Archive for the travel Category

Feral Futures pt 2

Posted in activism, adventure, band, colorado, earth, ecology, hiking, travel with tags , , , , , , , on June 19, 2012 by tymora42

The Wild Roots blog had great information about itself and the Feral Futures campout. The directions were detailed with numbers rather than names, though. Being a literary person I like words. Being a logical person I can follow numbers. FYI: 602 is not on Google Maps nor the Latitude 40 topos. It is, however, on a small rectangular wood sign once you make the turn off 501. How’s that for numbers.

Once you get to Pine River Campground they have another sign provided by Wild Roots in a car window detailing trail directions to the main camp. If I didn’t see him on the way out I would assume that Tom was still there waiting for his deer cart to load equipment in for a water filtration exposition. The cart was about half a mile in, pushed off to the side, abandoned by the initial group struggling to get it up the rocky trail. I sent a bicyclist fisherman heading back with word of it’s situation for him. Poor Tom.

You will walk past 3 miles of barbed wire to the Weminuche Wilderness boundary. Main camp is about another mile and a half. They hung a green bandana from a tree, intuitively instructing those in the know their whereabouts. On my last pass someone constructed an arrow with rocks and an animal vertebrae.

I met the crew led by a guy named Nathan, who runs the Wild Roots blog. He said this was their fourth year doing this event. As it turned out I had met Nathan once before at a holy! holy! holy! show in Durango. He put me on the Rise Up email list under the name Dirty Hands. He claimed that holy! holy! holy! would probably play at their gathering on the solstice. “If you see a bus in the parking lot, they are here.” They put on a really great show. The Beehive Collective opened with a seminar on The True Cost of Coal. Then the lead singer gave a talk about activating against strip mining before taking the stage and convincing the audience to get naked. I like to walk by that building soon to be a parking lot and say, “I got naked there.” It is one of the few places in a Colorado city that I can say that compared to Houston.

I met other folks with names like Grasshopper and Kenney Eye and Juniper and Nettle. No Ben. Nobody knew the hitchhiker I picked up a day ago.

I ate lunch up the river and swam by myself. Coloradans don’t like to get wet. When I mentioned this to Nathan he said, “That’s not true. My friends and I live to go swimming.”

“Yeah,” I replied, “swimming isn’t the only way to get wet and it’s the only one Coloradians can think of offhand.” Texans in full business attire in the middle of the summer will thank you if you shoot them with a water gun. As Nathan finished filtering water into a large canteen, a girl pulled a bundle of plants she had soaking in the Pinos to the shore. I followed her out to a group that congregated to learn how to weave a net to catch fish. I wonder how well that worked. Grasshopper returned my map and we talked about Tuckerville, an old mining town turned ghost town up in the hills of Vallecito. I shook my hands, thanked them all by name and left.

Somewhere in the woods along the trail someone was playing guitar and a girl’s voice was singing. It was beautiful. Ten minutes up I saw Ben hiking in with a group of Australians freaked out by how many guns they saw openly displayed on the horseback trail. He told me that five minutes after I dropped him off he was picked up by a kayaker heading up to the lake. The kayaker bought him drinks all night at a local bar and offered to let him camp out in his back yard. Ben obliged and made a late start in the next day, the day I saw him. I told him I would try to make it in on the solstice for holy! holy! holy! After the show I would get people together for some night swimming in the buff. We will see. I have lots of work to do that day and it is a hike in.

Tom was waiting about thirty yards past the cart tha had moved maybe ten. It was repacked with medical supplies. He informed me that national parks at federal. Although they honor state laws concerning gun control they do not honor state laws concerning medical marijuana. I wished him and his glaucoma well on their way and made my own journey back to the car.

Feral Futures pt 1

Posted in activism, adventure, colorado, ecology, hiking, hitchhiking, travel with tags , , , , on June 18, 2012 by tymora42

I picked up a hitchhiker named Ben. I like picking up hitchhikers. I’ve been there. On the side of the road. Waiting. Walking. Taking rests. A break from the weary road. Running low on water. Hoping for someone. Anyone. Some kind soul to save you from the beauty of the road that has turned desolate. He was a “friendly.” I could tell from his labels. He had a nice pack that he was sitting on top of at the time of the extraction. That meant he actually walked most of the time. Unlike those yahoos with shit strewn about all over them. Or a duffle bag. Those guys aren’t adventurers. They aren’t ready for anything. They aren’t moving. They are just waiting to get to the next place. He wasn’t. He had a pack. The head of the pack had a hand drawn robot character. He wore a Phishing hat. I picked him up.

