Saturday, March 14, 2015

Some days the medicine does work

Now I know where some of the redpolls are. Remember that famous photo
of the angry bluebird?

The first trip to the East Pole in winter always presents extraordinary difficulty. The cabin stands on a fairly steep hill and I seldom get up it on the first try with the snowmachine. The way it works most often is I blast through the snow until the machine gets stuck, Then I put on snowshoes, grab what I can carry and hike the rest of the way. Once I've rested a little bit and maybe started a fire, I grab a sled at the cabin and go back down the hill and put all the perishables and what else I can haul into the sled and trudge up the hill again. Often the machine gets stuck more than once.

That's the way it worked this trip. I had to hike up the hill in deep snow on snowshoes carrying what I could, and me in about the worst shape I've ever been in my life. The tale is told on my SPOT.  In tracking mode, the unit sends a signal every 10 minutes. On that first climb the locations are so close together it's difficult to figure out how many times the signal went up to the satellite. Best I can count is five, which means it took me at least 50 minutes to move less than 200 yards.

Even on snowshoes the going was tough. I would break through the crust into deeper, softer snow, then take a step and the tip of the back shoe would catch under the crust and trip me up. I lost my balance and fell a couple of times and try this sometime: fall into snow wearing snowshoes, you can get no leverage anywhere with your arms, your feet are uphill from your head so you are trying to stand up uphill using only your legs. All you have to do is get your legs and feet under you. Good luck.

I had to twist and squirm until my feet were downhill from the rest of my body and in time weasel around into a kneeling or hunkering position before I could stand up. That beat up my leg muscles to the point where I had to stop and rest after only ten or so steps. Thighs began to ache, calves ached, even felt weak at times wondering how many steps I had left in me. And that doesn't even begin to address how often I had to stop because I was breathing too hard and had to get that under control.

At one point I felt a real fear. I might be over-dramatizing, but I fell and for a moment laid their resting before yet another attempt to stand in the deep snow. Prone in the snow that had conformed to my body, I relaxed, my  eyes closed and the temptation arose to take a nap. I mean my whole body relaxed into the comfort of the snow, I could feel my mind slip toward sleep and for a second almost succumbed. Immediately Jack London's To Build a Fire came to mind. That guy died when he fell asleep in the cold. I forced myself awake and into action, and squirmed to my feet determined not to fall again. And I didn't.

According to the SPOT, that went on for at least 50 minutes and I was just about crawling by the time I made it up onto the deck. I opened the door and lit a fire (I always leave a one-match fire laid in the stove) and slumped into a chair and just sat there for a while letting my body recover as much as it could.

On the second trip, with the sled, I had to sort through the cargo for everything I absolutely needed and also what I didn't want to freeze and then head up the trail again. But this time there was a heavy load to drag just when breath starts getting shorter and muscles begin rebelling. To do it I attached a long lead rope to the sled so I could hike up the steep parts and then set my feet and pull the sled to me. It took four such relays before I made the house.

It being cold, right around zero, I could already feel the snow on the trail I was making setting up and I knew by the next morning the trail would be a concrete sidewalk, making it easy to bring up the snowmachine and the rest of the gear.

Concrete was the word all right. In fact the next morning I could walk down the trail without the snowshoes. But, when I reached the snowmachine it was frozen in solid, the rear end of the track embedded where it had dug down when I first got stuck.  It was not going to budge. I tried digging out with my hands, and then chopped around with an axe attempting to free it but nothing moved. I was just about committed to hiking back up the trail to grab a shovel. I sat on the seat for a moment before starting the trek, thinking the snowmachine could stay there another night and I could make the hike the next day with the shovel. Then it crossed my mind to start it, thinking maybe if I could spin the track a little it would free things up so I could lift the rear end and move it onto more solid snow. Not a bad idea to start it anyway just to run it a little bit given the cold weather.

Well, it started right up. Once it had warmed a little I juked the throttle just a quick nudge, but instead of the track spinning, it dug in and moved the machine just slightly forward.

What do you do then? Hit the throttle for all it's worth, and guess what. I drove right up out of there. Got on solid trail then hooked the cargo sled to it and off we went right up to the cabin.

Like the title says, some days the medicine does work.

