Two MIles High: A Rocky Mountain Tail: Chapter Five

Chapter Five: In the End… It’s the Little Things That Matter

Dawn comes early this time of year. Over twenty four hours have passed since I woke up in my own bed, complaining about how hot it was. Since I had a good breakfast and double checked my pack and called everyone on my team of drivers. This morning I am lying here awake wondering which way to go? Forward or back? Do I call in a rescue if I can get the Garmin to work? I still need to find the trail before I can decide which way to go. I sat up and looked around.

Breeze was lying with all fours in the air, head cocked towards me and smiling, tongue hanging out the side of his mouth. I looked around and all I could see was dead trees. I struggled to get to my feet as I swooned as I attempted to stand. My head was pounding with the worse headache I have ever had. I am pretty sure I have a concussion or something. I sip down the rest of the water I boiled the night before but it did nothing to quench my thirst. I dug through my pack and laid out my clothes on a few dead trees anticipating the sun to come over the ridge soon. I pulled out another bag of food, boiled some more water and made breakfast.

Breeze had taken off to do whatever it is he needs to do. I sat down and enjoyed my meal. I sipped down two more pots of boiled water over the next hour and called for Breeze. I hear him bounding through the trees and he arrives with a squirrel in his jaws. He gently places it in front of me and gives it a nudge. I pick it up and checked it out for bugs or whatever lives on squirrels. Seemed pretty clean and was obviously killed by the dog. I dug in my pack again and found my Leatherman, yes the one I was bitching about. I carefully slit the belly of the squirrel open and gutted and skinned it like I saw on Bear Grylls. I stoked the fire and stuck it on a spit I cut from a nearby live tree. It smelled a little like chicken and tasted like a rabbit I had eaten once on a dare. I gave Breeze the head and a back leg along with another couple scoops of his canned food. We both sat back against a tree and felt the life course back into our veins.

I took my trail towel and cut a slice off it to wrap around my head to reduce the headache and close my wound a bit. I checked my watch… 3:45pm. The sun had been overhead for most of the day and I had dried out everything quite nicely. I had to take a few cat naps in between the rotisserie of my belongings. Breeze would take off and come back to check on me every so often. He’d kiss my face and nudge me awake. Probably a good thing with a head injury. I decided I needed to drink a bit more water and be off by 6 pm.

I packed all my belongings into my tattered pack and hoisted it onto my back and decided I needed to head north. Since as far as I could see was dense trees and acres of dead trees standing, fallen to the ground in huge tangles and ones leaning on other dead ones. I choose my direction carefully and wound my way over under and through the forest, so as to avoid as many climbing challenges as possible. The dead leaning trees creaked eerily as the wind blew. It was getting near dark again I still had yet to find the trail.

Tired and hungry, burning with thirst again, head pounding at a dizzying level, I decided to find a camp spot. Breeze was eagerly bouncing about running back and forth from me to an unseen area of the forest. I followed his lead and the trees opened up into a yellow meadow of flowers. There were two 15 foot Aspen trees standing at 15 feet apart. I threw down my pack at the base of one and pulled out my tent and set it up between the two. I love the sound of the aspen leaves in the evening air. I gathered wood and presto I had fire. There was a small trickle of a mountain spring not too far from camp and I boiled as much water as I could before the sun went down then used the last bit in another gourmet freeze dried meal.

A Proud People

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Weekly Photo Challenge

What’s in a Word?

Is it me or have any of you thought that there are certain words in the English language that are “strange”, “funny” or just downright not right?  At times I will be writing and a word just doesn’t look right.  The thought I am trying to convey I just can’t find the right word for.  It makes me chuckle at myself and the word.  I’m not talking big college words… just normal everyday words.  Not the words that someone uses and you have to look it up because you can’t even begin to fathom what the author is trying to say… no matter in what context it is used.

We have so many descriptive words… I would wage more than just about any other language out there.  Even with these descriptive words that range from describing a touch, feeling, sight or sound… I hear so many times any number of four letter words used instead of any of the thousands of descriptive ones.  Sad… and I must chuckle again.  I find when I am writing I want to sound so sophisticated, so schooled… but why?  Isn’t it enough to describe an incredible sunset as such?  There are so many other words like magnificent, wonderful, marvelous, spectacular, phenomenal, prodigious, breathtaking, extraordinary, unbelievable, amazing, stunning, astounding, astonishing, awe-inspiring, staggering, formidable, impressive, supreme, great, awesome, superhuman, fantastic, terrific, tremendous, stupendous, mind-boggling, mind-blowing, jaw-dropping, out of this world, far out, or wondrous! Who’s ever seen a prodigious sunset? Even with all these words do any really describe the awesomeness of nature?

oxford-english-dictionary-websters-third-new-international-dictionary-e1467149649706How about words like wife? A simple word that describes a person that is married to another but a silly word in my mind. Ass?… a donkey, a part of the body, someone incredibly rude, something to get a “piece of…”, a fool… another funny word.  Did you know that according to the Oxford English Dictionary: there are full entries for 171,476 words in current use, and 47,156 obsolete words. To this may be added around 9,500 derivative words included as sub-entries. How does a word become obsolete? Some claim there are almost a million words in the English language… does this include the “obsolete” ones?