Ben told me he was heading for Vallecito Reservoir, a lake with three rivers flowing into it. From there he was heading up the Pinos to Pine River campground. He didn’t know all these names, of course. I knew them from the road and trail numbers he spouted off from a list. My brother and I tried to drop a canoe in from that campground, but there was no river access from it. Everything along the banks was privately owned by horse ranches, who probably strung up barbed wire over the stream even though all waterways in Colorado are public use. The nearest put in to run the Pinos is three miles up from the trailhead. This happened to be where Ben was going.

He was heading to an Eco Activist meet up for the next 10 days. “Like a Rainbow Gathering, if you know what that is.”

“Yeah, I was with the family at a National in Arizona a long time ago.”

“Cool, then, so, yeah, you know. This will be more like Regionals size-wise, but there should be people from all over. I’m coming from Texas.”

We talked about that for a minute. He had a bad time in Houston on that section of the trail and swore to never go back. By the end of the ride I learned enough about Feral Futures and Wild Roots to want to see what this camp out was all about. He invited me to join them when I could and ultimately admitted that I softened the whole Texas experience for him just a little.

The next day I scheduled my hike into the forest. I wanted to see where that trail went anyway.

The Scylla’s Blanket

Posted in adventure, books, fantasy, fiction, life, love, passage, poetry, relationships, story, travel, writing with tags , , , , , , on March 1, 2012 by tymora42

What a delightful day for a picnic!
The waves of Charbydis lapped against the beach
Helios had not yet set upon the Cliffside
And the song of Sirens played softly over the dune
Scylla laid in wait upon her blanket in the sand
for sailors, the most scrumptious of company,
To pass by her snare
She will reel them in like a fisherman
Entice them into her cavern with her sway
Posing all twelve of her long tall legs for the show and
Nibbling on appetizers of caviar and starfish

Fleets edge up to Beauty’s blanket
But only six men will be served
They would be wined and dined upon
A pound of meat; A bottle of red
“Oh, yes, dears, there is plenty enough to go around
Would you like some more?
You sure are a group of big strong lads.”
The conversation goes on like this
With the choral serenade still lingering in the distance
The calming waves churning along the shore
And Helios preparing for bed
Scylla smiles with all of her teeth
Then she cries
She wines like a babe about ceaseless desire
Here, they cry for her
She brings them close to her lips
They enter her and are consumed by her ways

The feast is done
The lambs were harvested on a bed of kelp
The ox were well seasoned with salt and brine
Beef and poultry and pig and man
All were taken down her gullet
With nary a crumb left for the ants
The men lay strewn about the den
From the ravenous ferocity of their hunger
In spent puddles along her floor
A little of them here
A little there
Gracious Host has the nerve to ask

“No, thank thee, m’lady.
But we must be on our way.”

Houston Hash gets a Humpty Dumbass

Posted in adventure, beer, blog, houston, travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , on January 9, 2012 by tymora42

My buddy broke his leg. I broke a vow. He considered this an even trade.

I have been running with this group called the Hash Hound Harriers. If you are not in the know, their concept is simple: follow the rabbit and drink along the way. They are a multinational organization with independently operated cells across the globe, like terrorists except for the drinking part. I mentioned that. Drinking. It almost needs to be mentioned again. And I am sure it will be.

The “hare” lays flour along his tracks. The rest of the group chases him. Every once in a while (1.5 miles give or take) they “beer check” you. That means you drink. At the end of the route is a keg and a circle and songs and dancing and shit talking and cuttin up. That means you drink more. It’s fun.

Right before that, the more drinking and singing and circle stuff, is when my buddy took a dive off a 12 foot wall.

