for rain the entire weekend.

  31. CJW on October 26th, 2009 9:52 am

    RedYeti – it’s always a gamble, isn’t it? The forecast had called for almost perfect weather, but we got there only to find the entire place dripping… Thank goodness for the FT, though, it would have been a worse trip without it. Man cannot live on wine alone.

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