Sunday, August 17, 2014

As I come screaming out of the woods

So yeah, I'm home.

A week early.

Because even though I planned, trained and packed for a two week backpacking trip to hike the John Muir Trail with Bubba and our Super Nice Neighbor, my knee had other plans.

Twisty plans.

So, we're hiking along on Day 2 of the thing, all stuffed full of Chili Mac and Nutella and then some things that are actually healthy food items, passing amazing scenery and not getting rained on yet (YET I SAID) and we come to our first set of steep rock staircases coming up to Evolution Meadow.

When I say steep rock staircases, what I mean is switchbacks constructed entirely of foot thick giant granite blocks stacked a few feet apart all the way up the muther fucking mountain in the soul-crushing shape of switchbacks.

Like this.
Like, blow me.


But, being the Hey whatever, I'm totally in shape and I can do this even though my pack weighs two tons and I'm not so swift with the trekking poles yet gal that I am, I totally went for it.

Like one might just go for it with, say, a certain ill-fated workout routine.


And, like a certain ill-fated workout routine, I busted myself.

Now, I'm not going to continue aligning shitty shit Crossfit with amazing awesome beautiful LOVE IT SO MUCH backpacking because that would be unfair to backpacking, but my approach to extreme exercise like my attitude when I was a teenager, in the words of my mother, "has got to stop".

It's time I learned a few things, like:

  1. I am not 10 years old even though I act like it
  2. "Forcing It" should maybe not be my personal mantra anymore
  3. One should never twist while lifting
If I'd embraced these things before this trip, perhaps I wouldn't have twisted my knee to the point of nearly tears and before that even maybe I wouldn't have wandered off into the woods with a backpack just shy of 50 pounds (49.5 said the scale).

Hi! I'm fucking retarded.



Now, the fun part about this (fun is just not the right word here, but I'm moving on), is that I did sort of embrace #2 back there as I continued to march on through the pain for another two days. What I mean is that after two days of being all, "Oh, I'll be fine. I'll just take some more Aleve and try not to be such a vagina about it." I finally gave in to the reality of things.

The reality being that the first pass we crossed (Muir Pass, 11,995') nearly put me in the ground and it being the second lowest pass we were going to cover meant that HI STUPID perhaps my knee isn't going to make it over 4 more passes that are higher, steeper and just full to the fucking brim with sunuvabitching granite block steps, monster gravel, boulders, massively steep descents that would press my right knee into action every other step and, you know, evil gremlins out to eat my feet and knees.


Also I was going terribly slow because it's hard to hobble at a normal hiking pace and OH YEAH my boots were consuming my feet at the rate of one blister per mile.

Or so.

It was getting ugly on my feet and knee, I was getting progressively pathetically slower and I had only crossed one of six passes. 

Oh yay me. Way to go.

Then it started to rain. And then snow. And then hail.

Not super encouraging.
Also, bizarre halo effect courtesy of hail on my camera lens.

So as Bubba and I sat out the hail/rain/thunder and lightning storm for 14 hours in our wee "2 person" tent, we got real.

This is Bubba's Get real and stop arguing with me because you know I'm right face. It's convincing, I'll admit.

Also, I had no escape, so that helped.

Ah, hail. Just what you want on your backpacking trip.

As in, if I tried to man up through five more high elevation passes, I was going to destroy my right knee forever, probably ruin my left knee compensating for my shit ass right knee and my feet were going to become one giant blister as soon as all of my toenails fell off. 

"Manning up" for 70 more miles wasn't an option. 

Instead, because Bubba is a wise Eagle Scout and good husband aware of the realities of backcountry injuries, his wife's stubbornness and the remaining available outs on the trail, convinced me that we should bail out over Bishop Pass (11,980') and thumb a ride into town so that we could hopefully get a rental car to drive my hobbled ass back to the Bay Area. 

He is very wise, this one.

"Why you no listen to Bubba? I KNOW THINGS, CRAZY WOMAN."

So I gave in. I came to terms with the fact that I wasn't going to finish the last five passes of the John Muir Trail with him and our Super Nice Neighbor like I'd set out to. I dealt with the oppressive feelings of failure and suckiness and not getting to swim all the live long day at Rae Lakes during our zero day as planned. I let go of my dreams of fishing high mountain streams and lakes for trout. I gave up on Eastern Sierra sunsets and waterfalls and pee-pee inducing views and seeing fuzzy creatures bouncing their fat butts over granite boulders and chasing frogs through the creek crossings and all of the things that I had stuffed my brains with as we'd prepped for this trip.

Because he promised that when my knee was better and my one thousand blisters healed, we'd come back. 

And he picked me some flowers so that I wouldn't be sad.

