Saturday, September 27, 2014

14,000’, how long can a short move take!
parallel universe, woodpecker II, hiking,
potential full-timers, and a bud room



The top of Huron Peak @ 14,003’ with Susan and Joey. The 10 mile hike was tough; wish we could have gotten the car closer but the access road was a bit too much for it. Other than for one of the summers when I was housesitting in Chama, I’m probably in the best condition since my transplant (not saying I have a whole lot of muscle tone, however). I’ve been doing numerous variations of squats and lunges this year and been hiking, running, and biking. All pretty much worthless to me above 12,000’. If it wasn’t for Susan pulling me along, there is no way I would have kept goin’. I’m sure glad I did it but I ain’t doin’ another 14 (well, maybe if I develop dementia and forget what it’s like). It became just a trudge for me and that’s not why I hike or really do any of the active things I enjoy doing. Sure felt like a wuss. Didn’t feel all that bad the next day, which was an exceedingly pleasant surprise. By far the most difficult physical thing I’ve done since my medical problems.


Susan pointed out a soaring raven when we got up there. 14,000 feet and nothing to eat—why was she there? Stoked on the thrill of being able to do what she was doing? Curious about the two slow, weak animals who looked like they might become her next meal? I would have loved to switch places with her.

Back to my last weeks off-the-gird: I watched a squirrel chasing a chipmunk. I wonder if squirrels chase smaller rodents if they come onto their turf or did this chipmunk just do something to annoy the squirrel. I would guess the latter. I wonder what kind of things I would think about if I didn’t spend so much time off-the-grid with two felines.

Other mornings I’ve spent time observing squirrels at the top of spruce trees harvesting cones. Geez those guys are hyper. And they are so strong, quick and agile. They’re holding on with their hind feet as they use their front paws and teeth to quickly rip a cone off and then chuck it out from the tree a bit so it won’t tend to get caught in the branches. They can easily have two cones in the air at once. I started chuckling one morning while watching a squirrel. At one point, instead of chucking the cone, he stopped, sat there, and started eating it.


I moved my camping spot to another that was 1.4 mi. away—it took 3 hours and 20 minutes! Good grief. To break camp, pack up, back the truck, hook up the weight distribution hitch, and rearrange the interior of the Nash for a rough road, took an hour and fifty minutes! Good grief. Granted, I wasn’t totally focused on what I was doing and had to redo some things, but still. I’ve done this so much that it should be automatic. To drive the slow, rough 1.4 mi, back into the new spot, level, unhitch and finish leveling, get the propane and fridge back on, set up the campsite, and move the interior stuff back where it all goes for living, took one hour and 30 minutes (1:00 to 4:20). Good grief. This was good in that it reminded me that I really need to pay attention when breaking and setting up camp. I mean, I know this. I’m sure if it was a moving day when I was going to head out on the asphalt, I wouldn’t have been such a space cadet.

With these 3-week-stints, days go quickly but weeks go slow, especially after a few back-to-back stints. It’s pretty cool; it seems as if I’m out there a long time before having to make a town-run. A logical explanation for this would be, at some point, probably while sleeping, I slip into a parallel universe where time slows. As it gets close to the end of my 3 weeks in this universe, I seamlessly slip back. Or maybe my enjoyment of this aspect of the lifestyle does something to my sense of time. Either way it’s good.



Well, this woodpecker was into chips (as opposed to the one I came across earlier). And it was easy to see the hole; it was only 7’ off the ground. The birds were long gone by the time I came across these two trees.


I looked back through these pages and it looks like I started with my present solar bag last October while down in southern Utah. Prior to using it, I reinforced the places where the bag, at some point, would leak. I generally keep the bag on the ground under the Nash between shower days. As you can see, it was a dumb idea. After using a bicycle tube patch on the rodent hole, I now keep it in the back of the Dodge. I haven’t had to use a tube patch since Onyx kneaded one of my bags with his claws.

