TWO STICKS AUDIO LOG: PART ONE
7/9 – Red’s Meadow
ISABELL COLAVITO: I knew the world had gone full tilt when the girl came in riding a bear. I mean, I like bears as much as the next person, but I don’t trust no girl riding a bear. That’s just queer. I’m talking LORD OF THE RINGS level queer. Trees talking and walking. Mountains strolling by. She’s tied up now and you tell me we’re safe. Sure. Fine. Whatever. I’m telling you those bears are coming back. We can sit here and talk and tell our stories about why and how this all came to pass, but that won’t mean nothing when they come back. 2X4’s will stop that dead man walking outside, but it ain’t gonna stop a half ton pickup with claws and a nose to free their new best friend. I say we get rid of her. Toss her into the storm.
DEACON ALEXANDER: The plan was to ride mules into Thousand Island Lake and walk the slopes of the Minarets looking for the grave. I could hike it now fine. 20 years ago I could have run it. But Sadie had knee surgery. Five years ago it was back surgery. Doctor told her to stop hiking, stop gardening, shouldn’t even have a dog cause a dog needs to be walked. Said she couldn’t do much more than dissolve into the couch unless she wanted to fall apart in 18 months. I respect anyone that tells their doctor to fuck off.
Thing is, there wasn’t supposed to be rain. That’s half the reason you come up to the Sierra. There might be snow leftover, maybe an afternoon shower, but this is Central California. It’s dry country. So the thunderstorm rolls in and just sort of settles over us not looking like it means to leave. The mules were spooked.
ISABELL COLAVITO: Tourists come up to the mountains to sit and watch stars and drink beer in hammocks and take pictures dressed in their heeled leather boots and plaid long sleeves. They’ll leave their pack out for a bear, or stop and take photos of some rattler about to bite them. But it’s the rain that scares them. Take any kid from Southern California and show them the rain, you’d think it was frogs falling from the sky. Northern Californians don’t shine to Southern Californians. It’s not the water LA’s got. That CHINATOWN stuff happened a hundred years ago. People from Los Angeles are pussies. That’s all it is.
DEACON ALEXANDER: That first night our guide and the couple of the cowgirls he brought with him, well, they met up with some kids a couple sites over. Probably the same age as these kids here. They had bongs. Smoking’s fine. But I’ve never seen anyone lug bongs into the backcountry. Everyone my age is packing five thousand dollar ultra light gear to save an ounce and these punks got two-pound glass bongs that might break if they touch the inside of a tent. I was almost impressed. Didn’t think much else till the next morning when they all woke up sick. The punks leave, just cackling the whole way out of camp. I think they knew they weren’t gonna make it. Just went straight west off trail towards the Minarets as the rain came down on them. Laughing the whole time. That got me.
By the end of the day Manny and the two girls are going real bad. Hacking up behind boulders, not talking to me and Sadie. They were our guide up the slopes so without them we just sat inside the tent hoping the rain might let up.
Sun goes down and Manny comes over stinking like a dead rat. Tells us he and the girls are headed back. Right then at dusk. I’ve hiked at night. It’s fine when the moon is up or the stars are out and you’ve got a good destination. But when you’re sick, or lost, or the lightning is the only thing shining your way? Well, we didn’t have to argue with them: those mules weren’t going anywhere.
HAROLD MIDFIELD: I’ve been here the whole season. Finished school and my parents sent me off because they knew Manny from some whatever thing. I don’t even like nature. They know I don’t like nature. Nature knows I don’t like nature. I think they just wanted to get me out of the house for the summer and I knew it’d look good on my transcripts. All I do is take orders and wash dishes. College is gonna be bullshit. If you need to do bullshit like wash dishes to get in, everyone at McDonald’s would be post-doc. I bet everyone in college is an asshole. I come here and they tell me I could hike and even ride the horses. Who wants to ride a horse? How about a clean internet connection? Christopher Reeves taught us a lesson about horses that I plan to heed.
So I’m working here two months and in the last month all these hippies start coming through. Hiker hippies. Some of them wear kilts. Like we’re in BRAVEHEART or something. They’re all miserable. Just miserable. Trail names. Call themselves freed slaves. Like, seriously, they’d say that. You ask for their real name and they go, “You mean my slave name, bro?” Jesus.
EVERETT SCOTT: When I first did the PCT the trail wasn’t so populated. Definitely was the only black guy. Why colored people don’t come up to the mountains I’ve never been able to figure. Maybe why I like mountaineering in South America and the Himalayas. There, the mountain is the thing. Here it’s white people trying too hard. “We used to be slaves and now we’re free.” Yeah, I heard them say that. Just chill, dude, we’re trying to have a fire. That’s all I’d ever say. I should have been a surfer.
HAROLD MIDFIELD: A week ago the shuttle starts dropping off fewer guests. We get a couple cancellations and start noticing the food orders are off. We got more leftovers than expected. The rangers over at Devil’s Postpile start asking if any of the guests are sick. As far as I can tell we got some. They lock themselves in their cabin and even in the middle of the night with the storm going strong you can hear them. Few more take the shuttles back to Mammoth. Craziest thing I saw all summer was a hiker they rescued who slipped down the mountain up on the High Sierra Trail. He was trying to snap some yoga pose right up against the cliff and he toppled right over. Rangers brought him in and his leg was bent at 90 degrees the wrong way and he’d coughed up so much blood you thought he might be wearing face paint.
So when everyone got sick I didn’t think much of it. People get sick. No big deal. I wasn’t worried until Manny came back early looking like someone was eating him alive from the inside. That was it. That was the worst thing I’ve seen. Then the girl shows up with the bears.
to be continued…
For the previous chapters follow this link. Thanks for sharing and spreading the word!