I must admit I used to sit down with one of the Mirriam-Webster Dictionary when I was a kid and read words and meanings so I would know lots of words I would probably never use… sounds like a boring childhood now… oh an when did Mirriam get tacked onto Webster? Is she his wife?!?  Chuckle

Surprise! Digging Deep Into the Curious… A Photo Journey

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We all know… I think… that Alpaca Wool is from these guys. What you may not know is how the wool from these guys is colored so brilliantly and woven into symbols, animals, and the softest, warmest wool. They use everything from bugs and plants, to earthen dyes. Quite a surprise to see this actually happening in a mountain town in Peru.

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Dig deeper into the foothills of Cotacachi, Ecuador… you can see how the bricks to build the homes in the towns are made… by hand!

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Off the beaten path in the Great Basin area of Utah and Nevada… a strange little town pops up out of nowhere. First thought was LSD exists here… or perhaps a government witness protection town?? Strange is a good term…

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Baker, California… on the way back to Utah… flash floods in the desert… BIG SURPRISE!

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If you know where to look… you can find some images from indigenous North Americans another desert surprise…

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The Deepest Scar

In all my travels I have seen the good and the bad. A common thread in most indigenous cultures is the reverence for Mother Earth. It’s not hard to see why.  These people depend on the bounty of the Earth for substinance. They rise up against their government when the government takes money over the sacred to build hydro-dams, cut down forests, strip mine, fracking, bartering land for oil production… the list goes on.

I have heard stories of the people rising up to stop dams on some of the most beautiful rivers in South America, Central America, and the US. There is a constant battle to heal Mother Earth rather than ravaging her further. A battle to restore the deep scars generations before have inflicted. To stop damaging oil production in the sacred lands of the deserts, oceans and mountains. Protests against the development of lands held sacred by the indigenous people, who themselves have been set aside on lands thought useless, and now find those same “useless” lands are not only full of mysticism and history, but oil, minerals, or some other perceived riches.

It is time to stop! It is time to look at the signs that are “in our faces” and reverse our global destruction and instead take a stand to help the Mother.  It’s time to join the connected people and heed their warnings. Mother Earth will continue to react to the poison, disrespect and abuse. Floods, fires, earthquakes, destructive weather and drought are all her attempt to get our attention… the problem is the powers that be… the big production companies don’t care about anything but the all mighty dollar.

Personally I feel helpless. Together we can have a voice. Together we may be able to effect a change. Corporations with deep pockets will still be able to sway politicians to give away these sacred lands. Would we be willing to lay down our lives, give up our freedom, to stand up against “the Man”? Would we be willing to stand hand in hand with those entrusted to protect the Mother? Would we be willing to take a minute to sign a petition to have our voices heard? We are not the ones who are helpless. Our world… Mother Earth… Pachamama .. however you call her is the one who is helpless. We must commit to heal… no longer ravage and destroy our “home”

WALL-E… Our Future?

This has been another week that has made me embarrassed to be a United States citizen. It’s all over the news how our new commander and chief acts like a stupid child when he doesn’t get his way. From here on out I am Canadian if anyone asks.

It is beyond me how a group of elected officials can’t do what’s “right” for their constituents. I do realize there are many facets to this issue. I do understand that no matter what happens someone is not going to be justly served. It is difficult to put everyone into one box and find a health plan that fits all needs. What I don’t understand is how some countries can do it and have excellent healthcare. I have experienced this care myself while traveling as a tourist and gotten hurt.

A major contributing factor to us moving out of the US… as we move into the next phase of our lives… is a direct result of our broken healthcare system/government. There will be no way for the two of us to retire here and afford healthcare… or protect our accumulated nest egg. As a result we have chosen to leave everything behind. Cash out and travel. I have serious concerns that some or most of money we have paid into the Federal government for our “retirement” will be sucked up by said government.

Another issue is the lack of concern for our global wellness. Our symbiotic relationship with Mother Earth hangs in the balance. There are SO many documented symptoms to the ever changing climate of the earth. So many that it can no longer be ignored! Yet again our commander and chief has the audacity to look these in the face and still choose to ignore them stating it’s all “fake news”.

This is not something we can run away from… no matter where we travel to. This is a global problem and all nations must participate or it will be like lighting a bonfire in the middle of a dry field of grass… without serious intervention and planning, eventually everything will be consumed. The world will be plunged further and further into catastrophic disasters that will always be linked back to our lack of caring.

