Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Once I actually walked somewhere
This old scanned photo just came up on my PC’s screensaver, reminding me of my first (and only) backpacking trip in the Desolation Wilderness.
Barb and Frank and I worked together in the E.R. Mike, another E.R. doc, shared a big house with Frank somewhere in the east bay. I no longer remember whose idea it was to go backpacking, certainly not mine, but I think the plan was to head for the mountains for 3-4 days.
We'd talk about it between patients in our shotgun conversational way, and a date was set.
I got off work at midnight and drove to their place, expecting to leave for the wilderness the next morning. I had insomnia, too wired from work and wondering what the hell I’d gotten myself into. Sharing a joint didn’t help. I don’t think I slept at all.
We got up fairly late and started sorting the sleeping bags and tents, neither of which I had. Frank set me up with an old backpack and sleeping bag; we’d share tents. We were missing odd things, like tent stakes, so trips to the outdoor store happened. Toking happened. More packing and rearranging. Finally, we all piled into a car to head for the wilderness. But first we had to get more munchies.
We drove. And drove. And drove. It got dark. More toking happened.
Where are we? No one knows. We stop for more munchies, maybe dinner somewhere, lots of laughing. But finally we realize we’d better get off the mountain roads and get some sleep. Whoever is driving says something like, “That looks like a good meadow, let’s camp there and go on tomorrow.” The day was lost, getting nowhere.
We took our bedrolls into the middle of the meadow and after toking a whole lot more and telling shaggy dog stories and gross E.R. stories and laughing a whole lot more, Frank and Mike plop down on the meadow with Barb and I, like bookends, on either side.
That’s when I discovered the holes in the down bag. I thought I would freeze that night because I was just too ummm - immobilized, actually - to deal with it. Another sleepless, though not unpleasant except for freezing night. I want to say it rained a bit, but maybe not. Our bags did get wet, but probably just from dew.
It was a very long night out there on the edge of two snoring guys.
. . . .worrying about bears.
As the sun came up I opened my eyes, looked at the meadow around me and noticed my head was an inch from a dried up cow pie. Eeeuw. I sat up very fast, and all around was nothing but trampled grass and countless cow pies. (I don’t think any were fresh; I don’t remember actual cows.) We were, in fact, sleeping on top of cow pies.
“Hey, wake up, you guys, look where we’ve been all night!” Lots of laughing.
We drove some more; we had a big breakfast somewhere; we hit another outdoor store for more missing gear; and we drove some more.
We were probably a 3-4 hour drive from their house to where we ended up and for the life of me I can't figure out what took us about 30 hours to get there. Ha!
We got a hired boat ride across a lake to the trail head; we trudged up and over an endless wild landscape to find just the right spot, with Frank packing about 50 lbs. of books, forchristsakes, because that’s what he planned to do while we three did outdoor things, and wouldn’t you know he never missed a beat while Mike and I were huffing and puffing to keep up. Barb was out there ahead too, but she was an experienced trekker, back from the Himalayas. I had just quit smoking, and had never hiked on purpose.
I don’t know, maybe it was all about getting there; maybe it's always about getting there and seeing the cow pies along the way. Someday I’ll finish the story. Or not. Lake Louise. Yeah. It was beautiful.
Amazing what a surprise look at an old photo can bring forth - that took me less than 15 minutes to write.
(We wore blue scrubs and white coats at work and apparently blue denim everywhere else. We did not plan this. How cute.)