And I'd only carry a 30 pound pack, wear trail running shoes (MISSED YOU, BROOKS ADRENALINE ASR GTXs!) and never lift and twist again.

That was enough to convince me to scratch at Bishop Pass Junction, a scant 30 or so miles into our hike. 

What I didn't know, and what probably would have helped me over the hump had either of us realized it was ahead of us, was that the Bishop Pass Trail from Le Conte Canyon IS FUCKING GORGEOUS.

Hello, Eastern Sierras. AREN'T YOU THE LOOKER.

Oh, and YOU over there - not too shabby.

I'm a sucker for trees with sexy bark. There. Now you know.

I'm afraid I'll have to take a break from hiking to STARE AT THIS FOREVER YES.

Smiling even though bleeding. The sign of amazing views.

Monster waterfall? Yes, please.

So many pack outfitters. So much horse and mule poo. Still - never got old.

Nice going, Bishop Pass.

We were, uh, into it.

Now, yes, the trail is steep and switchbacky and knee-wrecky for three miles as you eat up a few thousand feet of elevation and there were definite moments of desperation as folks would be hiking down the trail from Dusy Basin all fresh looking and not swearing loudly at every step they took like some people BUT, like the book said, the views are distracting enough to keep you moving.

Like, as you're hiking the switchbacks to the south you're looking at an enormous gorgeous waterfall and as you turn back and hike the switchbacks to the north, you're looking at a span of the Eastern Sierra that busts your eyes with its hugeness.

Also Cal Fire helicopters.

So, I lived to see the glory GLORY I SAY of the unfortunately named Dusy Basin.


Yeah. It was incredible. So beautiful and peaceful and not full of hikers racing from one campsite to the next talking endlessly about their calorie consumption and Ultralight packs and even with a meandering stream chock full of trout feeding from the surface that I could hardly strip down to my skivvies and go swimming and fishing before putting my pack down.

Happy now. Even with fucked up feet and knees.

Well, it was exactly what I needed. 

And what Bubba needed. 

Plus, it didn't rain, I got to fish and swim, we watched the Super Moon wander across the sky and light up the basin and when we finished the pass and then descended into Bishop the next day, a very awesome couple gave us a ride into Bishop so that we could get my peg legged ass back to doctor-having society.

Which was a bit of a task.

I won't go into complete detail about our return to civilization, so will just say that it involved finding no available rental cars in Bishop, so instead orchestrating a near Planes, Trains and Automobiles transportation bonanza from a dive bar while people came out of the fucking woodwork to interrogate us on where we'd been and how was the hike and how long have you been in the woods and oh that's OK that you smell so rank since you've been "on the trail" and whatever.

Bishop is a cool place, y'all. Because after being treated like scourges as we hiked the JMT (no bathroom access for thru-hikers, no hot springs for thru-hikers, etc), suddenly we were in the land of Hey, Backpackers! Your sodas are on the house! Have a razor/shampoo/king size room at no extra charge! Put your big smelly dirty packs anywhere! Of course we deliver to your hotel room! Certainly you can pay with a credit card on board and stow your disgusting packs on the bus no problem! Let me lift your staggeringly heavy backpacks into the cab! How cool that you're doing this that I'm not judging you for your foul dumpster-like odor!

And that land is called, Bishop, CA.

So, on our journey back to the Bay Area, Bubba decided to rename our trip to something more suitable to what we'd accomplished rather than what we'd bailed on.

John Muir Trail Trip turned into First Trans-Sierra Trip right there as we cruised to Reno aboard the surprisingly accommodating Eastern Sierra Transit bus.

So, yeah, all told, we hiked about 70 miles, covered many thousands of feet in elevation, busted one knee, got a dozen or so blisters, saw waterfalls, lakes, super friendly deer, marmots, toads, frogs, picas, brook trout, rainbow trout, Swamp Onions, penstemon, lilies, huge peaks, the Muir Hut, met some cool people, met some lame people, had a bear in our campsite, rode out a hail storm in our still waterproof tent, swam, fished, ate some good backpacking food and some less good backpacking food, destroyed one backpack (mine) and one pair of boots (Bubba's), bruised our eyes with beauty and went swimming while it snowed.

And as soon as Bubba got me back home, we packed him up to go back to the trail to meet our Super Nice Neighbor, which is hopefully who he's with at this very moment at Charlotte Lake

Not going to lie, here, I'll be glad when I have him back home with me once I pick him and our Super Nice Neighbor up at the Mt Whitney Trailhead on Friday so I can give him the royal Thanks For Keeping Me From Wrecking Myself While Still Making Our Trip Super Fun and Awesome treatment.

Suggestions welcomed.

Sunday, August 03, 2014

Before I run screaming into the woods

Just a semi-long random ass update before we go off the grid like psychos into the woods.

