July 16th, 2006

hiking - Mr. Ice Beard

Hiking the High Sierra

The High Sierra wasted very little time in convincing me that I had really left the desert behind.

I left Kennedy Meadows on Day 63 of my hike -- the morning of June 28 -- along with a short, laid-back fellow named Kuhrt (who had been kind enough to wait for me during my extra day of trying to deal with the foot swelling). At 10 AM, we were hiking through the morning heat in Kennedy Meadows' broad fields of sagebrush and other chaparral scrub, and watching a rattlesnake slither across the road in front of us. Four hours and 2,000 feet of climbing later, we were being pelted with hail in a pine forest, listening to thunderstorms roll across the western sky and halting for an early dinner rather than braving the lightning risk of the lush, grassy alpine meadows ahead of us.

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As an addendum, I've uploaded two new photo galleries with images and further trail details from this section. Go check out Mount Whitney for my July 1 side trip, and Miles 767-790 for the trip over Forrester Pass and beyond. There's also a new film in the Movies gallery, although I make no promises about its effects on your sanity. ;-)
Saint Nigel

Riddle: Double-entendre nations

kistaro just shared his write-up of participating in Microsoft's Intern PuzzleDay. It's a fun read that gives some flavor of the brain-bendingness of the event. But what caught my eye was the following paragraph:
Another puzzle, "Kingdoms", gave confusing names for countries, approximately; we had to figure out what they meant (few of the puzzles had instructions) and that they were all countries, but it went fairly quickly from there. ("Curve, simple" was "Belize": bell, easy. Yes, they were all that much of a stretch.) Well, each puzzle had a number by it, and using that number as an index into the country name spelled out one more puzzle: "HOTEL SECRETING ORGAN". This is, of course, England. (Or, if you prefer, Inn Gland. However, I am very likely to refer to England as Hotel Secreting Organ for much of the forseeable future.) I have no idea why it struck us all so funny, but it was a huge laugh in the debriefing at the end when it was revealed that a few teams had come to the very wrong answer of "HOTEL SECRET IN GORGON" as the very wrong answer. The woman who invented the puzzle wasn't sure what country that would be, and she didn't really want to know.

What? Even the puzzle creator couldn't be bothered to come up with a solution for HOTEL SECRET IN GORGON? Okay, now that I just can't leave well enough alone.

Using a lazily-googled list of country names (n.b.: I used only their English names, although I suppose you're free to use native equivalents) and a wee bit of Internet research, I quickly managed to come up with a plausible (though terribly unfair to potential solvers) solution.

I challenge you to do the same -- what country does HOTEL SECRET IN GORGON represent? There's no "right" answer, but props are due in direct proportion to the elegance of your solution. As such, I won't screen answers this time, and I'll put my own offering in comments -- it might get your brain thinking in a creatively useful direction.
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