Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Day 3: Buttering your vomit!

September 13: Yeah, I bet the title of this post got your attention! But I'll get to that a bit later.... ;o)

I first woke up at about 4:00 in the morning--long before sunrise--when I noticed flashes of light far in the distance to the north. Lightning. That was troubling for me, mostly because I was cowboy camping under the stars. At least there used to be stars. Now there were just clouds. And even those I couldn't really see due to the darkness.... except in the flashes from lightning. I had little doubt it would rain--it was just a matter of when. I thought about setting up my tarp, but I wasn't really situated in a good location for that either. If it started to rain, I decided, I'd just throw the tarp over myself like a blanket. Not ideal, though. And I crossed my fingers and hoped for the best.

The morning started with less than pleasant weather!

I slept fitfully after that, continually checking the weather. The lightning continuing lighting up the sky, although it didn't seem to be getting any closer. Maybe the storm was passing just to the north of our location? A couple of hours went by before I heard the first thunder, a distant rumbling. Crap. It was getting closer.

I heard Karolina stirring in her tent. "Dzień dobry!" I told her--good morning in Polish. Or, technically speaking, I suppose, "Good day!" since it can be used in the afternoon as well. =)

"Was that thunder I heard?" she asked.

"Yes," I replied. "Yes, it was. There's been a nice lightning show going for the past couple of hours that you've missed."

She didn't sound happy about the weather either, but at least she was in a tent.

As soon as it started getting light, we both quickly packed up camp to get a move-on. I wanted to get all of my gear packed up and stowed away in waterproof bags before any rain started, and we both wanted to get in as many miles as we could before any rain started. The trail through this section was treacherous, and neither of us wanted to go through it while the rocks were slick and slippery.

Mere seconds after we hefted our packs onto our backs, the rain finally started. You'd have thought it waited specifically for us to finish packing before letting loose on us. It started as a light sprinkle, then picked up to a steady precipitation. The lightning wasn't so noticeable anymore now that it had gotten light, but it compensated with increasingly louder thunder.

Perfect, I thought. Our highest point for the day is just ahead, and right in the middle of a thunderstorm. 

I tried using my umbrella at first, but eventually gave it up when the winds became too strong. Not to mention that I was a little leery about being high on a ridge during a lightning storm to begin with. Walking around with a metal pole sticking in the air seemed like a bad idea anyhow.

The trail was bad and I felt half-mad, but I swore I would continue on! Oh, wait a minute, that's part of the Sam McGee poem. Sorry for the plagiarism there, but it's how I felt at the moment. =) Karolina and I scramble up and down steep slopes, often using our arms to pull ourselves up as much as our legs. The going was brutal, and it was slow. As bad if not worse than the White Mountains and southern Maine along the Appalachian Trail.

"I thought I was done with this crap!" I told Karolina, annoyed at the trail. Karolina struggled with the trail as well, and her knees certainly protested it, but she seemed more upbeat about the difficulties. It was a new and exciting experience for her. I could understand the feeling. I felt this way the first time I hit terrain like this, but it gets old after awhile and I was tired of it before I even got on the GR 20. The AT had cured me of that enthusiasm.

I dreamed about flat, wide trails that I could practically gallop over. A dirt trail, but not a dusty one. Slightly spongy making it soft to walk on, but not muddy.

The rain only lasted for an hour or two, then the skies started to clear and by noon, the weather was actually quite pleasant. When the sun started beating down on me, I had to pull out my sunglasses... but I couldn't find them. Argh!!! I must have left them behind at the campsite! How can I live without sunglasses?!

While scrambling over the trail, we started talking about Polish. I didn't have a long, epic poem (such as Sam McGee) to memorize while thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail, but I really wanted something for my head to do on otherwise monotonous sections of walking. A person can go crazy if they talk to themselves too much! But I hadn't been able to find a good poem to do that. But a few months before I started my hike, I stumbled across a book in the bookstore called Fluent Forever, and I found it absolutely fascinating. It's about learning foreign languages. Not any language in particular, but rather languages in general, with techniques and suggestions for learning languages quickly.

And I wanted to try it, but with a language that I knew nothing about. Start from scratch and see how much I could learn while.... thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail! =) And it so happened that I had a friend from Polish who speaks (not surprisingly) Polish. Which was useful for a couple of reasons. If I had a question about something, I had someone to ask. And if I ever learned it well, I'd actually have someone I could talk to using it! So I decided to burn a few brain cells learning Polish on the AT.

And during that time, I had learned about 1,500 Polish words. Not much else, though.... Turns out, it was kind of difficult to study on the trail and I didn't do as much as I would have liked. And I couldn't even make a complete sentence because I had never learned any grammar. Words I could create flash cards for, but grammar I needed to sit down and study, which I couldn't exactly do while walking along the trail and, and in the shelters I usually chatted with other people. It occurred to me that I might hold a record for knowing more Polish words than anyone in the world--without being able to create a single proper sentence out of them. =)

So anyhow, Karolina and I played a game of sorts where she'd test me on Polish vocabulary--and let me know if I really butchered the pronunciation of a particular word. Her conclusion was that I pronounced the words very well (or at least well enough that she could understand what I was saying), and she seemed genuinely surprised at just how many Polish words I did know.

Until I tried to say "zwariowany"--which means "crazy." I said something like, "This trail is.... zwariowany!"