A comment from facebookOMG, I was feeling that - the shortness of breath, the fatigue, the burning of thigh muscles. I don't know if it's bad shape or age or both. I have a hard time accepting my age....everyone is old but me....who am I kidding?

Trials and tribulations at the East Pole

Why the East Pole

No comments:

Post a Comment

Interesting quotations

· " “Always do sober what you said you'd do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut.” — Ernest Hemingway

When I write, I feel like an armless, legless man with a crayon in his mouth. Kurt Vonnegut

“If you wrote something for which someone sent you a cheque, if you cashed the cheque and it didn't bounce, and if you then paid the light bill with the money, I consider you talented.” Stephen King

The thing about ignornance is, you don't have to remain ignorant. — me again"

Never debate with someone who gets ink by the barrel" — George Hayes, former Alaska Attorney General who died recently

My dear Mr. Frost: two roads never diverge in a yellow wood. Three roads meet there. — @Shakespeareon Twitter

"The mark of a great shiphandler is never getting into situations that require great shiphandling," Adm. Ernest King, USN

Me: Does the restaurant have cute waitresses?

My friend Gail: All waitresses are cute when you're hungry.

I'm not a writer, but sometimes I push around words to see what happens. – Scott Berry

“The rivers of Alaska are strewn with the bones of men who made but one mistake” - Fred McGarry, a Nushagak Trapper

Many people hear voices when no one is there. Some of them are called mad and are shut up in rooms where they stared at walls all day. Others are called writers and they do pretty much the same thing. – Meg Chittenden

A non-writing writer is a monster courting insanity. – Franz Kafka

We are all immortal until the one day we are not. – me again

If the muse is late, start without her – Peter S. Beagle

Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very;’ your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be. ~Mark Twain Actually you could do the same thing with the word "really" as in "really cold."

If you are looking for an experience that will temper your vanity, this is it. There's no one to impress when you're alone on the trap line. – Michael Carey quoting his father's journal

Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing. – Benjamin Franklin

It’s nervous work. The state you need to write in is the state that others are paying large sums of money to get rid of. – Shirley Hazzard

So far as I can remember, there is not one word in the Gospels in praise of intelligence -- Bertrand Russell

You know that I always just wanted to have a small ship to take stuff from a place that had a lot of that stuff to a place that did not have a lot of that stuff and so prosper.—Jackie Faber, “The Wake of the Lorelei Lee”

If you attack the arguer instead of the argument, you lose both

If an insurance company won’t pay for damages caused by an “act of God,” shouldn’t it then have to prove the existence of God? – I said that

I used to think getting old was about vanity—but actually it’s about losing people you love. Getting wrinkles is trivial. – Eugene O’Neill

German General to Swiss General: “You have only 500,000 men in your army; what would you do if I invaded with 1 million men?”

Swiss General: “Well, I suppose every one of my soldiers would need to fire twice.”

Writing is the only thing that when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing something else.—Gloria Steinem

Exceed your bandwidth—sign on the wall of the maintenance shop at the West Coast/Alaska Tsunami Warning Center

One thing I do know, if you keep at it, you usually wind up getting something done.—Patricia Monaghan

Do you want to know what kind of person makes the best reporter? I’ll tell you. A borderline sociopath. Someone smart, inquisitive, stubborn, disorganized, chaotic, and in a perpetual state of simmering rage at the failings of the world.—Brett Arends

It is a very simple mind that only knows how to spell a word one way.—Andrew Jackson

3:30 is too late or too early to do anything—Rene Descartes

Everything is okay when it’s 50-below as long as everything is okay. – an Alaskan in Tom Walker’s “The Seventymile Kid”

You can have your own opinion but you can’t have your own science.—commenter arguing on a story about polar bears and global warming

He looks at three ex wives as a good start—TV police drama

Talkeetna: A friendly little drinking town with a climbing problem.—a handmade bumper sticker

“You’re either into the wall or into the show”—Marco Andretti on giving it all to qualify last at the 2011 Indy 500

Makeup is not for the faint of heart—the makeup guerrilla

“I’m going to relax in a very adult manner.”—Danica Patrick after sweating it out and qualifying half an hour before Andretti

