Day 44: California Dreaming

Pct mile 676.1, 22 miles, 5-24-17 

We were both feeling good after a day of rest. We would need it as the day had plenty of climbing and the high temperature would be near 90. We would climb to 7900 feet then descend back to 5000′ then climb back up to above 7000 and camp. We began 1.5 PCT miles from Walker Pass, named for the man who discovered this route in 1834. We would not be following his lead though. The literal Boy Scouts who made this portion of the trail would never let us off that easy. Little brats. Instead, we would serpentine double the needed distance and five times the necessary elevation gain, first summiting Mt. Jenkins then another Ridge. Mt Jenkins was named in 1984 after a writer and mountaineer who died when he was 27. I hope to learn more about him later but there will be no internet for some time. Atop Mt. Jenkins, we could see several hundred PCT miles to the south and southwest. The hazy distance peaks of weeks past were visible. It was finally getting beautiful again. We descended to a stream where we would load up on water. We were a bit concerned by the news from the online water report. In the latest update, a hiker had said that someone had “left a turd” by the creek. Despite the health concern, we couldn’t stop laughing about it. Obviously, the use of the word turd is strange to hear on an official report and turd is, of course, the funniest of all the slang for fecal matter, but left a turd? How odd. Why would they be carrying a turd? For what purpose? Did it slip out of its turd pocket? Arriving at the water source, we found no evidence of the lost turd. Had they realized their error and doubled back to retrieve it? Perhaps we will never know. 

 Finding the stream turd free, Sarah set out her water bottles and filter and sat on a rock to soak her feet. I was struggling to find a place to set my pack. “What are you doing?” Sarah asked. “Well if you hadn’t taken all the good rocks!” I blurted. What does that even mean? I wondered, having no idea where it came from. There were plenty of rocks. It made no sense. “What the hell are you taking about?” She wondered aloud. I had no answers. We tried to enjoy a brief lunch but were hounded by mosquitoes. Sarah grabbed a large wedge of cheese from her food sack and began gnawing on it while perched on her rock, not unlike some large stream mouse. “This is my cheese room” she said between nibbles of Parmesan. This was a reference to a New Year’s Eve several years ago. Our friend Darrell was managing a private club on the top of the Columbia Tower in Seattle then. He had given us free tickets to their party. Every room had a culinary theme. We had arrived early and Sarah had left the cheese room to gather some fudge in the chocolate room while I waited behind. Then something bizarre happened. A 20 something man arrived with a few aquintances, to find me eating alone standing next to the cheese and crackers. “Hey, this guys just eating cheese in here alone!” He scoffed loudly to his companions and laughed. They had pained looks on their faces and quickly moved on. I was gobsmacked. Who would say such a thing? It was as if some impossible 1980s charicature of a school bully had appeared out of no where and said to himself: Look at this fucking loser! Eating cheese alone in the cheese room ? Jesus, he gets all dressed up in his pathetic one bathroom house, buys a ticket to our one public event and then mopes around eating cheese alone like the sad nerd he is..let’s give him a swirly! What was I to do? Drop my plate and fight him into the hall and through Fruit Corner? Tell on him to principal Darrell? Just Sort of yell at him to fuck off? I had no barometer for such a thing. All I managed was an inaudible “I’m just waiting here for someone….” between mouthfuls of Brie. By then Chet or Biff or whomever was halfway to the whiskey sipping station. To this day I still don’t know what I should have said or did.

 As we were leaving the stream I felt an old familiar feeling. My ongoing condition had switched sites but continued to dog me. As this is to be, in part, a whitewater blog, I will describe this malady in River terminology so as not to be too crass. The sweat from the headwaters of my back flows into a large calm eddy at the small of my back, from there the water is forced into a narrow brown rock gorge. Upon exiting the narrow canyon there is a picket fence of boulders, well rocks at least. The river splits around the rocks creating a nasty sieve forcing itself against the canyon walls, causing severe erosion. “Im going to need to put on some body glide.” I said. “Ok if someone is coming I’ll say Heads up Seven Up.” Sarah informed me. “Wait no. Olly Olly Oxen Free!” she decided. “This is getting too confusing just pick one.” I said unbuttoning my pants. “Ok” I said when the application was over, “Let’s glide”.

We glided on for a while in relative silence. I daydreamed about not having to work for someone when I rotated back to the world and invented implausible money making schemes. The best of which was to copyright the phrase LGBTV. It was a perfect name for a gay programming station. You want the perfect name for your cable channel rich gay media mogul? Then you gotta come through me. 500,000 dollars, pretty please. That will give you a good idea how crackpotty the lesser of these schemes were. I would probably still just have to work for a living, oh well. I also thought about my dog Truman. Lisa and Jason send us pictures occasionally. In the most recent he is carrying a pack and sporting hand me down dog sungoggles from their dog Bella. It is very adorable. I really miss him. I heared whenever someone tells their son Dylan (He would immediately correct me if I said this and say “Lisa is my stepmom.”) that his dog is cute he will correct them and say “He isn’t my dog he is Sarah and Matt’s  dog and they are walking 2650 miles.” This is a very Dylan thing to say. To a lesser extent I think I miss our other neardog: Riley: I think. I am worried she is getting too fat, as dogs at Sarah’s parents house tend to roll out dragging bellies. 

In not long we had climbed to our next ridge. In the distance the snow capped peaks of the Seirra were visible. Ridge camping is usually problematic due to evening winds but Sarah found us a nice protected site. Sarah made herself a meal of rehydrated chili even though she new, and I repeatedly reminded her, of the consequences for us both. It was of no use. Her mind was made up. 





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5 thoughts on “Day 44: California Dreaming

  1. This was a great blog entry! Perfectly written ! Even Truman approves. The weather has finally been nice here. Truman spends most of his day outside. Plenty to keep him busy between the squirrels, someone walking by and the occasional dog in the field.

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  2. So great to read your Blogs. Your description of your travels are wonderful! You need to publish a book when you return. Truman so cute. I am curious about Charles Jenkins, now, and plan to find out what I can about him. Safe journey and know you are loved. Auntie Sandy and Uncle Bob

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  3. Jenkins was a co-author of the early editions of the Wilderness Press PCT guidebooks. He also wrote “Self-Propelled in the Southern Sierra.” It’s two volumes and they are absolute classics. He was killed in an accident on his way back to a wilderness ranger job.

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