Joshua Tree National Park
The Fourth Annual VisionKwest Invitational was held this past Saturday, Mar 27 at Joshua Tree. This annual 31 mile run across the rugged, stony landscape of the unique environment had many rewards and surprises for all the participants.
The VisionKwest appeared as simultaneous revelation to the two unindicted co-originators, Casino Bingo and Draw Poker in 1999. The then-upcoming Millenium was stimuli to deep thinking on the subject. After consulting sacred texts [Morrison:1967, Page & Plant:1971], and channelling bardic entities, the VisionKwest was born.
The course has had many starts, and several finishes, usually a dusty matte. The main route has always involved The California Riding and Hiking Trail. Play your cards right, and there will never be enough shade. There is no freely occurring water on the course.
ACT I: IN WHICH WE RIDE THE SNAKE
This year's start featured new talent. In addition to the canonical Bingo and Poker, we were joined by Micah "218-KOI" White and Jana "Miss Miwok '02" Gustman. Once again, Ian Torrence was the celebrity no-show, which opened up at least one place for the entrants.
As the implacable rosy-fingered dawn rose over the wine-dork sea, the tight-clustered "Fo-Pak" [Halkowski:2000], exited the Indian Cove campground like tightly-clustered umlauts shot out of Nigel Tuffnel's love-gun. The pack did the traditional trooping of the Barking Ducks in the Missing Gerbil Formation [Krull:2003] at a brisk pace to the trailhead, leaving a wake of perfumed wonderment.
Once on the trail, the pack thundered northwards and downhill for a mile to the cryptic turn-off, then veering cross-country to pick up the Boy Scout Trail as it proceded uphill and in a southwesterly course up another wash.
As the morning was young, and all involved were feeling their oats. The Testosteroni became so thick at times that La Biskera herself would have whipped out her Zippo and flared off 3/4 of the pack. But in Homeric wisdom, she stayed her hand, and the runners continued their climbing up and out of the canyons on to the plateau towards the Keys West water drop.
We were now less than two hours in. The sun was up, but the breeze was holding the temperatures down. It was not going to be as heinously hot as in previous years. It looked as though we were not going to require the usual
ACT II: GIRAFFIC PARK
From Keys West we did necessary road work in the form of high knees and surges--first on blacktop and then down a dirt road to Lost Horse, all on record-setting pace. From there we once again picked up a sketchy trail, passing over Joshua Tree's equivalent of the Grassy Knoll on the way to Juniper Flats. The flowers were out in force, and Joshua Tree was literally Hibernian compared to the last two years.
At this point Bingo and Jana began to pull ahead, with Micah a few paces behind. Draw Poker was having a different time of it, feeling his flexors begin to emit high-pitched whining sounds. Within a half-mile as the tail lights faded, there wasn't a dry eye in the house, Draw Poker was left alone with his genetically-modified thoughts. And therein he crossed into the Western Approaches of Giraffic Park.
Giraffic Park was first noted in a laconic conversation with the correspondent "Notorious D*A*N". His observations indicated that there was an ecological isolate in a remote setting where two competing species acted out their respective destinies with little outside interference.
One half of this equation is the Mutant Mojave Tofurkey, a flightless albino ground-dwelling bird. They migrate across the landscape foraging for date-expired PowerBars. In its small addled brain, it has no natural enemies. However, Attention Deficit Disorder is pandemic in the species. It forgets that it is preyed on by the savagely predatory Dwarf Giraffe, a pack-hunting quadriped whose average height is about 1.5m, and is covered in a beguiling orange and purple plush pile fur.
Today, Draw Poker was to witness a typical ambush. The Tofurkeys had been rooting at the base of a Cholla cactus, a scene of bucolic and pastoral harmony. They failed to notice the ominous thundering that began to rise, and then exploded in a crescendo of fuzzy hoofbeats. The Dwarf Giraffe pack numbered about 29, falling on the Tofurkeys with razor-sharp incisors, disembowelling the hapless birds as their back-up beepers bleated ineffectually. Sprays of white cubes and slabs were speared by indifferent spiny cactii. The Giraffes tore into the Tofurkeys, spitting out the pieces when they realized that they didn't taste like chicken.
The attack ended as suddenly as it began. The Dwarf Giraffes thundered off in a cloud of dust and settling entrails. Even the flies that were drawn by the promise of a free dinner lazily drifted off to the remote dumpsters at Jumbo Rocks. The air was still.
ACT III: THIS IS THE END
Draw Poker drew himself up to his full 4'9", aimed his fuzzy slippers down the trail, and began to make way again. About a mile from the Geology Tour Road, he met up with Micah "218-Koi" White, who was also having a less-than-fabulous day. They concluded their day on the California Shuffling and Trudging Trail with about 21 miles in the bag. Casino Bingo and Miss Miwok 02 were long gone on the long and winding road that would take them back to Pine City, through the Desert Queen Mine, up over Split Rock, Babeland then down to their epic finish at Twin Tanks.
ACT IV: WORLD DOMINATION
In the end, it was as the Elders had prophesied a while back..."You don't know anything, do you...Mr Jones?" The epic struggle to maintain the planet on an even keel had been decided. And thus it will be until the next Gathering of the VisionKwest, sometime next year.
That night all gathered around the fire for an episode of CaveMan TV, save for Miss Miwok 02, who beat feet back to the Great Satan. There was mention of the premier of Jackass 2: The Early Years, but this could not be confirmed.
Dr Boyd, Miss MP, Geri K all made full use of the hammered remains of the primary participants to whack them with pig-bladders and
All in all it was a swell day, and they all went home, tired but happy.
Mr Trail Safety