Four of a Kind

Posted in Trail Tales with tags , , , , , on August 16, 2018 by A lo Hawk

I am awakened not by my alarm but by my full bladder and colon. I slip on my crocs, crawl out of my tent and find the cat hole I dug last night to relieve my bowel pressure. It is only 1:30 in the morning but I have an itch to get the day’s adventure started.

For the past month of weekends I have traveled the state to climb 14,000 foot mountains. Yesterday I motored to tiny Alma, turned up Buckskin Creek and followed it towards Kite Lake. This alpine basin south of Breckenridge is surrounded by a high ridge containing four rounded rock piles: Mt Democrat (14,148), Mt Cameron (14,238), Mt Lincoln (14,286), Mt Bross (14,172). The moderate class 2 terrain and easy access makes it a popular pilgrimage for peakbaggers of every ability.

To avoid paying the $12 camping fee I had set up my tent along the creek outside of the fee area a few miles from the trailhead. To pass the evening I sat in the car drinking double IPA, reading “House of Rain” by Craig Childs, and watched the stream of clouds fly over the mountain tops and the late arriving caravan of cars crawl along the rough road to the campground.

Overnight the wind brought a passing storm which dropped a mixture of rain and snow over the area. When I emerged from my warm cocoon the sky was clear leaving a glistening frozen blanket on the ground illuminated by innumerable sparkling points of light overhead. The unmistakable collection of stars known as the Big Dipper sits perfectly framed on the horizon as if about to pour a ladle of stellar material over the earth.

I throw my wet tent into the Subaru and drive a short distance to the end of the road. The parking lot is full of silent metal hulks so I park along the side of the road facing the exit. Using my headlamp, I toss the Camelbak over my shoulders and find the metal cylinder to deposit the envelope containing the $3 day use fee. Making my way through the automobiles and multi-colored tents clustered around a black void of still water I swivel my head until I locate the sign marking the start of the hike. No other soul appears to be stirring as I stride forward on the wide gravel tread at 3 am.

Bundled up with layers of clothing, hat, gloves and hoodie pulled down to protect skin from the bitter wind chill, I follow the trail across the basin toward the lower slopes of Mt Democrat. As I ascend the rising switchbacks I begin to see headlamps blink on and form a slow-moving line below. Looking further down the valley I also see a steady parade of headlights moving up Buckskin Creek Road.

Just below the saddle between Mt Democrat and Mt Cameron I reach an altitude where the fresh layer of snow over the scree creates tricky footing and consequently requires sharp focus. The views expand beyond the Kite Lake basin as I carefully climb untracked switchbacks to a false summit. As the route levels off the view below disappears while the universe overhead commands attention. Moments later the final pitch leads me to the lonely cold summit at 4:40 am. A sharply defined quarter moon amplifies the night sky to a surreal intensity. As much as I want to prolong this rare moment I have been pacing to keep warm and I have other peaks to visit. I reluctantly retrace my solitary tracks over the apex.

Back at the saddle I greet a human shadow making halting steps to the trail junction. I continue ahead on the rocky ridge as it begins the climb to Mt Cameron. Looking across a huge granite bowl toward the dark mass of Mt Bross I see a necklace of lights advancing across a veiled face. There is a prominent sign at the trailhead warning that Mt Bross is closed to the public next to a well worn path which takes you there. A spectacular nine mile loop lures undaunted peakbaggers to tag all four in a day. My plan is to do the loop clockwise.

Mt Cameron is a gradual camel hump; no reason to slow down across its parabolic summit. The trail is a wide white and gray trough pointing the way to lofty Mt Lincoln which is backlit by an orange and blue tinted sky. I turn off my headlamp and hurriedly scramble to reach the top as a fiery red orb rises to announce the break of day.

A lean young man dressed in khaki clothes arrives minutes later. We can see hikers strung out on the ridges connecting Lincoln, Cameron and Bross like ants emerging from their underground nests. I head for the saddle leading to Mt Bross where I meet hikers who tell me how steep the trail is from Kite Lake. Since the trail will be in the shade for hours, the descent will be cold and slick. I have another idea.

Mt Bross is another featureless mound except for a curved wall of rock built to block the wind. There are a couple of lumps huddled inside as I pace a circle around the structure and return the way I came. I have decided to return by way of Mt Cameron to avoid the shady descent and to extend the sunny ridge walking as long as possible.

