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Archive for the ‘Needless Discussion about Myself’ Category

In previous years, I have kept a journal on Stephen and I’s backpacking trips. I’ve been better about posting these in a timely fashion in the past – except for Algonquin, which I never posted at all (but which I plan to type up soon). Anyway, previous entries are here:
The High Uintas, 2010
Algonquin Provincial Park, 2009
Glacier National Park, 2008
King’s Canyon National Park, 2007

There was no trip in 2011, as Steve was living in Germany. Jen and I visited him there instead.

Each time we do this, it’s a little less stressful, less exciting, less noteworthy. That’s not to say it’s not wonderful, it is. Now, I see the mountains, and I say, wow, these are epic, sort of like …, and name a previous range I’ve backpacked in. The first time you see the mountains (from IN the mountains because it’s VERY different), it changes your world. World was changed a while ago now, and recollection is less intense an experience than discovery.

Anyway, here’s the log from this last trip.

8/20/12 1750 PST
About 8 miles in at McAlester Lake, around 5500 ft elevation. We got out of the Monin house around 6:15 this morning. We stopped for Steve’s run at the North Cascades station and got to the Bridge Creek trailhead around 1215. After giving three damsels in distress a jump and opening the door in the bathroom on a naked dude, (“YO! Don’t you knock?” “Yo, don’t you lock?” I inadvertently rhymed back) we left for the woods before he got out.

It was a comedy of errors in the first mile, as we interpreted a trail sign for Stiletto Spur to be for the spur itself and not the trail TO the spur (which we wanted). Instead we took this marginal trail which became progressively more primitive until it basically evaporated at an unsanctioned stream crossing. We persevered and eventually intersected the PCT, getting on our way.

Once in the right place, it was uneventful. It’s nice country, but the hike was not noteworthy for anything in particular.

Since we’ve arrived, Steve has caught a small cutthroat trout, not big enough to eat. We saw a bird dive bomb into the lake for a fish. It was fat and black with a white head and looked more like a duck than a bird of prey. Have since heard his huge kersplash another time. Mosquitoes, by the way, have necessitated full body protection. It’s about 68, so not a big deal. I doubt the water is colder than 55 – fairly pleasant. We jumped in to bathe for a few minutes. There’s a middle aged couple nearby, but otherwise it’s pretty peaceful out here.

8/21/12 1650 PST
I got my typical poor night’s sleep, with about 3 good hours from 1-4 and another 2 hrs sprinkled here and there. Not awful, and had the opportunity to see the stars at 4. So many, I couldn’t figure out what I was looking at.

After some oatmeal and crasins, we broke camp around 7:30, to do the 10 miles to Rainbow Lake. After a long descent, we had just as long of an ascent, for no net elevation gain, but down and back up more than 2500 ft. The highlight of the day was Steve’s yearly foray into danger. This year, scaling the mountain to the south side of Rainbow Lake was quite good. We had excellent views of Chelan, the western mountains in the Cascade range, and most all of the park. The weather was once again perfect, though the western range looked to be getting some rain.

I’m now sitting in an west facing meadow, absorbing sum after my daily bathing. The water is surprisingly warm, maybe even 60 degrees. It’s tough getting into it, but you can stand it for a few minutes once you’re in.

By the way, really fresh black bear skat in the camp. Full of berries. I think we may be seeing him later…

8/22/12 1825 PST
The walk from Rainbow Lake to South Fork was uneventful. We got up around 7 – I slept reasonably well; despite waking up a dozen or so times. I got a few decent chunks. On the trail before 9, we covered the 7 miles by ~12:30.

With lots of time to kill, we started following the river downstream. The river was fast enough and deep enough to require some skill, and the density of the vegetation forced us to cover most ground in the river itself. The water here is still amazingly warm – probably near to 60 degrees.

Along the way, Steve dropped his line in whenever we hit a spot deeper than 4 ft, catching several dozen fish (I even caught 2). Of those, we ate 6 for dinner. Good to add some calories.

