Thanks Jim & Jamie Dutcher for permission to use photo of Lakota.

Monday, November 4, 2002

Mt. Whitney - 2nd Time

Can you say COLD? Better about FREEZING!?

Friday, we (myself, Alfonso, & Chris) headed to Lone Pine Camprground (6,000 feet) to acclimate overnight for what was in store the next day! We sat around a campfire (which I have not sat around a fire in several moons), smoked a ceremonial pipe (consisting of sage, rosemary, mint...nothing illegal), and went to bed. It was quite cold! Around 38 degrees.

Saturday, we got a late start...none of us are early risers...besides, it was freagin' cold out there! We hit the trail at 11:45 AM. We stopped along the way at Lone Pine Lake for a snack and some photos. Then, we tromped around Mirror Lake for a bit. Finally, we headed to our final destination...Trail Camp (12,000 feet - 6 miles in all). And, if you thought last night was cold...our water froze in a matter of minutes! I KID YOU NOT! We managed to keep it from doing so entirely, but just to give you an idea of what "cold" really is, there were several times when thirsty that we would have to chew on ice. It gets dark very early. We were in our tent and sleeping bags at 6:30PM.

Sunday, another late start...we hit the trail at 9:15 AM...5 miles to go...We summitted at 12:45. How the hell I did this the last time in 2 hours and 20 minutes is beyond me! Perhaps the cold is a factor?! We used crampons (metal spikes that attach to your boots) on the switchbacks (of which there are far too many!) to move along the ice and snow with confidence. They were fun!!! They take more leg work though! Anyway, we stayed at the top for a quick phone call to my dad on someones cell, a few photos, a snack, some small chat with others up there, then we headed back to Trail Camp...another 5 miles...and, we were down by 3:30 PM (about 2-3/4 hours)...again, not sure how I did it in 2 hours the last time! Urgh! Anyway, we napped & ate & packed up...hit the trail at 5:30 PM...IT IS DARK....headlamps were on...only 6 miles to go...we ran into three others heading down that only had one bike light between them. So, we put them in our group and I, ME, Alyssa, lead us all down and out. I tried to get out of it several times, but they liked me in the front and I kept a good pace for all of us tired asses! There was fog to contend with and, did I mention IT WAS DARK!!! We got off the trail a couple of times but we figured it out in a matter of moments. Those 3 boys would have been screwed. Their light died and they were not equipped to camp. We were in the parking lot by 8:30 PM and they were very happy we ran into them. We were all happy to be back to the car and driving home by 9PM. So, Saturday, we hiked 6 miles...and, Sunday, we hiked 16 miles! My name is Poop Deck Charlie!

I'm going to Chipotle for lunch right now and ordering a big fat vegetarian burrito with lots of guacamole! YUMMY!

Copyright © 2009 Alyssa Polacsek, Lakota Films, LLC & Natural Child Blog

Sunday, October 27, 2002

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Tuesday, September 3, 2002

Bubba - 16 Years!

To all of you who have ever known and loved Bubba.

Today is a very difficult day for me. Bubba is about 16 years old and I have had him since he was about 3 years of age. Bubba is getting wobbly in the legs, not eating, and a few other things I won't go into, but I don't want him to suffer and he has had a good life. He and I are spending the day together...we're going to the dog park one last time so he can announce to all the youngsters his final words of wisdom. He is eating hamburger...he hasn't eaten in a couple of days now, so this is good. That's my boy!

Bubba History: Bubba was found in a dumpster with a broken rib, a hernia, dreadlocks (we take after one another...for those of you who haven't seen me in awhile, I am locking my hair), an inverted eyelid, and larangitis. I was always a big-dog person until Bubba came into my life. Bubba has a HUGE heart! And, a HUGE personality! He did an amazing Marlon Brando impression from "The Godfather" in his younger years. He starred in an NYU film (which he auditioned for the part outside of Port Authority...he was great!) and he was in 2 productions of "The Cherry Orchard," which some of you were in with him. Bubba is an avid camper. He loves the sun and the shade. He loves to sleep belly up in your arms and snore while you shake his leg and say, "The turkey's done." He loves cats...for awhile he thought he was one...even went so far as to try to use the litter box and lay on the kitchen table. He was so pleased with himself! Bubba has travelled all over the country; California, Oregon, Washington, Canada, Montana (where he almost got arrested for having a corn cob pipe in the VW which contained, Bubba didn't smoke, but my ex did), Colorado, Wyoming, Vermont, NY, and many other states. He has climbed mountains...and been carried up several too. He used to play with Taz...his stuffed animal which he claimed as "his" the first day he came to stay with me...up until which had been mine. I had no problems giving it to him...he was so excited over it! Bubba has been the most loyal friend! I love him! And, I will miss him very very much! Here's to Bubba! (This is where you raise your glass and toast him!) Thanks.