By now dozens of rubber soles have trampled the thin layer of white crust into dust. On my right is a queue weaving a thread of bodies up Mt Lincoln. I turn left and minutes later am standing on the flat top of Mt Cameron looking down at a total logjam of people and dogs swarming the wide saddle, clogging the switchbacks to Mt Democrat and outlining the entire route back to the lake.

Before I am absorbed by the madness I stop at a flat rock to finally strip off unneeded layers. The peace and serenity of the morning is shattered by a flying drone, the constant klickety-klak of metal tipped trekking poles, pop music coming out of someone’s pack, the general murmur of a festival crowd punctuated by canine yelps. Continuing the descent into the basin is a stop and go dance against the flow of mouth-breathers with their various burdens either carried on their backs or following behind.

Returning to the Kite Lake trailhead at 8:30 am, I am mildly concerned to see cars constricting both sides of the narrow lane as far as I can see. Luckily, I am able to safely negotiate the metal corridor through the late arriving hikers and autos until I arrive back at the campsite satisfied with the decision to go all in. Aloha and Happy Trails!

41 Colorado 14ers + 10 repeats + 3 West Coast peaks = 54 total summits

For details go to My Fourteeners

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Trippin the Gaslight Fantastic

Posted in Era Vulgaris with tags , , , , , , , on July 19, 2018 by A lo Hawk

Gaslighting — 1. psychological manipulation to distort someone’s view of reality (see 1944 movie GASLIGHT), 2. gleefully turning on the afterburners, 3. juvenile male prank of igniting farts in sleeping friends faces —Lewd’s Dictionary of Hip Vernacular

“Hey buddy, who’s on first?” & “Excuse me, what?” & “No, he’s on second.” & “Fuck off, creep!” & “He’s our shortstop.” & “Kiss my ass!” & “So you’ve met the pitcher and catcher?” & “Get away from me, you asshole!” & “That’s me, I’m the manager.”

{the ubermensch in the slaughterhouse high five castle enters a brave new orange clockwork world to catch 22 lords of the fly agaric mushroom word cloud}

“Hey buddy, did you see the latest?” >> “Say what?” >> “Our POTUS Trumpet on the idiot box sure is Putin on the blitz.” >> “What the hell are you saying?” >> “The fake news tricksters are trolling your facebook meme thread-bare-ass-naked fear and loathing.” >> “You are an insane jack-off.” >> “That penurious narcissarian candidate attributes his indictment attention deceit disorder to head rushing collision muddling.” >> “I don’t give a mind fuck!”

Taint Talk Podcast, episode #9

Posted in Era Vulgaris, Snark File with tags , , , , , on June 27, 2018 by A lo Hawk

Image result for corkscrew images

SH “Welcome to Taint Talk, I am your host Slap Happy. If you’re a virgin viewer, this podcast is dedicated to frank discussions of sex by people who make a living in the sex trade; everybody from hookers, porn stars, adult film producers, fluffers and ass bleachers. Today we are talking to a rising shaft in the adult film industry, King Kielbasa. Welcome to the podcast, King.”

KK “Thank you Slap, happy to be here.”

SH “So King, how did you get into the porn business?”

KK “Well, that’s kind of a long twisted story, Slap. I was never much of a ‘pooner’ when I was a young man; I spent most of my time doing stupid stunts with my friends which led to an audition for this new stunt show on MTV called JACKASS.”

SH “Yeah, that was great shit. How fun was it to shoot?”

KK “Actually, it was a bitch. We had to have a full time medical staff on set because all of us were seriously hurt at times and we were always recovering from injuries. You may remember the episode where I got a sledgehammer swung into my groin? After that I developed some scar tissue in my penis which became a fibrosis known as Peyronie’s Disease. My dick would bend sideways if I got a hard on and it was painful as a motherfucker to have sex or even masturbate.”

SH “Oh man, that fucking sucks! What did you do?”

KK “Well, the most effective treatment are injections of Xiaflex which cost $3,300 each, the full course of eight runs about 26 grand. Of course I didn’t have it so I tried various sham pills and creams. I even tried one of those Penis Pumps. Goddammit, I couldn’t touch my prick for a week after that vacuum from hell. Finally, I got so desperate I ordered some of that Plexaderm skin tightener cream for wrinkles and bags you see on late night TV commercials. I figured if I put it on my sausage it would straighten out when I got an erection.”

SH “That sounds crazy enough to work. Did it?”

