Monday, October 30, 2000

Day hike

My friend V is visiting from New York, and she was very excited to go hike around on the volcano, so we headed up the hill at about 12:30. By two pm we had reached the summit at 10000ft, donned our sweatshirts against the chill, and headed briskly down into the crater. We made quick time, and passed a few other hikers who seemed needlessly weighed down with things like parkas and rain gear.

The descent was beautiful, with billowing clouds framing the crater's rim, rainbows hovering about indiscriminately, and dramatic cliffs and peaks painted red and green with the misty shadows playing over them. V and I went back and forth discussing physics, relationships, and the ups and downs of life as we enjoyed the scenery and odd vegetation while we descended 3000ft to the crater floor in about an hour and a half.

It was when it started to rain that we realized we weren't in Kansas anymore. It started to sprinkle a bit, and we zipped the sweatshirts a little tighter... then god decided to really let the atheists have it. An hour later, the trail we were on was a river. The local landscape had completed the transition to lunar form, with jagged rocks, powdered black sand, and no vegetation. It was still beautiful, because of the extremes involved, but was not pleasant hiking as the persistent rain completed it's infusion of our clothes. We had planned a route through the crater and out again to the lower part of the park road, and turning back and climbing out seemed a much worse option than continuing, so on we went.

It was at this point that I noticed the problem with my washing machine. I had begun to froth quite profusely, with white foam streaming down from my soaked shorts with each stride. It seems that the rinse cycle on my washer is not particularly thorough.

The rain came intermittently, and the surrounding scenery of crater walls and rises was majestic and austere. It seemed a beautiful place to contemplate the facts that we were running a bit behind schedule as the temperature was dropping and our clothes were soaked through and not drying. I commented that, although serious, I always seemed to get out of such potentially lethal situations just because the other option was to die. V was not reassured by this observation.

We made it another six miles to a small rented cabin that contained eight hikers huddled together playing cards. They let us wring out our clothes and heat them over their stove before we had to hustle back on to the trail. They also informed us that a pleasantly flat mile of hiking lay ahead, followed by three miles of switch backs. And we had one hour and fifteen minutes until sunset. Fuck. It was very pretty though.

The hike up that cliff, at the pace we kept, was quite ridiculously arduous. I still don't know quite how I, or V, managed it. The only explanation was that we had too. As we trekked onward, the light faded, and our last steps were in freezing darkness. We made it to the road and realized that, though we had made it to the goal we had set for ourselves, we were still really screwed because we were in freezing darkness, cold and wet to the bone, on a deserted road 2000ft and eight miles from our car. Fuck. We trod upwards -- because we had too.

After fifteen minutes, a car appeared to be making it's way down the crater road. We decided we were in bad enough shape that we had to wave it down, so we did. The driver was a friendly Maui hippy, but he had some not so friendly dogs in the back seat. I made friends with the dogs. He trucked us back to our car, and received our profuse thanks. But, sorry dude, we didn't have any "herb."

We made it back alive. And, OK, it was beautiful, and it was an adventure. And what is life for, anyway? But my body is very unhappy with me and has demoted my brain, demanding that the penis be put back in charge. Oh, and I've had the hiccups since the hike -- modulated hiccups, with the normal five second period huccups coming for an hour every three hours. I'm going to take it kind of easy the next day or two. (hic) ing for an hour every three hours. I'm going to take it kind of easy the next day or two. (hic)

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