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Posts Tagged ‘Rummy’

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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Exhausted, we all passed out quickly with a meet time of something like 9am…nice and late the next day, not packed up, just having eaten breakfast.  We didn’t quite have a day off, but we kinda did.

Christian and Andy threw the ball in our court again and let us continue to plan out the rest of our ration period which took awhile to hear everyone’s opinions on what we should do and where we should go.  They left us to argue it through for an hour or so.  Eventually we came to sort of a consensus with questions to be clarified and we brought them back over to check out our super baller plan.

In the end we decided to try one of the instructors’ ideas to do a “solo” first since the time reached closer toward noon and none of us felt like hiking super far that afternoon.  Basically, we spread out in a few places where the instructors knew where we were and we had a vague idea where the next person down was.  Then we could do anything we wanted within reason in that little area and we would sleep there as well.  Luckily, the night appeared clear and it did not choose to freakishly precipitate on us, sending us all running back to the tents before our sleeping bags got soaked.

Some cool moss by my solo area

Some people chose to fast for 24 hours of the solo; I chose not to because I’d fasted before and I just get super irritable, plus I was hungry to begin with and I didn’t want to add fuel to the fire.  Once I picked my spot, I located the most sheltered space to sleep between two trees a little higher up on the bank to give me a better view of the valley.  I poked around and found a giant widow maker hanging precariously suspended and made sure I was not in it’s line of fire.

The rest of the day, I snacked, caught up on my journal, did some yoga, lounged about lazily, and waited for dark to sleep.  Nothing too revolutionary.

After sleeping in peacefully, I lounged some more, then wandered back into camp and worked on starting breakfast.  Conveniently, Heather, JD, and I got there about the same time and all of us were hungry, per usual.

When everyone who had fasted had a solid lunch and a bit of time to digest it, we set off hiking up the valley in two groups with the instructors hiking well ahead of us.  We had a nice little track back up the main Ahuriri Valley.  Fortunately for us, we had also already hiked a large chunk of the path two days before when we emerged from our bushwhack from hell, so we knew the track well and we strolled a lot of it.  Once we passed that point, we still had a few kilometers to go, but we had a track the whole way so it did not require a large amount of mental capacity.  We did have to cross the river twice and for that we did have to stop and look for the best place to cross and jump into train position.

It had started to drizzle rain, enough to put on a shell, but not enough to become too bothered by it.  When we got to the hut, we met in our separate groups, then set about cooking dinner.  JD, Heather, James and I ended up staying in the hut because none of us stayed in the last hut and it conveniently had four beds.  While Heather and Ryan planned out the next day’s route plan, I baked us some cornbread for lunch so we wouldn’t deplete our small snack supply too quickly at the beginning of the ration like the last week.

The next day, we planned on heading pretty far up the valley to camp a ways below the pass we needed to cross into the South Branch of the Temple Valley.  As we began walking, we followed the track for a ways until it petered out.  Our basic plan was to follow the river up the valley until the x on the map, making sure to be on river right when we hit the quick elevation gain because the terrain would get significantly more difficult on river left.

Our only obstacle until then was a large patch of matagouri that we pushed through getting all kinds of new scrapes.  Thank you pants.  For once, I was happy not to have shorts on.  We ended up having to cross the river several times which always took a decision moment or a few.  Our feet became perpetually wet and cold for the rest of the day which irked me, but was not quite as bad as it usually got just because we weren’t traveling fast or far.

The last crossing before the elevation gain was a little sketchy, but we managed it well and continued to follow something like a herd path higher up.  It became exceedingly tedious at times and James’ ankle started bugging him from the previous day’s leap over a braid in the river.  We slowed our pace and met up with the other group near the x on the map.

From there, we scouted the best campsite for the most wind protection.  After our mountaineering wind problems, we were not about to have that again if we could manage it.  We found one fairly quickly enough and set up camp as the wind picked up; our fears began to rise that we would have another night of shifts taking care of the tent.

We tried meeting as a group which worked for awhile until it began to snow on us and we retreated to our tents for the rest of the evening.

Waking up to about an inch and a half of fresh snow, some wind, and other mixed precipitation, most of us took a day off, but Haley, Ryan, and James went on a scouting day hike to check out our pass route for the next day.  Heather, JD, and I continued our tent rummy game which reached into the rummy 1200s at that point.

