A Tale of two Garths. Chapter Seventeen – Blisters and Mountain Lions.
I woke up the next morning and opened the tent to a sight that still sticks in my mind today. The Aspen trees. Seeing them first thing in the morning was almost as invigorating as a giant cup of coffee. Hummm. Coffee. I wonder where I can get some coffee? I also had to pee pretty badly. Glenn and Sheryl had already told me that there were outhouses set up on the site for all the campers that were about to descend on their property. But for the occasional shower and for the time before everyone showed up I was welcome to use the bathroom in the house. I slipped on some jeans, t-shirt, and a flannel and made my way up to the house. I opened the side door not wanting to disturb anyone’s slumber and was greeted by the smell of percolating coffee and bacon. Oh, I wish I ate bacon. Ever since I had become a vegetarian two years prior the only meat product I missed was bacon.
“Come on in,” Glenn said to me as if we had been friends forever.
“How did you sleep?” Dewitt asked me as he sat at the finely carved wooden bar that was off to the side of the kitchen.
“Really good thank you.”
“I hope Sasha didn’t keep you up,” Sheryl chimed in.
“No, she’s great,” I told them with a giant grin on my face. I had already come to really love that giant, white, fuzzy ball of fur.
After I used the bathroom and washed up a little I sat down and had some coffee with them and they fed me a huge mound of eggs.
“You do eat eggs, don’t you?” Sheryl asked in a friendly mocking way.
“Yes, I eat eggs,” I told her laughing. The four of us sat back and talked and rolled joints and smoked. I had never in my life met people so inviting and welcoming.
“I’m looking forward to having you enjoy this whole experience,” Sheryl told me. “It will be nice to see it from your eyes. You being new and all.” I had come to find out that these friends had started this Pig Roast 25 years earlier and do it every Fourth of July. I had also come to find out that not just anyone could come. You have to have a sponsor. It was kind of like doing business with the Mafia. You had to have one of the “Made” men vouch for you. In the case of the Pig Roast, you had to be invited by one of the founding members. So if you’re a friend of a friend who heard about the roast outside of Albertson’s, you’re assed out because you’re not getting in.
The next person to wander in the house was KC looking for roughly the same things as I had been but add the bacon. Followed soon after by Garth. After we all ate to our hearts content we wandered the property and saw the huge stage that was set up for the band that was going to be playing, a giant pit for the pig, and the other smaller pit for the bon fire.
“This place is amazing,” I told Garth. “You do this every year?”
“Yep, I knew you’d like it,” He said as he put his arm around me and gave me a tight squeeze.
“Check out the mountain you guys,” KC said pointing at a colossal mountain overlooking the property. “We should climb that!”
I should probably tell you a little something about Garth, KC and myself. We have done some really stupid things together. Like the time we went surfing in the dead of night, with only a couple of lights from the Capri Hotel showing us the way back to shore. Or the time we drove to Joshua Tree and downed a ton of magic mushrooms. I dragged the guys across a frozen river to hang out by this beautiful giant rock, but when we got there it came to light that there was no rock. It was but a mushroom-conjured mirage. By the time we got back to our car we found some sort of Police Convention going on. Terrified of getting arrested if we hung around any longer, we drove back to San Diego under the influence of fungi (not recommended). Long story short, we have a history of poor decisions. So when KC asked if we wanted to go climb a gigantic mountain our answer was a resounding YES!
The three of us set off from the house around 10 am. I had decided that this hike was a perfect time to break in the new hiking boots. I also at one time thought acid wash jeans were cool. So let’s just say my judgment on a lot of things is questionable. During breakfast I could feel that my back tooth where I had just had the root canal was starting to act up a bit. I was afraid I was going to climb up a behemoth mountain and then get stuck on top screaming out in pain and letting all the predators know exactly where to find the wounded human. So I put my bottle of pain pills in the pocket of my flannel just in case.
It was about 11:45 am and we hadn’t even hit the side of the damn mountain yet let alone started climbing.
“My God how far away is this thing?” I asked clearly getting irritated.
“Come on you guys, it’s right up ahead, we’re almost there,” KC reassured me. The way I looked at it was, I had made him cross semi frozen water for a rock that wasn’t there. The least I could do was walk another mile or two to get to a mountain that we knew existed.
We eventually hit the base of the mountain and looked up at it. It didn’t seem like that big of a deal from the bottom and we were all in good shape. We figured we would be at the top in no time. We were sorely mistaken. I was thanking my two hour a day work outs because without them I would still be laying dead on the side of that damn mountain with what was left of my bones being chewed on by woodland creatures.
“Where’s the top?” KC huffed behind me.