I lucked out this summer with the area I ended up in. Very few people seem to use the location; I didn’t hear or see anyone on the 4th of July weekend and only one truck went by my camping spot on Labor Day weekend. This includes all the hours I was off hiking, no tracks. That is way strange. I only set up camp in two of the places I came across that would work well for me. The drawback for me was that the others are even further in from the asphalt. The 8-9 hour town-runs (a half hour of driving just to get to the asphalt then another hour to town) were more than long enough without adding more driving time. There are two more areas in these mountains that would probably offer just as good camping, but driving out and back in would add at least another hour to the town-run days. Not gonna happen. I’d like to find more areas like this in AZ, UT, and NV.

The warmest inside morning temp this summer was 56° (9,600’). I probably keep my rig more open at night than most campers.

I swear I’ve seen more rain this summer than in all of the last few years. It’s not really been all that bad, however. It generally does not rain in the morning so there’s plenty of time to go off hiking or whatever. I love the power and beauty of thunderstorms, but not especially when I’m camping in the mountains with only one road out to the asphalt. It has been quite unsettling on occasion.

Back off-the-grid at times, I settle down outside, a bit before dusk, on a lowrider with my back to the west, and watch the darkness rise in the east to blanket the land. Pretty cool. A glass of wine and some R. Carlos Nakai goes well with it all. I like how one can see better the longer we are out in the dark, after giving the rods in our eyes time to recover from the light of day. No campfire, moon, or other light source. If you are sitting there talking with a friend, time will move right along and you’ll swear you have some owl blood in you. Quite impressive.

I’ve camped in places where the night sky was almost overpowering; no glow from any direction and the stars showing right down to the horizon all around, as if you where under a dome; the stars almost overly bright and the Milky Way SO thick and pronounced. Absolutely stellar. But the last spot I camped might have topped all others. All of the above and the tall trees to the west were spaced out a bit. You could look through the trees and see stars. I’ve seen stars through trees before, but this was more extensive and the stars were as bright as they get (or rather, appear). Just a little thing, but it made the night sky even more spectacular. Way cool.

I think I know why I enjoy hiking so much. It’s the isolation of hiking. I do enjoy hiking with someone from time to time (and thank the gods Susan was with me on the 14) but I generally prefer goin’ solo. Well, I guess that’s good since I don’t generally have a choice. But be that as it may, I prefer solo. Maybe isolation is more of an aspect of hiking for me than for most. Most probably hike on trails where you come across other hikers. I hiked short sections of forest roads this summer to get me to various spots from where I wanted to head off into the trees. I guess walking along overgrown logging roads, gated spur roads, game trails, cow paths, along a stream, across or along meadows, following a contour line, or just taking a line towards an area I’ve not been to yet, all contributes to the isolation of hiking. I didn’t used to look at it this way, probably because I used to pretty much always hike trails.
I might prefer solo hiking, but I’ve also enjoyed some hikes I’ve done with others. The 14 was different, however. I didn’t so much enjoy the hike, but I thoroughly enjoyed spending time with the other hiker.

Susan must wonder how I find my way while out hiking by myself since she’s seen me get turned around at trail junctions when coming back down a trail. On trails, I find myself daydreaming from time to time and not really being tuned in. That’s not an option when off doing the type of hiking I generally do, nor do I listen to music or podcasts. One needs to keep aware of where you’re going. I mark my campsite as a POI on my GPS, turn it off and pack it in my pack, just in case I really screw up, but I like the challenge of finding my way back. I like loops; out-and-backs don’t do much for me. One needs to be aware of where the sun is in direction to your line of travel (and its changing position over the hours), over a shoulder, to the side or in front of you; constantly take in the lay of the land so you can tie the land together, drainages, ridges, hills, meadows, streams, contour lines; hillsides with different types of trees; burned areas; keep a rough idea of time moving in a general direction, and the like. Going off in different directions over the weeks maps out the whole area in your head. My kind of traveling.



Mesa still likes to restrict my solar power.

I come across or hear of people who just do not seem to do much research before getting into full-timing. If a potential full-timer talks with a full-timer, and depending on where they are set up, in an RV park or a state or national park or in a national forest campground, he/she will probably get different perspectives on the RV lifestyle. It might be good to get an idea of the type of RVing one will most likely be doing and talk with people doing that specific type. Some prefer RV parks and resorts, some national parks, some BLM, some want to visit many small towns (for which a class B might be best); there are SO many variables—don’t get blinded by only one perspective.

