Monday, May 01, 2006

Gravel Road Island

` This time, folks, I went camping in a remote spot that was both demonstrative of the lack of funding for parks as well as being just about the farthest point I could manage from my vehicle. But, just so you know in advance, we were not mauled by bears, rabid badgers, or naked lawyers. Lou Ryan was, however, attacked by an inanimate object, so I suppose that will have to do.
` As Dryan was out ill and his girlfriend NegaSara was probably too psychotic to begin with, it had boiled down to Lou and me. First of all, we had fully intended to hike four hours out to Goat Lake. However, the road to get there was both barricaded and desiccated, with fallen trees all over the place.
` Instead, we drove to other places looking for a campsite. The first thing we found was a pullout place in front of a twisty little path that led us downward towards this deafening roar, until....

` That would be Sauk Falls. Here’s the rest of the view....

` And there was much rejoicing. And leg-stretching. But nowhere to camp! Lou was thinking about heading to a campsite at the other side of Darrington, although before driving off, we tried going down another gravel road despite the fact that it was closed after 1.7 miles.
` As we bumped along, transfixed by the herds of mist grazing in the higher elevations, we came to a barricade that was painted with the words ‘THE END’. It’s not difficult to see why....

` Um. Yeah. Thankfully, Lou managed to use his superpowers to fly us across the ravine to the place where the gravel road continues. ...Sure. That’s what happened. Really. And on the other side, I was so psyched that I took another picture.
` If you look closely, you can see my still-shiny Chevy Burgundy Rectangle across the gigantic chasm:

` Seriously, we actually maneuvered across that the old-fashioned way. In fact, I almost died! Well, it’s hard to keep one’s balance when you’re trying to keep your grip on steeply diagonal fallen trees lying across even more steeply diagonal ground with hiking boots and a 30-pound pack that does not allow for you to raise your head completely nor lean forward, lest your sleeping bag conks you in the skull!
` What happened was that a gigantic log tricked me into thinking that it was free of branches on the other side and I wound up being spun around and thrown headfirst into the undergrowth. Lou quickly climbed over after me and offered words of encouragement as he untangled my pack and examined my bruised leg while I was sprawled out helplessly like a turtle.
` *Trying not to form potential erotic images.*
` Securing my pack once again, we were off hiking down the non-maintained other side of the gravel road, which was thankfully flat and clear of things that might make it easy to fall over. That is, until....

` As you can see, the road continues quite a bit further on after a lot of air, so I don’t think you’d want to continue from there. Furthermore, the path around that particular chasm looked way too steep. So, we could go no further. Trapped. On an island of gravel road! Well, at least the view was nice:

` I just noticed that you can see that same rock face way over to the right in the picture from the first chasm. Since that picture is from the other end, you can infer roughly the size of Gravel Road Island.
` As I was saying, it was a bit annoying that we were trapped, however that didn’t much matter as we had to set up camp quickly (fifty feet from a stream, fortunately!) because a light rain had started.
` Luckily, the tent nearly sets itself up and the rain fly is fairly easy to throw over top, so we managed to get everything inside before we had become very damp. By then, it was pouring. No worries, though; Lou hadn’t forgotten one essential piece of camping equipment:

` Once again, however, I was so tired that I’d forgotten to request any songs. Nevertheless, I did partake in the eating of cucumber-tomato-cheddar-Ranch dressing and cream cheese sandwiches. Then, it was out into the drenchiness in order to figure out how to make a campfire in the pouring, Ohio-like rain.
` Lou and I piled up a bunch of sticks, which he doused with a lovely little accelerant and struck a match. It didn’t take, so then he struck another match. And another. About fifteen matches later, one finally lit, and he jubilantly flicked it onto the now-diluted accelerant.
` Yes, he had teased some fire out of wet wood – we were both quite surprised! I mean, does he rock, or does he rock? Well, he is a country boy. He can do these things.

` Soon enough, I became too cold and wet to continue breaking apart branches from the nearby path and arranging them into a little wall to dry, so I huddled by the fire in a steam-covered stupor, occasionally using my lungpower to fan the flames. Lou, on the other hand, was just ducky in his Gore-Tex pants and raincoat, which was good, considering the fact that it had begun to snow by then.
` Here’s a view of that from the tent, though you’ll be hard-pressed to find any snow despite the fact that the flakes were quite huge.

` Basically, we sat there by the fire – which quickly became very large – and watched as the steam poured off our bodies, giving the impression that we would soon burst into flames. While he occasionally brought more bunches of wood around, I frequently had to get off the log I was sitting on and expose my rear end and Lou’s Scotch-Guarded sleeping bag cover (which I had been sitting on) to the intense heat.

` Just what I always had wanted – a hot and steamy ass of my very own!

` After a while, the snow turned back into rain and then it let up, allowing us to see the sun set – meaning that it was probably around 20:00 hours. Finally, we could begin actually drying our clothing around the fire (which took an incredibly long time) while Lou began finding and hauling uncommonly large pieces of wood.
` Unluckily for him, one of them retaliated as he busted it up, and a huge chunk careened through the air before nailing the back of his skull. As he had said; “My bell was rung.” Ouchie. Well, all I can say is that the chunk of wood was severely punished via a very thorough cremation.
` In this picture, you can see Lou adding another log to the fire, while the white mess in the background is meant to be the sunset illuminating all the newly snow-dusted trees and mist on the far hillside.

