Sunday, December 16, 2012

Weather Comps

I guess I really wasn't prepared for how much worse the weather is here than in the Bay Area

From NOAA, Nov 2012

8.23 inches of rain here vs 4.06 at SFO
11 degrees cooler (on avg) for a high and 8 degrees cooler for a low

                    PDX  SFO
CLEAR  (SCALE 0-3)   0    10
PTCLDY (SCALE 4-7)   9    15
CLOUDY (SCALE 8-10) 21     5

Still better than Troy or Rensselaer, NY without a car!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Portlandisms to adopt

In the same vein as "open/shut" signs, food service personal sometimes ask if you are "Staying or Going?" , I am used to the question being asked about my order, "For here or To Go?". The Portland way seems more personal. Though I admit that if it's a woman doing the asking I feel like I'm at the start of country music duet and want to croon a reply, "I'ma stayin' darlin. I'll always be by your side. 'least till this buttermilk scone is nothin' but crumbs and good memories"

First hail today.

Sunday was the first time I "came home" to Portland after being away overnight.

Update: ok, now it's hailed two days in a row. WTF did I sign up for here??

Update: 3rd hail on Dec 17

Monday, October 22, 2012

I wonder if there are uniforms

"Develop a cheese packaging organization capable of producing desired business results"

This may be may favorite job ad snippet so far. It's real and for the Tilamook creamery out by the coast. In 2006 on a road trip to a wedding in the Seattle area I stopped in for the tour and an an ice cream cone.

If I were to have this job, I would repeatedly speed dial "Wait, wait, don't tell me" every week.

As usual, confidence is 180 degrees out of phase with capabilities

Double thumbs!... then I proceeded to come in 10th out of 10. In general I think I can do something and find I'm woefully unprepared OR I think something is impossible and then I ace it. There very little middle ground when I evaluate a project/obstacle for the necessary skills/preparation, do the work, and fulfill expectations exactly.
As some past girlfriends have said: I'm all black and white. She said I needed to find my shades of gray... oh , I think I now know why she was tightening my tie so hard when she leveled that constructive criticism.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Loop de loop

Walked around inner Portland today
16 miles, one muffin, one bagel, one 12" pizza

Monday, October 01, 2012

Givin' muhself another month

I've now secured a sublet for the month of October in the St. John's section of Portland. It's not a share or a furnished basement in a home or anything like that. It's my place for 31 days.

So , no I haven't decided if I'm staying yet. It still hasn't rained and I still haven't had a local job interview despite applying to a few dozen relevant online ads and schmoozing about bid-ness on many Meetup hikes, paddles, happy hours and a couple of Yelp events.
Am giving myself two weeks to decide if I'm staying and then will use the balance of the month to action that decision.

Some "local"ness has seeped in:
  • While at Last Thursday at Alberta Arts (which is, one night a month, what insular quasi-religious 'real americans' think San Francisco is like 24/7) I randomly ran into someone I know, the guy from whom I'm subletting, and someone else mistook me for someone she knows (who is also named Scott).
  • I had brunch. Which is considered a blood sport here but I'm new so I went to a place that takes reservations instead of standing in line at Tasty'n'Sons or Screen Door or Pine State Biscuits
  • Went to the public show at the Portland Juggling Festival and recognized a Bay Area juggler.
  • Used a "Honey Bucket" (aka port-o-potty) at a Food Cart Pod.
  • Made fun of someone from across the river in Washington state.
  • Volunteered at the Ocean & Wave Energy Conference and saw the Governor, ex-Governor, and local Congresswoman speak.
Anyway, was kind of hoping to win the Powerball but that's beyond the 95% happiness threshold. Also thought one of you might have nominated me for a MacArthur Genius award in slacking but that didn't pan out either.

Am now open to visition (from those of you that know me)

Sunday, September 23, 2012

I know what's different

It's taken me a while to figure this out. Portland has felt fundamentally different from the Bay Area in some way. It's still and calm... and that's it: there's no wind here. There's wind right next to the rivers and up in the Gorge and a couple of hours from here is the country's largest collections of turbines. But just out the window and on the street, the trees don't move.

Accidentally walked by this last week, , happens every night for a couple of weeks each September. People sit out on lawn chairs in the park at sunset to watch. When I stumbled upon it I first thought they were waiting for an outdoor movie to begin after dark.

Karmicly strange: the best job opportunities so far are NOT in Portland and one in Portland at a company with the unfortunate acronym, 'UTI'.

Sublet ends on Tuesday midday and still haven't arranged next place.

Shana Tova

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Hiking and still being unemployed

This is a trick of perspective. I'm not actually getting any side-boob action here on Natalya. The pic is next to the shelter on the way to McNeil Point on Mt Hood.

Resumes still being bounced back by Applicant Tracking Systems about as fast as I send them out. The minor tweaks aren't working. Might have to go full SEO and embedd keywords in white. Or volunteer for 6 months, again. Or return to the Bay Area and grift.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Too far

Multiple places have Gluten-Free bagels here. WTF?

Just go without! That's a little like the places in Scotland that had vegetarian haggis.

Sunday, September 09, 2012

I thought of another way to act like I'm home

Eat the seasonal offerings at the local chain. Didn't go all that well.
Review is here

Went hiking out in the gorge this weekend. Very, very nice waterfalls and a calf-killing climb to a cliff.

Still no heat on jobs. Still staring at my resume trying to figure out how to tear it apart and put it back together.{John Stewart voice ON} "Damn you ATS's!" {John Stewart voice OFF}

Tomorrow, will start looking for another short term sublet for post Sep 25

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Bears! (not wild)

I went to the coolest park today. It was called "Portland Zoo" Park I think.
As soon as I started from the 'trailhead', bam! bears on the left of me climbing up a tree.

Monday, September 03, 2012

Portland t-shirts and bumper stickers

Read 1984
I listen to bands that don't even exist yet.
Keep Portland Weird {Imported the slogan from Austin,TX}
Keep Portland Beered
Weird isn't Working! {I like this one because it works on multiple levels}

Jobs I could totally fake

So Milo and I have spent a gloriously warm and clear Portland Labor day inside seeking Labor opportunities. Let's skip the fact that I'm not sure I've spent an entire day inside since April and get right to the hottest prospects:

  • Synchronized Swimming Coach  - this job is located in the nearby burb of Beaverton, Oregon (I kid you not. Milo is deadly serious about these things)

  • Field Artillery Tactical Data System Specialist - "What do you have here, an 8 -week program? which is *perfect* for me." Actually it says 10 weeks now and I'm excluded because of age. For some reason, this one appeared while I searched a 'green' jobs site. Maybe they refer to the uniform color.

  • Python Django Developer - I hear this is going to be an awesome Tarantino movie. Not sure whether my role would be in front or behind the camera.
We all know I'm going to end up in either sales or crime or both. The only question is how low the bank balance must go before I entertain those options.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Everyone say hello to Milo

Milo is my new computer. He came today. He's my first new "new" computer since 2001. I got that "my new gadget will make everything in my life organized and efficient" buzz that will go away soon. Milo's main job is to help me get a job. On the side he provides a much better platform from which to blog, find the next sublet or month-to-month apartment / plan more travel (actually, now that I'm sitting here... Milo is too frickn' big for comfortable overseas travel {it's Atikins for you Milo! [smears raw meat onto new laptop]}) , write Yelp reviews, and entertain myself with DVDs from the library.

Here are the Meetup picture links from Mirror Lake / Tawanawas Falls last Thursday and from Ramona Falls / Bald mountain last Friday.

I'm going on someone else's moon hike tonight. I pointed out that a true moonrise can be seen on Saturday which is a better day for people to get there on time anyway.. but it's not my hike. Hopefully the duct tape will hold on the broken plastic bit on my headlamp.

Tomorrow I'm going kayaking on the Willamete river south of Portland with a padding club.
Sunday, maybe the Portland Symphony free concert in Lake Oswego (home of the NBA's Kevin Love!). No love from employer's yet.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Trying hard to settle

Made cookies
Gone on a group hike
After 3.5 months of static, changed the presets on my car radio.
Got a library card.

What else do people do when they're home? (Besides work, date, and have more than 26 days till the next change of address. Am already pushing those stones uphill)

Have till Oct 16 to change voter registration.

Maybe I should buy some props and juggle behind a hat somewhere.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Photos of Oregon

Last seven are water photos from Mt. Hood and the columbia gorge from hikes I did alone. When I add my photos for the hikes I did with Meetup,  i'll post those links as well.

The streets of Portland are filled with familiars

Moved into my one-month sublet around 3:15pm Saturday. After downing a couple slices of pizza on Alberta street 5pm I was walking towards dessert options when I saw a guy on the corner who resembled my friend Eric. Eric and I went to spring training in Arizona one year and also went barry bonds hr recording breaking game. He lives in San Francisco. No big deal though, half the guys in Portland look like Eric: shave head with stable, facial hair but not quite a bear, a t-shirt with some kind of ironic meaning, jeans, and a messenger bag. But this 'Eric' was standing next to Nicole! (Real Eric's longtime friend & roommate {also my friend}) Holy cow it was them

"Whassup Bitches!", I blared on approach. To which I got a slow,  "oh my god" from Nicole. These are two of the hardest people I know to schedule and they just bumble across my path. They're up her for four days looking around and visiting some folks.

