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Posts Tagged ‘Cache’

Since the heat still borderlined on obnoxious at 6 in the afternoon and happy hour was still going on, we went and had several beers to kill some time.  While we drank, Bolt, Navi, and Safari went to pick up beer to attempt the 24 challenge.  The challenge goes as follows: there are 24 trail miles between the Saufley’s and the Anderson’s where one has 24 hours to drink 24 beers.  They had thrown stuff in Moxie’s car so all they had was a sleeping bag, sleeping pad, a bit of food, and 24 beers.  They left about an hour before Hop-a-long, Dead Animal, Inspector Gadget, Shags and I left.

We made another stop at the liquor store because we were fresh out.  There we managed to pick up some Jim, Patron, and 5 hour energies.  We had a bit of a road walk right after that which was actually part of the trail; Agua Dulce was the first town we actually walk through.

Pretty pissed that we had to walk on the road, we plodded on, peed on someone’s yard, and eventually reached real trail after a while.  Breathing a sigh of relief, we drank a beer and began on the Jim.  From there, we got to climb a wonderful 2,000 feet only to drop right back down to a water cache.  Right before the top, Dead Animal and I caught up, “Caaaaaa Caaaaaaaaaaaw!”

“Caaa Caaaaaaaaaaaaw!” Safari yelled back and beer cans clanged together.  He had a plastic bag full of empties hanging off the back of his pack.  Basically, you would always know where he was because he made so much noise.  They couldn’t seem to figure out how we caught up; the only thing they were sure of was that they were on beer #9.

We got to the road, plopped down for food and then pushed on.  Natty caught up too and after we ate, Dead Animal and I pressed on to hike more.  Climbing yet again, we went up and over another ridge and eventually down to the second cache where we found Iron still awake and settling in for a nap.  At that time, none of us could call it sleep since it was 3:30 am.  Right before we slept, Beef Nugget came for a bit and napped, but was gone when we woke up.

I think I slept maybe half and hour and dozed for an hour.  Shags came in at 4:30 am for a soda, then continued hiking.  At 5:30 am, I got up, packed up, and started hiking an hour later.  It was already hot and I just about regretted the nap.

After two hours and 7 miles of obnoxious heat, I made it to the road and began hitching to the Anderson’s Casa de Luna aka the Lunatic Lounge.  I got a ride almost there quickly and walked in to breakfast where I found Orbit who I had met on the AT loitering at a gas station eating as much as possible.  Then another surprise: Mellow Yellow had gotten super sucked into the vortex.  Apparently, he had stayed there almost 3 days before and managed to leave after his pack, then his shoes, were hidden.  But then Terri had picked him up from Hikertown (40 trail miles away) and brought him back for a few more days.

Many others had gotten sucked in as well: Damsel with her dog Lucy, Cheesecake, Ornie, Waffles, Jesse, Extra Credit, Hot Wing, among others.  Shags had beat me there by a bit and we waited for the rest of team teamwork.  I ran into Major Upchuck who I could have sworn was behind us.  He was: he hitched from Wrightwood to the Anderson’s.

In the meantime, beer magically kept appearing in my hand while I painted a rock and hung out.  It was pretty much just a constant party the whole time.  Eventually, Dead Animal, Inspector Gadget, and Hop-a-long made it in, I took a nap, and we kept drinking more.  Taco salad made everyone’s night.

After a night in the manzanita trees in the backyard, people slowly trickled out to the smell of pancakes and coffee.  The next day we played rummy, drank beer, napped, lounged on the awesome couches on the front lawn.  We meant to leave that evening but then Peter, Maverick and others came in with whiskey and jager.  Needless to say, we stayed.

We did managed to leave the next morning after breakfast minus Shags who has decided to only night hike due to heat and minus Safari who seemed content chilling with his new mohawk on the couch with pancakes.

The first 8 miles didn’t seem like 8 miles, but way too quick.  The water cache was empty when I got there, but Inspector Gadget hitched into town for water and beer.

Kimbo came and refilled the water cache in the afternoon.  We all went up and helped carry the water down.

We left late that afternoon to begin a 1,500 foot climb or so to get to the top of a ridge.  So close to the Mojave, we all found ourselves thankful the trail pushed us up and over every damn ridge until there were none left.  After a food break at the top, we set off for a night hike 6 or 7 miles further to the next tolerable water.  Since leaving the Anderson’s, we have plunged into some of the worst water sources yet.  Pretty much to make us feel guilty for sneering at how bad we thought some others were.

The water source we ended up sleeping near had very large floaties and was a short bushwhack to get to.  We very classily slept on the dirt road next to it since all the flatish spots had grass on it and we didn’t want condensation.  The first thing that each of us commented on was how disappointed we were that trees suddenly showed up for the last six miles right when the sun went down.  First, they would have been helpful when the sun was still uncomfortably soaking us in sweat.  Second, the moon was just about full and would have been enough light without a headlamp if the trees hadn’t created such a thick canopy.

