Tuesday, November 27, 2007

A rocking weekend

I've always wondered about humans who torture themselves by spending their vacations lying in a spa and sipping wine. Because to me a wonderful vacation means carrying 40 pounds for 25 miles in freezing cold waters of a dark narrow canyon. I get a particular satisfactory glow when I eat Luna bar that tastes like ear-wax combined with pig's excreta (just to set the record straight I might have eaten ear wax but never pig's excreta).

We hiked the Buckskin Gulch in Southern Utah this Thanksgiving weekend. The first semi-scary situation came when we were dropped off at the trail head by Susan the shuttle woman. It was godamn cold and after I had oversome the initial shock of freezing in a desert, I wailed, 'Aunty, please come back and take me!' My fellow hikers thought I was being obnoxious (as usual) and paid no heed to my sufferings. I pulled out chemical hand warmers from my backpack (to be used in emergencies only) and tore open the cover in a psychopathic frenzy while jumping up and down violently shaking my frozen fingers. All this before I had even started the hike.

We walked into the longest slot canyon in the world, the Buckskin Gulch. I truly believe that claim and I can't tell you how much mental preparation is required to make sure you dont get claustrophic and bury yourself in the canyon out of sheer panic that it might never end. It's tiringly long, achingly deep and extremely narrow. In places we had to remove our backpacks, inhale and squeeze sideways. Its also jawdropping surreal and extremely exquisite. The walls tell tales of erosion, flash floods and beauty. Its almost a spiritual experience. If you look hard, you can spot pertoglyphics (ancient rock art by Anasazi settlers). There are times when you can't see the sky through the 500 feet tall sandstone walls. Like ants carrying their food through long burrows inside the earth, we plodded on as every part of our body ached. Starts off with the calf muscles, moves over to your hips and then to the right shoulder. By the end of it, you are one big vessel of pain and it doesn't matter any more. You might as well get that rock and throw it on your left shoulder so that there is some equilibrium.
Apart from the sweet tango of pain, concerns were flash floods, claustrophobia, rocky terrain, boulders blocking the way, cold weather, walking in ice cold water (knee deep for 5 miles), and pooping in a bag (and bringing it back). To top it all, our stove decided to commit suicide on the first night itself. So we were doomed to eat our emergency food, the Luna bars! I am convinced the makers of Luna bars tested their product only on animals.

I am also convinced that I live for these moments.

Like the moment I got into the car after the hike and said, 'Turn on the heater, quick!'

The moment my hiking buddy says, 'I'll go into the shower first!' and I think of that extra fuel that could be used on him at this point.

The moment we saw a real meal after days of eating above mentioned Luna bars and bellowed at the waitress,' You forgot to add olives on this pizza!'

After hiking relentlessly for miles, the minute we all sat in the car, no one wanted to volunteer to get out and fill gas. It suddenly seemed like the most daunting task ever.

As you can tell, I couldn't have asked for a better vacation. Proof is in my limp.

20 comments:

bloghopper said...

Wow ! very surreal ... I sure want to go ...

AmitL said...

Hi,Twin...whew-that vacation looks more of a tough trip to me than any trip I've undertaken..do you really feel relaxed about it at the end of the day?

ROFL at something I just noticed..the pics-now,if I have a twin-track mind,I'd see something,err,saucy in them,and,not just grand canyons and crevices and errrr,all..:)I'm surprised you didn't comment on the pics in your witty manner.

But,seriously,I'd love to visit the places,one of these days.Let's see.

Anonymous said...

I want to go when I look at the pictures and not when i see the description,
icecold water 5 miles? - why? why? why?
What did you do wrong for susan aunty to punish you like this?

-S

Rationale said...

And heres to many more rocky weekends to come. Cling to the cliffs baby!

Uma said...

Wow looks and sounds amazing.

Terri said...

Claustrophobia, flash floods, Luna bars and pooping in a bag. It's a good thing some of us are happy living life vicariously.

Where are you training next?

Karan said...

wow... sounds and looks like a great adventure! and cmon, luna bars aren't that bad!! and those poop bags sound like a better alternative to the honeybuckets i've seen at some places... at least you don't have to deal with other people's stuff!

Alpha said...

bh: what are you waiting for? I am sure the temperatures would have dropped to minus ten by now. go for it!

amitl: Potter's clay pots? snake hills? I give up..what does it remind you of?

Oh, I feel completely accomplished and relaxed..like i said something like this does it for me.

s, we paid susan aunty 60 bucks for that! you should still go, pay no heed to what I say.

rationale: yes! here we come.

uma: thanks.

terri: in the potty. been a while you see.

karan: thank god i have not seen any honeybuckets!..though they sound cuter than poop bags. cant stand the compost thing they have at grand canyon...shitting in the open is so much better.

luna bars suck! have you had the chocolate caramel one?..we had to eat it as the only other option lay in a bag (the bag I mentioned before). looks like i am talking to a veteran hiker...where have you been lately?

bloghopper said...

What am I waiting for ? For the temperatures to go up. When do you think is a good time to hike over there ?

Alpha said...

bh: Spring (May/June) is the best time. After which there is thunder storms and you just shouldn't be hiking there. Summers/Fall have waist deep water and winters are cold. But if you ever want to just do a day hike (not really backpack), you could. You should also visit the nearby Zion National Park where we hiked two years ago. That's beautiful too. Check out their website.

bloghopper said...

We just did hiking in the Zion this Halloween. Fall is spectacular in Zion. I am almost tempted to go on a day hike in the buckskin gulch.

Alpha said...

bh: great! Which trail did you do? did you do the narrows? We did the west rim trail and it was spectacular. if you live closeby, you could definitely do a day hike..some (really fit people) do the entire slot canyon in one day. That is 25 miles..its extremely hard but doable without a backpack. Its worth going through the paria canyon. just be prudent and get waterproof socks..we weren't even aware of such wonderful things.

bloghopper said...

Yep, the narrows. But just a little bit. The waters were freezing, and we didnt have the waterproof socks. Had to get back. But did the upper emerald pool trail and some of the angels landing. Will definitely invest in those waterproof socks.

Alpha said...

yeah, we did angel's landing last time and wanted to do it again this time, but we were so sore from this hike that we had to skip or risk being an angel.

Rationale said...

I was so disappointed we couldnt hike in Zion this May. :( This post/comments brought that all back.

Maybe next year...

Alpha said...

rationale: if you wait another 3 million years, zion would just become sand dunes.

Rationale said...

Oh now wouldnt that be fun! Dune buggying! But I'm no Adam Monroe to live that long. (If you're watching "Heroes" these days...)

Chitra said...

Oeer....just looking at the snaps is making me dizzy! How did you manage Alpha :-) ?

Karan said...

arre, no veteran hiker! just an enthusiast who's tried some organized 'living in the wild' with thousands of other ppl! honeybuckets and energy bars are the necessary evils at such events! outside of local hikes (which, btw, are fantastic in the pacific NW), one memorable hike is the bright angel trail @ grand canyon.

Alpha said...

chittu singh! you are back... oh well, i'm just one of those cool people you always want to know..what to do!

Karan: thousand sof other people?! wow, that might scare the bears a little. Good thing you are in the pacific NW...great place...great mountains. One of my best hikes also!..http://grandcanyon.blogdrive.com/