Chronicles of the Wayward Moot

WELCOME TO THE MOOT, oh world-wanderers and word-whisperers. After two years of Peace Corps. After 2,200 miles on the Pacific Crest Trail. What. Comes. Next?

8/08/2006

Sorry for those of you who can't read or write, but you'll have to keep waiting for more pictures.

For your reading pleasure, a slightly modified copy of my actual journal entry from two nights ago.
 
8-6-06  "Night on You-Can-Lick-This Mtn."

Tonight I'm solo bivvying in a cave/arch up on Cerro de Arcos.  Just
finished a dinner of mac and cheese (thx E. from omnibus 96!)
with tuna.  Got my iriver T30 so I've been jamming to Stems from Seed
and Punjabi MC, thanks to the lovely lady.  Surprise surprise, I've been
thinking about her all fucking day.  It's 7:30 PM  Got off of the
chiva at 9AM, started the climb.  Nice and sunny, but cold and VERY
windy with gusts rivaling those on the volcanoes of Tongariro in 2002.
 I think some of the time it was up to 60-70 mph, as even with a
moderately heavy pack I was almost blown over a few times.  Felt great
on the way up but after I arrived at the Cerro around 10:30 or so I
went to stash my Astralplane in some bushes (there were 2 other groups
here…strange) and started to feel very fatigued, lightheaded, etc.
Then I lost a contact while trying to put them in. Duhh, wait for a
windless cave next time!!  Anyways, the glare of the sun could have
played a big part, or maybe it was some dehydration, or the altitude
(Cerro de Arcos is at or around 13,000 feet I believe) but I felt like
shit for much of the day.  I think it was a combination of factors for
sure.  Anyhoo, I love it up here … found some new caves and arches,
got a handle on where to get H2O up here without going all the way to
the Laguna (the one with underwear in it) and basically had the place
to myself after the first half hour, as it was WAY too windy and
fricken freezing to be dragging those kids up here today.  The
experience became a personal challenge.  Can I persevere through the
numbing cold and blasting wind and throbbing headache and the
loneliness and solitude and isolation and the constant racing of my
oxygen starved mind?  Can I make camp in a spot protected from wind
and possible driving rain or snow?  Without a tent?  I was confident
of the answer from the beginning but knowing and doing are two
different animals and I wanted to get intimate with both.  Now I am
sitting up in my sleeping bag in a half cave, half arch surrounded by
twisted gnarled branches of hardy scrub brush and alpine ferns, plenty
of otherworldly plants that I suspect are related to yucca and even
some that look like they could be a weird type of orchid.  WTF.  I
heated up the last of my meager water (I would have brought more but
I'm trying to learn how to pack lighter  =)   ) and now it sits in a
Nalgene between my legs trying to burn my calves.  So be it.  I am
getting to know what Daniel Quinn was talking about in Tales of Adam
when he says not to fight or struggle against nature … you cannot win,
nature is too big.  But if you accept the cold into you, if you accept
that there is not supposed to be as much oxygen here, then instead of
hating and struggling with those realities, you can feel yourself
being relinquished into the bigger picture, which incidentally, is of
course where you belong.  A black llama watched me return to my
stashed pack this afternoon.  I think it "understood" why I am here.
That was a brief moment of spacetime magic I got to witness through
the malaise of my mild altitude sickness.  It should be mentioned that
I attribute my calmness here in large part to the woman I am
fucking CHUFFED to be with.  Thinking about her gave me a solid goal
to work toward, namely getting comfortable with being uncomfortable.
If I am going to thrive on the mountains, I will be facing an uphill
(hahaha) battle since my site is not high enough to give any useful
acclimatization.  I have to WORK for it.  So here I am in a cave of
sorts at 13,000 feet, the sound of the wind whipping furiously through
the scrub and ghostly spires of ancient stone, and I sit cross-legged
like some sage, with light shining brightly from my forehead.  I think
it's time actually to extinguish the light and go pay my homage to the
moon if I can.  All around me are steep hidden hollows and blind
cliffs and loose rocks and I don't plan to die here tonight so I'll be
careful.  Back in a bit.  Hopefully my sack will be warmer by then.
–MJ

8:42PM that same night …
WOW.  That was incredible … I have been rewarded for my efforts!  On
the way up out of the cave thicket I encountered something surprising
in one of the tighter passages.    There was a flight and a flutter
and then something slammed into my face, startling the shit out of me.
 I thought it was a moth, but no, it was too massive, a bat maybe?
Nope.  I saw it on the floor of the passage, breathing as fast as a
winded Chihuahua, a tiny hummingbird sat clinging to its sanity on the
cave floor, shining a thousand different shades of green and red in
the light of my headlamp.  I would have guessed that the flowers up
here were pollinated by insects .. shows what I know… ALPINE CAVE
HUMMINGBIRD!  NEW SPECIES!  PEACE CORPS VOLUNTEER GETS TO NAME THE
DAMNED THING!  cool.  So I made it above deck and was greeted by a
fierce fucking wind from Valhalla or some such mythical place   Above
me the nearly full moon shone like the headlight of a lone
motorcyclist traversing the heavens.  To the east, where the wind blew
in from, was a 60 foot cliff dropping off.  To the south I could see
vast banks of clouds BELOW me rolling like rapids through the  valley
between the Cerro and that place where lies Laguna Chinchilla on the
other side.  Ragged stone sentinels of the Cerro made up the dark
silhouette of the foreground and massive shadowy flanks of the Andes
poured out from the clouds farther off across space.  To the west, a
large cerro boulder loomed 100 or so feet distant, and I could see the
clouds regrouping on the far side of it, miles and miles out towards
my site. To the north, more shadowy paramo rolling and rolling off
until there was nothing but the twinkling or orange lights of some
Sierran settlement or other.  I dunno which, I didn't bring a map.
Above me, cloud filtering the moonlight, then a second later, deep
blue black sky with starlight spattered throughout.  The Southern
Cross shone.  Is it a sign or just a constellation?  Open to
interpretation I suppose.  The wind, perhaps feeling challenged by the
smile creeping across my face, picked up considerably … no worries.  I
had fun with it, leaning deeply into its attack, to me more
entertaining than threatening.  I leaned forwards and backwards,
letting the force of the Andes hold me up at impossible angles.  By
this time Punjabi MC was long over, replaced by Nickel Creek.  That
made me want to dance. So, giggling like a jackass, that's what I did…
swaying and jumping and tapping to some good folksy mountain music,
while the wind drove the clouds across the sky like popcorn cattle to
the slaughter, myself  being the only witness, dancing a Mountainjedi
dance alone on an eroded volcano at 13,000 feet in Ecuador with a
bellyful of macaroni and cheese. FUCK YEAH.  The moon behind the
clouds flying by took on a new illusion.  It was as if a pearl were
falling through cotton candy, or through a million cotton balls over a
backdrop of death black obsidian.  The moon was falling.  It was
falling across the sky.  I felt I was standing on top of Neverland, a
fantastic panorama of spectacle  Before I retired to my goblin cave I
saw a single shooting star fall where I imagined my Ecuadorian home to be…

1 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

What interesting weather, in a country right smack on the equator! What are the seasons like down there, oh MountainJedi?

Cheers,
JC

4:15 PM  

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