Saturday, January 22, 2011

A Perfect Day For Misery

Government Meadows
September 7: Sometimes, I make myself laugh when I read my journal entries to type these blog entries. For today, the first thing I wrote was, "For the love of god--make the rain STOP!!!!" I remember that day well. =) Not fondly, but I definitely remember it well....

It was a wet, wet day. It started with hope, raining most of the night, but stopping by sunrise and even the tree snot was starting to dry out. I was on the trail hiking by 8:00, relatively dry and lighthearted.

I reached a ski hut an hour or so later--very nice little setup, and the stove inside radiated heat from a fire someone must have built overnight. If I realized how nice this place was, I would have pushed on the evening before just to camp here overnight. As it was, since the fire was burning, I knew there were people just ahead of me on the trail. I didn't know who, but there were hikers near. The weather started misting again, and I thought about hanging out in the hut in the hopes it would blow off. I grew impatient, though, and the forecast I last saw called for good weather. So I pushed on ahead.

The misting turned to a sprinkle, and the sprinkle turned into a rain, and the rain turned into a drenching, demoralizing downpour.

The ski hut
And it never stopped. There were times when it seemed like it was about to tapper off, giving me hope, turning into that misting kind of rain for a few minutes. But the weather gods were toying with me and would turn the water faucets back on harder than ever.

The one bright spot of the whole day was catching up with Noga, who I hadn't seen since Mammoth Lakes. I thought she was behind me and was stunned when I found her hiking ahead of me and in the same direction as me. I hadn't seen her in any registers. Nobody had mentioned she was nearby. We compared notes and it sounds like she pulled ahead of me when I took those two days off near Cascade Locks. I asked about Shani and Evan, who she was last hiking with, and Shani--as it turned out--was merely a section hiker, never having planned to thru-hike the entire trail. She did all of California before leaving, though, and--as Noga explained, was probably enjoying a drink on a Mexican beach somewhere right now. "I think she had a good idea," I told Noga, as we stood miserable in the pouring rain.

Evan--I don't remember what she said happened to him, and I apparently didn't see fit to write it down in my logbook. I think he went off to school or to do some work in Israel or something. But he too was now off the trail. Once those two had left, Noga started pulling huge miles through Oregon, catching up and passing me by shortly into Washington.

I also wished Noga a "Boker tov!" and she seemed surprised that I remembered how to say good morning in Hebrew. =) "Yes, it's just one of those things that are stuck in my head now. I'll always remember 'boker tov.'" *nodding*

She also told me about a conversation she had with her dad. Her dad had done a Google search for Noga and Shani's name with the term "PCT" and found my blog entry about the day we went over Forester Pass. But he didn't tell her that--he started telling her details about that day that she hadn't mentioned. Like the sunscreen that turned Noga's face white. And the incident with Charmin rushing ahead to catch up with Hasty, who was actually behind her.

"Dad," she asked him, "how do you know all this?!"

And he just told her that "Ryan" says to say hi.

"Who's Ryan?" Of course, she didn't know my real name--only my trail name. But my blog has my real name on it. "Ryan," he told her. "You hiked with him." Which confused her even more.

Finally the secret of his intimate knowledge of that day was revealed, and she finally worked out that the Green Tortuga was also known as Ryan, blogger extraordinaire. =)

Wet, wet, wet.... Would it ever end?!
Noga told me that her mom was thrilled to see photos of her with her face white from sunscreen. "Good girl!" I guess her mom had worried that Noga wasn't applying enough sunscreen during her hike, and was very pleased to see those photos of her painted with it. =) Her dad e-mailed the link to my blog entry which Noga read later, astounded at all of the detail that was in it.

I pulled out my camera and took a picture of Noga, saying I'd post it to my blog for her dad to enjoy. =) "Of course, it'll probably be five months before I post about this day and you'll already be off the trail, but say 'boker tov' for dad!"