Some pass up speaking with full-timers and start at a RV dealership. Bad move. Instead of learning all they can from full-timers and on the web to narrow down the type of RV to get, they go to a dealership and put the ball in the salesman’s court. Can you say, ‘dumb?’ A good number get snowed and order all kinds of ‘useful’ options and end up with a larger rig than they need. Some can afford this and it’s no big thing; if they find it’s not for them, they’ll just sell it and take the lose (sometimes tens of thousands). I still believe in starting off with a good used rig maybe 5 years old for the reasons I stated on the ‘Choosing a Rig’ page.
http://www.nadaguides.com/RVs is a stellar reference for finding the value of used rigs.

I’d place some of those sales people right down there with the lowlifes that con retirees out of their savings; it’s pretty similar. Thankfully this is not the norm, but I hate hearing about it. I guess being a senior on a fixed income and living on wheels brings this closer to home. But we all make poor choices from time-to-time. Been there, done that, still occasionally doin’ it. Guano.

And that’s just the rig. As you know, fulltiming is not necessarily a cheaper way to live. Many potential fulltimers talk with fulltimers and don’t ask about expenses of the different RV lifestyles. If one is spending $25-35 a night for a place to set up, I don’t consider that cheap living.

Some full-timers work a good deal of the year. Some visit places like Quartzsite (good grief) and line up employment at the various booths geared for seasonal jobs. Others look into Workamper News and Workamper job fairs, campground management companies, or find work in National Parks, amusement parks, etc.. Some volunteer at campsites, generally with no pay but usually come with a free hookup site, which saves an RVer money. You’ll frequently see RVers working a Christmas tree or pumpkin lot. There are a lot of opportunities for seasonal work if one needs to work or just enjoys helping and being around people.
There are different RV lifestyles and expenses vary quite a bit. For some, a combination works best. I met an older guy back in ’07 who dry camps 5 days a week and stays in an RV park 2 days a week so he can socialize, do laundry, fill up his water tank, dump his gray & black, fully charge his batteries, and whatever else needs to be done.

Not everyone is suited for full-timing. Some get into full-timing but don’t find the particular style that best suits them, so don’t succeed at it. The lifestyle in general, can sound fabulous, but once they get into it, they’re thinking, this is not what I had imagined. So buy used, start with a simple rig, and go a bit smaller than you think you might need. Talk with full-timers in such rigs.

Also, if you are going into this solo, be sure you are comfortable with solitude. It might not be an issue if you will be staying in campgrounds. I know guys who disperse camp during the summer months, and I come across them in the winter parks. Two of them, for sure, sink deeper into depression each year. One recently visited and camped nearby for a few days. One of the first things he said to me was, Hey, if I smell, let me know. I’m not going to tell you how he presently handles hygiene, but you can probably imagine it’s pretty bad. This along with other aspects of his existence all point to an escalating problem. He was nothing like this when I met him 4 years ago.
From listening to him talk over the years, he doesn’t seem to have any friends, acquaintances or family who care about him, so after a couple days I tried to talk with him about depression. It did not go well; typical macho guy thing of denial. Not even knowing what depression is, let alone symptoms of it, he gets all huffy and puffy about not having it. Since I went through a bout of depression after my transplant when I realized my life as I was living it was over. The active things that I had enjoyed most were gone. So I had first-hand experience of what I was talking about—loss of interest or pleasure in normal activities and hobbies, excessive sleeping, fatigue, low self-esteem, feeling of hopelessness, and others. Yep, been there, done that, didn’t like it, did something about it. It was the pits.
It seems I got through on the third day after picking at it from time to time and talking about symptoms I had and how I finally got on a track to improving my mental and physical health. It seemed to finally click with him that he had the same symptoms (well, I sort of primarily only mentioned the ones I had that mirrored his). I mean, he started talking about suicide so I felt I should at least try to be helpful. And yes, when it is important, I can actually be tactful.
Sure was uncomfortable. But like I’ve said, I really shouldn’t still be above the ground, so I must be here for something. I would imagine it is for stuff like this.