KK “No Slap, but you knew that. You don’t need to fluff me for your audience. At first the stinging and burning was excruciating, but eventually it went numb to the point I could lather the member up. When I woke the next day, I popped a XXX tape into the VCR to see what would happen. Lo and Behold, as I was watching two chicks scissoring, I felt the rush of blood to the groin and saw my meat swell into a fucking CORKSCREW!”

SH “Wow, you can literally screw with that thing, can’t you?”

KK “It takes a certain type of girl to handle the twirl. I prefer the skinny whores known as ‘spinners’. Man, do they get off on the Corkscrew Cock of Chattanookie County!”

SH “So how’d you get into the movies?”

KK “One of my lady friends told me about a director who was looking for an actor with my ‘talents’. He was directing a porn remake of the oenophile movie Sideways. The film made a lot of money so here I am a year later with a promising career of banging to look forward to.”

SH “So what’s the next project for King Kielbasa and the Corkscrew Cock?”

KK “Slap, its a movie called Fidget Spinners and it comes out in October.”

SH “Alright King, we can’t wait. Thanks for being here. That’s all the time we have for today’s Taint Talk. Join us next time when we present a performance of the KAMA SUTRA by former members of the Cirque du Soleil from their x-rated Vegas show — Orgasm. Good night and good sex.”

Era Vulgaris

Posted in Era Vulgaris, Snark File with tags , , , , , on June 21, 2018 by A lo Hawk

The Fun Machine took a shit and died — Queens of the Stone Age precognized

President Vulgarian of the Reality Show Administration ({}) POTUS P.O.S. ({}) Fucking Moron, Till Rex sec states ({}) simian dominance posturing ({}) crowd size matters ({}) twitter tantrum tsunami ({}) Pulitzer prize winning FAKE NEWS MEDIA like the FAILING New York Times ({}) DEEP STATE of whistle blowing patriotic saboteurs ({}) Recuse you, General Beauregardless immigrant gnome ({}) haunting nightmare of the Mueller apparition ({}) Dump the Chump obstruction impeach relief laxative ({}) Russian Hookers, Golden Showers & the Mooch ({}) Covfefe

Make America Great Again, Rinse, Repeat [$] One man show on the world stage starring Crooked Little Lyin Stormy Rocket Man [$] counter feit obama birther tificate [$] Pep rally sheeple chants: Drain the Swamp. Build the Wall. Lock her Up. [$] white supremacist tiki torch parade car manslaughter tragedy on BOTH SIDES [$] Trade Wars, Zero Tolerance Policy, Tender Age Shelters, OMG [$] The clear cut case of Environmental Chick fil Agency Chief Pruitt B Corrupt [$] No illusion of Collusion [$] Porn Star Witch Hunt [$] Shithole Countries, You’re Fired! [$] #MAGA

Sorry losers and haters, but my I.Q. is one of the highest- and you all know it! Please don’t feel so stupid or insecure, its not your fault (Believe me) They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists, and some, I assume, are good people (Believe me) I’ve said if Ivanka weren’t my daughter, perhaps I’d be dating her (Believe me) Grab them by the pussy (Believe me) I have the best words (Believe me) @realDonaldTrump

Inferno in the San Juan

Posted in CDT PTSD, Trail Tales with tags , , , on June 11, 2018 by A lo Hawk

The plan was to meet my friend George (aka Honey Badger) on the Continental Divide Trail in the middle of the Colorado wilderness on a specified weekend in June. Honey Badger had spent months planning an epic 90 mile traverse of the rockiest terrain to split the continent. He would begin hiking at the CDT trailhead at Wolf Creek Pass near Pagosa Springs and exit via the Colorado Trail at Molas Pass north of my hometown of Durango. I offered to backtrack from Molas, meet him on the trail and we would hike back to my car together.

The long awaited departure weekend arrived and Honey Badger loaded up his Mazda in Austin, Texas and began the long drive to Colorado. Meanwhile, a thousand miles away, the Durango to Silverton narrow gauge train threw sparks into dry grass along the tracks and ignited a blaze that would be named the 416 fire. On the eve of his trek I contacted George to update him on our 500 acre alarm and wished him Happy Trails until we meet in a week.

Five days later the 416 fire had grown to a 5,000 acre conflagration, forcing the evacuation of over 800 homes and the intermittent closure of scenic highway 550 between Durango and Purgatory ski resort. To reach Molas Pass, I waited in line for a police escort available only between the hours of 8 am and 6 pm. As our caravan passed below the burning Hermosa Cliffs, the massive bone white column of a pyrocumulus cloud billowed into the sky.