I do tell people about my blog if they ask if I keep one, and I'll even volunteer that it's one of the best hiker blogs out there, but most of the time, they just nod their head, and I know they're thinking, "Yeah, whatever. Everyone thinks their blog is the best thing out there." I've seen a lot of hiker blogs, and I wouldn't go so far as to say that I'm the funniest blogger out there, nor can turn the best phrase, nor spell the best, but by golly, it's hard work to describe every single day of my hike in as much detail as I do--and even include photos! It takes an enormous amount of time and dedication that most thru-hikers aren't willing to commit to. And I've seen a lot of hiker blogs over the years--many of which I've enjoyed reading--but I knew mine was something special. In a class by itself. So I'll tell people that my blog is one of the best ones out there, and they nod their head in that, "Yeah, I've heard that before," kind of attitude, and just smile to myself thinking, "If only they knew...." So my blog isn't a big secret, but at the same time, most hikers I meet don't know about it, and those that do rarely follow up and read it. So Noga hadn't read my blog before, not until her dad found it and pointed it out.

Say "Boker tov" for dad! =)
At one point, Noga and I passed another guy in camo carrying bows and arrows and Noga stopped to talk which is when I finally learned that they were hunting elk. Today was the first day of elk season. Today? Hmm.... Why have I been seeing hunters since the Goat Rocks, then?  Noga asked the hunter about the weather forecast. The hunter told us that he checked the weather forecast the night before and it was supposed to be sunny and beautiful today. Yeah, well, that was dead wrong. Ha! I kept saying, "This is September! The weather NEVER stays bad for very long in this part of the country!" The hunter agreed, but Noga, understandably, seemed skeptical of our claims. =)

Noga and I passed each other several times throughout the afternoon. Late in the afternoon, I set up camp at an unidentified road crossing. I wasn't exactly sure where in the trail I was at--with all of the rain, I didn't want to pull out my maps to look and ruin them or get them wet. As long as I was on the trail, I didn't worry too much about where on the trail I was located. I set up my tarp and dug some small trenches around my lair with stakes to make sure the water flowed around me okay.

Noga showed up about a half hour later and told me she was thinking about pushing on ahead. Her map showed this thing called an "outhouse" about a half-mile ahead and, as she explained, "It sounds like a protected structure!"

It was hard for me to keep a straight face. "Yes, they usually are protected," I told her, "but the weather would have to be a heck of a lot worse than this before I'd consider sleeping in one!"

I love hiking with foreigners when English isn't their first language. =) I'd actually sometimes forgot she was from Israel because her English is almost completely accent-free, but then she'd say something like that to remind me that she's not from around these parts. =)

So I told her what an outhouse was. "Remember that small little structure behind the ski hut you stayed in last night?" She nodded. "That's an outhouse."

She decided that setting up camp in an outhouse wasn't her idea of fun, and set up camp near me instead.

Noga asks a hunter about the
weather forecast.

The view from under my tarp. That's Noga's tent set up nearby.


Anonymous said...

Your blog is great, Ryan, keep it up. I look forward to seeing your pics & your writings. Been reading it from the beginning & it's my first time commenting. The day you blogged about your naked hiking day, I laughed so hard, I cried. I agree, your blog is one of the best!

Anonymous said...

I wonder if Nogales and her parents are reading your blog?


Anonymous said...

Love reading your blog. The comment about camping in an outhouse had me rolling of the floor laughing. To funny. I'm glad she ran into you before attempting that one.

The Mischievous Four

greg said...

I've read a lot of PCT blogs, well, parts of until I lose interest, and your blog is the best I've come across. You've even persuaded me to donate money, no easy feat - as a return for the enjoyment I had experienced, and still do, from following your adventure. I am sure I will miss it when it's over.

Also, hunter guy looks creepy.

Ryan said...

Glad y'all are enjoying the blog! =) The hunter was very nice and friendly. Perhaps regretting going out given how miserable the weather was, however!

-- Ryan

Anonymous said...

Hey Ryan,
You are a talented writer and I loved the way you documented your trail experience.
In particular, thanks a lot for the few surprising (and only) opportunities to watch a glimpse of my adventurous daughter Noga, while being far away from Israel in her 5 months PCT journey.
David Dotan (Noga’s Dad)

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Well maybe those other folks don't think your blog is the funniest, most thorough, or most interesting, but if they read it, they'd surely believe it is the best at being the least modest. haha!

Oh and I think they agree that you use the word *demoralizing* a whole heck of a lot. ;-)

Hike On!
~Twinville Trekkers

word verification: stroki

Perfect word for this chest-pumping post, I'd say. :-D