“Asking Congress to come back is like asking a mugger to come back because he forgot your wallet.”—a roundtable participant on Fox of all places

As Republicans go further back in the conception process to define when life actually begins, I am beginning to think the eventual definition will be life begins in the beer I was drinking when I met her.—me again

Hunting is a “critical element for the long-term conservation of wood bison.”—a state department of Fish and Game official explaining why the state would not go along with a federal plan to reintroduce wood bison in Alaska because the agreement did not specifically allow hunting

Each day do something that won’t compute – anon

I can’t belive I still have to protest this shit – a sign carriend by an elderly woman at an Occupy demonstration

Life should be a little nuts or else it’s just a bunch of Thursdays strung together—Kevin Costner as Beau Burroughs in “Rumor has it”

You’re just a wanker whipping up fear —Irish President Michael D. Higgins to a tea party radio announcer

Being president doesn’t change who you are; it reveals who you are—Michelle Obama

Things sports announcers say

"… there's a fearlessment about him …"

"He's got to have the lead if he's going to win this race."

"Kansas has always had the ability to score with the basketball."

"NFL to put computer chips in balls." Oh, that's gotta hurt.

"Now that you're in the finals you have to run the race that's going to get you on the podium."

"It's very important for both sides that they stay on their feet."

This is why you get to hate sportscasters. Kansas beats Texas for the first time since 1938. So the pundits open their segment with the question "let's talk about what went wrong." Wrong? Kansas WON a football game! That's what went RIGHT!

"I brought out the thermostat to show you how cold it is here." Points to a thermometer reading zero in Minneapolis.

"It's tough to win on the road when you turn the ball over." Oh, really? Like you can do all right if you turn the ball over playing at home?

Cliches so imbedded in sportscasters' minds they can't help themselves: "Minnesota fell from the ranks of the undefeated today." What ranks? They were the only undefeated team left.

A good one: A 5'10" player went up and caught a pass off a defensive back over six feet tall. The quote? "He's got some hops."

Best homonym of the day so far: "It's all tied. Alabama 34, Kentucky 3." Oh, Tide.

"Steve Hooker commentates on his Olympic pole vault gold medal." When "comments" just won't do.

"He's certainly capable of the top ten, maybe even higher than that."

"Atlanta is capable of doing what they're doing."

"Biyombo, one of seven kids from the Republic of Congo." In the NBA? In America? In his whole country?

"You can't come out and be aggressive but you can't come out and be unaggressive."

"They're gonna be in every game they play!"

"First you have to get two strikes on the hitter before you get the strikeout."

"The game ended in the final seconds." You have to wonder when the others ended or are they still going on?

How is a team down by one touchdown before the half "totally demoralized?"

"If they score runs they will win."

"I think the matchup is what it is"

After a play a Houston defender was on his knees, his head on the ground and his hand underneath him appeared to clutch a very sensitive part of the male anatomy. He rolled onto his back and quickly removed his hand. (Remember the old Cosby routine "you cannot touch certain parts of your body?") Finally they helped the guy to the sideline and then the replay was shown. In it the guy clearly took a hard knee between his thighs. As this was being shown, one of the announcers says, "It looks like he hurt his shoulder." The other agrees and then they both talk about how serious a shoulder injury can be. Were we watching the same game?

"Somebody is going to be the quarterback or we're going to see a new quarterback."

"If you're gonna play running back in the SEC you're gonna take hits."

"That was a playmaker making a play."

Best headlines ever

Sister hits moose on way to visit sister who hit moose.

Man loses his testicles after attempting to smoke weed through a SCUBA tank

Church Mutual Insurance won't cover Church's flood damage because it's 'an act of God'

Homicide victims rarely talk to police

Meerkat Expert Attacked Monkey Handler Over Love Affair With Llama Keeper

GOP congressman opposes gun control because gay marriage leads to bestiality

Owner of killer bear chokes to death on sex toy

Support for legalizing pot hits all-time high

Give me all your money or my penguin will explode

How zombie worms have sex in whale bones

Crocodile steals zoo worker's lawn mower

Woman shot by oven while trying to cook waffles

Nude beach blowjob jet ski fight leads to wife's death

Woman stabs husband with squirrel for not buying beer Christmas Eve