Not sure if I should take this as an omen and if so, what kind? 'You will find friends easily in Portland', 'return to the Bay', or since I slotted in a 2nd dinner of Thai food with and eventually still did add a chocolate dipped waffle for dessert, 'you gonna be fat'

Jump to Monday. I'm walking on the eastern part of Hawthorne in prime uber-portland upscale-slum-we-kept-it-real land when I walk right past Fred Armiston heading onto location to shoot a scene for 'Portlandia'.

Weird days. It hasn't rained yet.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

More Portland observations

One can take the train to a shopping center within about 200 yards of IKEA.  Wonder if hipsters can get their flatpacks home with a train and a skateboard

Have eaten at food pods, collections of food carts that are part of the culture, four times and have yet to wowed by taste,  value, or speed.

Was going to post about the general standard of homeliness that prevails here but the librarian today was very cute. And not in the "girl with the glasses , hair pulled back, who never looks you in the eye" way. She was cute in the way that if you brought her to a party all your friends would say, "she's cute"

Portlanders do watch 'Portlandia' but hate to admit they have TVs


Anyway, I am going to stay for a month and see if employers here are just as dismissive of me as there capitalist brethren by the Bay. Am letting a room in a kind of boarding house (private bath, private room, shared kitchen ). Wish me luck on daily human interaction
Will likely buy a laptop to facilitate job search without having to queue up for computer time at the library.
Money saved switching to monthly and far less driving should pay for it.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Saddest thing I've seen in a while

In a Motel6 parking lot, a Volkswagen Jetta station wagon with "Just Married" soap written on all the windows. ... and the couple was in their 50s

Of course, they might have looked at me alone in my 40s with 6 layers of dirt on my 5-year-old car and thought along similar lines.

Joke's on them though... I got my Altima washed this morning

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Went to a glacier yesterday

Check out those hiking hindquarters!

This was with a meetup group out of Portland at mt. Hood. You can browse the other photos from that link. I've not upload mine yet (no i-net last couple of days. No wi-fi right now)

Motel6 tonight. The McDonald's of lodging: you know it's not going to be great but it's going to be pretty clean and it's not going to kill you *today* though doing it consistently will wear you down.

There's the right way and there's my way

In evaluating Portland as a potential new home I feel very immature. I've this image of a mature person objectively studying comparative tax tables, rent/home price ratio charts, and maps of flood plains, fault lines, and SuperFund sites.

Me, captain objective, i'm walking around tasting pizza, ice cream, bagels, and falafel. Yeah, I eat 3 times a day so it's something I want to do well wherever I am but I spend much more time sleeping. Shouldn't I figure out what's important for sleep?? (Like security and quiet {where are those crime stat websites}) shouldn't I find out in what neighborhoods the city council members live? (I *have* learned that this city loves beer so much they elected a guy named "Sam Adams" as Mayor)

Heaven forfend I live somewhere I can't stuff myself with 3000 good tasting calories for under $15.

Still, I'm doing better than 1994 when I asked the long term parking cashier at Lambert airport in St.Louis to call a coin flip to decide if I should drive to Austin or to stay in town.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Paused Again

Am visiting family in L.A. to remind myself the difference between alone and not-alone.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Portland observations

Doors on stores on Alberta street have signs that say on one side "Open" and on the other side "Shut"

There is a suicide counseling hotline sign at the entrance onto the Hawthorne street bridge. The walkway is not even 50 feet above a fairly calm river.( it's 49 feet, I checked). One would have to be drunk, jump head first, and not know how to swim to kill oneself off this bridge. There aren't even any pilings to hit on the way down. Maybe the distraught of the northwest wait for a ship with spikey bits to pass underneath before hurling?

If a place serves breakfast they serve biscuits and gravy. Perhaps a hold over from the timber centric days

Not a lot of tall men. I feel tall here.

I've yet to encounter a rude service person. Weed be good I guess.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Why do parents do that?

I'd like to congratulate Destinee Hooker of the U.S. national womens volleyball team for overcoming growing up in a house where bad decisions are made to become an Olympian.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

The pictures that were supposed to go with the last post

Nicks, aches, tans, and Idaho

My last little hike in Montana was also boring. Overall the state was great though. After that short yawn on the way west on route 12, I stopped at the Lolo pass visitor center on the state line. The people there advised "Colt Killed Creek" for my afternoon hike. Lewis and Clark had killed and eaten a young horse here. I swear these guys have half the upper mid-west named after them (even a mid-90s Superman TV show). Anyway, it was a nice start to Idaho hiking except that my windshield got a small crack when a passing RVs tire launched a small stone into it. During the day I saw helicopters shuttling back and forth to get water for a small fire I went by on the Montana side of Lolo pass.
Sunday morning at the Lochsa Lodge I met the 2 chopper pilots. Turns out several small fires had been started by the lightning storm I saw from the ballpark in Missoula on Friday night. (it took a lot of self-control to not yell "Get to the Choppa!!" as the brief conversation ended)

Sunday I hiked at Warm Spring creek which had popular springs about 1.5 miles up the trail. Was tempted to dunk myself as my lower back was killing me. No one was there yet when I went by because I'd crossed to pacific time the night before but was still waking up before 6am Mountain time. Anyway, no people but two frisky bucks were there. I thought, "an optimist would think that 'this place was imbued by a special natural grace that draws the woodland creatures as well as the harried denizens of civilization looking to shed their stress.' A pessimist/realistic would think 'I wonder if people would come if they knew deer dropped by first thing to poop on the inflow spring'"
Never did find the connecting trail to diablo lookout on this nearly 6 hour hike. Odd day: hurt to stand up and sit down but 15 miles of hiking is no problem.

Monday I drove south on us95 and then west 17miles on a gravel road to get to the snake river at the north end of hells canyon. The river is a little slower and calmer than the names implies at the end of a spring melt after a weak winter.
Hiked 13 miles through heat and consumed almost all of my 4 liters of water.
Onto riggins,id for 2 nights which oddly is back in Mountain time. Pretty much every time one crosses the Salmon river in ID one crosses time zones.
Tuesday I drove out another long dirt road to the Windy Saddle trailhead in Hells Canyon wilderness. Along the way I mentally chided myself for having carried my bear spray the previous day through the arid river canyon. Surely that is not dense grizzly territory. Then, between mile markers 8 and 9, I turned the corner and saw a huge black bear running off the road and jumping into the trees. Okay, when I get out of the cat I'm taking the spray.
There were a surprising number of wild flowers on the 14 mile out and back to upper bernard lake. Then again this was around 6000-7000 feet as opposed to the previous days desert like river hike at 2000.
If I had to do it again with hindsight I would have gone south from Missoula to the bitteroots instead of west then south to hells canyon because the dirt road access takes forever and this time of the year with both snake and salmon river being kind of placid between rapids I didn't opt for a day on the water.
Wednesday was a recuperation day. I drove to lewiston,ID, which is kind of a pit, ate junk food, went to a matinee, and bedded down at the Days Inn even earlier than usual (now in Pacific time)
Today's plan is light hiking at Oregon Butte, which is in southeast Washington. Then it's on to Walla Walla
More gear failure: an ancient pair of light hiking pants ripped when I was at Glacier. I sewed them up with a little sewing kit. For the hot hike the other day I donned them but got no further than sitting in the car when I heard them rend again. I cursed, when back into the room and changed.
Finally, check out the picture. (No picture. Fracking blogger android app is driving me nuts) Nothing indicates summer fun like sandal tan. Even more impressive since my feet are locked in boots 4-7 hours a days

Friday, July 27, 2012

Image first

I want to marry her and take her name as my own. Then we can add "juggling instruction" to the sign

I kinda experienced night

Went to the minor league baseball game here in Missoula. The thunderstorm started in the 7th inning, suspended play, and I walked back to the motel.
Now, if night means headlights and street lamps then,  yes. If night is looking to the west and seeing only darkness then, no.

The home town Osprey were up 10-0 over the visiting Voyagers of Great Falls when the ump signaled stoppage. I got a free team hat as part of the evening's promotion.

The weather, more lightning than rain, calls into question tomorrow's plans to hike up to Lolo peak once I leave Missoula.

Beginning to think about what happens when the trip ends.

Note on video links

The video links I've posted for YouTube may not work. I had to change them to unlisted. My stalker found them thanks to Google's prompting to change YouTube handles to Google Profile/G+ handles. She started leaving comments. I deleted them and hide the videos.
In the future I'll post individual links to each one. {Sigh}

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Well somebody's reading this blog


I went to little calf creek in escalate (posted pictures) and then had a drink at Kiva koffehaus (wrote an r-rated review on Yelp.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

New videos online

Four new videos on Youtube here (sort by Newest)
There would be more but the multi-select isn't working here on the computer in Missoula Library

omg , the cure for any boredom is east this weekend in Butte, which is a pit... Literally.

I might have to rethink this whole "nature" theme to the trip.

Better than walking in a mall.. i guess

So after two days of ice cream and movies I decided to do a little local hiking in order to earn my pizza. Also the forecast is for high heat wed-fri so it made sense to designate mon and tues hiking days (2 off, 2 on, 3 off, resume normal trip activity)
Yesterday I went to Rattlesnake NRA just north of town (13 minutes) and this morning I went to Blue Mountain Rec Area just south of town (20 min)
5 hours of monotony at rattlesnake and 3 at Blue Mtn (I learned something and shortened the return)
Perhaps I'm spoiled from spending so much time in national parks but there was nothing interesting or challenging about these places. Maybe they're fun for bikers and rattlesnake might get better in the backpacking wildernesses section too far north to get to in a day hike. I hope so 'cause otherwise I don't want my tax dollars protecting them from development.
Perhaps I'll rent a bike tomorrow. There needs to be a good outdoors experience here in Missoula.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Fungus,animals, rock, dead trees, ice, aquamarine lakes

New photos of Waterton and glacier NP posted here.

