Sunday, May 14, 2006

Hiking with Julie

Friday Julie and I decide to take her son and the dogs and go "walking". I pick her up and we both decide to go to Skyline near Mt. Baldy and check out some paths...and so it began.

We get there, park, and take off up the hill, checking out the tower and every path we could find while her son dawdled behind collecting rocks and such. The dogs were running all over the place, bear bells just a ringing (kind of sounded like Santa's reindeer gone rogue).

Julie and I have this way of never saying no to a matter how high it is, where it is, or what made it. We are waaaaaay too curious and we shall one day be eaten. We took off on this one path, that we decided, judging from all the moose crap, was made by moose. Not that we saw any but we did step on many a turd. There was rabbit poop too but we just figured the bunny messed himself when he turned around and saw the moose...kind of like we would have. Anyway, we make our way to what looked like a ravine and down the dogs went...her dog came up, we had to rescue my dog. It figures. We came back down the path and saw a path leading INTO the ravine. Again, figures. Heading into the ravine we stepped into snow...a lot of snow, then took the grass up the side of the ravine to find more cool stuff (like I said, Julie and I will go anywhere). What we found was snow that took up my entire leg. I had this weird ballet stance going on, one leg totally buried in the snow, one out, both hands in the snow up to my elbows, me wondering how I'm going to get out and Julie laughing her ass off. I laid back pulled my leg out and rolled and rolled to the edge by the grass. I'm glad I wasn't in a predicament because Julie was worthless. She had completely gone around the bend laughing at me. I just looked at her and said, "Don't go in there."

We came off of that path and found the path for Mt. Baldy and, Julie and I again, never turning down a trail, take off. Understand that we have been on the mountain for about three hours at this point. We were almost out of water, she's carrying her son on her back (she's my hero), she's wearing tennis shoes and I'm soaking wet from trying to kill myself in the ginormic "Bermuda Snow Pit". It stands to reason that our pictures could be found in the "What Not To Do While Hiking" section of your Alaska Outdoor Survival Guide. We are slipping and falling, grabbing onto the tiny twigs of bushes that we somehow think will save us if we fall...when in reality we both know that if we fall they will find our bodies at the bottom of the mountain still holding that twig. We are stopping for a break and see a lady coming up the mountain with her cold weather gear and her snow boots and her little hiking poles...we found out that she does this twice a week. Hmmmph. She goes on her merry way, not even winded while Julie and I are figuring out a way to evenly divide the remaining oxygen in the atmosphere between us and her son.

We go as high as we can before reaching parts so steep that we can't get her son up with us so we decide to go back down. Keep in mind that as we are making our return we again get passed by the lady on her way down. She's got skills for sure, and we wanted to trip her. We are pondering the return trip and see that the path back down is most likely going to make for a most festive descent. We didn't realize that it was so steep and there were parts where it looked like the world just dropped off. So down we go. We slip and slide coming down, laughing all the while. Finally the inevitable happens and I fall but instead of getting up I just push off with my hands and slide down the mountain. I was going pretty good until I hit a hole and got tossed into a bush. Again Julie laughs until she slides down, does a unintentional "snow plow" maneuver with her feet and almost goes "ass over teakettle" with her son. Then I laugh. Finally, and I spent all day waiting for this, she goes up to her hip in the snow. I laughed my ass off as did she. Again, she and I found ourselves sliding with me going right through a mud slick leaving me looking like I had gotten thrown out the window of a truck. The problem is that every time I slide down the trail I mess it up for Julie because I smooth out the snow and take away her traction causing her to fall, but I just couldn't stay on my feet so I screwed up everybody!

We made it back to the path, dogs still jingling and acting the fool, and walked back to the truck. She suggested we get some lunch and we exactly what we were wearing. We went to the North Slope Restaurant looking like vagabonds wearing mud caked shoes and most likely smelling like moose poop. Our clothes were so wet we had to sit on our coats so we didn't mess anything up. Our butts were numb and our jeans were cold but there we sat drinking ice water and eating food while people stared...and probably laughed. I'd laugh at people who looked like us. Hell, I'd point and laugh.

We were on the mountain for about five hours and had a blast. Julie made me make a pact with her that we would go back when the snow had thawed and she had a babysitter so we could make the summit. Therefore, this topic will be posted on again, though it may all be summed up in my obituary.

I'm pretty sure they have "I Hiked Mt. Baldy" t-shirts out there but I wonder if they have "I Slid Down Mt. Baldy On My Butt" t-shirts?

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

I'd rather be hiking, fishing, camping, geocaching, not living in Virginia...

Pictures of Eklutna Tailracer

I have a gym membership that I use mostly twice a week for yoga. Yes I do yoga...and I like it. Living here in the summer makes it very difficult to work out indoors because there are so many places around here to do it in the great outdoors.

I used to go to the gym quite a bit at Langley in Virginia because that seemed to be all there was to do. Yeah, you could go walking on sidewalks that suddenly end, go to the beach and spend the next three hours hosing sand out of places you didn't know existed. You could ride a bike and dodge traffic...because dodging traffic in Virginia should be an Olympic sport. Wanna go hiking? You'll have to drive four hours and probably have to pay out the yang. What the hey, bypass the physical stuff altogether and sit in a bar. I hope and pray I never have to live in Virginia again. Man I hate that place.

Today I was thinking, "I should go to the gym." and then I looked out the window at Skyline and thought, "Naaa, I'm going hiking." Then my pal Julie and her son came over and she asked me if I wanted to go walking. Now understand, walking where I live in AK is different than walking back in VA. Here when we go walking there is usually a VERY steep incline involved. Anyhoo, Julie, her son, her dog Knik, and my leashed shit-machine Roxie, took off. Trust me, just when you think you are at the top...there's more to go. Soon Julie and I are going to the Chugiak Visitors Center park, and stay in the woods hiking all day. We are holding off on that one though because I have to have my bear spray. Laugh if you want to but it will turn a bear around. Then we are going to hike Skyline, then maybe, just maybe tackle Mt. Baldy.

I'm telling you, there is nothing in the world like living in a place where you can pack a lunch, walk out the door, drive five miles and spend the entire day on a mountain in the woods hiking, geocaching, and loving it. No snakes, no ticks, no fleas. Okay, so we have moose and bear...those I can's those little parasitic vermin and hangers-on that I can't deal with.

I am going to check out the Alaska Midnight Sun Rowing Team here soon and maybe try to get on a team. There's a lot of beauty in that sport. Also the family and I (dog included) are going to spend a week camping in the Alaskan interior, about seven hours away from here. I'll admit that I did have to call and make sure they had showers because I can funk up pretty good in nine days. Who am I kidding, I can funk up pretty good in two.

We bought a tent on clearance at Walmart for $38.00 marked down from $100.00 plus. That thing is huge, 17ft long X 10ft wide, which is bigger than the cell at the supermax prison where that guy Massoui (or however you spell it) will be staying. We practiced putting it up in the front yard, a feat which garnered no strange looks because I guess such a thing is normal behavior at the beginning of the season, and we can now throw that thing together with all the speed and efficiency of a NASCAR pit crew. Yeah, we totally rock.

Be back soon!