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After not sleeping most of the night due to the pounding, incessant wind, we managed to prop ourselves up while Roger, rather cheerfully told us that we all needed to wake up and set up the tent we broke down so we would have more room and not lay on top of each other.  Shuffling around trying to find whose stuff we slept on and get out, we threw on rain gear for the drizzle and all pitched in to set up the tent.  Roger boasted about how he and Sean turned their tent into a tent pole repair factory the night before and they had somehow fixed them all, although some still looked sketchy.

The wind had died down to a lower velocity and an immense fog had obscured the whole valley and any views we had of the mountains that surrounded us.  The dry river braids that were only a few feet from our tents had begun to run again with a decent flow, a mix of the rain and melting snow from above.

Since no one slept more than about three hours, if we slept at all, we hunkered down for another day staying pretty much to ourselves in our tent groups only leaving to go to the bathroom.  As soon as the other tent went up successfully, we all went back to sleep while the wind did not force us to make a shift schedule.

Kyle, Ryan, and I all passed out until about 1 p.m. when our stomachs began to growl for lunch, which we made in the vestibule as the clouds spit spurts of rain at the tent.  When we satisfied our stomachs, we played hours upon hours of rummy since Ryan had cards.  We did nothing else until dinner.

Not long after, the dread came back.  The wind picked up, bouncing around on the mountains and hitting us at all angles.  Sighing, we created another shift schedule, but this time, instead of four shifts, we only had three which compromised our sleep for a second night in a row.

Kind of lucky for us, the shifts ended around 2 a.m. when the wind turned to a downpour of rain, further raising the once dry river braid beds.  Too tired to get out, we hoped it would not overflow to foot and a half bank and curled deeper into our sleeping bags begging sleep to come.

Sean woke us up at 8:45 and told us to grab breakfast and hot drinks and meet up at 9:30.  Despite our slight grouchy-ness from lack of sleep and the confined area of the tents for two days, they decided we needed to head off to our previous plan of splitting up in two groups.

I went with Roger’s group to go make a higher camp and work on skills while Sean took Haley and Tracy to do a traverse through the Potts Valley where the Lord of the Rings was filmed.

We hiked up and found a good, flat area to camp near a few glacial erratics to protect us from any wind that might spark up.  As an extra layer of protection, we double poled the side not protected.

After working on a few crevasse rescue techniques, we all wanted to eat and get some sleep.  Since it was only Roger and eight of us, he said he would take five of us up a day and the other three could rest at camp until we came back in the afternoon to work on skills and such.

The next day, we had set a 5am leave time which seemed absurdly early, but we managed.  The day’s group consisted of Hidde, Heather, James, JD, and myself for an attempt of peak 2236.

Going up the left gully as before, we roped up on the glacier and slowly plodded our way up the glacier toward the peak.  The ridge we chose to hike up was on the further side, so we would follow the glacier much farther up than before and wrap around the backside of the peak.

We soon came to realize that the sun foiled our plan and we should have started considerably earlier than the already obnoxious 5 a.m.  Yet, we couldn’t have started earlier due to the intense fog that had narrowed visibility down to about 10 or 15 feet.  The sun melted the snow quickly and we began to posthole to our knees.  Within half an hour, we postholed to our waists.  We slogged along.  James broke trail for a good while up a sleeper section of the glacier while the rest of us continued breaking through the thigh deep snow and making an easier path out.

At one point James paused, only long enough to hear Roger yell from behind him, “James! Don’t stop! Just keep going as fast as you can until you can’t go anymore!”  James yelled something back about keeping a sustainable pace and Roger’s answer bellowed back, “Just go and when you can’t move, someone will take over!”  Typical Roger comment.

We got fairly close to the point where we would wrap around, but the snow became so deep and we postholed with every step.  We ended up having to turn back because through the deep snow we could only make about half a kilometer per hour.

When we got safely back to the edge of the glacier, we chose to do an anchor clinic and a bit of ice climbing for the afternoon to bask in the sunlight that we had so missed the past few days.

Easing ourselves back to camp, Kyle bounced out of nowhere with an intense amount of energy and shouted, “guess what’s different!”  Without much energy, we all had a few guesses but none hit the mark and his excitement seemed to grow with our lack of discovery.

