Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Taking a Slash and Outhouse Shenanigans

April 30: Early that morning, Tradeja walked down to my camp to talk about the 'incident' from the night before. From the sounds of it, they got even more action during the night than I did two the border patrol stumbling onto their camp twice. He said that the border patrol had caught two people, and he could hear them interrogating the illegals in Spanish, asking how many more people there were and such. Apparently some of them did manage to get away, however.

Tradeja went on to talk to HoJo, who heard some of the commotion the night before, but didn't actually see anything since the border patrol turned around when I told them that there were at least three more 'campers' in that direction and I hadn't seen anyone run by.

And a short while after that, a border patrol agent wandered down the trail, saying he was part of the group causing the ruckus the night before and apologizing for disturbing us. (I can't complain--it was the most excitement I had on the whole trail thus far!)

At first I thought it was remarkably thoughtful for one of them to walk through our campsites this morning to apologize for the commotion, but I think there were actually still looking for the illegals they missed in the darkness. When I walked up to the road to fill up with the water cache, I saw a couple of border patrol vehicle posted along the road that had not been there the day before, and at least three of the officers were walking along the length of the road. There's not a lot of water in this part of the country, and I'm guessing that they expect the illegals they missed to return this way at some point. Tradeja seemed to think they caught the 'leader' the night before, and the ones who were still running loose may not know where to go or what to do expect return back to the road once they think the coast is clear. And the border patrol seemed to act like that would likely happen as well.

As I started up the trail again, a car pulled up and Mother Goose, Pie, and Big-e piled out of it. They had spent the night in Julian to get out from the weather, but were back on the trail again. We all started up the San Felipe Mountain more-or-less together. Actually, Big-e hung back, and we would later learn it was because he left is camera in vehicle that shuttled them up there, and he called the woman to come back to drop it off which took some time. So Mother Goose, Pie, and myself headed up the mountain, where we found Just Josh breaking down camp. I had wondered what happened to him--I expected him to stop at Scissors Crossing like the rest of us did, but he pushed on a little ways past us not realizing that we had set up camp along the birding trail just off the PCT.

Not much happened on the hike this day. The highlight (for me, at least), was finding a snake in the trail that had just eaten a lizard, and I could still see the tail of the lizard hanging out of the snake's mouth--and the tail was still twitching! It was kind of gross, in a National Geographic special kind of way. Nobody ever said nature was kind. In fact, it can be downright vicious. I actually got pretty close up to the snake to get this photo--I figured since its mouth was full, it was pretty unlikely it could bite me even if it wanted to. (I'm pretty sure that this snake isn't poisonous either.)

I took me time heading up the the Third Gate Water Cache, so named because it was at the third gate one finds after coming out of Scissors Crossing. This water cache is located nearly half a mile from the nearest road, and all of the water is packed in by trail angels that carry it on their backs--quite a strenuous undertaking. They say hikers shouldn't rely on water caches since they do sometimes run dry, but there were several dozen gallons of water available, and I felt a little stupid arriving while still having five liters of water on my back. Five liters of water is heavy, and to think I didn't need to carry any of it all that distance. *sigh*

While reading the register at the cache, Motor, Lisa, Pie, and Mother Goose arrived in short order. Lisa I hadn't met before, but she was nice and friendly, so I will not spread the trail name that Motor is trying to give her. Lisa doesn't like it, and I want to stay on good terms with her. =)

Mother Goose is quite the character. I'm not sure how old she is, but she's probably one of the oldest folks on the trail and has hiked the AT five times or something like that. I think she's done the PCT a couple of times already as well. And she says words you wouldn't expect from someone named Mother Goose. =)

It was rather remarkable--somehow, I ended up at the top of a mountain with four women thru-hikers. Women are generally a minority on the trail (though not nearly as lopsided as in bygone eras), and I wind up with four of them. It must be a good sign.

Motor and Lisa told us that they had seen two illegals on their hike, a male and a female, who asked for some water. The female, Motor said, looked harmless enough, though the male looked like he could kill without flinching. And neither of them looked at all prepared to be out in the wild. I wondered if these were the two that the border patrol tried to catch the night before, and were still hoping to catch when I left that morning.

I set up camp near Motor and Lisa, and an hour or so later Mr Mountain Goat arrived, an Australian fellow who's an English teacher in the real world. Alas, I wouldn't be the only guy among the girls anymore, but we were still outnumbered two to one, which is quite unusual anyhow. Goat explained how us Americans are butchering the English language, and asked about useful idioms that we could use on the trail. "To spit the dummy," for instance, basically means becoming very angry. A dummy is a pacifier in Australian, and like an upset baby would spit out its pacifier to scream and yell, so does an adult.

I excused myself, saying that I "had to take a slash," an idiom meaning to take a wizz.

Who said trail life wasn't educational? =)

That man is funny, though, and he's keeping a blog going with his iPhone at Postholer.com. I also heard this story about the three of them riding out the big wind storm in the outhouse for much of the night. Oh, joy. =)


Anonymous said...

If memory serves me correctly, your picture depicts a harmless garter snake. (Not harmless to the lizard, or course, but harmless to you.) I used to have one as a pet, caught in the Bay Area of California, but that was 30+ years ago.

What fun this is, reading your adventures!

Thanks --


Anonymous said...

Me again... so were you near La Canada and Eagle Rock, or is there another landmark called Eagle Rock? Frankly, I was picturing you EAST (and currently still south) of the San Gabriel Valley... but perhaps you're north (of me) and west right now? (Or at least, when you wrote that entry?)


Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting the link to the other blog. It's kind of cool to hear the same trail names and about the same happenings from a different perspective.

Anonymous said...

Looks like either a Desert Patch-nosed Snake or an Oregon Gartersnake. Both are considered harmless to humans. Gartersnakes have toxins in their saliva which can be deadly to their prey and their bite might produce an unpleasant reaction in humans, but they are not considered dangerous to humans.

Nana C said...

Looks like either a Desert Patch-nosed Snake or an Oregon Gartersnake. Neither are considered dangerous to humans. Gartersnakes have toxins in their saliva which can be deadly to their prey and their bite might produce an unpleasant reaction in humans, but they are not considered dangerous to humans.

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Cool Garter snake/lizard pic. I used to take care of a friend's pet snake when he traveled and would feed it thawed frozen mice. Very cool to watch the snake 'attack' and devour the rodents.

Those trail angels sure are generous folks. Do you think you will ever return the favor one day?

Hike On!
~Twinville Trekkers