Ranking Montana "cities"

#1 Bozeman - too homogeneous but not a lot of weirdos

#2 Missoula - a fair number of semi-homeless white guys with unintentional dred locks

#2.5 Whitefish - not really a city but it has a good pizza place with slices

#3 Helena - can u think of a state capital to which you'd really want to move? Too many of the kind of guy who wears gay looking Affliction or Tap-Out clothes but would beat up gays as a hobby if he could get away with it.

One last shot at canada

When I moved to the Bay Area I noticed that if I scanned around the FM dial I had about a 10% chance of finding Pat Benatar's "Love is a Battlefield" playing.

*Today* doing the same scan in Alberta yields about a 15% chance of finding VanHagar's "Right Now" (aka "The theme to Crystal Pepsi")

Parking in Missoula for a while

I'm going to stay in Missoula for a week,  rest up, sample the local pizza, plan the next phase of the trip (west though Hells Canyon and the Columbia river gorge on to Portland), and take in a minor league baseball game.

Also , how awesome would it be to go to high school here (see picture)?

Saturday, July 21, 2012

This is because I don't experience night, isn't it?

I stayed at the Northern RV and Yurt Village last night. It's at the southwest corner of Glacier NP and I staying in a cabin here about two weeks ago. This time I slept in a tiny yurt, which is cheap. Both the cabins and yurts are bring your own bedding. Which is no problem since I have a silk sleep sack, a sleeping bag, and a regular pillow with me. For some reason I decided to just go with pillow and sleep sack last night. Around midnight I was cold and had to pee so I went out to get the sleeping bag. Not used to manuevering in anything less than bright daylight, I banged my shin very hard into one of the rocks lining the edge of the parking area. That's right, I have, for months, marched all up and down a mountain range named for rocks with only a small elbow boo-boo to show for it and I bash myself in a parking lot.
Good thing today's plans calls for pizza and "Dark Knight Rises" instead of summiting something.

Things I've been shouting as anti-bear "whoops" on the trail

  • Yabba Dabba Doo ( I can't believe it took me nearly a month to think of this)
  • To infinitely , and beyond!
  • Inaychuck (the fake Apache word for "ginormous dude")
  • Technology user, comin thru
  • Yonda lies the castle of my fada
  • Stay on target, Stay on target, STAY ON TARGET!
  • Shaka, when the walls fell.
  • Hey, Boo Boo
  • Shazam!
  • Riccolooooo (alpine throat lozenge commercial)
  • Babalooooooo (I love lucy version)
  • Kaplach! (klingon)

What a difference a day makes, part 2

So on the evening of my "Bug Out" of Banff. I stayed at a good little budget hotel in Pincher Creek, Alberta that was run by Margaret Cho's mother. I swear the accents were identical.
Monday morning I left early and as soon as I leave the town boundaries and crest a little hill I can see the Rocky Mountain Front of Waterton National Park on the horization rising up out of the grassy plains of southern Canada. Feels good so far. 30 minutes later I arrive in park, stop at the visitor center, open the car door and.... no bug!! Already I like this place.
Turns out I'm too late for the 8am shuttle to do the one way Carthew-Alderson hike but I'm just in time to catch the 9am water taxi to do the day hike at Crypt lake. Fantastic hike. I give it 4.5 stars only because one has to take one of two water taxis in the morning and catch either the 4pm or 5:30pm back to the townsite and that costs $20. What you're really paying for is a limit on the amount of people on the trail.

Very rarely, I actually get competitive. You might not see that given that I'm not trying super hard in life to amass wealth, power, status, material goods, a strong or large social network. But it does happen. Like when I'm dropped off at the bottom of a trail with 30 people with the expectation that we're all hiking up to the same pristine mountain lake.. and that because of the water taxi system and a ban on wilderness camping in that section of the park that the lake is devoid of humans right now. Anyway, 2hr3m later I'm the first one at the lake by about 5 minutes and then it's 10 minutes before anyone else shows up. The 2nd placers were a young couple that were carrying kind of large daypacks. Turns out they did more planning than showing up at the dock 12 minutes before departure. In the large packs was an inflatable kayak, paddles, and electric pump. So they went to the far, south, side of the lake were there was no one else on shore. Interesting note: the south side of the lake, a half mile away and unreachable by foot because of dense snow on the east and west shores, is actually in the U.S.A. . The border is the end of the lake. A senior couple speculated that one could smuggle this way like "Fast and the Furious" to which I replied that the Canadian version would be the "Slow and the Sullen". BTW, I saw about 3 mosquitoes between 9:20am and 4pm.

On Tuesday I did the Carthew-Alderson one-way hike. Although the last 4 miles into town were a little boring, overall it's spectacular and had no bugs. Rain held off till about an hour after I finished (and yes, I finished long before anyone else on the van shuttle to the trail head). AND there's falafel in Wateron townsite!

So, yeah, went from being miserable to being reminded how great this can be in about a day, maybe two.

The next day, Wednesday, was to be a low key hiking day as I crossed the border and went to the Many Glacier section of Glacier NP (America baby!). Walking all of one mile up to Apikumi Falls (which I kept thinking of  "Apple-tini Falls"). While sitting there, two big rams with full curly horns approaching the other bank of the outflow stream. I took some vid of them as they came down and drank. Then the front, bigger one hopped up on a big rock. Stupidly, I stopped the vid recording since I'd let the clip run for a half a minute. Then a moment late it LEAPED across the stream onto a rock that had no horizontal surface. The top of the rock was an edge with 45 degree slopes but it made it fine then bounded onto our bank and up the hillside not 20 feet from me, the second one close behind. I love this freaking park. Also, no bugs.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Into the mouths of babes

Overheard at the self-serve soft ice cream machine in the back of the Swiftcurrent campstore -

Mother: ok honey, they have vanilla, huckleberry, and swirl.

Daughter: squirrel?


Heard on the radio while trying to find something to listen to in the northern Montana,  "...that's got to be a record, getting a muddy hog off the ground and putting its rear into the barrel in just 4 seconds "
It was some kind of rodeo commentary and not Dan Savage

What a difference a day makes

Saturday the 14th at around noon I finished with the highlight scenery section  of the Cory Pass loop in Banff and was plunging back into the humid, bug infested, 3 mile return through moderate scenery within earshot of the highway sometimes.
Then I stopped in Banff,  the town, to replace some worn hiking socks (if you had "socks" or "his will" in the what-vital-trip-component-will-fail-next pool,  you win. Read on)

There was traffic and parking difficulties. I know that there will be no $9 hiking socks. This is a resort town so I'm resigned to paying 13 or 14. When I find them they are 2 pair for 40. NO. I find a slightly lesser make for 2 for 36. One of the store guys asks me if I need anything. I reply, "I need hiking socks for less than 15 a pair". He looks around then sells me the lesser ones for 14 a pair.

I go back to the hostel canmore. No one seems terribly happy there except the two guys playing bollards outside my room past my personal bedtime

The Canadian Pacific railroad comes through town at 2am and then 4am.

Sunday morning I leave the hostel in intermittent rain. The plan is to hike to rockbound lake and then kill time inside somewhere in Lake Louise before camping Sunday night (and Monday as well).
At the trailhead I am a little better prepped and have everything I need except poles in the cabin with me so that I don't have to deal with bugs while 'booting up'
Sure enough, when I open the door, the rain has stopped bug the skeeter are out in force. I start up the trail doing an odd gait that sequences: left pole into ground, stride, check back of left arm and left flank for mosquitoes, repeat with right side of body, look down at chest and belly for bugs, repeat.
I do this for 45 minutes walking uphill on a damp old wagon road with nothing to see but small pine.

Than I snap. I am NOT happy. Am getting eaten in a boring forest while wearing clothes soaked with sweat, drizzle, insect repellent, and dead bug bits. What I have to look forward to is two days in a campsite in the rain with a plague's worth of bloodsuckers filling in the gaps between the droplets. The ranger told hike I want to do the next day is all covered in snow and is impassable.

I turn around and start back to the car. My periodic anti-bear whoops become slightly hysterical. I shout, "I WILL KILL EVERY F*(!ing mosquito in this forest! " , "if you come near me your life is forfeit ", "I want his brother dead, his family dead, if his has a teenier mosquito as a pet I want that dead too!"
Did I mention that no one else is on this trail?

I decide to cancel the camping and cancel the two nights after that near Jasper. I do not want to drive further north. That way will definitely not be home and weather forecasters say it is not going to be fun either.
Somewhere on the way back to the car I get a little more composed and I think, "yes, I definitely cancel camping in the rain, but maybe i'll finder cheaper acccomdations back in Canmore and continue on to Jasper in a couple of days"
Then a mosquito landed on the *inside* of my glasses. It took up an entire quadrant of the lens. Nope. Not staying. Getting the hell out of dodge and driving south.

Drive south I did... for 3.5 hours in mostly rain to Pincher Creek, Alberta 30 miles north of Waterton national park. Waterton is adjacent to Glacier nation park in Montana across the border.

Next post: it all turns around,

Original post title: was DDT really so bad?