Love, Bubba's MOM!

Copyright © 2009 Alyssa Polacsek, Lakota Films, LLC & Natural Child Blog

Monday, August 5, 2002

Mt. Whitney - 1st Time

Thursday: Well, I drove up with 2 strange men, Mark and Carl (and believe me, they were in fact strange). We pulled into the base camp at around 8PM and pitched our tents. Denise (from San Jose) was already there. And, Denelle (from Pasadena) pulled in at around 10:30PM. I knew none of these folks before this trip except for Mark whom I met on another hiking trip but only talked with for about 5 minutes. I was the butt of all jokes the entire weekend. I am known as "chipmunk lover." Our leader, Mark, is known as "Turtle," not because he was slow (which he was not) but because whenever he was inside his tent (A-frame) and he would poke his head out...he looked like a turtle stretching his neck out of its shell.

Anyway, there are loads of bears. BEAR CANISTERS are required. At the base camp there are storage containers to put all of your food and toiletries in because the bears haven't figured out how to get into them yet. Ours was missing its handle and we decided a bear had it and was using it regularly to get into this storage bin as it pleased. ha ha ha. Bear hangs don't work! They have figured them out! They have learned form such pros as Yogi and BooBoo. I only heard a bear once throughout the night, but apparently (and there are pictures to prove it) there are many on the prowl. DO NOT LEAVE ANY FOOD ITEMS OR TOILETRIES IN YOUR CAR EITHER...THEY WILL RIP THE CAR WIDE OPEN TO RETRIEVE IT! For those of you hiking at the end of August, check out the photos at the trailhead.

Friday: We hit the trail at about 8:30AM. Each of us carrying about 40-45 pounds on our backs. One mile in, Denise got a blister on her heal. We stopped to put moleskin on it and continued on. At about 2.5 miles there is a spectacular lake (Lone Pine Lake)...clear blue water and rocky formations all around...a breathtaking view and man would I love to live there! (Drop your packs before hiking down to the water). Stayed there for about 30 minutes.
By the third mile at Outpost Camp, Denise had blisters on both feet and they were bleeding...NOT GOOD! She decided to stay at there on her own...she would re-evaluate her condition the next morning to determine if she could make it or not, and if not, she would camp for the weekend where she was. Which, Outpost is quite lovely...waterfall right by where you pitch your tents, plenty of trees...lovely place to camp! Convenient "Solar Houses" for human urinating....just poo! Can be difficult for the ladies to separate the two...sick joke! We stopped for about another 30 minutes to eat lunch.

Onward and upward. More lakes and rivers along the way. Smoke is visible...very haze-like, sometimes a faint odor here and there...fires are still burning! Gorgeous views all the way.
We all went at our own pace. Carl was a speed deamon. He was the 1st to Trail Camp (12,000 feet). I was the second one to arrive at about 2:30PM. I was greeted immediately by a Marmot...a weasely, ferret-type of critter. And, of course, I was ooh-ing and aw-ing, wanting to take it home with me. I chased one later on to get its picture. Poor thing. I terrorized it, not intentionally, but it was so cute I had to capture it on film. SNAP! Got it!

