As one declines in age (inclines?) the bod starts to act a little more quirky. This past weekend, as I was prepping for a couple of upcoming backpacking trips, I set up all four of my tents in the front yard as an inventory of poles, stakes, rainflies, zipper health, etc. Everything checked out and after letting the shelters air out, a couple of which hadn’t been slept in for the greater part of a decade, I began to systematically roll each one up like a tight nylon doobie and place back into the Rubbermaid Tote o’ Tents. As I slightly bent over to drop in tent number two, a three-pound Sierra Designs Flashlight 2, a sharp ting hit me in the lower back. Recognizing this pain from before I instinctively paused, but I didn’t immediately collapse to the ground in pain so I eased myself upright and decided it was time for the sofa, a heating pad, a handful of Advil and a pale ale.

The girl and I had a couple of soirées to attend that night so like a tough guy I powered through several hours of standing, sitting, drinking and small talk. Sure my back hurt, but it didn’t seem to be nearly as bad as the previous two back spasms I’d suffered over the past several years. The next morning, however, was a much different story. The girl had to help me stand up out of bed. She did her best to get me situated with everything I might need for a day on the sofa: laptop, water bottle, phone, Kindle. She left early that morning to coach a rowing camp in Seattle for the next ten days.

All was good until I needed to piss.

After rolling off of the sofa and onto the floor, I slowly and painfully managed to get myself to stand up. The slow stumble towards the kitchen en route to the bathroom was sketchy and painful, and the danger of me actually pissing myself was code yellow. As I got into the kitchen I looked at the sink. I’m 6’3″ and then and there made the tactical design to utilize the drain in front of me. Not a proud moment, I assure you. On my way back to the main room I found myself stuck, leaning against a chair, unable to bring myself to get into the sofa. Twenty minutes I stood there, occasionally trying, swearing a storm, gritting my teeth, and subsequently trying to calm the dogs down.

The phone was about five feet away from me, well out of reach on the coffee table. “Hey Siri, call Keith on speaker phone” I yelled. And the miracle of technology swiftly went into action. Within ten minutes my boy Keith was over helping lower me into my leather home-hospital bed. Several hours later after another failed attempt to visit the bathroom (mind you, I wasn’t drinking or eating ANYTHING as to mitigate the inevitable need to relieve myself) I called upon another buddy to come get me and take me to the ER.

So now here I am, loaded up with prescribed amounts of Valium and Hydrocodone (I’m referring to such cocktail as The Limbaugh”) and I’m doing better. The pain is most definitely here but just enough of the edge has been taken off that I’m ambulatory within the main floor of my house.

Needless to say, this upcoming weekends’ backpacking trip through the Olympics has been scratched. This is not the gnar I was hoping to fill the blog with stories of, but it’s where I’m at and I’d might as well tell a story about something. Those of you who have suffered back pain can sympathize, and I with you. It’s incredible that no matter how tough of a guy you are, a injury like this can turn you into a crawling, whimpering baby.

With that, I’ll leave you with a few images from last weekend’s time spent at a cabin with friends off Lake Pend Oreille, Idaho.

 

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Tucannon Trail

The girl is out of town and I’m restless. The Tucannon River Trail, which is in the Blue Mountains of Eastern Washington seemed like a good place to spend the morning so I filled a mug with coffee and hit the road. After getting lost and finding myself in the middle of a windmill farm, my travel time to the trailheaded ended up being close to three hours; I shouldn’t expect anything less when I don’t look at a map beforehand.

What I had read about the trail itself wasn’t super descriptive and varied from website to website. One reported 9 miles round trip, one 8 miles, varying elevation gains and no real endpoint. Whatever. I started out and the old wood sign at the beginning read 9 miles to the peak. Things started off easy enough but soon the vegetation overgrew the path and there were a ton of downed trees that required some hopping and getting low. Being alone and coming across several piles of bear scat wasn’t the most assuring thing in the world but besides some critters didn’t see much.

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That’s the trail. No shit.

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Speaking of shit… that’s bear scat.

Fourth of July weekend, a time for friends, beers, bbq, and of course, blowing shit up. A few months ago while killing time at work, I saw that Widespread Panic had a pair of shows scheduled for that weekend in Bend, Oregon. Knowing I’d be able to talk someone into tagging along, I snagged a couple of tickets of booked an Airbnb.

Along with a friend and former co-worker, Keith, we met up with another friend for a night IPA consumption at the Viento Park campground near Hood River. Fully paved and complete with showers, the campground was predictably packed. It’s all good, the purpose of this weekend was simply to get out of town. Note, though, that if you ever plan on staying there don’t plan on getting a restful night of sleep; every 45 minutes or so a train rolls by on tracks no more than a few hundred yards away and the engineer seems to purposefully blast the horn as if to remind sleeping campers of his presence.

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Camping, American style.

The next morning we drove a rather sketchy road up into Mt. Hood where we hiked up to get a better look at the receding Eliott Glacier. Pressing on into Bend, hitting several breweries and enjoying a steady diet of tacos, the remainder of the weekend carried out as-planned. The Panic shows were great, the people we met were all awesome, and the most notable IPA of the weekend was from Boneyard Brewing. Happy birthday, America!

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Clyde, the resident roommate at our Airbnb.

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If I’m ever to start my own business, this would be it.

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Drool.

Man, life can sure slip through your fingers if you’re not careful. Nearly seven years ago I quick my job as a zookeeper and followed a girl from Arizona up to Pullman, Washington where she was to start a PhD program. By my own account, I’d seen pretty much all there was for me to see in Arizona. Between camping and backpacking trips as a kid, to climbing, biking and exploring every canyon, cave, wall, and general expanse I could find in my 20’s, I was ready for a new part of North America and the pacific northwest was at the top of my list.

Fast forward seven years later and things have taken a downturn. Getting stuck in job that required more hours than should be expected of anyone (for the pay) didn’t help. It occurred to me a few weeks ago when I was visiting my girlfriends’ (new girlfriend, mind you) sister and her fiance; we were planning a backpacking trip and verbally check-listing gear needs when before mentally processing the statement I said out loud that I hadn’t been backpacking in seven years.

Something spasmed in my head. What the hell happened to me? I used to take pride in the fact that I commonly spent more time sleeping in a tent than I did my bed. Now here I am with fifty more pounds on my body than I had when I left the desert and the most use my camping gear saw was the occasional weekend car-camp or music festival.

Priorities shift from time to time. It happens to all of us and usually it’s a good thing. But this, this was not good. I spent the majority of the five hour drive home in my own head thinking up new goals for my life. Nothing too specific, but the paradigm needed to be shifted back closer to where it once was.

So, welcome. Welcome to where it is the gnarly moments in life, that Type II fun we seek out, will be laid down digitally. There really is no point to this site other than a tool of self motivation. Here’s to getting out there into some gnarly weather, remote locations, and into the occasional sketchy situation.

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Ouch.

This will be like last year but more and better.

INWCXS 2017

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Let there be cake

One for the weekend.

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