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Hostels aren't as gregarious as they used to be

This is the 3rd hostel/hostel-ish place at which I've stayed though I've let a private room at each. When I did roadtrips in my 20s I basically planned them as hops from hostel to hostel. At one in St. Louis I went to a blues bar with people. In Niagara falls there was an organized van trip to watch the sunset on the banks of lake Ontario.
Now people don't kibitz as much. I wonder why? (Finishes blog post on phone in common room full of wi-fi zombies on phones/laptops/ and tablets)

'Banff' is the First Nations word for...

A) magnificent highland scenery
B) abundant humongous mosquitoes
C) awful Disney-esque mountain town
D) all of thee above

The pictures in the Photobucket link above are from the hike I did through Cory pass on July 14. Though only 8+ miles it took me 4h20m. It was strait up through an armada of mosquitoes (not my phrase, another hiker described them that way). It was one of those hikes were you don't want to stop moving no matter how tired you are because that's when they'll get you. At one point I almost welcomed a bear visit. I thought, "a nice 800 pound grizzly wound make a much better target than me. Yeah, skeeter would love bear meat. How can I get one to come round?"

The saving grace is that the 40 minutes of the hike with all the postcard views were also the most bug-free.

After the hike I stopped in the town of Banff on the way back to my room in the farther, cheaper Canmore. Holy crap on a stick. What an awful place. Banff the town is a simulacrum of people trying to effect a lifestyle. Whereas Canmore just feels like a town of people who like to ski,hike,and bike in mountains. Basically, any smallishtown that has a Tony Roma's, a lululemon, a bodyshop, and a Lush is awful until proven otherwise.

If you order a bread product in Canada....

.... you will be offered or given butter.

I ordered a bran-blueberry-daye muffin in Cranbrook and was offered butter. Then heard the offer take place at a Tim Horton's when someone ordered a danish. Today in Banff I got a bowl of veggie chili with a slice of bread. The sourdough arrived with two little butter-balls atop.

There are no body image problems here though. The standard icon on Ladies Room doors has quite the badonka-donk.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

One more

Oh great, I talked to my friend Doris and she said, "why don't you drive to Alaska?"

I never thought of that. I'd like to go there but never thought of driving. Add one more option

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Maps are fun

For instance, if were to keep heading north after I visit Jasper national park next week, in a couple hundred miles I'd come to Sexsmith,Alberta. In a couple of days it'll be decision time about what to really do after Jasper. A: original plan, head westish to the B.C. coast. Maybe take a kayak trip to see orcas (grizzlies of the sea!) See cascades NP and Ranier. Work my way towards Portland and try it out for a month as a possible landing spot B: peal south on the east side of the rockies to hit everything in the parks I've already visited that were covered in snow and/or bears when I went through. Ex: the most popular trail in Kootenay NP right here in Canada is closed, the highline in glacier was closed for snow, heart lake in Yellowstone for bears; both outlets from cascade canyon in the Tetons snow covered, mt ida and longs peak in Colorado, etc. Then head west towards Portland C: take a break from traveling and spend august in Bozeman or Missoula,MT (college towns) D: go abroad starting in sept (which requires some time not traveling in north america so I can plan) E: the free juggling festival in Sioux falls in august F: Obama campaign somewhere in the mountain or pacific time zones if I can do something other than cold call 8hrs a day G: some quality time on 's couch H: did you see that unfunny HBO comedy "Hung" ? I: get a job generating options J: Head for Mexico K: return to the bay area with a lot of great pictures, rent an apartment, lock myself in it till the money runs out, hope for the best.

Of course it's not that easy - gear edition

Forgot to mention that before hiking Huckleberry on Tuesday that I strained a muscle in my upper back performing the exciting adventurous activity of putting a bag in the trunk of my car. It hurts to twist around and look behind me while backing up the car. It also hurts to extend my left hand all the way or to roll over in bed.

So at the end of the Huckleberry mountain hike I was glad to have had no bear encounters and that the new boots work. When I got in my car I noticed that one of my trekking poles had lost a piece. Arghhhh. This one had been wonky since getting sand stuck in the mechanism back in Utah. Now the lock is gone and it slides roughly between 111cm and 117cm. On a working locking pole I usually set the length to 114 to 116cm. It does sound like a huge problem but it's a pain. Am waiting for a sporting goods store to open to see if there any chance they have a replacement part (.05%), replacement pole to match my good one (.1%), a fantastic set of poles for $75 or less (%1). Anyway, I can hike without them though it decreases my misplaced confidence in fending off wildlife

The wi-fi password at this coffeehouse next to the sporting goods store is "cappuccino" which thankfully spelled out on the menu board

The good people at Gerick Sports managed to affix a Black Diamond locking mechanism to my Komperdell pole for 5CAD!

Am now enjoying donut like food and free wi-fi at that Canadian beacon of culture Tim Horton's

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

New boots and the idea of Grizz

Both the guide book and the ranger said it's 6 miles from the trailhead to the Huckleberry Mountain lookout tower. I made it up in 1h54m. Of course, both ranger and book described the area as "densely populated with grizzly bears". So it may have been a matter of motivation that sped my pace.

Also, having real hiking boots helped. At first the left seemed tight but then it settled in and it was like walking on old friends.

To ward off wildlife encounters I set my watch countdown timer to 1 minute repeat to remind me to make noise. Sometimes I let loose my much improved bear whoop, sometimes a movie line ("gentlemen, you can't fight in here. This is the war room!"), sometimes a piece of stand-up ("slam it,jam it, ram it, cram it, Willie the one-eyed wonder worm!" - Carlin), sometimes I threaten the bears. Anyway, they stayed out of sight.

End of glacier national park... for now. There's a chance i'll return in 10 days if the Highline trail opens in lieu of heading west towards the pacific coast of B.C.

Handful of new pictures posted from WY and MT


Btw, MT >>WY and Glacier >>Yellowstone

Of course it's not that easy

I'm in Canada. I told this to Verizon nearly a month ago and they told me they could switch me to the Nationwide + Canada plan for any period of time I wish, same price.

Buuuut... that wasn't true. It's $20 more. Fine $20. I can pay $20. It is another country after all. But as soon as I crossed the border I get a text telling me that i'm data roaming and it'll cost $2.05/MB. So I stop driving and call the 900 number in the text to confirm that this message only applies to non-forward thinking people who didn't switch plans. Of course, NO. My switch only affects voice and text. The outrageous data charge applies, I'd been using Google Navigation for 10 minutes when I got the text, but I can purchase a plan of 100MB for $25. Bastards. That would be on top of my normal data charge. So I'm going to go without data on my phone. Therefore texting will work better than emailing for a while. Or just call

Also, gas costs 1.29CAD per liter and I accidentally booked myself into a place next week just south of jasper that I thought was a bargain only to discover it is a primitive hostel and has no showers or flush toilets (just drinking water and water for cooking)

This may be just one week and then back to the USA.

Monday, July 09, 2012

I blame Canada

On Tuesday I will hike Huckleberry Mountain in Glacier NP and then head towards Canada. I'm told but the young northern cuties staffing the Alberta Welcome Center nearby that I may enter with a cannister of bear spray as long as it had an EPA stamp.

Will have to try real hard not to be humming "Blame Canada" while going through the port of entry.

Two parks later, still oblivious

Today I was coming down the trail from Scenic point in the Two Medicine section of Glacier NP when 3 hikers below pointed to something. I turned mostly around, saw nothing, and continued walking, they pointed again, I assumed one was pointing something out to another of his party. Then he clearly said to me, "look to your right". I did. There was a big horn sheep about 10 feet away on the other side of a small thicket of dead trees just uphill. The ram was still and staring at me. I stopped and met its gaze. Then I slowly reached towards a pouch on my bag as I said to it soothingly, "I'm just getting my camera. Don't make me go for the bear spray"
Got some good shots (will upload when I get to a solid wi-fi area, or better yet a hard line)
When it stopped eyeballing me and went back to eating I walked past on the trail while keeping my trekking poles up and pointing towards it.
Hiked in the back-up used boots and even though I didn't blister or get foot pain, they felt unsupportive while decending so I got new ones.
Instead of driving 2hrs to the west side towns I made some phone calls and went to the Blackfeet trading post 40min east (everything here not in the park is Blackfeet reservation). The two brands of hiking boots were lacking. Wound up getting some well made workbooks that have a good welt,  six inch uppers, and no steel toe. Send positive energy that they don't shred my feet Saturday & Sunday.

Grizz and boots again


I saw a Grizzly. Ok, it doesn't really count since I was on a trail but still, there it was.
Spent Saturday night at the Granite Chalet. After arriving mid-aftenoon from the Many Glacier section by way of Swiftcurrent pass I was hanging out on the patio with many other guests taking in the fine view. A woman came rushing over from the picnic tables on the side of the Chalet and said there was a Grizzly behind the bathroom building. We all rushed to the edge of the patio and no further. She was correct, it was a juvenile Grizzly wandering about 100 feet away. It moved down the slope in no hurry and I managed to snap a few pictures.

 Hopefully that will be my only sighting: in great numbers, near a building, with many people having bear spray, and small children close by to push forward in a last resort.

The work boots worked well enough but now that I'm staying only 20 miles from a real sized town I went and got some Vasque Breeze Gtx's, the same boots in which I hiked the Grand Canyon rim-to-rim a few years back.
For those of you keeping track: the person who recently wrote that he was adopting the motto "Have less, Do more" has spent $280 on shoes in the last two months.