A while later Denelle and Mark arrived and we pitched our tents and ate dinner. There is a lake to pump water for drinking. This is the last source of available drinking water, so be sure to replenish here. We lounged and laughed and drank tea. 9PM someone emerged on top of the rocks overlooking our site and we hear, "I found them!" It was Denise!!! She made it! She met 2 men (Paul & Stuart - Stuart had type 2 diabetes), they wrapped her feet with moleskin and duct tape and proceeded slowly together to Trail Camp. She had also lightened her load by leaving her tent and sleeping pad, etc. at Outpost Camp. What a trooper! I jumped up and gave her a huge hug! She is awesome! And, let me tell you, her heals were nasty looking!
The "solar houses" became the general topic for discussion amongst plenty of other bathroom talk. Such "potty mouth!" Anyway, lines formed, and of course we all know what we are going there to is not a time to be shy. It was amusing! Sick, sick,, there was discussion about the man who was arested for hiding in outhouses with a garbage bag and taking pictures of ladies. NASTY!!! Needless to say, it is difficult not to think about it whilst in one of the solar houses. A word of caution, DO NOT THROW ANYTHING OTHER THAN TISSUE PAPER in these things, because the park rangers have to close them otherwise and clean them out...and that is unfortunate for you and especially them. I had to wait an hour!

The stars were brilliant. Weather - freezing cold at night! Warm sleeping bag nice! Oh! BEAR CANISTERS are required...the rangers DO patrol and take any food that is out!!! It didn't happen in our group because we had the canisters, but it did happen to others!
Saturday: We ate and packed all food items up in canisters...threw all of our gear into our case of rain (storms can come in suddenly)...and hit the trail at 8:30 AM. Switchbacks and more switchbacks (something like 96-98...arguments about the exact number). Up and away. Carl took off like the speed deamon he is and he summited in 2 hours. I came up 20 minutes after him. Not Bad for 5 miles...most of which is uphill and you are completely exposed to the elements. Bring warm clothing and/or rain gear...or both! WOW!!! What a view! What an awesome feeling of accomplishment! Sid knows what it feels like...and, he's gonna do it again! Incidently, if there are any changes in your plans, please keep me in mind...I'd love to go again!!! Anyway, up in 2 hours and 20 minutes...down in 2 hours to Trail Camp again. We could have gone all the way down, but we had planned to stay another night...and, it made for an awesome time. I cannot recall the last time I laughed so hard. We laughed all weekend long! A chipmunk made its way into Carl's fanny pack and ate some food. He wacked his bag and the chipmunk took off and needless to say, I became dubbed "Chipmunk lover" as a result of my defending the chipmunk! I won't go into all the details. But, there was talk about Carl getting a Daniel Boone type of hat made from a chipmunk...all joking at my expense of course! But, there was plenty of joking at everyones expense at one time or another!

Sunday: We hiked down and out and bought our t-shirts that we earned. I hiked down in 2 hours and 20 minutes again. Then, we went and ate a big meal! YUM! Actually, I brought excellent food on the trip...I brought enough for everyone, but I eat a lot, as most of you are aware. They learned my eating behavior quickly and were never surprised when I would announce, "I'm hungry!"

This group of strangers that came together had an awesome time together! Thank goodness we all got along so well! This was an incredible experience and I am trying to figure out what I will hike next! Any suggestions?

Pete, it was awesome to see you guys! Wish we could have hung out longer. Next time! Hope you had a great show in Santa Monica w/Graham Parker and a safe trip home!

Copyright © 2009 Alyssa Polacsek, Lakota Films, LLC & Natural Child Blog

Friday, February 22, 2002

Nightmare In Big Sur

Big Sur wrap up:
Saturday, 5:59AM, alarm clock goes off...
Rise at 6:30am...
On the road by 8:10am...
A six-hour drive along the coast…
A sunny, beautiful day with a bit of a nip in the air…
I swear I see some sea lions...
Occasionally the ocean sprays up and over the road…
A times, I am driving high above the surf hanging onto the curves in the road…
It’s a fine day…

I plan to camp at Botchers Gap. I’ve never been there before. I do not know if it is a campground per se, meaning, close to a main road with lots of family bells and whistles (i.e. laundry facilities, playground, showers, store, etc). Based on what I’ve read it could be quite spectacular with only a few campers, pit toilets and a fire pit…, which is what I am in search of…some civilization, but no crowds and definitely NOT a lot of amenities.