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Attempting to wake up early, we seemed to find every excuse possible to procrastinate.  It began a long day.  Only a few miles from the big 5-0-0, we set off at different times and waited at the 500 mile mark made with sticks and a pine cone.  Supposedly, there was a sign that said 500, but that didn’t show up for another 2 miles or so around mile 502.  The map and the GPS matched the one made of sticks.   There was also a nice clump of Poodle Dog Bush right before mile 500 that I totally was not expecting.

We hiked up and over a good-sized bump and found the next “decent” water source which normally, I would highly debate actually getting water there, but compared to the other crap we’ve seen, it looked delectable, algae, bugs, and all.  The directions on the water report were even better: behind the trail sign, crawl under the roof and open the plastic cover.

I tried to take a break there, but the black flies attacked again, trying to eat me alive.  I’ve recently started using my maps as a fly swatter/fan combo which works enough that every other word out of my mouth is not “fuck” or “ouch”.

The heat began setting in but I decided to go til noon, then find a shady tree to crash out under.  I found a great spot and cooked some lunch.  Then, I realized I had 3G, so I browsed the web until I fell asleep for an hour or so until Inspector Gadget walked by snickering that he was going to beat me to town.

The last ten miles of the day just increasingly irritated me.  First, it was hot and that was just not cool.  My eyeballs started to sweat.  Then the trail had to skirt butt-loads of private lands which forced us away from the nice flat wash walk to town and over every damn foothill.  On top of that, we had to skirt a hunt club which had a sign that directed us as follows: “private land, stay on trail, under video surveillance.”  Great.  I thought about finding the camera angle and peeing right under it, but I unfortunately did not have to pee.

Not long after that a gnat decided to fly up my nose and get caught in a bugger, so I had to snot rocket it out.  Pretty sure it died in the process.

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We got sucked into the interstate pass by fast food and a hot tub.  We started out getting a room at the Best Western to wait out the heat, take showers and sit in the hot tub.  Then we discovered the Game of Thrones episode we missed on Sunday was going to come on at 11pm.  I hatched a plan to leave afterwards but that didn’t happen and neither did 5 a.m.  Instead, we drank two 18 racks, hung out in the hot tub and ate Del Taco with a side of Subway. image

Game of Thrones was so worth it, then we passed out.  After a feeble attempt to wake up and leave at 5 am, we ended up getting hotel breakfast at 6 a.m. which had already been severely picked over. Then we went back to sleep or tried to go back to sleep.  Drop Zone had taken over one bed snoring, so we made a cuddle puddle in the other one in the meantime while we procrastinated for several more hours.  Eventually, we managed to leave at 12:30: i.e. the worst time ever to start hiking, let alone climbing in the heat.  We had an illusions that it wasn’t as bad as normal because the freeway traffic created its own wind combined with the smog coming over from Los Angeles.  Thank you for your smog that kept the sun exposure down a bit.  Actually, as soon as we left the freeway wind, it was hot.

After five miles of intense sweating, we got to the cache that Shags had texted us was full.  The best part: we found some chairs and a table and we moved them into the shade.  Baboon hiked with us a bit that day and he had two decks of cards.  Naturally, we played rummy, drank the rest of the beer we had packed up, and took a 3 hour break.

At 5:30 we decided it had cooled down enough to hike, so we began with music.  Everyone had their headphones in that day…22 miles without water and 6000+ feet of climbing to Wrightwood.  We went up and up and up until we hit a dirt road.

There, we paused and decided to take the recommended detour to avoid the all-consuming poodle dog bush which was “barely avoidable” according to the water report.  It was cool in its own way because we could walk 4 wide and blast music off of Inspector Gadget’s phone.  Inspector Gadget and Dead Animal decided since girls apparently don’t poop, we pee rainbows.

We walked around 3 of 4 miles of the detour and passed out on a side pull-off cowboy camping.  It took us awhile to avoid the glass shards all around, but we found spots.

I ignored my alarm for half an hour in the morning by rolling over on my watch alarm to silence it since I couldn’t think enough to hit the off button.  Despite the later start, we got moving and kept moving.  Our large group had decreased to 4 people.

The first 10 miles of the day wasn’t bad, but after a while, my legs just didn’t want to move uphill.  Luckily there was a blanket of clouds that covered the entire valley a few thousand feet below which gave me added entertainment.  The music pushed me through it fairly well.  We passed the Canadians, Julia and Brian who told us that Drop Zone had gotten a hitch into Wrightwood from the cache, missing some 4500ish ft of climbing.  Damn.

We got to the water at Guffy Campground which was a bit downhill but so worth it for the beautiful piped spring.  After an hour break and watching Dead Animal attempt to eat hiker box “100% natural white chicken cuts” which smelled like cat food, we hiked onward with nothing motivating us but Margaritas.