Thursday, July 05, 2012

I dont experience night

It's true. The days got longer and longer ... I keep driving further north. Right now, in northern Montana,  the sun still sets after 9 and comes up after 5. It's light for almost and hour on either side of the terminator.
Most nights I sleep from 930 to around 6, so it's light at both of my consciousness transitions.
The closest I've come to the night is stepping out for a mid-sleep pee while camping/ staying in bathroom-less yurts & cabins.
I can't remember the last time I drove in the dark. Maybe two days before I left when I dropped off a loaned hand-truck.
What's the opposite of a vampire? A day-dwelling finite-lived charmless vegetarian? Maybe I *am* finding the real Scott out here.

More changing plans

Remember the 3 points of possible failure for the trip:
* my body
* my car
* my boots

Well, my right boot is broken, it's cracked right through. In most circumstances this would be the easiest and cheapest of the 3 to fix or replace. But I'm in nowhere-ville. The ranger said the only place to be sure of finding a store with something more than cowboy boots is Kalispell. I'm in East Glacier. That's 87 miles and 1h45m driving according to google maps. Plus, I'd found a hostel here with private rooms for only $30 and there's a communal kitchen. The Motel6 in Kalispell lists at $79. I could try to come back to the east side of the park , after buying boots southwest of it in Kalispell tomorrow, near where I need to be Saturday morning but that would depend on finding a room or campsite on a Friday in the summer. Bah. Saturday is immovable because I got to a reservation at the Granite Chalet, a hikers refuge in the middle of the park.
There's also my $25 used 'wet' boots to consider. would they wreck my feet if i syarted using them for daily hikes until i pass through a decent size town on tuesday?
Wonderful wretched universe. As they say in the Hitchiker's guide to the Galaxy, "I wouldn't live anywhere else"

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

I do not know the words to a single song

While hiking through bear country this morning, Glacier NP, I tried again to sing and make noise since I am by myself. And it's time to admit that in additional to having a terrible singing voice that I can't sing a single song all the way through. None of the Billy Joel from my angsty high school phase, none of the Peter Gabriel from my ongoing angry college phase, not even School House Rocks (I can sing all the Preamble but not the bits that frame it). Tried Adon Olam, the song that ends most Jewish services, but only got to the 2nd stanza. The best I can do is chortle the opening and closing themes to "Land of the Lost" (which are each 2 sentences)

Weird. Though my imprinting is failing, my recall of minutia from long ago is still usually pretty good.

Also, 2 months!

Have less, do more

I guess this is the new personal philosophy. Still need to incorporate "exchange services for goods/money"

In a small dot of a town on the way to the eastern side of Glacier National Park.

Went on a touristy boat trip through the "Gate of the Rocky Mountains" this morning. Not bad for families, seniors, and bacon-wrapped Americans, but I'd have rather paddled.

Monday, July 02, 2012

Down to 48

Not like Mississippi or Louisiana were in the where-Scott-lands sweepstakes but now they're totally out

<a href="">MS</a><br>


Sunday, July 01, 2012

Getting used to things

There are several intersections here in Helena that have neither stop signs nor traffic lights. They're not T-junctions or round-abouts or single-lane one-ways either. They're like nordstroms (or is it Neiman Marcus) with the employee hand book, "We trust you to act with your best judgement at all times". Or maybe D.O.T. ran out of money

Saw a sign in front of an sportsman shop, "SALE: bug spray $5, bear spray $29" and I thought, "that's a really good price for bear spray". It's high 40s to low 50s most places I've seen. Was just kind of surprised that I'd developed an opinion. Not sure I'd actually buy cheap stuff though. It's the one way bear spray is like condoms

There are two kinds of hotels out here: those with lids on the toilets and those with the 'U' seats.

Yet another person upon hearing about my trip referred to it as an "adventure".

Am thinking about writing a book called "the no kitchen diet"
I've only used the camp stove the first two nights in Death valley. Had kitchen access for a total of 7 other nights ,in ski condos & yurts,and coffee maker / hot water access for a couple more.
Am down about 7 or 8 pounds. Of course, that could be the 1000 to 2500 calorie burn I do 5 days a week.
Still, it's a possible monetization.

Bozeman felt different from places in Colorado like Steamboat Springs and Durango because a good chunk of the population in those semi-resorts seemed like lawyers who read Sunset Magazine.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Saturday night in Helena,MT

... and I ate a microwave Amy's burrito and strawberries from the safeway while watching 'Chopped' on the food network in my room at the Motel6. Exciting!

Helena is ok.
Bozeman was pretty damn cool. If it weren't for the many feet of snow in the winter and the overwhelming whiteness year-round I'd consider locating there.

Yellowstone conundrum

The place is beautiful. The rivers, cascades, rapids, lakes, bison, elk, thermal features are all amazing. But the front country hiking sucks, it does. It's all small boring trees , with lots of dead ones lining the forest floor, and then it concludes at a lake or a river that can be just as well seen from the road.
Part of the problem is that although it's high elevation,  the mountains aren't all that much higher so there are no good climbs. Today I hiked 4 miles through mind-numbing tiny pine/ bear cover and then decended through some interesting thermal stuff for 1.5 miles to get to a raging river. Then turned around and did the hard climb to return to a trailhead that is only 1/4 down the road from a spectacular lookout onto the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone.
It's a great touring park but my central activity is not supported. Maybe the backcountry is better.
Anyway, I cancelled the Monday night cabin I was happy to score and will exit the park .. probably to the north and head towards bozeman. Am about a week early on the semi-plan to spend July 4th week in Missoula.

Also, I hate people.

Double also, I ordered 'golden waffles' at a "diner" in one of the general stores here and they served me 3 frozen waffles they had nuked then put in a toaster. All for only 5.95 + tax and tip. I hope Montana I cheap. It has to be,  right?

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

result of trail lunch experiment

I give the peanut butter and hot coco mix sandwich a B. Because I made it the night before eating, a lot of the oil from the peanut butter turned the powder into a dense paste. So the whole thing was a little dry but not as gritty as if it were eaten right after assembly. If I try it again I'll add a soupsong of water with the soupsong function of my swiss army card

I am the only man in America...

... who does not spit when using a public urinal.

Ladies, you may not know this but men feel an urge to evacuate ALL their fluids at once. Other guys hock a small loogie at the urinal cake. I prefer to sneeze or have a nose bleed.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Trail lunch experiment

Is peanut butter and hot chocolate mix on whole wheat a crazy delicious sandwich or just crazy? (And dry)

I'll find out on Sunday somewhere around Mt. Washburn in the Canyon section of Yellowstone.

Yes, there's a general store at the campground about a mile down the road but I forgot to buy jam. Besides, these are the last slices of bread in the loaf and if I bought jam I'd have to buy more bread to use the rest of the jam and I'd just restart the cycle of consumptive co-depenency that got me here in the first place.

Update: not wolves

The ranger at the backcountry desk who lives on site says there is a den of coyotes nearby and they have pups.

This shouldn't come as a surprise to me since the coyotes I've seen in Yosemite are robust shiny coated creatures that do not resemble their scraggly skinny Bay Area cousins.

Also, not a surprise I was mistaken since I'm from Philadelphia and probably better at distinguishing a .22 report from a .38 at 5 blocks range than classifying cries of wild dog species.

(Though I would have pee'd had I known it was just coyotes)


I drove 22 miles to a trail this morning and didn't do the hike because the sign said it was a "Bear frequented" area. There was also a handwritten annotation, "Almost Daily - NPS"

One person walked past me and started up. Another pair came down finishing their early hike and reported no bears. I walked back to my car.

Am deep inside my own head again.
Wish the scare tactic signs would distinguish between black bear and grizzly.

Saw a huge bison eating grass by the side of the road. Same area of the park where I almost collided with a bison *in* the road 20 years ago.

Nature's alarm clock

I admit I was already mostly awake at 4:50 when the noise came. I was struggling with the leave the tent to pee / ignore and hope I go back to sleep decision.

Then I heard something through my earplugs. Had those damn kids at the nearby campsite woken up early and resumed their "screaming game" from 10:30 the previous night?
I pulled out one plug. This was not a human noise. It was a chorus of animals. Bass, baritone, and tenor. One note steady, another rising and fading, one voice warbled with vibretto.  It was loud; it was close but not in a specific direction. Though I've never heard them before I'm pretty certain this was wolves claiming dominion.  I cede it to them. Though sunrise is around 5:05, I don't exit the tent to pee till after 6am.
Maybe it's time to get a dedicated bottle to bring in the tent.  .... or make a bunch more money and stay inside all the time.


My brother-in-law's dad died this morning. Arthur was the only cigar smoker I've ever known who wasn't an asshole. I envied his decisiveness. He loved what he loved, no dithering, and had no problem or embarrassment about doing whatever need be done to have it be part of his life.
Though he enjoyed the "finer" things, you always got the sense that he never lost his appreciation for the baser pleasures: a bloody steak, a strong drink, winning, profit, people in his tribe.
You were in pain and I'm glad your suffering is over though I wish you could have been in my niece & nephew's lives through to adulthood.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Can a brother find a place to hike?

So today I transitioned from Grand Teton to Yellowstone. I actually did some research on this and have a list of hikes planned. This morning was supposed to be Union falls but the dirt road that was only supposed to get impassable at the trailhead got impassable to 2wd vehicles about 5 miles from the trailhead.