After about half an hour, he finally gave in and took off his hat and we saw that he had Ryan and Jonah chop off his long pony tail.  He was so attached to that hair, I thought it would never come off, but it did.

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In the wee hours of the morning, we awoke groggily to about an inch and a half of snow resting of top of our tents weighing them down and making them heavier and wet.  Rubbing the eye snot out of our vision, we managed to cook some breakfast, or rather just heat up water to dump over some oatmeal and make instant coffee or tea.  That’s about all we managed on the breakfast front.  Figuring it would take more time than usual to pack up, we woke up two and a half hours before we needed to meet up to leave.  We needed it.  It took forever to dig up the ten snow anchors that held the tent in place all night.

Roger and Sean had seen a weather report when we got re-rationed and knew a weather bomb would come in sometime during the day and we should retreat down to the hut area.  However, when we staggered over to the meeting place, the sun shone high in the sky and it was clear as a bell outside.  So plans shuffled around and we got to practice falling on ropes with full packs on, which, by the way, is super awkward.  At least the snow was soft to break some of the falls as we passed through a little obstacle course Roger and Sean eagerly set up and one of us would fall at their signals.

This went on until the weather bomb decided to show it’s ugly face and everything began to get whiter and whiter.  Visibility began dropping steadily and we quickly made our way back to the hut and our food cache.  Once we uncovered it from the rocks, we set up our tents and bolted inside to make hot food and drinks to warm us all up.  We all voted to stay in that night as long as no one else came in.  They didn’t.

Instead the weather bomb dumped over a foot of snow and all three poles in the four person tent snapped and someone woke all of us up sometime in the middle of the night to run out and take down the all the tents.  Groping for boots, headlamps, and jackets, we managed to get up around 4 a.m.  Immediately after stepping outside, everyone seemed to pause as we went up to our knees in fresh powder.  No one seemed to understand fully what happened since we were all still half asleep.  No 5:30 a.m. wake up to hike call!

When we woke up a few hours later, visibility had decreased to about 10 feet maximum and all we could see out the window was a featureless bright white.  The wind blew so strong that no one even wanted to go as far as the privy (which stood maybe 30 feet from the hut and we couldn’t see it.

Twelve people.  One hut.  Lots of gear.  No space to move.  Roger decided to teach us how to predict the weather to grab our attention away from killing each other.  Then Tracy read the Hobbit out loud to a few loyal listeners while Heather, Jonah, and Hidde tried to do an ab workout in their bunks and I wished I had headphones.

The next day started out the same.  Whiteness.  Everywhere.  Instead of having to get up to break down tents in the middle of the night, we had another surprise.  Only four people double bunked that night, so Roger chose to put his sleeping mat down on the floor.  We all chuckled as he went to sleep with his headlamp and sunglasses still on his head, ready for action.  Then, out of no where in the dead of night, CRASH! Everyone but Ryan jerked awake to figure out what made the defining noise.  Luckily, the hut was small and it didn’t take long to figure out what was out of place.  JD lay on his back, still half in his sleeping bag, inches from Roger’s head.  Roger just blinked a lot as if he hadn’t quite wrapped his head around it.  JD had been on the third bunk up and had rolled off, catching his leg on the second bunk and landed on his back, sprawled out on the floor.  Surprisingly, he got up unhurt after he realized what happened and went back to bed.  Although, some bunkmate shifting happened so he could have his own bunk…on the ground level.

The morning dragged on like the morning before until suddenly the whiteness began to lift slowly and we could see the privy.  Then we could see further and further and the sun broke through with blue sky right behind it.  Quickly, Roger and Sean scrambled to organize a glacier scout mission.  At that point, I wanted whatever had fewer people in it.   When most people went with them, I decided to walk around camp outside with Heather and JD while Kyle chilled by himself in the hut with a book.  It appeared that everyone needed space after being shut in for a few days.  We made a snow man from the fresh sticky snow and a snow angel.  Kyle saw and came out with hiking poles to put in as arms.

When the other group came back, we buried a few avi beacons and raced around to dig them up making all kinds of trails in the blanket of snow.  Of course that ended the only way it possibly could: a snowball fight!  And thus, cabin fever ended. For now.

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