Aether Song

Our time is not in the grey falling rain nor in the boundless blue-green sea. Our time is in the river that lies between them, flowing smooth and quiet over the sand or angry and roiling over the unyielding stones. Joining and dividing. Choosing our own way for good or ill.

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Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Catastrophic Success

That's what a member of the Bush administration would have called it. Naturally anyone else would call it failure. On Monday night I hiked into the Pemigewasset Wilderness to set up camp with the intention the next day of hiking what I call the 'Great Ring' a horseshoe of mountain peaks some 25 miles in length. When I got to Lincoln NH I realized that I had neglected to bring my filter bottle (which filters spring and stream water so you don't get Giardia or one of the other malicious microbes which can hang out there). Unfortunately the outfitter in Lincoln did not have a filter bottle so I settled instead for buying some iodine tablets (which I had also left at home). I figured I'd just carry some extra Gatorade for the journey and everything would be okay. On the way out to the campsite I realized that I had forgotten another vital substance: deodorant. So I dropped my pack, jogged back to my car and snagged that. I can lay partial blame for my haste on the swarm of biting flies in the parking lot which hurried me along. I reached my usual camping site beside the stream, the one I stayed at in the previous year when I tried this same stunt (emphasis on 'try' there). I used the last of the remaining sunlight to pack my day pack for the next day. Food: bag o' gorp and two Clif bars. Drink: Four bottles of Gatorade. Clothes: A lot in case it suddenly became winter at the high elevations (which is possible). Then I tried to sleep (emphasis again on 'try'). I don't know exactly how many hours of sleep I managed to get, but it wasn't a lot and my dreams were of things like coyotes and bears. The owls serenading me didn't help. Except for bears nothing in the forest presented an overt danger to me, but that didn't keep me from noticing every little sound. In the pre-dawn darkness of 4:30 in the morning I gave up and started breaking camp. I had some gorp and a few combos and the remains of a diet coke (talk about the breakfast of champions). As I was packing up my tent the flashlight died and I cursed it with great cursings. It didn't actually 'die' per se. It decided that what it would do was work for about four seconds at a time and then fade out until I shut it off for a minute. Rinse and repeat. With that handicap I packed everything up and stowed my big pack in the bushes across the stream. By this time there was the dimmest hint of dawn which allowed me to see the path as a dark ribbon through the bushes. So off I went into the lightening grey. The beginning was not auspicious considering that even on the first of many mountains I had to pause and catch my breath. This was not a particularly difficult mountain either. It was a bad sign of things to come, and come they did. So up I went over Mt. Flume and then on to Mt. Liberty. After Liberty was Haystack where I began to seriously, as the phrase goes, 'drag ass' but up I went. Over Lincoln and Over Lafayette. I had drunk two of my Gatorades early on, but then I had pretty much stopped drinking. I rested longer than is typical for me on Mt. Lafayette in the hopes that my digestive system would take the opportunity to catch up and re-stock the precious bodily fluids. It didn't so on I went. After an interminable period of ups and downs (which I had barely remembered from the last time) I reached Mt. Garfield and there, after DEETing my clothing heavily (there were bugs) I laid down on the rock and after shivvering for a time I did something unusual for me. I fell asleep. Rocks as most everyone can attest are not the most comfortable of places so this was a bit surprising. By the time I reached the peak of Garfield I had lost all of my 'oomph' for ups. I could do level or down, but any up was a struggle and if I continued on with my plan there would have been a huge up in my future. By this time it was 3:00, and since I had left the useless flashlight behind there was no possibility of going on in the dark even had I the strength (which I didn't). So as I had done last time I took the 'turn of shame' which is a cut off you can do at about the halfway point of the 'horseshoe'. Down I went. I am not exactly sure when I stopped sweating, but I did. I have had heat exhaution before and am all too familiar with the symptoms which is why I either dunked or poured water over my head at each stream to cool me off. After seven long miles I came to one of the large bridges and paused for a moment. I was queasy, but I still had one full gatorade in my pack and I didn't want to keep carrying it. So I thought to myself: 'I can handle just a swallow or two.' I was wrong and I knew it almost immediately. I leaned over the bridge trying to settle the stomach, but to no avail which is why I was on my knees dry heaving into the grass only moments later (I had eaten nothing since breakfast about 12 hours previous so there was nothing to bring up). I felt a little better after that and after some more long miles I gathered my big pack from where I had left it and made it back to my car (which I was happy to see). I drove down to the Lincoln McDonalds and decided to test my stomach on some diet coke (I don't know why but fountain soft drinks seem to be the best thing when the stomach is upset). My stomach passed that test and when I got to the Town Near The Mountains I got two of those little meat roll thingies that you see at the Quik-e-Mart because for some reason I was really craving meat. I had food with me (uneaten from my journey) but I wanted meat dammit! They went down and did not, thankfully, make a return journey. When I got back to City By The Sea I had even more meat and it was good. So was the shower and the brushing of the teeth. Yeah, I had forgotten the toothbrush too.
Guess I'll have to be better prepared next year. Third time's a charm right? As for the 'success' part I didn't die on the slippery rocks and I burned a goodly number of calories. Yeah me.

2 Comments:

Blogger Songbird said...

You were in an odd state when you got home last night. I'm glad you found meat along the way.

2:22 PM  
Blogger St. Casserole said...

Impressive trip!
Glad you made it home.

5:24 AM  

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