I arrived at the trailhead at noon surrounded by the imposing majesty of the Grenadier Range and Needle Mountains to the south and the solemn vigilance of 13ers Sultan, Grand Turk and Kendall Mountain to the north. I shouldered my pack, acrid scent of smoke stinging my nostrils, and followed the short connector to the Colorado Trail where I turned toward the Weminuche Wilderness.

The day was already warm with a dry south wind pushing the foul air deeper into the mountains and reducing visibility. The trail dove 1,440 feet to El Rio do Los Animas Perdidas or “The River of Lost Souls”. A field of lovely Columbine (the state flower of Colorado) greeted me after descending 33 switchbacks which led to a bridge spanning the churning emerald water of the Animas. I followed alongside the silent tracks of the culprit train for a quarter mile before continuing up a bank on the other side.

Here the trace initiated a nine mile, 3,542 foot climb up the Elk Creek drainage to finally top out on the continental divide at 12,682 ft. Moments after signing the Forest Service register, I met a fellow backpacker sitting on a log inhaling a package of cracker crumbs. Bonefish was a hungry CDT thru-hiker who had run out of food and was trying to get to Silverton to re-supply. I didn’t have the heart to tell him it would have been easier to reach Silverton if he would have stayed on the CDT a little longer instead of taking the CT to Molas and hoping for a hitch.

Continuing to ascend, I was awed by a magnificent cascading waterfall draining some unnamed and unseen high alpine basin. The route then meandered along the white bleached rocks of mineral infused Elk Creek as the drainage closed in on the headwaters. In the evening I reached treeline and found a sliver of smooth ground among the boulders of a large scree field to set up my tent. Later I discovered I had camped among a community of disturbed and vocal Pika varmints who squeaked incessantly while I boiled water for my tasteless and half eaten rehydrated meal. I watched the orange glow of sunset creep up the walls of rock towering over my head satisfied with my first day’s progress (11 miles in 7 hours).

I opened the vestibule of my tent onto a warm morning and set up my stove for coffee. The sky was clear blue and the air was alpine fresh as I broke down camp anxious to go on the hunt for the Honey Badger. After a mile of easy strolling up a grassy hill on meandering switchbacks I stood atop the divide separating two monumental water flows. If I pissed toward Elk Creek it would flow to the Animas, San Juan and Colorado Rivers ending up in the Gulf of California and eventually the Pacific Ocean. Spitting the other direction would feed a creek leading to the Rio Grande, Gulf of Mexico and finally the Atlantic.

Ahead I saw a wooden sign where this trail intersected with another forming a T in the tread. A left turn heads north with the CDT and CT overlapping for almost 200 miles. A right turn heads south toward a wave of CDT thru-hikers and a few section hikers like George. To the west I could see a haze of smoke from the 416 fire rising on the horizon.

It wasn’t long before I saw the head and torso of a hiker emerge above the foliage disguising the trail ahead. Lost Larry carried a sad sack full of woe but he also told me he had seen my friend three days ago. Knowing a thru-hiker would walk more miles per day than my mate, I got a clue he was likely behind schedule. An hour later I confirmed that assumption when I met two more thru-hikers who left Wolf Creek Pass after Honey Badger but did not recall meeting him. At this point I knew something was wrong but the day was glorious so I continued hiking up and down the roller coaster of single track between 11 and 12k ocassionally dropping into the trees. I stopped a few miles past Humpback Pass at a small saddle above Nebo Creek where I could see a distinctive landmark in the distance, a square notch called the Window on the flank of 13,821 ft Rio Grande Pyramid. This would be my turnaround, approximately 17 miles from the car.

When I returned to the trail junction, an impromptu confluence of hikers had formed under darkening skies. Besides the aforementioned CDT hikers, I saw a lone figure striding  confidently toward us from Elk Creek. We talked for several minutes before realizing we had met before. Freebird and I became acquainted on the Pacific Crest Trail in 2005 when we were resupplying at Kennedy Meadows before entering the southern Sierra. I remembered him as a quirky fellow who planned to hike the snow covered high country in sandals. Since then he has become something of a trail legend; not only completing the Triple Crown of North American Hiking (Appalachian Trail, Pacific Crest Trail, Continental Divide Trail) but completing each trail three times earning the absurd title Triple Triple Crowner!