“I don’t know, keep climbing,” I yelled back at him as I was now leading the pack. That’s around the time I started feeling the blisters forming on the back of my feet. That’s not good. But we continued climbing, and climbing, and climbing.
“Hold on you guys, I have to sit down for a second,” KC told us.
“Don’t sit! You won’t get back up!” I yelled at him. “We must keep going. I swear we have to be close by now.” But we weren’t. Every time it looked like we had reached the top we would climb over the ledge and just see even more mountain.
“We can do this you guys. We’ve come so far,” Garth said as he took the lead and KC and I started bickering like and old married couple.
“You said we were near the top,” he said.
“No, I SAID we must be close to the top.”
“Same thing Stacy.”
“Shut up KC!” But before we started slapping at each other like children Garth yelled out to us.
“We’re here!” We looked up at him a few feet in front of us standing on a rock that hung out of the mountain. He looked like some sort of king that had just won a battle and was looking out over his kingdom. KC and I pushed each other out of the way trying to be the second one to hit Durango’s version of Everest.
By the time all three of us had made it to the top KC and I stopped fighting. We just stood in silence as we looked out over what Garth had been looking at.
“Oh my God, it’s so beautiful,” I said as I looked out over a lush green valley that was being kissed by the sun.
“We are so high up. Do you have any idea how high up we are?” KC said. He was right. We were so busy bitching and complaining and trying to kill one another to realize just how high we had climbed.
“You can see the whole valley from up here,” Garth said. We even tried to find Sheryl and Glenn’s house but we could only see a speck of what we though was their house from where we were.
We sat on top of that mountain for a long time. An hour at least. The sun was getting lower in the sky and the shadows on the valley below were dancing to a silent song.
“We better go before it gets any later,” Garth said. We got up to go and I knew I was in trouble. I didn’t feel the blisters much when we were sitting down but now that we had gotten up and were staring to walk again I could tell that what was going on in the back of my shoes was not good. I didn’t say anything to the guys as we started our descent down the mountain but as time went on I just got slower and slower. Leave me. Save yourselves.
“Stacy, are you okay?” Garth asked. He could tell by looking at me that something was very wrong.
“I have blisters on my feet from my new shoes.” Cue KC.
“Who wears new shoes hiking?”
“Well I didn’t think I was going to be drug up the side of Mount Kilimanjaro!”
“You’re so dramatic,” KC told me. I’m going to put ex lax in his coffee…
“Can we just try and get along?” Garth scolded us. We have a long walk back and Stacy is obviously in a lot of pain here. Pain. PAIN! I have pain pills! I’ll just take one of those then maybe I won’t feel anything, including the sound of KC’s voice. I reached into the pocket of my flannel shirt and came up empty.
“What now?” KC asked.
“I lost some high quality pharmaceuticals on the hike.”
“Not the pain pills for your teeth?” Garth asked.
“Yep. Those would be them.” It was starting to become a bad day and I was ready to get back to camp and get my stupid shoes off and take a shot of tequila with or without hot sauce. At this point I didn’t really care.
The sun was really starting to go down on us as we were getting closer to the bottom of the mountain and the guys were being more than patient with my snails pace.
“Those are some pretty large paw prints,” KC said as he pointed to some prints I can only assume belong to a rather large mountain lion. “And they’re fresh.” That was enough for me. Blisters or no blisters, I was not sticking around to find out what exactly made those tracks or where that mountain lion was licking its lips while targeting me as the weakest of the pack.
“Let’s get out of here,” I said as I upped my pace a bit.
Once we hit a dirt path the boots came off.
“Ohhhh, those are HUGE!” KC said while pointing to my throbbing blisters.
“Those look like they hurt so bad,” Garth said giving me a hug and some much-needed sympathy.
“I am so happy to not have those stupid shoes on anymore,” I said, while carrying my shoes for the home stretch of our journey. We continued walking until we got back to Glenn and Sheryl’s house. We knew we were there by the sound of the music coming from the stage we had seen earlier. All three of us entered camp to a large group of people full of hugs, food, laughter, and ice-cold beer.
“You must be Stacy,” a woman with long graying hair said as she swept me up in her arms with a giant hug. “I’m aunt Linda. Uncle Jon’s wife.”
“It’s so nice to meet you,” I told her. Who is uncle Jon? But I was just beginning my adventure. I was going to meet uncle Jon, and Rex and so many people my head would spin just trying to remember them all. They gave me food, the women brought me homemade remedies to put on my blisters, and Dewitt gave me pills for my toothache. I didn’t bother to ask what the pills were. He was a psychologist. I could trust him, right?
To be continued…
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