The plan is to make an expedient detour through base camp, stopping only for cold beverages and a quick trip to the lockers. Less than 15 minutes later, we are back on the road looking for the rocky and dusty turnoff, our lifeline to escape. Our exit arrives and we veer onto a dirt highway, the vehicle's basic suspension bangs and rattles sickeningly. Thankfully, the road ends and we pile out, strapping on boots and packs, disappearing quickly into the wilderness once again. Up and up, switchback after switchback, we climb. My thighs are screaming and the map confirms today's afternoon hike is nearly all uphill. I stumble over another crest, chest heaving and searching for oxygen. I turn my gaze upon the ground and spot a douglas fir seedling seemingly sprouting out of a rock. I chuckle to myself. A little uphill never killed anyone.