This was not the normal hash run. It was actually a bike ride. They have all of these different variations in the 40 plus years the Houston Chapter has been active. They call the bike version the “Cychohash.” We rode 12 miles (really 15 because we lost trail for a bit and wandered in circles) ending at these abandoned grain silos along the bayou. You could climb up inside of them through this hole and a rope on the back side. I won’t say it takes too much of an adventurer to explore this, but evidently it does take enough of one since most of these hashers chose to stay on the ground.

And these people chase other people through the woods and back alleys of the city and the more “shiggy” a trail means more water and weeds and mud and forest obstacles. When a 12 year looked up the pipe, grabbed the rope and started his ascent with nobody following behind, I had a sudden revelation: There is a difference between an athlete and an adventurer.

I joined H4 because I thought it would be adventurous. Sometimes it is, but for the most part these guys are all athlete. I am not an athlete. Athletes were the guys who kicked my ass in highschool. I had a rude reminder of this at their New Years party. I felt like the social outcast nerd that crashed the jock frat party except they had grown up a little. They served better beer, they played terrible music on a soundsystem that could not handle it and instead of pushing me around they just ignored me and forgot that they knew who I was. Happy twenty twelve!

A few Hashers cross over into the adventurer athlete realm of the Vann Diagram. So, what’s the difference? An athlete is trying to win. An adventurer does it because it is there. Athletes avoid danger. Adventure seekers dive headlong into it. Athletes want speed. They want to hurry and get there. Adventurers crave the journey.

This pipe and silo was not at all the leg breaker of my buddy. Humpy Dumpty climbed a wall. He did not so much as fall as he did drop a couple feet from a hanging position and land awkward. He heard it snap. He saw it dangling. He shouted the only name he knew. Some of the crew heard him. It was a couple of women I met earlier. We had shaken hands and introduced ourselves. I remembered both of their crazy nicknames given to veteran Hashers who have done stupid things in the past to get those names. As my friend shouted my name they asked him, “Whose that?” Go figure. Nerd in the frat house.

Oh, they know my name now. They yelled for a medic. Nobody officially stepped up while everyone wanted to do their part in helping, which mostly included snapping pics of him on the ground with their cell phone cameras. I observed for a second to see if anyone was more qualified than my meager Eagle Scout wilderness survival skills. They weren’t.

“Step back,” I said. “Don’t move him. I need two sticks and some rope.”

Nobody moved. I was still not important enough. I found the sticks myself and used my scarf belt to stabilize the wood on either side of his leg. I normally wear a faerie scarf belt. This time was no different. You never know when you may need to tie something up. I used the scarf to brace the wood on either side of the fracture. This ex-navy dude whips out a cord of manilla from the trunk of his car. Together we bound him up with bowlines and half hitches and a square knot for good measure.

“No ambulance,” my buddy cried, “No insurance.” It looked like we were doing this ourselves.

Once his leg was immobilized so as not to exacerbate the break, three tough guys fireman carried him to the back of the hare’s car while I called his girlfriend. She followed us to the Methodist Hospital. We checked him into the emergency room.

Nurses and Doctors from other floors gathered round to look at my handiwork. I was proud. They even left the splint on to take the x rays. As proud as I was showing everyone pictures and retelling the story, that pride was missing one persons validation. I called my dad. Part of me did it to tell him about the experience (read: adventure). The other part, the part I did not realize until I was actually talking to him, was that I wanted to thank him for providing me with the skills to take control of a situation like this with adequate knowledge and calmness to handle it correctly.

How did I break a vow? I said I was not going to go to Ruddyards, a dive bar my broken ankles friend frequents, the biggest reason he is always broke, and just as big a reason he has enough weight sensitivity issues to not want to be called Humpty

Dumbass. Of course he went there that night. He needed some comfort food in the vein of 151 and coke. Yeah, I went inside to clink glasses with his stupid ass and break my vow.

He told me, “Alright. We’re even now, but I guess that ski trip is off, huh?”