Meanwhile, the sun is setting straight down the river valley – perfect for pictures. This site is underrated. It’s a great place with enormous cyprus and [unk] trees and a lovely river. We’re the only ones here, making it better. Good stuff.

8/23/12 1030 PST
After the 6.3 miles from South Fork to the Bridge Creek Trailhead in 2.5 hrs, we were done by 1030. Last night I took some pictures before sitting on Steve’s fishing log for a bit, watching the fish as the sun set behind the mountains. Eventually, dozens of bats patrolled above our heads – very few mosquitoes here by the way.

It dropped to 35 degrees last night – cold in the bags. Steve’s going to freeze in Yellowstone. Broke camp in just over an hour – a quick turn around when you include the hot meal. Decent enough sleep too – 10 hrs of the very fragment sort.

Once again, the trip was sustainable. The perfect weather helped, but we easily could have gone longer – with more food. Good stuff, all of it.

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To those who know me, it’s no real surprise that I am spasmodically obsessive. When I latch on to something, I fixate. I’ve taken some steps to avoid this – I don’t do puzzles, I stay away from most needlessly strenuous mental exercises, and I mostly read non-fiction. You can’t become fixated on non-fiction; it’s too boring.

But every so often I decide to become involved with a book. If I catch hold of it, I’ll read hundreds of pages a day. I completely immerse myself in the world, until I might as well trade out my existence for a fabricated one. Over the last 9 days, I plowed through the 1200 pages of the Hunger Games Trilogy. I lived in that disturbing world, even beginning to evaluate the meddle of reality against the alternate reality presented in its pages.

I’m fortunate that books eventually end. Delusion can be powerful, and life, real life, is always so much less interesting than fake life. For most, there are no travails that define our lives in these frantic, but peaceful times. In a book (particular in popular teen fiction), meaning and purpose are so cut and dry. In life, not so much. We are not the olden generation. We’re listless, our lives are haphazard, and much of what we face every day is utterly unimportant.

In general terms, these books do a fantastic job at presenting a world that is disturbingly depraved, yet still vaguely plausible. They sugar coat nothing, and fall into cliches infrequently. They even blur the lines between good and evil, leaving you with a realistic sort of bad evil and less bad evil view of the institutions of mankind.

If done well, it’ll make a great movie. At least the first two books will. The last one…kinda ran out of steam, though it had its moments. I have a hard time visualizing them making these PG-13, as a faithful account of the books’ vicious and dark world could easily necessitate an R. It’s tough to sugar coat children killing children for the amusement of adults, particularly given the brutally graphic ways in which people – most everyone, really – dies.

Still, I’ll be watching it.

FYI, this review is simulcast here. Just in case you want to emulate my eclectic reading habits.

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First off, I don’t remember how explicit I was on this…but I had surgery on my left achilles last Wednesday. It feel pretty good now – I’ve been off the sauce since Saturday, and as I type, I’ve had my foot in an un-elevated position for several straight minutes. It’s not even throbbing, exactly. It’s doing well. I’ll have it out of the soft-cast that I have in a week and a half. I’ll be off the crutches sometime after that, and out of the walking boot a couple months later. There’s a decent chance that the left achilles will no longer be my impediment when I try to run again, in, say, January.

In unrelated news, I have missed my calling in life several times over. I’m decent at a lot of the things that I do. But I would have been an excellent military man. I love structure, punctuality, and performing excessive acts of physical prowess. Sorry for the lack of proper parallelism in that list. I’m not gonna fix it, but I know it’s there, just letting you know that I know, if you know what I mean.

Second, I should have been a Native American, circa about 1500. I’d vote Iroquois. I’m not a fan of the Indians from the southern US and Mexico, but the Plains Indians and those form the East Coast, I think those guys really had this world figured out. In fact, if we ever, you know, lose 6.5 billion people along with human civilization, I think we should revert to their lifestyle. It’d be nice to emulate them now, but it’s not exactly plausible in this overpopulated mess that we’ve created over the last few hundred years.

