TWO STICKS AUDIO LOG: PART TWO
7/9 – Red’s Meadow
ISABELL COLAVITO: I’d been hearing for a week that the flu was bad this year. I didn’t think about it. The flu is bad every year. It’s a bad flu season, there’s a drought, eggs are gonna give me salmonella, the water has led or acid or fucking carpenter ants. I don’t know. I’m supposed to care that the smog’s gonna kill us off? I haven’t been able to breath right since I was 11. So, no, I didn’t worry about the flu. That’s why god created Nyquil. Wasn’t till the the 1st. What was that? A Thursday? I brought down a half dozen tourists from Mammoth. A good day a single shuttle brings down 60 an hour. That’s one shuttle. So that Thursday when I start noticing my bus isn’t so full, yeah, then I start to care. Thursday it’s 85%. Friday 65. A week of that they’ll take off a bus from the route and I’ll need another summer job. Thankfully the world shut down by then I didn’t need to bother.
EVERETT SCOTT: First time here I was 16. I’d run off and hitched along the PCT. Manny was here then too. He gave me my first beer. Told me I’d like it when I was older. I’m over 40 now I still can’t stand the taste. Reached Canada and didn’t know where to go so I yo-yo’d back and got to Red’s before winter kicked in. I stayed on and did my best not to “Jack Torrance” the place up. Met more drifters and dirtbags. It was the type of place people ended up who couldn’t operate in normal society. Get a job, a career, start a band, be an artist, a writer, travel to Europe. Can’t do any of that, the mountains find you and don’t let go.
I followed a pair north in the summer. We pitched the nose of El Capitan and summitted every 14er in the range. Pitched the face of Whitney. That summer made me a rock climber. Three years later I joined Butter Shoemaker’s Himalayan trek. I didn’t come back to California till I heard from my brother who’d been missing over 10 year.
SADIE ALEXANDER: My daddy was a seasonal ranger. When my parents were first together Mom would come up to the mountains with him through the summer. He’d move back to Bishop with her for the fall and winter but you could see he never really did fit in. Mom couldn’t keep that up and when I was around five she got a full time job teaching. Daddy stayed up in the mountains. He had an affair with another ranger. He and mom tried to work through it but got divorced. Parents didn’t really get divorced back then, especially not in Bishop. People thought I was weird for it and so I suppose I ended up kind of like him: Not really fitting in.
He wasn’t the same after that. I ended up staying with Mom for good. He’d tried to get me up there but I hated him so much for cheating on her that I ended up hating the mountains too. In ‘78 I was 35 and would only see him at special functions or the occasional family event. He sent a postcard when Mom remarried. I didn’t do him the courtesy of burning it. Just left it on the street in front of the mailbox.
I hated him so much I didn’t even notice when the news reported that a ranger had gone missing in the Sierra near Thousand Island Lake. They spent three weeks looking for him but his body never turned up. Some rock climber found him a decade later beneath the boulders of Clyde Minaret. The climber who found him said the body looked like it was trying to burrow into the mountainside. Like a swimmer trying to get to the bottom of a lake. The body. Not him. The body. I never forgot that. He was popular with the rangers. They covered him in stones and gave him a service.
Mom died last summer. I haven’t been up to any mountain country like this since I was a kid. I’m old now. My kids are nearly his age when he died. Told Deacon this was where I wanted to go for our anniversary. Least I could do is introduce them since they never met. The ranger and the astronaut. Really though? I wanted to see what Daddy was hoping to find inside the mountain.
ISABELL COLAVITO: Everyone knew that story. I’d tell it on the bus rides in when rangers weren’t on board. The ranger who lost his mind searching for the heart of the mountain. Kids loved it. Parents thought it was sort of morbid. Maybe it is. But kids know what parents soon forget: the mountains are alive. And if a mountain is alive then there’s gotta be a soul deep down inside of it. I think that’s why I never liked caves.
EVERETT SCOTT: I was in Patagonia leading some tech couple up Torres Del Paine. We never even made Camp 2 before the weather said no. Came back and had a message from my brother. He’s nine years younger than I am. Left home at 16 without a word. Parents said he was never doing well. I left myself around the same age. Hadn’t seen from him since. He’s grown up now. A man. And I never knew him.
The phone call my company got was from a sheriff in southern Arizona. He’d been in a drug related accident and was being held. I was the only contact he had and it was from some ad in “Outside Magazine” for the adventure company I work for. I flew to Arizona and talked to the sheriff. Said Owen was hearing voices. Talking to the walls. That sort of thing. Sheriff’s daughter put him on a bus to California. Said he was coming here. To the mountains. To the Sierra.
By the time I got here everything had already begun.
to be continued…
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