The Great Rubber Duckie Wrangle

Posted in blog, boulder, colorado, photography, review, travel, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on June 2, 2010 by tymora42

Boulder Creek Festival – Monday – Memorial Day 2010

French Duckie and his Mistress - Boulder Creek Festival - Rubber Duck Race

Every American town in existence for more than 50 years previous has some odd celebration with a competition or event unusually individual to their character. Take for a single instance Gloucester, Massachusetts with their Greasy Pole. Hundreds of Italians walk the plank in a multi tiered, costumed, onslaught of slipping and sliding, drag for the day spidermen in honor of Saint Peter, the rock. Their objective is to grab a firm hold of the flag at the end of the mast and take it down with them. You can only walk on a Saturday if you won on a Friday. Sunday is the big day, the finale, where the winner no longer needs to walk for the rest of the day because the fellow competitors carry him from bar to bar. He or she no longer needs to pay for any drinks that either and they will be drinking whether they like it or not. You can only walk on Sunday if you won on a Saturday. To keep the membership full on the remaining days of the weekend, these walking honors are retrospective. If you have ever won on one of the earlier days, you may walk in the next. Then, I would suppose, the people who started the tradition started dying or getting to old to walk 25feet over the ocean on a lubed up log. They started having knee problems and poor physical conditions. What were they to do, but hand the honor down to a younger, more fit, family member or close friend? The last day is filled with the townies walking for grandfathers, great grandfathers, great great grandfathers, uncles, brothers, sons, close friends of the family, as well as those that won throughout the weekend.

Greasy Pole – Saint Peter’s Italian Festival – Gloucester, MA – 2006

In Boulder the physical competition to kick off the summer is the Memorial Day weekend Bolder Boulder 10k run. Sorry, no pictures of that. I had a friend that ran it. I wanted so badly to be at the starting line motivating her beginnings or at least at the finish rooting her on, but the rest of the weekend caused a blight to my own energy leaving me in bed until well past the comings and goings of the costumed crusaders pushing themselves to victory and then into the afternoon when most had already returned home, showered, and changed back into civvies. She saw a stoutly athletic woman running in a lacy pink bra and said to herself, “I must beat that lady.” She did. She finished at 60:58, fifty nine seconds more than what she hoped to finish by. I ran a 5k in San Diego for the homeless on Thanksgiving, more like I walked the 5k, in a little more than 2 hours. For double the distance at half my time, I was impressed.

The Great Rubber Ducky Race – Boulder Creek Festival – Boulder, CO 2010

The unusual event is the Great Rubber Duckie Race. They dumped over 7,000 ducks into the creek with numbers on their butt for a short, but furious, sprint downstream. It took longer for them to rig up the drop than it did for every duck to make it to the end. Children stood on the banks with nets, catching and releasing the yellow favorites of the Ernie fame. Rubber Ducky, you are the one. Like all modern day weird festivities like the greasy pole, the activists get involved. Instead of motor oil to slicken the pole, now they use all organic matter like rotten bananas and vegetable butter. In Boulder the eco friendly modification involved a mesh wire fence across the creek. Still, the stubborn ducks leapt over and under the barricade despite the effort of the wranglers in front and behind and then further behind for the missed stragglers. Last, but not least, another group of kids with nets at the park even further behind scooped them out of the pool. Some man yelled at me for getting my own. Actually, he yelled at me for tossing them over the rapids to the bank on the other side so the children there could have some too. His exact words were, “Don’t throw them. Hold onto them over there. I want them all back.” Blake, who stood near the naysayer on the other side, called out to me, “Only in designated areas.” Evidently, the ducks had an allotted area of the creek to do their thing. Beyond that must be stopped. 10 years ago they let them swim all the way to the next reservoir. Kids in Erie were picking out ducks for the rest of the summer. I heard rumors that the original race involved real ducks spray painted bright gold with lead based paint, but I do not believe them.

All about the Money - Boulder Creek Festival - Rubber Duck Race

I could have understood the man’s worry if it concerned some tyke falling into the cascade, but it was not. It was about money. The organization did not want to buy new ducks for the following year at a dime a piece. Lets do the math. 7,000 divided by .10 equals 700 bucks. This is not a figure to shake your head at. We will be generous and figure a quarter of the ducks will need to be replaced from damage or loss or thievery. 700 divided by 4 is 175. Still, this is a week of rent for me. Now we get the big numbers. It cost 5 bucks a duck to compete. 7,000 times 5 equals 35, 000. The prizes come out to less than 5,000 making it 30 grand even though all of them are donated to the cause. Screw you, buddy. I am keeping my ducks.