Plan B : the hike to Heart Lake was right on the way to my campground. So organized was I that I even had a note on the photocopy admonishing myself to not take the spur to go up the peak because that would turn back a flat 16 miles into a grueling 20.
There were no cars at the heart lake trailhead. A small sign proclaimed the area closed to hiking because of high bear activity. The sign also warned of severe penalties for removing it (I guess some people have really awful and dangerous sense of humor). As I sat in the car, door open, flipping through pages in a manilla folder, a half-dozen mosquitoes swarmed me. Bugs. I hate bugs. Heat's bad. Cold's bad. Rain is depressing. Wind is annoying. Those are all outdoor adverse conditions that I dislike. I HATE bugs.

Yellowstone is not off to a great start. The two shorts hikes I did manage to do with the advice of the back country ranger at the Visitor center were just OK; not national park worthy.
I did manage to score a cabin with a bathroom for Monday for 98$ so I hope these 2 nights of camping don't put me off what's supposed to be a top 5 park

Also, I'm not upset about the bear closures. It's been a little stressful hiking in this part of the country. In the sierras I don't think about bears. Here, they are constantly on my mind and keep me from digging into a challenging hike, enjoying scenery,  or just spacing out.

Wish they did mosquito closures.

Bear bells don't work on Moose

Either they don't hear that frequency at all or don't give a fig about a us puny humans. On Thursday I almost ran into a pair of yearlings at the entrance to Death Canyon in the southern end of Grand Teton National Park. The male's butt was about 6 feet in front of me and 2 feet off trail to the left, in dense scrub, when it startled at my presence. After about .1 seconds when I realized it wasn't a grizzly about make me a Werner Herzog subject, I backed up, took some pictures, and tried to get them to clear the trail. No dice. I whooped and hollered and insinuated their ancestors messed around with pronghorns. They were determined to slowly chomp all the vegetation in that narrow section between the stream and the valley wall. There was no way past without coming within 10 feet of one of them. So much for hiking into death canyon.

This is a good place to point out that I: A - suck at whooping to scare animals and B - am not all that observant of my surroundings while on the trail.

Just before encountering the Moose I had loosed one of my meek anti-bear "whoops". One is supposed to periodically make a little holler to give the animals warning so as not to come right upon a bear. For some reason hollering calls domestic animals towards oneself (because they learn they are going to get fed {until that last holler call}, and sends wild animals away (no curiosity?)
My "whoop" is actually a "woooooo!!"
Actually it's Ric Flair's "wooooo!!"  Nothing else I try comes out loud. It works but I have have to exert my willpower to keep from proceeding it with "To be the man, you have to beat the man!!!" And from following it with a little stulted turkey trot of pride. After all I'm not trying to provoke the local ursine into a ladder match; quite the opposite.

About 20 minutes later as I hiked back to the trailhead, I "wooooo!!"ed then came to the edge of Phelps lake. Then I turned to my right and saw 2 children about 20 feet away. I said "hello" and they said,"there's a deer right behind you". Which there was; a big ol' mule deer about 15 feet away. Conclusion: for me to notice if an actual bear was nearby it would have to be Balu from 'The Jungle Book' and he'd have to be in the middle of a musical number.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Back on the road

The wandering was suspended for 6 days in order to fly to the east coast and be with family. An extended family member is on his deathbed and I wanted to see him and support those in his day-to-day unit.
I cancelled a couple of nights in a walk-in yurt in a Colorado state park and a couple of nights in a cabin in a national forest in southern Wyoming ; back tracked 3.5hrs to Denver airport and flew to nyc. When I returned I drove 4hrs to rawlins,wy and the next morning another 4.5hrs to get to Grand Teton national park on schedule.
The teton's are beautiful and the park has a good array of services without feeling too over-developed.
Bought bear spray on the way in Laramie but there's a wide assortment at good prices here at coulter bay general store.
Did an easy 3.5hr 9.5mile walk on trails next to Jackson lake this afternoon to get reacclimated to altitude. No respiratory problems. Though adjusting to carrying the bear spray will take a few outings. (some of you may be thinking, "but scott, if anyone should be used to having a 9 inch steel hard cylinder swing about the hips, it's you". It's true... I used to win bar bets doing a hula while activating small belt-hung fire extinguishers to the rhythm of "inn a gada da vita" but that was a long time ago when I didn't respect myself)
Having a little trouble getting back into the swing of things. Could be the transition from the density of NYC to desolation of southern and central Wyoming. Could be the altitude. Could be the social change: seeing a family pull together in crisis, going to two school functions where the parents all know each other, brushing next to the neighborhood where my father knows his neighbors and goes to my step-nephew's graduation just 2 miles from his home.... To being alone again in my car with a bunch of podcasts (you're never alone if you've got Dan Savage in your ear advising on how to tell your special someone that you need to be suspended from the ceiling by your ankles to be sexually satisfied)
Don't get me wrong, I'm still essentially a loner but my visits to family aren't usually so very "family oriented" and my return isn't usually to a home-free environment so the differential is much greater.
Wednesday I'm going to take the shuttle boat across jenny lake and hike cascade canyon to the snow line. Then maybe kayak on Jenny.
Thursday.. I wouldn't consider it unless the ranger suggested it but I might try Death Canyon. She says its beautiful and doesn't have much snow.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Immediate update on "Bears are out in the Tetons" post

From the Grand Tetons Bear Safety brochure...

"Make noise when you are hiking or away from your vehicle. Bears will usually move out of the way if they hear you approaching. Calling out (such as ‘Hey Bear’) and clapping your hands at regular intervals are the
best ways to make your presence known. Bear bells are not sufficient." (Emphasis added)

I will sing The Bobs cover of Led Zepplins "Whole Lotta Love" on a loop.

Am still more scared that Dick Cheney will show up and shoot me in the face.

Great, now I need *TWO* of you to fly to Wyoming by Tuesday

From the front page alerts of Grand Teton National Park
Bears are active in Grand Teton
Black and grizzly bears are roaming throughout the park--near roads, trails and in backcountry areas. Hikers and backcountry users are advised to travel in groups of three or more, make noise and carry bear spray. Visitors must stay 100 yards from bears.

I do have a bear bell and a bad singing voice. Also, I'm staying in a tent cabin in a place I think will be like Curry Village in Yosemite (minus the falling boulders) so perhaps I can recruit some also-afraid-of-bears buddies.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Limits for thee but not me

I think most people think this way:
When I'm approaching a small town the speed limit ratchets down to 45 then 30 and sometimes to 25. Then on the way out of town it increments back up to 55 or 65.
On the way in, slowing down, I feel like I have to be  going under the speed on the sign *when I get to the sign*
On the way out, accelerating, I feel like I get to go the speed on the sign *when I can read the sign* even if I'm a couple hundred feet from it.

The secret to Colorado being the thinnest state?

Smoking. At least here in Steamboat Springs that seems to be the case. Maybe there's a selection bias to the 7 different smokers I saw on my short walk through downtown. Maybe all the fit people are out in the countryside biking, boating, and not smoking.

The saddest state-of-America stat I've heard in a while is that the rate of adult obesity that makes Colorado the sveltest today would have made it the fattest in 1995

Friday, June 08, 2012


I'm in Kremmling,CO Friday night and will stay till Sunday morning. I will not hike, paddle, drive, rinse sockliners, or anything planning related. This morning's hike to Baker Gulch in the Never Summer Wilderness next to RMNP beat me. I'm tuckered out. The last time I had to stop every 100 yards like that was Alta peak in Sequoia National park. Vacation from vacation. Back to the world I know of wi-fi and tv.

pictures of rocky mountain national park from charles

the data card survived the fall into the stream, the camera did not.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Reflections on Grand Lake

Went kayaking on Grand Lake this morning.
Very pretty and glassy. Whenever I paddle in a place like this and see the waterfront homes it reminds me that the though I am by no means poor, that wealth is an asymmetrical distribution. That is, the mean is much higher than the median (the lower bound is zero, but the upper bound just keeps on going)
One of the houses in the channel is for sale and has a large QR code on its dock. Welcome to 2012
Finally, though I've been seeing it for nearly two weeks, this morning it really hit home just how devastated the forests are here by the pine beetle. About half of all the trees are dead. Some this is cyclical and some is enhanced by global warming (the larvae aren't killed off in winter because of unusually mild winters)

I sound like a bummer but the paddling was really great.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Still a little early

Decided to stay a few extra days at Rocky Mountain National Park. But it's still snowy up at the higher elevations. Wanted to do some of the Ute trail but t-storms threatened above tree line.
This morning went to miller pass to hike mt ida only to be confronted with piles of snow 5 steps into the trail.
So I drove down to hike to timber lake. 5 miles into the 5.4 mile trail I lost the path amongst the snow fields.
Tomorrow I'll kayak on Grand Lake.  I know there is no snow there. The choice is cold in the morning but calm; warm in the afternoon but a little windy.
Another month of this and my thighs will not jiggle when driving on washboard dirt roads.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Artist's recreation
Okay, that's the bridge.
Imagine Charles is the little girl in the pink shorts and I'm the guy with the big pack.
Now shake your screen like it's the opening credits of 'Land of the Lost' and you get the idea

Seemed like a good idea at the time

Almost opened the door into an old woman with a portable oxygen tank at the Alpine visitor center at Rocky Mountain national park...... at 11,760 ft above sea level
Beach vacations Miss, let me suggest beach vacations.
Also, the trails are telling me to avoid chapped lips as I've found a tube of blistex on the trail for the 2nd time in as many weeks
Saw many Moose today, some on the trail and some by the side of the road. Ranger says that they are the most dangerous animal in the park because something always goes wrong when they try to pull a rabbit out of a hat

UPDATE: I put the 2nd tube at the trailhead for whomever lost it, then 2 days later the 1st one that I kept ran out!! The universe is mysterious.

