Sunday, June 20, 2010

Does a Snake Poop In the Woods?

May 20: "Gwita Morka!" I told Charmin when I first saw her stirring in the morning. I was pretty impressed that I actually got to use this phrase for a second time. I almost never hike with anyone for more than 24 hours, and I didn't really expect to get a second usage out of it.

Charmin wished me a "guetä morgä" in return. While eating breakfast and breaking down camp, a blizzard of other hikers passed by: Half-ounce, Sticky Fingers, Abby Normal, 10 Spot, and the two sisters (whose names I can never seem to remember). Where did all of these people hide out the night before?! I had no idea that any of them were anywhere in the area. But as each one passed our campsite, I'd yell out, "gwita morka!" in my American accent. I'm sure they all thought I was insane, but a funny thing happened.... I actually ended up memorizing the phrase in the process. I'd never have to look up the pronunciation again. =)

I left camp before Charmin did. We both hike faster when hiking alone. I told her I planned to take a long two or three hour break in the middle of the day for lunch and to wait out the heat of the day at a small creek up the trail, and I'd save a place for her. Then I was off!

The trail passed by Silverwood Lake, and the dam that actually held back an actual body of water. The lake was very scenic, even if the day was warming up to an uncomfortable level.

I day dreamed for much of the day. I imagined that nobody would ever starve to death in the desert if only someone wrote The Lizard Lover's Cookbook: 101 Ways to Cook a Lizard. The damn things were everywhere. You couldn't walk ten feet without seeing another lizard skittering away. For the most part, however, there's not much to report about today's hiking. It was nice, but hot.

At the small creek I planned to stop at for lunch, shade--at first--appeared quite scarce, but I found a small spot immediately next to and upstream from the creek under the trees. The open space was perhaps only four or five feet high, so I had to crouch under it, and there was only enough space under it in the shade for about two people. Very cramped, but by golly, it was shade, and I took it. It actually hides you pretty well from the trail itself, and isn't visible until your standing just a couple of feet away from it directly at the creek.

The larger group with five or so hikers--10 Spot, Sticky Fingers, Half Ounce, and I don't remember who all--moved on. They wanted to stop at the creek as well, but there wasn't enough shade for all of them. The dangers of hiking in a larger group. =) So I made myself comfortable, took off my shoes, ate some snacks, and laid down for a nap.

Perhaps a half hour went by, when I heard someone shouting, "Tortuga!" from up the trail. It was Charmin, wondering where I was. I said I'd stop here, though I did say that if there wasn't shade at the creek, I'd probably continue on until I found shade. She didn't see me, though, and must have thought I continued on. I yelled up to come on down to the creek, that there was still room for her, and she filled up the other half of the pocket of shade.

I filled up my water bottle with water from the creek and started drinking from it without bothering to treat the water. Which surprised Charmin. "Where would it likely be contaminated?" I asked her. There's no development above us. Technically, of course, any water source can be contaminated--heck, you even hear the occasional report of tap water and bottled water being contaminated with something--but I don't treat that water either. So if there's no reason to suspect that water is contaminated, I don't usually treat it.

Which is when Charmin said that a snake probably pooped in the water upstream.

I'm not an expert on snakes, but I had a vague memory bouncing around in my head that snakes regurgitate any food that they can't digest, so I said that I didn't think that snakes pooped. They regurgitate, like owls. It was a great philosophical debate that would continue on until the next day when we met Nobody, who had access to the Internet and could look it up where we both learned definitively that snakes do, in fact, have an anus, and that yes, snakes do shit in the woods. Charmin 1. Tortuga 0. Drats!

It takes some imagination to kill two or three hours in the middle of the hottest part of the day, which is when I learned about another one of Charmin's talents: She can draw. Quite well, in fact. Her journal is packed full of sketches and drawings of stuff she's seen along her hike, so I pretended to take a nap while she drew a picture of me. I was pretending to nap, but actually did fall asleep for about five minutes during the process. She didn't much like the drawing, but I thought it was a remarkably good likeness in such a short period of time.

After our lunch break ended, we left the little enclosure and the smog in the valley outside was terrible! The sky was pretty clear and blue when I stopped for lunch, and I was amazed at how fast the smog could roll in, and so thickly. It seemed thick enough to cut with a knife. "LA smog," I told her, my best guess. Perhaps the wind changed and funneled the smog in our direction. (The next day, we would learn that there was a fire somewhere in the area and that the smoke was actually from the fire--not the infamous LA smog. Not this time, at least!)

The limp from my sprain a couple of days before was still there. It wasn't particularly noticeable on flat or uphill sections of the trail, but downhill still hurt. And the steeper the downhill, the more it hurt, and the more I limped. The ankle was getting better, but at an annoyingly slow pace.

After lunch, I pulled ahead of Charmin again. We both decided to hike out to a small creek less than a mile away from I-15 to camp for the night, pulling off my first 20 mile day. So the limp isn't slowing me down--just making the hike a little more painful. Especially downhill. Especially steep downhills, like going down to I-15.

My guidebook said that the campsite was a short ways past some power lines. When I first saw power lines, I thought I was making great time. Sweet! Almost there! But no, I sadly had to admit, I couldn't have traveled that fast. There must be another set of power lines involved.

Eventually I reached the second set of power lines, thrilled that I was almost to camp... until I saw another set of power lines further off in the distance. Freakin' hell, I thought. How many power lines do they need out here?!

The third set of power lines seemed to be the lucky number, though, and Charmin and I found the creek and a campsite nearby to set up. This time, I did treat the water I drank. There were train tracks, I-15, roads, businesses, and all sorts of development up stream. It wasn't "good" water, in my opinion, so I treated it this time. I'd just have soon as skipped it if it were possible, but I was out of water. It wasn't a time to be fussy. Anyhow, what if a snake pooped in the water upstream? A real possibility.....

The campsite was terrible, really. We could hear the highway traffic all night long, and trains rumbling in the distance. I actually liked the sounds of rumbling trains, but the highway traffic I could have done without. But we were still far enough away from the road that at least it wasn't loud traffic. Just the muffled noise of a distant highway. But it was noisy, and the water nowhere near as pure as I would have liked it. But you make do, and I made do.


Christie said...

But did you make doo-doo? :)

Anonymous said...

So enjoying your travels. HIKE ON! Hope your ankle no longer bothers you.


Anonymous said...

So Ryan, are you able to read our comments, or do you have to wait until you get home again?

3 weeks or so later... I'm hoping the sore ankle is just a distant memory.


Unknown said...

You know why W.C. Fields wouldn't drink water? "Because fish f**k in it!" Hey, snake poo is not toxic unless the concentration is high enough to support some nasty bacteria. Don't worry about it.

As long as Charmin is doodling, ask her to draw something and then later on carve a rubber stamp from the image and plant it.

Anonymous said...

Don't Squeeze the Charmin!

Mr. Whipple

Ryan said...

I can read comments, but often times not for up to a week at a time, and even then I can't always reply to them if I don't have Internet access. (The comments are sent to me via e-mail which I can read on my Peek device. I'm usually not online to reply to them, however.)

Krafty Kat said...

Ah, lizards. We often come back from trips out west with dozens of pictures of lizards but no other wildlife.


Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Yep. Snakes poop. In fact they tend to expel huge poops because they eat big meals all at once and then don't eat for a while in between.

When I used to take care of my friends' snake, wow! I was always surprised at the size of it's poop. Thankfully it was only a once a week clean-up job. :D

But you can get salmonella from snake poop, especially because of the birds and rodents they tend to eat.

Hike On!
~Twinville Trekkers