Fun in Designated Areas Only - Boulder Creek Festival - Rubber Duck

Preparing for Season 3

Posted in blog, photography, story, travel, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on May 22, 2010 by tymora42

As the world moves around me, not because of, but around in a discombobulated, jerky, windy, blowing, seed propelling, shallow-root way, I prepare for season 3. Although I have never cited my eras of much content, opposed to those long barren wastelands of none, as “Seasons” per se, I think the moniker fits. The first was the content uploaded from various social media websites like myspace and facebook as well as the portage of those random tidbits from Blogger, when I quit the man and decided to work for myself. The second season consisted of everything else that has been uploaded in the past year that I have maintained the Stories of the flea website. Now, the 3rd comes along just in time for summer, when I have more time to develop nice looking pages for your enjoyment. I am proud of what is to come in this next season. The first entry is a Photo Travel Diary Journal thing about a recent trip to MOAB entitled “Filled with Genital Humor.” moab story header for a photo travel journal first entry | arches national park | park avenue trailYes, there are pictures, hence the addition of ‘photo’ in the title. They are funny and photogenic and mine and a guests traveler. These will continue. I have a trip to Hawaii in the future if everything works out accordingly. There are bound to be stories from that. Another achievement in this season is the addition of a podcast. It is not here yet so do not get too excited. And of course, there are more stories.

Poison Ivy, Oak, and Sumac Relief

Posted in review, travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 25, 2009 by tymora42
you cannot tell from the pic, but it has a red stem

you cannot tell from the pic, but it has a red stem

This is a Public Service announcement blog concerning the dreaded poisonous ivy, oak, and sumac affliction. I am severely allergic to all three and have been plagued with them since I was very young, living in the Louisiana swamplands. I have had the rash on every square inch of my body. Yes, including there. It has been so rampant that it has sealed my eyes shut, caused hallucinatory fever dreams, and soaked so deep into my joints that I could not move. Without a medical or botany doctorate I can safely say that I am still an authority on the subject and how to get rid of it. Fortunately, I only think about it if someone mentions it, the reality of it is nearby, or I have contracted a case of it. Unfortunately, I have it right now.

You might have wandered to this site because you or someone you know is currently down with the sickness. How do they make it go away? Short of going to the nearest emergency room and getting a steroid booster shot, which I highly recommend if it is a full body epidemic, find the nearest Walgreens. I specifically mention Walgreens because they are the only place I have ever been able to find the right soap, Tecnu. Screw Calamine and Ivarest and the Benadryl ant-itch spray. The Benadryl antihistamine tablets are great, but not the salve. All that does is curb the interest to scratch it until it bleeds. It has no medicinal alleviation other than that as far as I can tell. It is solely for people whose natural metabolism will eventually meter out the poison on its own. Tecnu is the way to go.

not this stuff - it is too coarse

this is the stuff you want

When you are out shopping for the soap be aware that there are multiple kinds of Tecnu for various purposes. The Tecnu Extreme is bunk for guys like me who break out instantly into welt sized sores. It is mainly a preventative for the freckle kind when it just starts. Why? Because it has coarse granules in it like facial scrubs that abrade the dead skin. You do not want to break the bubbles.I should say that again in all caps with an exclamation mark. YOU DO NOT WANT TO BREAK THE BUBBLES!!! Three should do it. Leaking is only one way it spreads. Getting into the blood stream is the other. That is what the Benadryl tablets prevent and take care of. The Tecnu you want comes in a bottle (as opposed to a squeeze tube). The packaging is usually a large box. Open it in the store to make sure it is the one you want.

it will probably look like this in the store
it will probably look like this in the store

Now, throw away the instructions. Actually they are written on the bottle so do not really throw them away. What I mean is to just disregard them. Do this instead: Take a shower in luke warm water. Rinse your entire body. While still in the shower apply the soap to your entire body, paying special attention to the obviously infected areas. Leave the soap on you while you cover every limb, appendage, back and hair. Start with your hair and work down. This is all preliminary. Rinse. Return to the places where you itch even a little, but do not have sores yet. Apply the Tecnu and leave it while you attend to the other spots. Make sure to rinse your hands before every new application. Go to the messy spots. Here is where you follow the actual instructions. Apply and wash soothingly over and around the sores for 2 minutes being careful not to break the skin. It will not feel like you have much soap left on your hands. This is okay because it is penetrating deep within the affliction to neutralize the poisons. Rinse. Towel dry. Use a separate washcloth to dab at the sores last. If you use the same towel or do it first, you might be helping spread the rash. When you are completely dry apply the Tecnu to all problem spots like a salve. Do not rinse it or wash it off. Do not rub it in for the 2 minutes like before. Put it on and leave it. I recommend showering 3 times a day until it is cured, repeating the same process I have detailed.