Monday, June 04, 2012

One month

On the road a month today. Only 5 nights camping. It's just too high here. Every night is still cold and there are  thunderclouds every afternoon.
Probably have lost weight but there are no scales at places like "H&H motor lodge"

What have I learned so far? They grow beans in southeast Utah; there is some kind of junk food tax in Colorado ; Colorado has its own style of pizza that involves honey; I can sleep well despite not knowing what im doing or where im sleeping the next day as long as I burn 2000 calories hiking; I still don't like bars or people who drive large trucks with tinted windows; a lot of people like to fish.

I've skipped a bit in the blog. Still have to go back and talk about yurts.

Today hiked 15.5 miles with 2500ft elevation change maxing at 10,800
Yesterday's hike of about 10 miles started at 10,600 feet and went up.

Am in Granby,CO staying at a ski condo place for a few days

Thinking of trying waterskiing next week at steamboat lake.

No place has felt like home yet. But I don't expect anyplace to make that impression. I don't believe in home-at-first-sight

Sunday, June 03, 2012

Please help me welcome special guest wanderer, Charles W

Now join me in wishing special guest wanderer Charles W a speedy recovery.

Before starting out from Cali I'd arranged to meet Charles for 4 days at Rocky Mountain National park. He was going to be in the area visiting family and running a road race.
1st day we hiked from fern lake to bear lake. If we'd done it in the more conventional direction we'd have seen the signs at the bear lake shuttle stop that said winter mountaineering gear is highly reccomennded. No matter, we crossed snow fields with agility and stability.
2nd day we hiked to upsilon lake and took in the sights of the cross-park road
3rd day we hiked to beautiful mills lake.  Though we tried to hike beyond to black lake, a swath of fallen trees as far as could be seen blocked the trail. After testing a few through routes we decided to turn back instead of risking impalement on any of a thousand spikes branches in the swampy horizontal forest.
We proceeded back along mills, mainly walking on low planks that formed the trail over wet marshy land.
Once below mills we crossed the outflow on a park maintained footbridge that is a split log with a hand rail installed on the downstream (right as we were crossing). Charles was about 2/3rds across when he misplaced his right foot and slipped. He crashed down to his left knee, then tumbled to his right about 4ft down into the fast moving rocky stream onto his side. He stayed down for a moment. I rushed forward and almost went off the bridge to help him before thinking better of it, running across to the far bank, downstream 5 feet then into the water.
He'd righted himself to knees, seemed to take stock for a split second then left out a roar like a Klingon letting the dead know a warrior was on the way.
"What's hurt?"
"I dislocated my shoulder"

I helped him up a little. Then we tried a little field medicine where I pulled the injured arm out from body and honked him on the shoulder. He roared again and despite being in severe agony moved out of the stream and away from me as if to communicate "we are not trying that again."

(I am going to gloss over the arguments we had about hypothermia and wet clothes)

Yada yada , helpful hikers staying with him

Yada yada my running back and forth on the trail .3 miles each way 3 times to a spot with cell phone reception

Yada yada, rescue dudes Adam and Mike arrive (they look 12 years old except for the beard and muscles) Jump over rescue team radio confusion. Charles WALKS out 2.5 miles with the shoulder OUT. Then I drive him to the hospital where there is NO waiting at all (perhaps the most shocking moment of the day). Nurse and doctor play with his arm for a while , they seem simultaneously professional & compassionate yet masochistic about it. "It's sooo close, tie that sheet to him and pull him the other way" Eventually they decide to drug him. I head back to the hotel to pick up dry clothes for him. At this point he admitted we weren't going to make the 645 dinner reservation. When I get back they haven't put it in yet because Charles has lots of well formed small muscles from swimming and a strong resistance to morphine that comes from I know not where. They add bursad to the drug cocktail. Charles is responsive but slurring. The little lip-smacking thing he does is now comically longs loud and hee-haw-esque. I cancel the dinner reservations entirely. Finally, after *6* hours the shoulder is back in. Charles is high as a kite and does not remember the xrays, the insertion, my leaving and coming back, and a bunch of other stuff. The take-away here is not that people who travel with me get hurt; it's that they get the treatment they need, they get dropped off at their parents, a story to tell, and a script for hydrocodone.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Truisms, sayings, neologisms, & one-liners

"I'm homefree not homeless" - adapted from river guide Avery

"Nature or neuter" - from a discussion of whether MIT women are like 'that' when they enter college or whether the school does it to them. (This is a test to see if any of them are reading)

From a theoretical conversation that only took place in my head,
Young hottie: how old *are* you?
Me: old enough to have learned a few things; young enough to still be able to apply the knowledge.

Just because someone thinks a lot doesn't mean he's smart. It just means he's indecisive.  A smart person would think on a matter, settle it, then either act on the conclusion or (file the resolution away in his knowledge -base and move on to the next item of thinking or enter a temporary bliss unburdened by rumination)

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Street signs of the road

A building in Moab,UT that has been repurposed

A business in Del North,CO that is trying make its purpose very clear

Monday, May 28, 2012

Extremes of the road

Have to get used to all my stuff being subjected to the heat of the day in my car and,  when camping, the low temps of the night.

When in hotels, usually showering twice a day: morning and after hike. When camping or yurt-ing, not at all

Is our children learnin?

I've since learned that the snake I saw any carrizo plains a few weeks back was just a gopher snake. No big deal.
Also the scientists/naturalists have stopped using the term "cryptobiologic" and now say "biological soil crust".
On the more human side I heard a woman call a laundromat a "washateria"
It's like a big classroom out here with a very important final grade but no intermediate marks with which to judge one's progress

Sunday, May 27, 2012

I tried but failed to give offense to more Europeans

Was on a half -day rafting/kayaking trip on the Colorado river on Friday. Most everyone was on a raft but for me and a british couple who also asked for a "duckie" (inflatable kayak).

The wind had been howling since the previous night (Oy did the rain fly on my tent flap) and once at the launch site the guide gave everyone the option to abort with a full refund since the upriver gale would make it a tough paddle. Only two went back on the bus. I and the other yakers were offered the opportunity to get in a raft since lighter boats would be more effected than the heavier.  We declined; they went into their boat and I turned mine around into single paddler configuration and launched.

About 2/3rds of the way through this pectoral & latisimuss shredding, we happened to be next to each other and the male half of the brits (known as a "chap") said, "This is the only river I've been on that flows uphill". Later when we beached and were trying to appear not completely exhausted in front of the rafters he said, "I asked for an easy paddle, this was not 'easy'"
I said it's just a matter of two peoples being divided by a common language like the American term, "Fanny Pack"
He didn't flinch. Spent too much time in the USA. You see here "fanny" means your backside. In the UK it's slang for the part of a woman around the front from her backside.

There was also a young Belgian couple and during lunch I told them that mayo with fries was disgusting but Belgians are used to have their culture denigrated by other Europeans so they hardly acknowledged the slight.

Trail time estimates are like speed limits...

... they're not taken to be too literal, until that %10 of the time you wish you'd paid attention.

This happened to me at Bryce because I was hiking a popular trail filled with non-hikers and I'd just slogged through a water filled canyon the previous day. The posted time was actually my duration.

But when I hiked bell & little wild bill canyons outside Goblin Valley State park, I did the loop in 3.5hr when the sign indicated 4-6 hours for most people. This was after I'd already hiked 1h40m @ Goblin plus I ran out of water at 2.5 hr (don't read that last part mom). But that timing didn't matter, if anything I was going to arrive at Green River's "robber's roost" motel a little early.

But the following day's timing did matter because I had a ticket to the 4pm ranger led walk in Arches NP's Fiery Furnace area which can only be accessed with a guide and was sold out for the next 3 days. So when I picked the hike I wanted to do in the nearby Island in the Sky section of Canyonlands NP I tried to keep a schedule. Some intervening roadwork and misunderestimating (thanks for the wurd preznit Bush!)made me about 45m late starting at the trailhead.

The sign at the Syncline loop says that experienced hikers find this trail difficult, it should not be started after 11am in order to finish in the light, and that it takes 5-7 hrs for EXPERIENCED hikers. So I decided to not do either of the optional spurs
3h50m it took me. Yes it was abnormally cool that day, yes the native americans have a saying "if you want to go fast, go alone. If you to go far, go together"
But seriously,  where are they finding these bacon-wrapped reality TV afficianados to set the trail gtiming standards? I hike well but I'm frickn' 42 and not a former varsity athlete (I lettered in debating).

Anyway, time is something I usually have but want more. Is there a word for such a thing?

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Lessons of the road pt2

I think maybe I accidently learned something (like when watching and episode of "Fat Albert") from telling that Euro to stop smoking. Usually I'm more assertive with people the better I know them (most brusque with family) and let strangers walk over me. Perhaps I should try to even that out and be more flexible with friends & kin and stop being passive when the world outside my social network pisses me off with it's willing stupidity and selfishness.

stardate supplemental: Bryce and a day without

This day started with the usual way I wake up in a tent: thinking that it cannot be morning already. I just lay down, tossed and turned for 20 minutes. How can the sun be up already? As soon as I get in my left-zip sleeping bag I want to be on my right side. Oy. Yet, when I camped in death valley i popped thru the tent door busting with energy. Not so today. The difference between hiking and slogging through a river shin-to-waist deep 50% of time is making itself known to my thighs

Day 13: Bryce, the intimate awesome

If Zion is the mostly treeless red sandstone version of Yosemite valley, then Bryce is 1000x scale model of the drip castles you made on the beach as a child. If your drip castles come in 10 colors from pink,orange,brown, to white and have been eroded by freeze, wind, and water flow for eons.