Karolina did not understand what I was trying to say, however, and after repeating it a few times, she finally figured it out. And said, when I first said it, she thought I had said, "butter your vomit!"

And I thought.... Well, okay. I'll go with that. *nodding* =) A crazy person might very well try buttering their vomit. I don't know what the Polish words for "buttering" or "vomit" are (although I do know the Polish word for "butter" is "masło"), but I learned a valuable lesson that afternoon. If I ever wanted someone to butter my vomit in Poland, I should call them "crazy" with a bad, American accent. =)

By 2:00 in the afternoon, we had finally arrived at the next refuge: Refuge de Carozzu. We had covered--by our optimistic estimates--a mere 5 kilometers. Or about 3 miles.

It was, quite frankly, a disgraceful showing. We'd been covering about a half-mile per hour for the entire day so far! We weren't going to finish this trail in time at this pace, and I was anxious to keep going. We had built a couple of extra days into our schedule in case things went slower than expected, but even that wasn't going to be enough at this pace, and I really wanted to finish this trail.

Karolina knees were hurting more than ever, though, and it was far too late in the day to reach the next shelter before dark. Not wanting to camp illegally for a third night in a row, and to give Karolina's knees a break, I reluctantly agreed to stop for the night here. It's not exactly a horrible place to camp, but it killed me to think we had hiked a mere 3 miles for the day. It's difficult for me to stop after that short of a distance!

Karolina took charge of talking to the caretaker and paying for our first legal campsite on the trail. =) It was already crowded with lots of people, and we set up camp at the edge of an open clearing near some trees. Karolina set up her tent, but since the weather was looking so good, I decided to cowboy camp again.

When I pulled out my sleeping bag, I was happy to find my long-lost sunglasses at the bottom of the bag. Yes! I hadn't forgotten them at the campsite last night after all! =)

Karolina complained about a rash on her shoulders--at least it felt like a rash--that she was sure her pack straps were causing, but she couldn't see it very well and asked if I could see it. And I could see it. It was a very narrow rash, though, barely a centimeter wide, and I got this tingly sensation in my head thinking about it. The idea that her pack straps could be the cause of the rash didn't seem unreasonable, but something felt off about that theory and it took me several seconds before I realized why. The rash was too narrow. Her pack straps were a good two or three inches wide. Why would the rash only be a centimeter wide?

And once that puzzle piece clicked into place, I figured it out: "It's your bra strap!"

It made total sense. The pack straps were grinding her bra straps into her shoulders causing the rash. I did not, however, have a good solution to the problem. I have little experience, alas, hiking in bras.

 But Karolina had a solution--she said she just stop wearing her bra.

"That's a brilliant idea!" I exclaimed. "I love it!" =)

"You know I'll still be wearing a shirt, right?"

Yes, I know.... Go ahead, just throw a pitcher of cold water on my face, why don't you....? *shaking head*

"Nie stanik." No bra.

I think Karolina was a little surprised that I knew the Polish word for bra. =) But there's a story about that as well.... One of the things Fluent Forever recommends is to think in the language you're learning. Not translate words in your head, but to think in that language, one of his tips for doing so was to create flash cards that didn't use English. Put the Polish word on one side, then a photo of the word on the other side rather than the English translation. So when you see a dog, you think pies and not have to mentally flip through a Polish-English dictionary in your head looking up words all the time.

So I'd been doing that, and I had a list of articles of clothing along with their Polish translation. Some words are more useful than others, though. Shirt, pants, shoes.... common. Bra I was going to skip learning since I couldn't imagine I'd be using that word very often in conversations, until I remembered that I was supposed to use a photo to represent the word instead of English words and suddenly, I thought that word would be a heck of a lot of fun to learn. =) It's a good excuse to put a photo of a cute girl wearing nothing but a bra on my phone. "But Amanda, I'm studying Polish!" =)

So I added bra to my list of Polish words to learn, mostly because I thought it was funny to use a photo of a girl wearing a bra on my smartphone. =)

But strangely--somehow--I ended up in a conversation about bras with a Polish girl. So I was pretty happy that I could trot out, "Nie stanik." =)

The rest of the afternoon we lounged around and rested. I read a lot from my Kindle, studied the Polish words on my smartphone, and wrote in my journal. Karolina bought food at the refuge, which looked a lot better than the meal I cooked out of my pack. But my pack was still way too heavy and I was determined to lighten it by eating more!

Interestingly, Wilson, the pine cone that makes up the third person of our group, we discovered had closed up. When Karolina first picked it up, it was open, but we assumed the cold and rain must have made it close up again. I didn't think pine cones could surprise me anymore, but this one did! Would it open up again if it got some sun and dried out? We'd just have to wait and see....

The clouds are finally starting to burn off! Woo-who! =)

This isn't a trail--it's a climbing route!

I also saw a green snake nearby, but it was too fast and got away before I could get a photo. So you'll have to settle for the lizard instead!

I'm resting in camp. =)
A giant bee seemed very interested in Karolina's knee brace. (Unfortunately, I had trouble getting my camera to focus on the BEE rather than the background! Grr....)
Refuge de Carozzu, where we'd camp for the night. (Camping is located behind the refuge.)

1 comment:

Topcollector said...

After all these mountains you're climbing, when are you going for Everest?