Suppose you have no Walgreens or cannot find the Tecnu. I will not boast about any other relief products, but I will tell you how to maximize their capabilities. A common misconception is to apply a new coat on top of the old one. This is wrong. Rinse the old one before applying the new. It contains all the seeping poisons from the last batch. Get rid of it. Stay clean and remember to always wash your hands.

Home on Vacation – the rest

Posted in blog, colorado, houston, travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 20, 2009 by tymora42

Day 6 and 7 –

We took it easy. That much adventure left us exhausted for a while. We drank margaritas and mojitos in town after Tara took us to the souvenir shops her and mom scouted. Robert was looking for a cowboy hat to mark his Colorado debut. They also wanted to get steaks to treat my family to dinner as a way of thanks. They even left a card that made my mom tear up a little. Robert found his hat on the last day. He wanted to be sure it was the right one so he checked out the non-tourist places also.

We were supposed to go to the Piedra Hot Springs along the Sheep Creek Trail on Day 6, but a photo slideshow kept us a little too late for hiking. Again, we were late on Day 7 with dinner and all. I was hell bent on going, though, so we made the twilight trek. The wild animal fear gripped us once more on the path down the mountainside lit only by small flashlights and the moon. When we got there it was worth it. We almost turned around once or twice. Little did we know it was literally right around the next bend. There was a single car in the parking lot at the trail head and a single tent in a campground at the bottom. We knock knocked for permission to travel through, a courtesy campers use to let the sleepers know it is harmless humans lurking about their tents.

We also asked if they knew where the hot springs were. “Straight down the hill,” they answered. You follow the Sheep Creek Trail until you first hit water. Don’t go down to the bank just yet. Walk to the right and you will pass a single fire ring campsite. You are almost there. The trail looks overgrown here and you might not be sure it is the real trail or not. It is. The very next grove head down to the banks. You will see the pools. I am guessing they have black sand in them. It was dark. We could not be completely sure. Tara took some in a cigarette pack wrapper. I will have to ask her. The biggest clue you can have is the steam coming out of the water near the frigid river. Some are too hot like that Eddie Murphy/James Brown spoof on vintage Saturday Night Live. Find the one you like and lay down. They smell, but immerse yourself fully anyway. You will not regret it. I used a rock as a pillow to keep my head above. There is also a shovel left there to make them deeper or to blend the river with the spring.

We laid out soaking, reminiscing on the past week, and confirming our lifelong friendship. It was a nice end to the adventure. It was enough to make me remember why I moved here in the first place. I needed that shot of memory. I miss the people in Houston, but I do not miss not being able to walk out my backdoor for some wholesome outdoor activity. I can do the outdoor part in Houston, unfortunately it is never all that wholesome – skinny dipping in the fountains or climbing Miller Theatre after dark and running from the law. Yeah, I miss it a little.

Now that they are gone I am kind of bored. The past few weeks have been trying to solidify a place to live and a job. Neither seem ideal to me yet. The apartment is too expensive and too small. The job doe snot pay enough. This does not mean I cannot still look. The best part is I have a roommate I trust and some burgeoning friends to reacquaint ourselves.

Next Spring I will bring my canoe.

Home on Vacation d5

Posted in blog, colorado, travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 14, 2009 by tymora42

Day 5 – The River of Lost Souls

We took our skills to the Animas River. The Spanish called it Rio de las Animas Perdidas. Animas means “breath” or “soul” in many cultures. To the Spanish it was the river of lost souls. We started at Baker’s Bridge – Class 1 for 16 miles, which means little or no rapids. The river oxbowed back and forth with and then against the wind. Shortly into the run we hit our first obstacle and failed it miserably even though we got out to look at it and figure the best route. We were still getting our river legs on. We bunched up against the rocks, missing the entry by at least a foot. We ended up getting out and walking the canoe through it without passenger. Robert took the front paner rope, I took the rear.