Park it at Botchers Gap (north of Big Sur)…eight miles inland on windy roads in the middle of the redwood forest. Out in the middle of nowhere…alone…no dog…no friends…alone…with the exception of one couple and their dog who have pitched a tent just down the trail from mine. She’s pregnant…looks to be any day now. Thank goodness, I am not entirely alone in the woods.

Head back out to the main road (another 8 miles) to a Cliffside restaurant to use their payphone (doing the responsible thing…letting someone know exactly where I am… just in case). Spectacular view from here.

Head back to Botchers Gap and it begins to downpour. Manage to get a fire going to eat dinner consisting of steak kabobs and tomatoes, onions and green peppers. I am drenched. I did not bring any rain gear. I don’t own any for that matter. Well, I finally move it inside the tent by 7pm for the night except for the occasional mad dash to go pee. On one of my mad dashes I notice the other couple has packed up and is, now I am ALONE …with my nightmares (and I have some disturbing ones at that. I dream my hair is dreaded and half the dreads keep breaking...I dream I am speaking with Philip and his face appears to have wax drippings and a beard. He reaches up to touch the side of his face and some of the drippings and beard fall off. I mention it to him and ask how this has happened. He tells me there was a woman who enraptured him and she ask that he put Vaseline on his face and set it on fire to prove his love for her…which he did (I believe this dream was as a result of reading a part in a book right before going to sleep where a man married a woman who had a child with another man and she had been a prostitute and a drug dealer - she charged her husband for sex on their honeymoon). The most disturbing arm reaches into my tent, grabs my leg and says, "check out the program" in the creepiest of voices as they drag me out. It is very vivid…very real...and I awake to find I am still alone with the sounds of the rain, tent flap closed, unable to distinguish one sound from the other out there. Somehow I manage to sleep pretty soundly the rest of the night.

Next morning: I pack it up...
I'm going to find a motel...nope...No Vacancies anywhere...
So, I pick up a young couple trying to hitch hike to Ventura (an hour outside L.A.). I drive south for about 20 miles, decide to head back to Big Sur to camp at a campground. The couple comes with tent is big enough for all 3 of us...which is good 'cause it rains again. At about 5:30pm I take a stroll to the entrance of the park only to pass a creepy guy (dressed in navy blue rain gear carrying a small bundle). Hours later he passes our site still carrying the small bundle. The young couple goes to sleep. I stay up and stoke the fire. About 11pm creepy guy comes quietly strolling along and aims his headlight at our site and me. I flash a light back at him. He strolls past, stops abruptly, and aims his light at me again...he is still carrying his bundle. I decide to go into the tent. He continues to flash his light for about 1/2 hour every so often. There are no rangers to inform…or at least they have not been by in awhile…maybe I’ll head to the front gate…but, by the time I decide to do so I think the guy may be lurking around my car. I decide I’m safer inside the tent with the two hitchhikers and my knife. I plot all of the possible defenses that may become necessary with creepy guy strolling about quietly. If he douses the tent in gasoline and sets it on fire, we will cut our way out with my knife. If he reaches inside, I will slice his hand…and so on. I am just about to fall asleep when I remember my nightmare "check out the program." Was that a premonition? But, I’ve plotted my possible defenses, so I am ready and I can go to sleep now.

Next sign of creepy guy. We watch the other campers across the way as if they were a regularly scheduled program on television...I'm sure we are obvious in our staring...we have the "I haven't had my cup of coffee yet" glare. But, there is nothing better to watch. We pack up.

I drive them to Ventura. We stop along the way at the Henry Miller Library. We stop and admire the view a few times. We stop and take a hike out to some Cliffside rocks...beauteous. We stop for food. We stop to look at the Elephant Lions and sea lions...we see them mating...fighting...WOW! Oh! Did I mention that I twisted my ankle the night before...threw my knee out the next morning...and awoke with cramps on Tuesday...cranky as all hell and in pain...I am 23 damn it. I am 23 damn it! Deny. Deny. Deny. So, there you have it folks. It was an say the least. It was torturous and yet somehow delightful.

Copyright © 2009 Alyssa Polacsek, Lakota Films, LLC & Natural Child Blog