As I reached the crest of the divide above Elk Creek, my phone alerted me of a tenuous signal so I was able to see texts from George indicating he had turned back but would meet me in Durango. Not having my glasses I was unaware the messages were from yesterday and the weak signal made it impossible to hear the voicemails that would have told me he had returned to Austin. All I knew was I was free to scoot home at my leisure.

Standing above the deep gouge in the earth under a blood red sun with white flakes of ash and blackened aspen leaves floating in the air, I thought of Dante’s Inferno, part of the Divine Comedy which depicts a journey through hell as 9 concentric circles of torment located within the earth. Instead of concentric circles I looked down on as many inviting switchbacks and stepped eagerly into the vulcan depths.

In fact it was a pleasant nine mile descent with evening temperatures cooling and shadows growing longer. The woods were so quiet I spooked a young moose who had been lying on the duff as I came around a corner. We stared intently at each other for a moment, ten yards apart, then slowly turned to go our separate ways.

Moments later I saw the unmistakable look of an experienced thru-hiker advancing quickly on long tanned legs. Birdfood informed me of the new Burro fire near Dolores which has forced the closing of the Colorado Trail from Molas Pass to Durango. Apparently the last hiker to get through until the fires are extinguished, he suspects more areas will be closed and is trying to haul ass out of here.

I bottomed out at the Animas River at dusk, thoughts of a cooler full of cold beer and soda motivating me forward to the start of the 33 switchbacks. Shadows became darkness but my eyes adjusted and my breathing recovered on the steady nocturnal climb. I finally pulled out the headlamp for the last mile; arriving at the Subaru before 10 pm, 23 miles covered in 15 hours (including unknown amount of time talking to all the trail folk). Knowing the road to Durango would be closed until 8 am tomorrow, I drove to Coal Bank Pass, beer in hand, where I knew I could get a signal to call my wife and settled into my sleeping bag for a restless car snooze until morning.

On the day I returned, the 416 fire had grown to 16,000 acres with 10% containment, the Burro fire was over 2,000 acres with 0% containment. Highway 550 was closed midday and has not reopened. Authorities later decided to close all 1.8 million acres of the San Juan National Forest.

 

Flowers for Memogen

Posted in Enigmatic Corporatic with tags , , on June 7, 2018 by A lo Hawk

Memogenetics Memorandum: Transcribed audio field notes from volunteer consumer subject R.A.G.

Product Introduction: [Subject mimics broadcast television commercial advertisement in an unmodulated voice]

“Are you having trouble remembering what you just heard? Are you having trouble remembering what you just heard? Introducing Memogen, a new memory enhancement drug made from a poisonous substance found in pufferfish.”

Side effects may include long term memory loss, drastic I.Q. swings, psychedelic dreams, early onset Alzheimers, intermittent panaphobia, possible phobophobia and you may even lose weight.

“Memogen, the name to memorize.”

Initial Assessment:

“My cognitive improvements were noticeable immediately. I remembered names, phone numbers, security identification numbers, everything I’ve eaten, my first grade teacher’s name (Matilda); every masturbation, bowel movement and hangover I ever had!”

“Later, I increased the dosage until each sensation triggered a flood of memories. I now spend hours in ecstatic reverie reliving the memories of my ancestors accessible through my DNA.”

Final Evaluation:

“Okay, I remember taking those giant pills…uh, what was I talking about?…ahhh…Who am I?”

The Natural Give and Industrial Take

Posted in Sausage Makers Society on June 4, 2018 by A lo Hawk

Blinding flash of white followed by a deafening thunderclap concussion, let the sonic wave roll over and fade into the distance

Click

Sudden rotten deadfall crash explodes my meadow tranquility

Buckle snap

Otherworldly vibrations of a million cicadas haunt the night

Car engine roars

A lonely loon tremolo echoes across still lake waters

Door slams, tires squeal

A woodfire crackles while dancing flames hypnotize

A cacophony of horns honk like mechanical geese

Raindrops steadily drum against a tent wall

Deep thumping bass chord of Harley-Davidsons in harmony

Wind rustles leaves

The radio erupts with percussive beats and screeching voices

Twig snap

Jacked up pick-ups with offensive decals belch black smoke when they gun it

Chirp

Red pulsing strobe lights accompany a barking staccato siren, let the bellowing ambulance pass by and disappear into the distance