Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Camp Tales VII: "We're Almost There!"

Now that I'm starting to get old, I'm really noticing gravity. Not only do my boobs happily bounce down to my knees when freed from my boulder-holder, but I find I like LOWER elevations as well, my arches aching to sit or get in a recumbent position, preferably with a cold beverage in hand and laying in a hammock.

But tell that to my camping partner, Doooder, Olympic National Triathalon Finalist and contender to be the next woman to shoot up in outer space.

"Dude, you're gonna love this 'little' hike I have planned for us," she says as I notice her put something into her backpack.

"Little hike?" I begin to worry. "What's that in your backpack?"

"It's just a mini tank of oxygen," she says. Note: Dooder does not have asthma or any lung conditions.

"And why do we need oxygen on our hike?" Well, if you need an answer, scroll back up to look at said mountain and said elevation, which was something ridiculous like close to 10,000 feet.

This photo was taken as I was in near throes of death: gasping, lying on the ground trying to breathe, (faint, distant dreams of beers at the campsite dancing in my head) yet somehow nobly photographing the view on my deathbed as serving for a good martyr.

As soon as we left the car, we began a near verticle ascent up only the service road. After easily ascending 2,000 feet, about two miles, I was ready to turn back for the car.

"No, no, dude. We've not even got on the trail yet," she eagerly tells me. My feet are starting to swell; my shirt is already soaked, and my hair is glued to my head in a sheen of sweat.

We press on, up another thousand feet. But at least we were in shade. However, now there are roots growing up at alarming angles along the trail and boulders sticking up out of the dirt, threatening to break one of my ankles. I cannot notice the wonderful view, for fear of tripping and taking a header down the mountain.

"Are . . . We . . . There . . . Yet?" I gasp after about an hour an a half of not "hiking" but basically climbing a rock ladder, known as the Catamount Trail. Probably about the same drill the Marines use in basic training. Only I'm not getting paid.

"Hang in there, Dude," Dooder happily chirps. "Try this." She hands me the oxygen. I feel euphoric for approximately 15 seconds then feel like shit again. "Come on, we're almost there."

By then after about ten "We're almost there's," I realize that "Almost there," is somewhat relative state of mind. Were the Donner Party members "almost there"? before they hit Donner Lake?

45 minutes later, I stumble to my knees, willing, and in fact, quite happy to offer myself up as a snack for a bear or mountain lion.

"I . . . Cannnot. . . Go. . . On . . ." I feel like weeping, but I've sweat out all body fluids.

"No probs. I'll just jog to the top," Dooder says as I lie flat on my back, legs splayed, in the middle of the trail anticipating beers, big, glorious, fat, vats of it. Better still, swimming in a vat of beer while drinking beer.

I don't remember descending that mountain. All I remember was Dooder prompting me, looking over her shoulder every 15 min. "We're almost back to the car," she'd happily say as I lurched forward, arms in front of me, white faced and rigid like a zombie.

One hour later, I was perched on a stool of a biker bar, 32 oz. of almost frozen beer parked front of me.

It was heaven.

Bad note: Today, Dooder tells me, "I picked up another canister of oxygen for our trip."

God have pity on me.

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