Route 2 was a bit of a hard hitch since there was almost no traffic.  We had to wait about 45 minutes when we got the 5th car to pick up Hop-a-long, Dead Animal, Inspector Gadget, and me in a hybrid.

And then we found this:
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When we awoke, we found a fresh foot of snow blanketing the landscape in all directions.  The clouds had lifted to only cover the mountain tops and finally left the valley exposed to plain sight.  Excited, we looked around at our surroundings in a new light, laughing at the bright, beaming purple door of the hut which seemed like a stark difference to the white that enveloped us.

Since the day before seemed to take more out of us than we planned, Roger and Sean decided to teach us essential skills, i.e. the basics.  For this, we took day packs of snacks, water, and extra layers and hiked a little less than a mile to a nicely graded slope on which to practice.  We had to climb over a large streak of moraine to get there and from the top of it, we saw down valley all the way back to where we got dropped off from the bus.  The scene had changed completely from the day before.

The first half of the afternoon, it felt like we were kids playing in the snow, sliding down, screaming and having fun.  Except we began to learn more advanced ways of stopping ourselves in technical terms.  First, we had to run and slide, digging our elbows in, proving that we could stop without the ice axe.  Then, we worked with the axes, which worked a hell of a lot better and we stopped much quicker.  Once a bunch of us had gone, we had good tracks made and sliding became faster and of course, more fun.

Our favorite slide quickly became the toboggan slide where we all sat down in a line holding onto the person behind us’ legs and launched ourselves down like a human bobsled.  Of course we had Roger video us on someone’s camera to watch us all fly down screaming, then bail off all different directions before the rocks.

After a snack break, we hiked uphill toward a peak 2100 meters just to get the feel of picking good lines and paces through the snow that everyone could sustain, switching people breaking trail.  When we came up to some exposed rocks, we stopped to boulder around a bit which was quite difficult in huge mountaineering boots.

Going back down, we plunge stepped until we got closer to our tracks, then slid down the rest of the way.  Back at the hut, we cooked up some snacks.  Quesadillas quickly became the warm, quick snack of choice.  I modified it to a peanut-butter-illa by substituting peanut butter for cheese.

While we chatted about avalanches and what caused them, we heard other people outside.  It surprised us a bit, but we made room quickly and moved back out to the tents.  Cameron Hut was so comfortable, but we gave it over to the other two who lived up in Auckland and had come down to climb a peak over the weekend.

The next day, we had our first helicopter re-ration which was a whole new experience since we had basically carted our re-rations around in the form of food babies before.  It did come just after 7am in the morning, so we all drowsily managed to get out of bed and wait.  Amy, the program supervisor came over too as we quickly dumped several large bags of food into a large pile in the snow and gave the bags along with our trash back to the helicopter people.  Before we knew it, the helicopter left and we now had to sort through all the food.  Three people set about doing that task while the rest of us began heating water for hot drinks and cooking up some breakfast.

Hiking up

After some grub, we played around with the avalanche beacons, harnesses and other miscellaneous gear while Roger and Sean plotted.  They decided we would hike further up into a small side valley and camp up there on the snow to teach us how to better deal with the cold since they seemed to think that we needed a bit of an ass kick.

We separated out three days of food from the eight days of re-ration and made a cache that we buried under rocks to keep the kea birds from stealing it and packed everything else up.  With our newly heavier packs, we all were glad when we found out we only planned to go about a mile and a half up, but gaining about 500 or 600 meters.  I wished I had my ipod, at least to stick one earbud in and rock out a bit to forget the 50ish pound pack that I threw on my back.

The sun came out that morning and exposed the mountaintops which we saw for the first time and motivated me to move along, examining what the clouds hid the past few days.  We went up all in one group which became a long string of people moving at different paces following the same tracks.  Breaking new tracks would make an unnecessary effort.

When we saw a few boulders, we stopped and picked out spots to dig our tents in.  After making flat platforms for them by stomping the snow down, we set up the tents and had to bury the anchors.  Hiking poles worked excellently for this because we could dig long holes easily with the ice axes, wrap the string of the anchor around it, place it in the snow, then re-bury it.  This process took quite a bit longer than we expected and turned out to be fairly exhausting.  While some of us set up the tents, others went to dig out a kitchen and a latrine.  A large indent about three feet deep constituted the kitchen which had patted down counter area on one side to cook on, and another area on the lower side to sit on so not too many cooks were in the kitchen.  The latrine, on the other hand, was basically a large hole to duck into with a smaller hole to squat over.  It also had a fantastic view down the valley and across to other peaks.  It made for a fantastic morning bathroom experience.

After dinner and making water, we all turned in early to hang out with our tent mates because no one wanted to hang out outside of their sleeping bag once the sun went down and the temperature dropped.  Since we did not camp near a water source, we had to make it from snow which took an extended amount of time and fuel.  While we labored to make water, Roger and Sean split us into two groups to start a morning adventure to which we were supposed to be ready to leave at a whooping 6:30am.

Cameron Hut, New Zealand

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