I am deeply saddened and feel utterly helpless. What kind of world do our elders want to leave for their children? Just because it won’t effect the earth in their lifetime… doesn’t make it a non-issue. We can’t wait for them to die off or be removed from “power positions”. We must somehow convince them the symptoms such as melting glaciers, rising ocean levels, catastrophic storms and droughts are a direct result of our choices to continue to rely on fossil fuels, forcing poison into the earth to make her yield minerals and fuels. The next generation will be handed a broken and poisoned world to try to repair so their children will have a beautiful planet to explore and enjoy. The Earth and the human race depend deeply on each other. Heavy sigh… WALL-E here we come…

 

 

Daily Rant

Inka Trail… In Review

A Final Note: The Things You Need to Know But Probably Don’t Want To

  • Whenever you travel in another country you must be prepared for the differences in culture and available creature comforts. Not just the trail, but the majority of the small towns and villages we visited had items not too pleasant for the pampered Gringo traveler.
  • Of course drinking water from the tap is always a no no.
  • TP in the toilets, also a no no.
  • Running water in sinks to wash your hands, optional.
  • Toilet seats, optional. TP, optional.
  • This hike was challenging to say the least. The facilities on the trail were unpleasant but it is amazing that in the middle of nowhere there can be flush toilets and running water at all. Amazing ingenuity.
  • Each camp had a few areas of sorta flat pads for the tents. The tents themselves were mostly waterproof.
  • The altitude will kick your ass no matter how tough you think you are, or how hard you trained.
  • The toilets were keyhole squat type that were the most disgusting things you can imagine. Getting up and down from a freestanding squat on wobbly trail legs and bad knees was a feat in itself.
  • Personal hygiene is high priority or you will find yourselves getting something you totally don’t want on a skinny trail in the middle of nowhere.
  • The only exit off the trail IS the trail.

The Camino Inka was both rewarding and absolutely took every ounce of every fiber of my being to succeed. I knew when we set out to do this hike it would be challenging, but I really had no idea what I was in for. There were times when you just would give up because it was just too damn hard and you had nothing left. There were times of triumph when after you gave up… something inside pushed you onto the next goal, even if that goal was just 5 more steps… the next bush or landmark. Bottom line… you only have two choices from the moment you set foot on the trail… move forward, no matter how hard it was…or turn back and face the same path as continuing forward… only on your own. Either way it was going to be hard as hell so suck it up sissy!

Would I do it again… at my age… HELL NO! I accept now my body is not it’s 20 year old self… but I had to try. What I saw can’t really be captured in pictures. What I went through can’t really be put into words. Let’s just say if you ask me about seeing Machu Picchu, if that’s really what you want to do…take the damn train.

 

Daily Word Prompt: Acceptance

Inka Trail : Day Four… The Final Goal and Trophy

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After an early night the whole group was ready for the final push the next day. We called ourselves YOHO, You Only Hike Once. Most of us agreed this was a ONCE in a life time achievement and at this point all we wanted was to arrive at the Sun Gate, Intipunku, and ultimately an hour or so later set foot on the sacred city of Machu Picchu ( proper pronunciation “Machu Pict chu” the other way gringos say it means “big penis”… that explains why the porters would all laugh as we discussed the final push.

We had to get up at 3am and be packed and out of our tents by 4am so the porters could break camp and hike down to the train that would stop at 5am SHARP to pick them up… miss the train and it’s a twenty mile hike back into town. We were on our own today. No porters passing us up.

There was no breakfast except dry bread and jam, hot water for coca tea and that was it. We were given the last briefing and gathered outside for our last “let’s do this”! cheer.

A five minute hike and over an hour wait in a long line of eager hikers. The gates to the last part of the trek opened a 5:30am. We had to present our permits and then were allowed to proceed onto the last 2.5 miles of the hike.

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This part of the trail has been regulated due to the amount of deaths that have occurred on this, the last push to Mach Picchu. In the past companies have left before sunrise and in the pitch black walked right off the narrow trail. Even in the light of day this was a tricky path. Four to five feet wide and 200 foot drop off on the side.

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After about a two hour hike up and down we came to the “Monkey Stairs”. A set of stairs that looked more like a wall rather than a stair case. You literally had to climb on all fours or fall over backwards and break your little cabeza. It was about 50 feet tall and composed of uneven rock steps at about a 75 degree incline. At this point the lack of food, tired legs, and lack of sleep really began to pay its toll. It was quite humorous to watch us all climb.

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The view from the top of the Monkey Stairs was almost 180 degrees of stunning jungle choked mountains and the last remaining morning mist clinging to the lower trees. The sun was just coming over the peaks of the mountains in the east revealing the lush greenery and the path ahead still clinging to the steep cliff sides.

In about 20 minutes we reached The Sun Gate. The Sun Gate was used to tell the exact day of the summer Equinox. The sun would rise and shine threw these stone pillars onto a certain wall on the Temple of the Sun in Machu Picchu. I found a secluded stone on the edge of this site a released the remaining ashes and Faye will forever be looking down on Machu Picchu and the stunning surrounding mountains.

After photos we set out for the final push to the city of Machu Picchu itself. There were two more stops on the way down to the city perfect for photo ops and closer views of the city from above. Ten more minutes and we finally set foot into the city proper.

Mission accomplished…

Daily Word Prompt : Conquer