` By the time it was dark and the distant suns of the galaxy sharply glared down at us through the tree branches, the steam had nearly ceased to pour from our bodies while we waited for our freeze-dried meals to reconstitute.
` I ate all of my twenty-six ounces of Louisiana-Style rice and beans, which is – if anyone wondered – the very same type of thing found in boxes labeled ‘Zantarain’s’. Plus, Lou had thrown in some cheese, and I can agree with him: Almost everything can be made better (and more fattening!) with cheese. Or perhaps Ranch.
` Preferably, both.
` Meanwhile, our clothes were drying rather unevenly and so Lou took some time to skillfully dry things a little quicker. Unfortunately, my (wet) pants – which he had been toasting over the flames with a branch – and his hat – which he had hung on the end of one of the large logs – had become a bit singed, but not before he came away from the flames slightly crisped himself: Now his Gore-Tex pants have super water-tight spots!

` Yes, indeedy. Fire is hot.

` Fast-forwarding to the tent scene (which was free of such things as wild sex, just so nobody starts implying things), I managed to somehow not have freezing cold feet while in my sleeping bag! I think the reason was that this fire had no metal wall around it to keep myself from standing close enough to keep my feet and camp-sandals warm.
` Like last time, Lou almost immediately began to fall asleep, and so I was reclining, awake, keeping an ear out for the telltale rustle of a stripping lawyer.
` Just as I was beginning to get sleepy, I did hear something... it was Lou! He kept saying; “Hey, hey!” over and over, as if he were trying to get my attention. I was like; “I’m awake, dude, what?” Then, I realized that he was still asleep! And he said, in a perfectly awake-sounding voice; “I am not a faded record. I’m an original!”
` I stared into the blackness of the tent and said, “Oh, I know you are, man!” and then he continued talking for a few more seconds before trailing off into gibberish.
` Come to think of it, something similar happened last time I was in a tent with him. Perhaps that’s a quirk of camping? Maybe next time I will think to carry on a conversation with him, as I really do enjoy screwing with people’s minds.

` I can’t say that I heard anything interesting happening outside of our tent, though in the morning we discovered that my raisin bread had suffered a few losses: A squirrel had climbed down, chewed through the plastic bags and removed a few slices.
` In fact, after Lou had revealed this fact, I managed to spot a potential perpetrator – the only mammal I had seen for the entire trip! That is, until Lou was tying my sleeping bag to the back of my pack. I swear, this friendly woodland creature just walked up to us!

` (I tried to catch a snowy mountain peak in the background, but alas, it is too white.)
` This creature began to speak, as he was quite friendly and outdoorsy, and even told us that the bridge had been replaced by a ladder in the camping area on the other side of Darrington that we were going to have headed towards had this one not turned out. Yes, meaning that there was also trouble afoot in our third choice.
` This creature was really cool, though I can’t seem to remember his name. He offered to take a picture of Lucas and myself in our crazy backpacks, though after a mere ten pictures, my camera’s memory card was full! How could that be?!?! It used to hold twenty-four pictures!! (
Evidence:) In any case, an extra memory card will aid its capacity.
` In the meantime, the creature instead took a picture of us with his much better digital camera and said he would send it to Lucas’ email – apparently, he does this for people all the time!
` After we had said goodbye to the creature, Lou and I hiked all the way back down to the end of the road and had a view quite similar to the one above, except that it was a bit sunnier and less misty. You’ll have to trust me on this one. Really.
` Anyway, we managed to pick our way among the mud and only slide down the places we were supposed to, until we wound up back by my trusty Burgundy Rectangle. Neither of us had died horribly, nor even ended up slightly maimed, and so I feel that our mission has been accomplished.

` After that, things quickly became much more boring:
` I drove us back to Everett, being somewhat familiar with the route, while Lou took a well-deserved nap. After unpacking, he did something-or-other with his crazy friend, B-Unitt, while I climbed into Lou’s bed. Eventually, he joined in the cozy prostrateness and continued napping with me for a few hours.
` When he got up, he worked on a sore muscle and took a shower (while I watched intently through the transparent curtain), then I came home and took a shower, changed into some non-campfire-scented clothing, and boy am I hungry!
` In fact, would be eating some pasta right now if it weren’t for the fact that my spaghetti sauce is frozen into a solid lump. I put the jar in a hot water bath, and it seems to be thawing steadily. I was also going to make myself some lemonade to tie me over, but my lemon juice is also frozen!
` Minifridges. Go fig.


Aaron said...

That looks like it would be a fun trip. Those rapids are begging to be shot!

Galtron said...

Minifridges are annoying. As are large chunks of wood that trip you and conk you in the head! Bears, though, can be exciting.

So, is this place off of the Mountain Loop Highway? I must trek there myself someday.
I bet when it was snowing and/or misty, the cliff views looked like the edge of the earth from Silent Hill. Assuming you are even familiar with it. I bet you could make a documentary horror movie out there with that landscape!! Maybe something like The Blair Witch, except cool.
...And you could sit by the fire and pretend you were going to burst into flames!?

Okay, sorry. A little too much inspiration. Glad you had fun, anyways.

Denny said...

I think if you are ever going to have a chance at getting mauled by bears you are going to have to just break down and tie a salmon around your neck on your next outing.

S E E Quine said...

` Yes! Tie a salmon around my neck and then film the result for my new movie The Bear Witch!

` ...Or not.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.