“So, no shit, there I was. In Tehachapi Pass. The good news is, of course, that this means I am hiking again. Hooray! And, in fact, the thing that was holding me up was Kady's visit and waiting for my new pack frame.
[...Continued in comments because LJ is complaining that the body is too long. Bah! ]”
Kady's visit went well, hopefully she will write up a little report of it. The pack frame has arrived, and I put it on, and now that my pack is no longer broken, it is time to get hiking again.
So. Tehachapi Pass.
...Is a windmill farm. As such, it is windy. Now, I grew up near the Altamont Pass, which is another windmill farm near the San Francisco Bay Area. So, I thought I knew what to expect, but let me tell you, the wind out here is just unendingly vicious. I mean, in the Altamont Pass, I could, y'know, get out in the hills and walk around, and not have to fight to just keep my damn balance.
But here, there was one part, I was coming up some switchbacks up to the top of the ridge here, and all of the sudden I hit this little saddle, and I step out from behind the cover of the ridge on the southern part of the saddle, into clean air, and all of the sudden -- BAM -- I am in the middle of this gale and I am fighting just to stay on my feet. Literally, I am clamping down on my trekking poles and staggering just to stay in place, hoping for some sort of break in the wind so I can make forward progress and somehow make it past that, I don't even know how.
Anyway, this is where I detour my story for a moment, and go back a couple of days, back to day 49, when I am coming down the Tehachapi Mountain into the Tehachapi Pass area.
The mountains up there are all eroded all to heck. They're just a dirt biker playground, and the walking is therefore miserable. There's all this trail wash floating (?), and a lot of times the trail just completely cuts out, because the dirt bike paths go straight up the hills and you have to just sort of struggle across the big mound of dirt they create until you can find trail again.
But anyway, so, I wasn't having a terribly great time heading down the Tehachapi Mountains, and at one point there was a couple of trees, that because I had my umbrella up for shade, I really had to fight to get underneath. They were low-hanging down to about five feet off the trail, and I had to bend almost double to get past them, and about a mile past that, I realize ...
My glasses case is open.
And my glasses are not in there.
These are a little-over-a-hundred-dollar prescription lenses with nice titanium bendable, unbreakable frames. So, I just sort of sit down, defeated for a moment, trying to figure out what I'm gonna do. I eventually end up going back for them. I go half an hour and a lot of extra hiking under a hot hot sun, going back to the place where I'm hoping my glasses fell or I bent over there somewhere, and fortunately, I find them. So, I was figuring the Tehachapis had been trying to get my stuff, but at least I was able to go back, retrieve it, and, y'know, keep all of my things.
Flash back forward to today.
I get to camp, about 3 or 4 more switchbacks up the ridge from the Gale Force Area -- I say "get to camp", but really, what it was is, it's starting to level out, hey there are some trees that I might be able to find some sort of wind break in, y'know, what the heck, I'm getting tired, it's well after dark, it's time to flop down. So, I scramble off behind a juniper bush and find a little bit of wind shelter, and hopefully the red ants won't be too terrible in the morning. I've killed a couple and I'm just crossing my fingers that this isn't some harbinger of something more ominous.
But anyway, I set my pack down, and all of a sudden realize the sleeping pad which I had wedged in between a couple of the canisters on my backpack ...
Apparently the wind just picked it up completely off my backpack and it sailed off into the night. It's probably halfway to California City by now. I even took an effort to go back down to that Gale Force ridge and sort of shine my flashlight around, but there's just nothing there. It's completely gone.
So, well, the Tehachapis did get their piece of gear after all. I guess the good news is that the sleeping pad costs about 15 bucks and weighs 11 ounces, as opposed to my glasses, which cost a lot more and weighed a lot less, so I may not be able to sleep in quite so much comfort, but hey, it's weight off my back, right?
As for your ant woes, it is a well known fact that ants are highly suceptable to strong chemical signals that drive them off for a time. As such, I recommend pepper. Common, ground, black pepper. The chemical oils will keep the little bastards at bay.
ailing that, you could construct small taboo totems, by stringing out ants on a stick or toothpick frame, decorating them with small feathers and local, bright pigments. The rest of the hive will see this as a show of your superiority and know that entering your domain is to invite death and torture.
The up side is, ants communicate by emitting various chemicals, so unlike using this to ward off other hikers, the screams of the dying are not likely to keep you awake at night.
Incidentally, when he says, "...this isn't a harbinger of something more ominous...", there may've been another word between "this" and "isn't". I listened to the message exactly forty gazillion times and couldn't tell for sure. If he was saying that the wind might be a harbinger of something more ominous, that might make sense (i.e., impending storm).
As far as ants go ... oddly enough, I've picked up a cue from HHGTTG, in that they never seem to bother me if I don't look for them when I bed down.