Walking around

Remember how I was all, "I'm going to walk around in the woods for 2 weeks" and shit?

Well, that's about to actually happen.

Like, this coming weekend it starts.

Even though I'm still sort of in denial about the whole thing.

Like, yeah, we've packed two bear canisters with 32 pounds of food, shipped a giant 34 pound box of food to our resupply guy, gone on some training death marches, set up the tent in the backyard, bought a new tent when the old one turned out to have some dry rot (15 years of hard labor, poor thing), test cooked dinner on our campstove, rebuilt the campstove when we realized all the O-rings were about to blow, outfitted ourselves with as much OMNI-FREEZE sunblocking clothing as we could find, realized we might be cold and then packed our sub-zeroest long underwear and down jackets and booties, dipped matches into paraffin to waterproof them, read the fishing reports, stuffed gallons of peanut butter and Nutella into squeeze tubes, filled soft bottles with booze, weighed our packed bags (53.25 pounds? HOLY EFFING MUTHER FUCKING SHIT) and put our mail on hold but still I haven't come to terms with the fact that we are about to go into the woods for two weeks.

Oh yeah. Let's do this.
I mean, I guess we could. Or we could stay home and lie down.

And that my rickety arthritic feet are going to carry me over six mountain passes (we're starting at Muir Trail Ranch in the middle, there), with one being the highest peak in the contiguous US.

14,495 feet? Don't say crazy things, map.
So, yay for my orthodics? And the Advil, Aleve and migraine inhalers busting out of the seams of our first aid kit? And a lot of booze?

Yes, yay for those things.

And also spreadsheet planners, maps, new bosses that are totally OK with their new employees ditching out on work for two weeks when they've only been working for a month, super helpful neighbor/co-backpackers that planned most everything else about this trip, friends who are watching the dog/cat/fish/house, other friends who are driving us to the trailhead, other OTHER friends letting us stay in their cabin the night before so that we don't have to camp at the trailhead for an early morning start, neighbor's wives who are picking us up at the end and, you know - a lot of things are yay.

As it turns out, it takes a fucking village to allow three people to leave life for two weeks to walk around in the woods.

Like morons.

Or at least that's how that sentence keeps coming out of people's mouths.

So yeah, that's happening.

Not really a farmer yet

I started my first job as a farmer and IT'S FUCKING AWESOME I LOVE IT and soon hopefully I will have an actual crop growing so that I can actually farm. 

Because, right now, what I'm doing is a lot more like planning to farm than actual farming. It's a lot of strategy and system design and plant nerdy nonsense that I won't bore you with (though, if you're into bio-mechanical filtration, I can talk at length. I'm sure you're interested so don't all email me at once.), but since all of our other farmers are farming their asses off, I get to see awesome shit like this on the daily.

Dry farmed tomatoes becoming FOR REALS.

Calendula fields for the edible flower packs.


And that's not the half of it. In fact, there's so many hundreds of acres more that YIKES. But it's rad. And not just because of the best perks in all of jobdom.

Why yes I WOULD like to fill up the passenger side of my car with whatever I want to pick from the farm.

And YES I DO have something to hold the first tomatoes of the season hold on while I use my hat.

I WOULD love a flat of padron peppers that are just too big for retail, thanks for asking!

Also some garlic and Napoletano basil because why not?

Yes. Yes I will take home a bouquet of basil.

And this flat of green beans that was left on my desk by the green bean fairy.
Which is weird but totally OK with me.

Just the best 10th anniversary ever is all

Meanwhile, Bubba and I celebrated our 10th anniversary last week and it was...incredible.

The man is super human in the ways of knowing me and how to make just a night out because we're about to go away for two weeks and have no time for anything else even though it's our 10th anniversary which is kind of a big one but oh well we'll do it up big next year or something super memorable and awesome even though it's just one night.

Like, he planned a dinner at a great place that wasn't too fancy so that I didn't have to stress about getting all dressed up after working like a maniac all day on the farm, but then didn't tell me where it was so that he could surprise me (I LOVE SURPRISES) and then told me we could get there whenever so that I didn't have to rush. 


Then he surprised me with an incredible gorgeous unbelievable anniversary ring even though we weren't going to do gifts because we have this big trip to go on and let's not worry about it.  And told me that we could sit and enjoy dinner and not rush because the surprise thing we were doing after dinner didn't have any time requirements.


Bubba's mysterious SURPRISE face. My drunk happy face. You recognize it.

THEN he surprised me with the surprise thing that turned out to be one of my favorite live musicians playing at one of my favorite outdoor venues and OH we have really great seats. 

John Hiatt, Montalvo Winery, warm summer night, Bubba...



WHO IS THIS FUCKING GUY? And, more importantly, how did I manage to talk him into sticking around for so long?

I must use this power elsewhere. But only for good! 