That is to say, Zion is grand and Bryce is intimate.

Lessons of the road

Woke up yesterday in Torrey,UT in a chilly bed, one of those moments when you don't want to move because the sheets you haven't warmed with your body heat are startlingly cold.
It got me thinking that I'd really like the hottest woman from my past to be beside me right now. Not the best looking most desirable one, I want the one with the highest thermal output.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

travel tech fail part 2

so that last post ended because it won't let me move the damn cursor.
SO, from now on, blogger only for text and thoughts. Check that photo link in the last post for occasional pictures.

travel tech fail

blogger app on android is not playing nice with web version and can't put pictures inline
blogger thru web interface on HP touchpad is not playing nice with android generated drafts and sometimes just won't put ur the cursor where

Thursday, May 17, 2012

I freaked out a european

I smelled a cig. Opened the motel door. Saw him and said, "please don't smoke outside my room"
He was stunned. He paused then replied in a continental accent , " I have never heard of such a thing but ok."
This motel is all non-smoking rooms. He's got some culture shock going. This is one thing about America indisputably better than yup: we've established a dominant anti-smoking culture

Day 12: the Narrows @ Zion are AWEsome + me & shoes

<p>Last time I was at Zion in early May 2008 I couldn't walk up the Narrows because the flow was too high/swift. You see "The Narrows" isn't a trail; it's walking up the the Virgin river where the canyon walls close in to anywhere between 10 and 50 feet and the walls zoom mostly strait up more than 1000ft in some places.</p>
<p>In early spring, those doing the trip wear wetsuits or dry suits because the water is about 50 degrees. Right now it can be done without body insulation but neoprene socks are reccomended</p>
<p>Now, this I all knew before departing the Bay Area. What I did not read carefully enough on the NPS website is that sports sandals are not appropriate footwear. I should have intuited this since the bottom of the river and most of banks are rocky, not silty.<br>
So when leaving the Bay Area I left two decent, but semi-disposable, pairs of boots in storage ( I did not want to use my hiking boots as this excursion would ruin them or leave them wet for several days).<br>
In L.A. with the rents,&nbsp; I finally read the NPS site thoroughly and decided to buy some used boots. Internet &amp; Yelp to the rescue, 50 min later im back at Ma's with a pair of $25 Bat Chucks boots that are a scotch too large as to acccomodate the rental socks.<br>
I then call Zion Adventure outfitters to reserve renting the neoprene socks. Lo and behold, if I had read *their* website thoroughly I'd have seen that they rent special cayoneering boots for this. Also, I am informed that despite what the website says, and that I *had* just read, they only rent the socks as part of a package with the special boots and a tall walking stick. Bah, I hate planning.
When I show in person on Wednesday morning the very pregnant girl and the blonde pro queen staffing the place say "sure, u can just rent socks"
I got to use my new dedicated water boots, they worked great, the narrows is a must do activity if you're within 100 miles of Zion (and are reasonable fit and can swim)

There are no pictures from me because I didn't take anything electronic due to the swimming and wetness and slipperiness and hard rock. But do look online for vids and pics, it's amazing (so by the power of association,  so am I)

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Day 11: Red Rocks and pizza

I hiked to the top  of turtlehead peak (does it make me dyslexic that I keep wanting to call it "turtleneck creek"?) At Red rock canyon west of Vegas. Not long but steep. I hate when the trails become many and 4 of 5 can actually work.
Finished around lunchtime
Then I gobbled down a pie at Dom Demarco's and got another to go.

Overnight at a better Days Inn in hurricane,ut

You got to have a system

Right forearm sleeve near the elbow is for nose wipes. Right, near the wrist is for mouth wiping. Left is for brow sweat.
I'm lost in short sleeves. Also, open to sun, bugs, and irritant plants

Day 10:early June gloom @ Cucamonga peak

Have you ever done something just because it sounded good? I was looking through the Falcon hiking guide to SoCal at the library near my Moms's's looking for a hike between L.A. and Las Vegas.
There its was: Cucamonga peak accessed from the Icehouse canyon trailhead off Mt Baldy road. Only 8 miles or so off the freeway, how could I not go there? (Because it's a 5hr hike to go with the day's 5 hr drive? {Quiet, inner voice of reason})
Visibility continues to be bad. The first 1.5 miles of this hike has a nice clear babling brook and several angling cabins. Then the switchbacks begin right after the wilderness boundary and it becomes like most other low sierra hikes trudging through rockfall and sparse shade from ponderosa pine. Past the 5 trail intersection at a saddle it flattens out some then, just past my first snowfield encounter of the trip, resumes climbing to the peak. Would that a person could see 10 miles clearly from 8000ft. My theory is that the paucity of winter rain and snow moved up the normal June gloom into May. I'd like do this hike again but only in early spring after a rain to clear up the view and charge the stream. Overnight in VEGAS BABY! at a rabble filled Days inn t

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Days 7,8,9 with the 'rents

Taking stock, recouping initial weight loss, using a real computer, and feeling part of close group for a long weekend with Mom & George
Just after a 17 person Mother's Day brunch. Standard entertaining fare for them

Day 6: teeny tiny park and the big boxes

This day was an example of not doing all the reading up front. I'd seen a really cool picture of someone walking in front of a tall multi-layers rock formation at Red Rock Canyon state park. Then I drove past it last August and it did indeed look like a little bit of Utah in California. So I put it on the itinerary.
Turns out what you see from highway 14 is most of what there is to see. Inside the park is mostly for off-roaders. It took only 25 minutes to casually walk the one Nature Loop. Worth it if you're passing by but it left me with a lot of day to fill.

But I had needs: a new reservoir, an FM transmitter to play podcasts (the AUX jack broke last year and using one headphone wasn't cutting it for clarity or safety), and some TJ trailsnacks reload.
Palmdale , CA has you covered for all your major chain needs: Wal-Mart, Target, SportsChalet, BB&B, Best Buy, B&N, Smart & Final, etc.

Coasted into L.A. under a thick cover of smog to visit the 'rents

Days 4&5: Death Valley; Falls canyon is Awesome (with a capital "A")

      I choose Wildrose campground because it is near  (in Death Valley scale) the trailheads for Telescope peak and wildrose peak. Now, Telescope peak is 14 miles and like 3000 feet of elevation change from the trailhead, which can only be reached by 4wd. This is according to the map, the website, and a hiking buddy who has been there. Without a high cleareance vehicle one has to walk an extra two miles each way from the normal road. I'd hoped to find SUV'd party going up from the campsite and hitch hike so would do at most 16 and miss the opening climb. Alas, there was only one other person in the campsite and his car was punier than mine.
     So resolved to do the lesser 8.4 mile/2000ft hike to 9000ft high wildrose peak. As I'm putting on my boots at the Charcoal kilns parking lot...

, a little Chevy Sonic comes roaring down from the 4wd only road. "???", goes my brain. The map may be wrong but Chris J has been there. If he says he had to ask people to hop out of this Saturn mini-SUV at portions of bumpy road, it's not passable for regular ol' cars. But... then I look again.. that Sonic is a new, domestic, sub-compact,... and it's white. It's a rental. When I was a consultant we had a saying, "Any rental car is an all-road vehicle".
     Wildrose peak is an good look down into Death Valley but the hike itself isn't anything spectacular and the visibility kinda sucked.
 I finished way earlier than anticipated so I struck camp and moved down to the real heat of the valley at Emigrent campground (which is a gravel parking lot with picnic tables besides the rest stop bathroom. Flush toilets! ... with bees :(  )

Then I went to Mosaic Canyon which is accessible to rank and file. It's pretty

 and filled with meat.
A bunch of Lutherans invaded the campground before I went to sleep. TIP: the stove pipe wells general store sells chocolate covered ice cream pops for $0.95!! not dove or B&J's but I'd have paid $0.95 for ice on a stick at that point.

Falls Canyon

6.5 hrs with not another person sighted. Part of that is great. Part of it is worrisome: when I'm scrambling on rock 10 feet above gravel 2.5 miles from the road in a place that will reach 105 degrees later in the day.

Many of the walls can only be appreciated while moving. Looking up while standing still presents a 2d effect of various facets of the walls. When the observer moves , it becomes clear that there are many different levels of heights and depth and texture. The walls range past at different rates. Its a little disorienting.
 Also disorienting: dehydration. Which I did not experience but which I had to be weary because that morning I discovered a leak in the bottom of my reservoir. Not wanting to truncate my plans nor die a withered dessicated husk, I decided to fill the entire 3L of the platypus and shove two 1L water bottles into the bag. My thought being that I can probably drink 2L of the 3 from the resevoir while another 1L leaks through the bottom of the bag onto my shirt tail and butt. Since this is Death Valley I don't have to worry about hypothermia from being wet. So 4L *should* be okay... and it was by about 300ml.
This was a real lizard:

The front part of my brain knows that it would be really bad to be in a canyon like this when it rains, but another part of me really wants to see what is looks like.
This is what I look like when I'm pretending that I'm going to run out of water and perish of thirst:

..and this is what I sound like.

Overnight at the Motel6 in Ridgecrest