Thursday, 9 August 2012

Skyline: Headed for the Hills

Forty-four kilometres of hiking may seem like more than enough for some people, but our hike organizer, Clary, didn't think it was quite enough. Given that we only had to hike 8.3 km on the first day, she thought we might as well take in Maligne Canyon before setting off on the Skyline Trail.

The name "Maligne" should remind you of the word "malignant". And so it was. While the canyon and waterfalls were beautiful, notmybrother!Justin later dubbed that little walk, "The hike where Carla prepared her blisters". More on this to come.

After hiking in and hiking out again, we dropped off Andrew's vehicle at the Skyline Trail exit, so that we'd have a car waiting for us when we got there at the end of the weekend. Then we took the other two vehicles we had used to carpool and drove to the trail head.
Hiking, while interesting in its own right, is even better if you imagine yourself to be someone from Lord of the Rings. My sister claimed the hobbit Merry, which left Pippin for me. We figured these were the most appropriate characters for us to be, given our complete lack of experience and our utter reliance on the rest of the group to keep us alive. Except, I might note, hobbits have tough feet and are presumably blister-hardy. Justin had to give me some of his athletic tape within the first hour to keep me from crawling the rest of the distance.

It may be true that the first day was only 8.3 km, but most of it was a long series of upwards slanting switchbacks. Plus I forgot that Andrew and Braden were marathon runners. I'm not usually one to go chasing after boys, but all I knew at the time was that the guys were getting pretty far ahead and my wounded self was already earning my Pippin label of uselessness. So I did my darnedest to keep up. Didn't quite succeed, mind you, but I was fast enough to occasionally catch a whiff of their relaxed conversation. So this is pretty much what the hike looked like on the first day (click to enlarge):

And then we suddenly arrived at the first camp. We bunked with about ten million mosquitoes at Little Shovel for the first night. Clary rubbed Citronella cream all over her face. My dad put on his beekeeper suit. The rest of us slathered on insect repellent, wore long sleeves and wrapped our heads and necks in whatever pieces of fabric we had available. Except for Andrew. He just hung out in shorts on his makeshift couch.
For those of you who have never been tenting, campsites usually have some form of a bathroom, or at least an outhouse available for use. The Skyline Trail was no exception, except the facilities here were more "out" than "house".
When I first made the trek down to use it, Clary and Gillian saw where I was headed.

"The outhouse is pretty interesting," they said as I passed them.

I continued on my way, crossing paths with Braden.

"Good luck," he said.

You always needed good luck, because you could never be sure that someone else wouldn't come bounding down the path just as you were standing up. I don't think I mooned anyone over the course of the weekend, but it's impossible to know for sure.

"Just sing," said Gillian. "I'm going PEEEEEEE now, don't anyone come DOOOOWWWWN HEEEERRRE!"

What you can't see in this picture is the paper notice tacked to the armrest. It was the same at each campsite. On the paper was a hand-drawn, smiling poop-shaped character that waved at you. His name was Lumpy. He explained to you how to change the waste barrels when one of them got too full and told you that at some point, a helicopter would come replace the full barrels with empty ones, but only if park authorities were notified that the waste in each had reached six inches from the top.

Given that we didn't really like to hang around the outhouse, except to take pictures, we had to find some other thing to do to amuse ourselves once we reached the campsite. We poured water into freeze-dried food packages. We used more matches than we should have trying to light our camp stoves. We swatted mosquitoes off one another. We hung up our food and baby powder in bear bags.

My sister, Brianna, wasn't sure of the effectiveness of these bear bags. "Bears can climb," she pointed out.

"But they can't fly," said my dad.

We pondered the profundity of their conversation. And then we didn't know what to do with our time anymore.

"Well," I offered, "I brought a deck of mini-cards."

It was our only option. So we all played Four-Card Golf and Ninety-Nine on my 2" by 1" cards. We had to weigh them down with pebbles and I used my teeny-tiny notebook to keep score. Between the ten of us, and each of our thirty-pound backpacks, we had the foresight to bring exactly one item for recreational use. Well, two if you counted my Notes from the Underground, which Brianna suggested I read out loud, but nobody else jumped at that one. So mini-cards it was. I guess when you're counting every gram, a ratio of 140,000 grams of functionality to every 4 grams of entertainment is about right.
And then we went to bed at eight-thirty. I must have heard every fart made by someone in our group. Tent walls don't exactly dampen sound. And then I dozed off and on until morning.

"We do this so we can appreciate our desk job." Andrew, pontificating on the reason for our hike.


Anonymous said...

I'd like to point out that it was MY foresight that caused you to bring an item for recreational use! (You're welcome.) I love the little pebbles holding down your cards... :)

Braden said...

And to my dismay after the hike, I found a "fresh" deck of normal-sized cards resting ever so peacefully in Andrew's glove box alongside my keys and telephone. But I think I would have still enjoyed the miniature cards more.

notyourbrother!Justin said...

Loved the LOTR map! Can't wait for more...If the Knotch is Mt. Doom, maybe the mudslide can be that earthquake swallowing everything up after Sauron was destroyed.

Art said...

It is interesting to note that I picked Gandalf as my LOTR character and he dies in the movie. Fortunately, I did not die but sometimes I wonder how close I was.