Ok, mostly for good.

Anyway, yeah - we're off to hike, fish and swim in high mountain lakes for two weeks, being a farmer is rad even though I'm not really farming yet and I love my Bubba even more at 10 years than I did at 1 year, even though I never would have thought it possible.

Let's hope this trip goes well and I don't have to, like, fight a bear or something, because it would be a real drag for things to start sucking after the rad month we just had.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

How this psycho gets ready to go back to a full time job.

In the usual Finny Is A Psycho tradition that you've come to expect, I spent my final moments before starting my new job last week killing my to do list.

Because nothing says accomplishment like cleaning the cat box.

Too bad I didn't have a second to spare before starting work because then I could have spent some much fantasized about time sitting naked atop this list.

Instead, I spent some much fantasized about time putting the spong away where I don't have to fucking see it.

What do you mean you can't see it either?

TEE DAH this only took me two hours and a hundred swears.
Yeah, I've wanted one of these tip out drawers for a hundred years and then I was nearing the moment when I was going to be out of free time forever because of the forthcoming full time farming job (YAY! I'm still so YAY over this. Obviously.) and then I was randomly reading some blogs and checked in on one of my faves and damnitall if girlfriend hadn't just put one in.

That tore it. I had to do it. IT WAS NOW OR NEVER. Otherwise I was going to have to look at that grody spong forever. And lest you think that I typoed back there, I did not. We call it a Spong. Like 'Dong' with a 'Sp'.

You get it.

And understand me.

Thanks for understanding. I like that about you guys.

Anyway, the spong and scrubber brush and drain stopper and just whatever the fuck else I decide I want to put in there have homes where I don't have to look at their grodiness.

Especially the spong though. It's the grodiest. Though I'm not sure why it grosses me out.

Moving on.

In my spree of getting shit done before starting full time work again, I did other shit, too.

Like breaking down all of our food for hiking the John Muir Trail.
Which included moving the contents of giant jars of peanut butter and Nutella into squeeze tubes yay fuck.

All I have to say about packing food for two weeks of backpacking is that it completely blows.

I even tried to cheer myself on through it by getting all super organize-y with the laptop up with my spreadsheet tracker going and putting on fun movies in the background and letting myself eat a few peanut M&Ms, but it still sucked.

All I could think about was how much I was going to hate all of this food soon. And how I'd have to carry it while hating it. And smell it while hating it. And eat it while hating it.

My fervent hope is that I at least come home hating Nutella so that it can't taunt my thighs from the store shelves anymore.


Anyway, yeah - I packed a lot of food up for our trip and I'm shipping half of it to our resupply guy this week and THANK YOU A MILLION TIMES to my amazing, badass, loves-to-put-messy-shit-into-squeeze-tubes sister who showed up just in time to put all the messy shit into squeeze tubes.

I was putting it off because the thought made me want to shit twice and die a thousand fiery deaths.

Can you guess what movie I was watching while I did this? If you can, we are soul mates. If not, blow me.

I did, in fact, manage to get to the bottom of that final to do list and, as my reeeeward, I fucked around in the garden for a while.

Nice reeeeward.

It's something. Not a lot. But something.

Tiny melon

Tiny lemon cucumber

And, not on my written list, but in my mental mind list FOREVER, was a trip to float in Lake Tahoe. Which I SO did even when all things were conspiring against me to just forget about it.

FORGET YOU, life's responsibilities

Instead of blood in my veins, I have the icy cold water of Lake Tahoe. Think about that, why don't you. Also, loving my hat Dig - all my friends in Tahoe want one now, too. So, like, expect orders.

I'm sure you can see why I love it here.

Then I did a bunch of other shit that had just been languishing in the back of my head being all, "You know, just get to me whenever you have a free minute, Mrs. I'm Too Busy For Everything Jerk Bitch."

Seriously, it's rude in there.

Planted my lamb's ear some buddies.

Picked a shit ton of Gravenstein apples.

Went on a death march style hike with the goofball dog who doesn't know how to use a backpack and my beloved Bubba who definitely knows how to use a backpack.

Watched Bubba pump his balls.
This wasn't on my list, but I'm sure you understand why I had to include it anyway. Because of how you guys all understand me, remember? You remember.
Also, I said balls.

Bid a tearful farewell to my hydro cucumber and eggplant crop. Love you, babies! Be good and don't get whitefly!

I hugged all of these hops.

I ate all of these peaches. Thanks, Nan!

Make crockpot plum jam.

Sampled the awesome Belgian that Bubba and I brewed.

Drank a LOT of cocktails while swinging in my recently resurrected Sky Chair.

Planted the long-coveted pineapple guava.
And probably there were other things I did, too, but who cares because that shit's over.

I'm a working woman again.


We'll chat on it.