Maybe a ‘quirkyalone’ would be best suited to a lifestyle of solo full-time hard-wall camping. Sasha Cagen defines quirkyalone as ‘a person who enjoys being single (but is not opposed to being in a relationship) and generally prefers to be alone rather than in a couple.’

To get back on track, full-timing can be a good lifestyle, with tolerable expenses once one learns the ropes. I just don’t like to see people being taken advantage of or going into something that costs a good deal of money, with little knowledge. Like that’s ever going to change.


I never really got into to smoking dope; it just made me hungry and tired. I did like Alice B. Toklas brownies, however. But, I’m in Colorado. SO, I stopped in a licensed MMC (medical marijuana center). I heard about a tootsie-roll that sounded good. One walks into a MMC and first thing, has to show ID. Then one can look around at the various items for sale until it is your turn to make a purchase. There is a waiting area like a doctor’s office with chairs and a table with magazines and local papers. Off to the side is a ‘bud room’—the key location in the establishment. Only one customer/couple can be in the bud room at a time, hence the waiting area. Once in the room, there is quite a selection of cannabis in various forms, such as the above, coffee crunch dark chocolate with real coffee beans and one other additional ingredient.

You probably picked up on I went to Salida to visit Susan. It felt good to see her again. We went out for a few meals, walks, a couple hikes, and had some good talks. We don’t agree on everything nor look at many things the same way but we’re both comfortable with that. Unlikely that we’ll have the opportunity to spend time together again but the gods might throw us a treat. I plan to keep in touch, though. Sure do like the lady. la mia preziosa amica

This winter’s expenses might cost a tad more; I plan to occasionally get a room at a La Quinta. I am SO behind with the list of stuff I need to take care of on the web. With my town runs taking so long this summer, I didn’t spend much time on the web. Oh well, I’ll also get to soak in hot foam baths with a glass of wine and a paperback. Some aspects of this lifestyle are almost too tough to cope with.

September Olio—a small cover-your-butt sack for hiking

It’s smart to always keep a small sack in your daypack when going off on a hike, especially if you will be off trail and there are not many people around. There are all kinds of thoughts on what to put into a ‘survival kit’ so keep in mind that this is my take on it and that I do not profess to be an expert. I feel comfortable with these items. Most are stuffed in a small sack in my daypack while others are distributed through the pack or in my pockets. Some items change with the weather, length of hike, the season, and other variables.

plenty of water, food, energy bars, small binoculars or monocular, a strong folding knife, a Leatherman or other multi-tool, signal mirror, whistle, compass (a GPS does not replace a compass) and local map, GPS, PLB, cell phone (might get a signal if high enough), first aid kit, aspirin or IBU or your preference, petroleum jelly or something similar for hot spots that might develop on feet, nail clippers, needles & thread (for cloth & wounds), safety pins, poncho, gortex parka, tuque, neck gaiter, gloves, space or rescue blanket, water purification tablets or filter, fire capability (waterproof matches, Bic lighter, and birthday candles or ‘fire-starter’), small handgun, pepper spray, sunscreen, insect repellant, small pencil & paper, headlamp w/extra batteries, candle, wire saw, large heavy-duty trash bag (for rainwear & to collect water), 100’ of paracord, coil of thin wire, heavy aluminum foil (can be formed into a pot for boiling water [a discarded soda can can also be used to boil water, after rising out any critters] & for wrapping food to cook in the embers).

August sixty minutes sixty years—2505 minutes
August Triple 18—pecs/delts: 3740; core: 3045; legs: 4600

I saw this joke:
‘I didn’t make it to the gym today.’
‘That makes 5 years in a row.’

Be content with what you have;
rejoice in the way things are.
When you realize there is nothing lacking,
the whole world belongs to you.
Lao Tzu


RVwest article ‘Following a Free Spirit’
FOR INDEX OF POSTINGS GO TO JULY 2006

2 comments:

Spotted Dog Ranch: said...

"Absolutely stellar."

Great pun. Sometimes the night sky when out like that can actually take your breath away.

diana said...

Nice hike! Not sure I'll ever make it to 14,000, but Mt Dana is nearby incase I might want to try. Happy October!