Third, and most realistically, I should have been in Star Fleet. It combines the structure and pursuit of excellence found in the military with flying around on space ships, fighting aliens, and exploring new worlds. What’s not to love? The Borg, maybe.

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A couple of nights ago, while lifting weights for the first time in a few weeks, I paused for a minute before my last set on the bench. It was, by the way, also my second set. I only really had a half an hour to do it. Would you like some excuses? I can make you some. One becomes adept at concocting excuses if he allows himself the opportunity to practice.

Anyway, I lay beneath the silver bar, staring up at it. There was a reflection, a mutated, warped one, fuzzy, unrecognizable, but it was me. As we blinked at each other, some innocuous classic rock in the background, I fell into a brief revelry. “Is that me?” I blinked. That lazy guy that rides an exercise bike 4 times a week. Runs maybe once. Does some push-ups and pull-ups. Hasn’t lifted for a month. Is that who I’ve become, lazy, resigned?

I don’t write anymore. I don’t take pictures anymore. I certainly don’t (in my defense, can’t) run anymore. I’d be flattering myself to claim that I have any useful faith anymore. I lay and stared at the bar, wondering what, exactly, I was if not everything that I once thought I was.

All I do is work and recover from work. I come home, sit in front of the computer for 20 minutes, bother Jen for 20 minutes, shift some dirt around in the garden, eat dinner, ride the exercise bike, get tired, go to bed, go to work. Work. Filthy, mandatory, pervasive, work. At all hours, work. In my head whenever I leave it, in my dreams when I sleep, no running to vent it, just work.

I could hardly recognize the oblate, warped image staring back at me in the bar. Close your eyes, breathe out, silence, breathe in pause and out – UP.

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I’m getting cornier as I get older. I’m starting to think that corny things are funnier now too. Jen doesn’t help, she laughs at me when I’m silly/stupid. She gets refined humor too, but she doesn’t make me work for it, so I stop at puns and hyperactive slap-stick dopiness. The hyperactive part is the key.

Anyway, I have more than one ring. The first ring was the expensive one, $120. It’s tungsten carbide, which I love, because it doesn’t scratch and scratches on rings bug me. It’s a little small, however. I also don’t like rings that I can’t get off my finger. I’m one of those people who can pull his ring off while he’s walking down the hall, then flip it around on his hand and shove it back on, all without having his hand leave his side. I enjoy doing that, it’s a clandestine affair sort of skill, only without the clandestine affairs. Anyway, I got a half sized bigger ring when it got warmer, because the first ring was too hard to get off. That one cost $60, and I have been wearing it for a while now. Yesterday, noting how small and cold my hands were (which the ladies love), I busted back out the original. It’s definitely better looking, so long as my hands stay small and cold. I’m considering wearing one on each hand for fun some day. Or maybe both on one finger? Lots of possibilities.

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There comes a time in every man’s life when his wife commandeers his brand new vehicle and he gets stuck driving a 1998 Civic. That time, dear readers, is apparently now.

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For some reason, I’ve been sleeping on my back more than usual. I think it’s because there’s someone else in the bed – eventually I try to roll from one side to the other and run into an immovable object, forcing me to stop halfway. Last night, I woke up at around 4 AM, having been asleep on my back with my Jen-side arm (left) slung up over my head. I tried to move it and was jabbed with pain. Low and behold, my left arm was stuck over my head.

Having dislocated that shoulder in the past, I had the foresight not to force anything. I started stretching out my elbow, pointing my hand from side to side, anything to try to get it to slip back into joint so that I could lower it. No dice. I got up and drowsily walked to the backroom, still with arm dangling above my head. Once standing things rectified themselves fairly quickly – the arm just sort of dropped its way back into place. I groggily returned to bed and went back to sleep.

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