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October 19th, 2011
11:04 pm
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Thou shalt not TWIBU in vain
Some of you might have seen the "Don't ask about the orange paint" tag on my IM status earlier this week. Some of you might have even asked me about it ...

So did I mention I went hiking last weekend? I was trying to do a last-gasp mountain ascent in defiance of upcoming autumn. The weather had turned beautiful again after a spate of early rain, and I was getting antsy about the turn of the seasons.

I drove out to the Sierra crest, parked at sundown in a completely empty campground (this would be a major theme for the trip), and night-hiked up English Mountain -- from bottom to top, a 4-hour, 2000' ascent. The hike was lovely: I saw some shooting stars along the way; I got less lost than expected considering I was routefinding by flashlight and memory; and even the moonlight rock climbing at the peak was pretty mild.

Once at the top and settled in to my mountaintop campsite, I texted roaminrob: "The worst is behind me!" That's our English Mountain in-joke, dating back to our first trip, when I tried to cheer him up by uttering "The Worst Is Behind Us!" ... right before we rounded the corner to Dead Man's Hill.

Invoking TWIBU is a sure-fire way to guarantee impending unpleasantness. But oh! Folly! Vanity! I figure: I'm safe from the curse! I'm already DONE climbing!

So, naturally ... within 30 minutes, I am attacked -- out of literally NOWHERE -- by the screaming liquid shits. For the next hour or two, my sphincter is like unto a gateway to hell, as everything I've eaten for the past two days fast-forwards through me. It's all I can do to sporadically stagger clear of my gear and paint some rocks ... thank goodness I have the foresight to stagger downwind.

Poop is not supposed to even BE that color.

I am not talking about "oh, in the right light I guess it's an orange shade of brown". I'm not perverse enough to have taken a picture to validate my claims, but I swear to you it was orangey orange, halfway to fluorescent.

(Granted, I've had giardiasis before, and you want poop colors that shouldn't be found in nature ... yes, I have had sunshine yellow come out of my butt. It's just one step removed from pooping rainbows, but not nearly so fun, I can assure you.)

As if that somehow isn't enough: storm clouds blow up an hour or two later, and I have to scramble for shelter in the middle of the night.

I'm sleeping on top of the peak, ducked behind some low rocks for wind shelter. I try to assemble my tent where my sleeping bag is. However, the spot is broadside to the wind -- the top of the tent catches the full force of it and tries to fly us away. I can't rotate the tent, or put it anywhere else, because the ground is way too jagged -- and I can't safely set it up in my chosen sleep spot.

But there's no way I'm ignoring the clouds. I've got enough clothing for comfort, but not to outlast an unexpected October rainstorm, and if my down bag gets soaked I'm in genuine trouble.

So I jury-rig the tent. Instead of setting it up full height, I thread the arch pole through but don't set it on either end. Then I prop it up on my backpack frame. Now I have a two-foot-tall covered crawlspace -- just enough to snug into, and not tall enough to catch the wind.

What I didn't count on was that this kept the tent fabric from being pulled taut.

So, all night, the little wind I'm getting is catching the fabric and

FLAP FLAP FLAP FLAP FLAP FLAP FLAP FLAP FLAP FLAP FLAP FLAP FLAP FLAP FLAP FLAP FLAP FLAP FLAP FLAP FLAP FLAP FLAP FLAP FLAP FLAP FLAP FLAP FLAP FLAP FLAP FLAP FLAP FLAP FLAP FLAP FLAP FLAP FLAP FLAP FLAP FLAP FLAP FLAP FLAP FLAP FLAP FLAP FLAP FLAP FLAP

... as I'm huddled around my backpack in a little circle, on painfully rocky ground, and under questionably adequate shelter.
I pin down the edges of the fabric with rocks as best I can, but there's no stopping the noise. Already weakened and spacy from gut shock, I end up getting approximately an hour's sleep.

It never rains.

The best part? I get up in the morning. Not a single cloud in the sky. There is a big ol' troll sun sitting in the middle of a sea of blue:



U MAD, BRO?


The wind has died down (as has my gut). It's as if the nightmare of the past eight hours simply had never happened.

Basically, this was the universe deciding to slap me upside the head for taking the Holy Invocation of TWIBU in vain.

For my own safety, I really need to learn to stop defying fate like that.

Current Location: ~/bax_pc
Current Mood: tiredtired
Current Music: Main Theme, "Broken Arrow" OST
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(11 comments | Leave a comment)

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[User Picture]
From:walks_far
Date:October 20th, 2011 07:41 am (UTC)
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It rains almost all the time where I live . . . and it IS coming down to you.
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From:baxil
Date:October 21st, 2011 09:46 pm (UTC)
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I think we have already established that rain drives me nuts. I plan to spend most of the winter huddled up inside my comfortable computer room, making little o___o; eyes out the windows.
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From:balinares
Date:October 20th, 2011 08:34 am (UTC)
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Back in Africa, I used to always carry a roll of toilet paper when on the field, for safety.

... It has come in handy. :/
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From:r_caton
Date:October 20th, 2011 04:08 pm (UTC)
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sounds as though a cork would be more useful!

sympathies....
[User Picture]
From:baxil
Date:October 21st, 2011 09:26 pm (UTC)
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I'm with you there. I'd rate toilet paper higher up the list of crucial things to bring than half of the Ten Essentials.

(In fact, I brought not only TP but also wet-wipes -- and I only had 6 of the 12 items on the Essentials list. I was on highly familiar terrain on a less-than-24-hour hike, and I had substitutes for some of the missing items, but that doesn't change my relative priorities.)

Many distance hikers refer to TP with the nickname of "Mountain Money."
[User Picture]
From:siege
Date:October 20th, 2011 02:17 pm (UTC)
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I sometimes liken internet trolls to giardia. I'm sure you can appreciate the reference.
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From:baxil
Date:October 21st, 2011 09:29 pm (UTC)
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They sneak in when in contact with a source of contamination; infect the bowels of your site; and cause filth to splatter everywhere? Sounds just about right.
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From:copperwolf
Date:October 20th, 2011 08:51 pm (UTC)
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You didn't bring your wife?
[User Picture]
From:baxil
Date:October 21st, 2011 04:29 pm (UTC)
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Though she also appreciates camping and hiking, some of the crazy things I like doing outdoors (like night-hiking up a mountain on two hours' notice) aren't her cup of tea. This one was a solo.
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From:dragonzuela
Date:October 20th, 2011 10:51 pm (UTC)
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Great, all afternoon I had an image in my head of Nyan Baxil flying down the mountain!

Brings back memories of my study abroad in Mexico. But that was more pooping without warning, when my body was telling me instead that I had to throw up, or that everything was just peachy. Luckily it was one night only.
Sudden uncontrollable shits when you happen to be wearing a maxi pad:
Pro: poop is contained.
Con: poop should never ever touch that body part OH GOD.
[User Picture]
From:baxil
Date:October 21st, 2011 03:58 pm (UTC)
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> Nyan Baxil

THIS MUST HAPPEN.
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