At this time I took a moment to reiterate, “If we flip, it is the person in the back’s fault. He has to watch how the person in the front is leaning and overcompensate for it. If we lose the canoe, it is the person in the front’s fault.”

We would eventually get a chance to prove this hours later.

Along the banks of the switchbacks are old rusty cars. Robert, who knows about those kind of things, says that the oldest he saw might have been from the early 70s. Most, however, were from the 50s and 60s. I fought the idea of the city using them for an erosion control solution. How could such a naturalist Colorado government approve something like that? In Texas it would make sense, but I guess I had higher expectations for an outdoor oriented society consistent with leftist hippies and go-green mentality. I thought maybe a flood pulled them in and the city dragged them out. Unfortunately, I could not find any online information about it, so the mystery remains. To support his case Robert pointed out that all of them were front end down and none of them had engines. He hypothesized that they all came from junk yards, having been long stripped of usable parts.

We could have taken his girlfriend and the dog on this section, but we did not. Two conflicting maps (or so we thought) made the trek from our put in to 32nd street uncertain. A river map drawn and produced by a local jumped from an unrated gorge with multiple danger signs, exclamation points, and the words “DO NOT ATTEMPT” to the class IIIs of 32nd street. The other book claimed that area to be what it was – class nothing. Rather than take the risk we sent them with my mother to do souvenir shopping, something Robert would not be that into anyway. They were supposed to pull us out in a neighborhood access point behind the Home Depot. We never made it there.

Less than a mile before 32nd street bridge the water started picking up. We had a good couple twists and turns around protruded rocks to practice on before we hit the public eye. Then, it was full on action. Robert shouted “Left. Right. More Right. Left. Left!. LEFT! Oh, wait. I meant RIGHT!!! RIGHT!!!” We pushed through, scraping over unavoidable rocks in the low spots. The rain that had been on our footheels from the moment they arrived in Colorado closed in. We had pushed well in front of it during the long stretch of open water, but now it was menacingly upon us.

At Smelter rapids, the 3 mile marker from 32nd, we got tumped. We even pulled out to look at it. That seems to be bad luck for Robert and I. He said, “Get your ass back in the boat.” I said, “Wait a minute. I want to look at this. Give me a cigarette.” I had pulled us out because we were definitely not going in it at the right angle. We saw 3 major rapids back to back forcing us to zig zag slightly but quickly along a path of white. I did not see the 4th or 5th. That was the one that would catch us.

“You can have a cigarette after we conquer this.”

“Fine.” We backed up about 20 feet to get a good straight shot into the trail. He called his directions around the first 3 precise. We hit them perfect. I also told him earlier that if we get into the shit, get on your good side. One thing that made Robert and I such a good team is that he was a lefty and I a right. On that 4th Class III we were a bit crooked. He shouted, “HARD RIGHT!” and I dug in to swing the bow. He happened to be leaning on the right also. I did not notice until it was too late. I watched a small wave lap over the side of the canoe. It filled it and threw us out.

There are 3 things I could not believe when we were finally secure enough to process. 1. I kept my hat on my head 2. and the paddle in my hand. 3. Robert left the ziploc with the cigarettes and lighter open.

He caught the canoe, which weighed over a ton, from the back paner and drug it to shore. I had no way to even think about grabbing it. By the time I was out of the boat, it was 10ft ahead of me. After we flipped and bailed the water out of it and readied ourselves to rock and roll on the last couple miles, the rain came in fierce and hard. We were going to do it anyway. Lightning struck to advise us against that.

Smelter has park access. We were on the other side of the bank for that. The 5th rapid looked at us from a short distance. Just ahead of that was the exit. I figured we could make it across without problems. I forgot this was a lake canoe and not a white water. The major difference is a rudder that runs down the center of the boat for straight lake travels. A whitewater does not need that because it has the current to propel them along. It also does not want it because it needs to be versatile enough to pull out of rapids or skit across at an angle to them. For instance pretend you need to get across the flow to a bank on the other side. That rudder will get grabbed and straightened into the mix. Into the mix we went. It was good that we did. Both of us would have hated to end on a bail out.

Home on Vacation 3

Posted in blog, colorado, travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on August 11, 2009 by tymora42

Day 3 – Engineer Pass

We researched the San Juan trails using Latitude 40 maps. They really are the best for this area. They include all trailheads in easy to spot yellow Ts, they are topographic with easily discernible elevations in feet, they are waterproof for the mid afternoon Colorado rainstorms, and they have all of the current trails listed with difficulty ratings. I love them. Thank you Latitude 40. We geared up and got out late as per norm. When we got to Pinkerton Springs, I let the couple go walk the dog while I divvied up the food between us. Each got a can good (I know, a terrible weight for the overnight and all day backpacking trip), each got a bag of trail snacks (cranberry granola, nuts and chocolates, and dried apples), Robert took the Pastrami and cheese, I took the tortillas, Tara took the drink mixes and excess sundries (dogfood, TP, extra ziplocs), and everyone got two emergency energy bars. The dog, Scottie, was the only one who got off Scottie-Free with the weight. He made up for it by running ahead and back to the group and in circles and all over the place. That dog was downright loopy. He must have climbed the mountain 3 times more than all of us together. And he still had energy.

We went straight up about 11,000 feet to Engineer Pass. We stood marveling at the height and magnanimity of it all. We ate Lunch/Dinner and kept going. At the mesa past Coal Creek Pass Trail going toward Jura Knob we settled in for the night. We still had almost an hour left of light, but we were not sure how long we would be on the ridge and Robert could not take another step. He was experiencing the first signs of Altitude Sickness. We did not know this yet. When the temperature dropped steadily at 11,600 feet after sunset, we all realized we should have brought the warmer sleeping bags. It probably would not have been so bad if the weather was not as rainy all day. Nobody got much sleep that night. Everytime the wind blew the grass ruffled against my tent fly, making me think some predatory wild animal was rummaging around outside. We hung the food 10 ft high on a 3ft branch extension 50 ft from camp and downwind to deter bears from entering our sleeping quarters. This still did not prevent me from seeing the need to gather thick long sticks and things to throw. That might have been more for the sake of coyotes that howled until dawn. The only worry that we had little on our person to prevent was the lightning and thunder. It looked as beautiful as dangerous from our vantage.

Before morning Robert puked, Tara cried, and I paced the meadow wondering what we were going to do tomorrow. Earlier in the day Robert talked about never turning back. I was of the same opinion, however, argued the point of it being necessary not to limit your options. Robert was hard headed and stated his case. It was valid, but immediate experience would persuade him otherwise.

Day 4 – Coal Creek and Silverton

We turned our train around and dropped down about a hundred feet. Robert sucked Propel packages dry for the electrolytes and pumped himself full of vitamin C tablets we thankfully had the foresight enough to bring. He was feeling much better. Coal Creek made a nice loop back to the trailhead, so we took it. It was a partial compromise. We turned back, but we still got to see new things.

This was the first time my pack was the exact right weight ever. Maybe my concern for the other two overshadowed my own discomfort. I don’t know. The second day I took a load off Robert on account of his sickness. It still did not feel to shabby. It must be the new tent weighing in at just over a pound and a half total. Surprisingly, Tara still had a full skin of water. I halved it with her when we got under the timberline.

Coal Creek loses a cut trail for a quarter mile. People put up rock markers to tell you where to go. Figuring that out was fun. Trying to figure out if they hike chainsaws up the hill for trail maintenance or whether they helicopter them to the top and hike down was fun also.

We hit the road after a short drizzle of rain. I hitchhiked back to the car from a guy with a back brace. Enviously, he listened to our adventure. When I told him Robert had Altitude Sickness he goes, “Oh really? Where is he from?” “Houston.” We both laughed. I guess coming from sea level to close to 12g in less than a week would do it. The rest of our planned route would have taken him higher. We were going to walk along the ridge of the Colorado trail and then down to Molas Lake.

I picked them up and suggested we go to Silverton. We were right next to it anyway. We got some BBQ, did a little shopping, Scottie bit a kid, and we left. He was a little grumpy. It was time for all of us to go home.

next – the river!