Saturday, April 29, 2006

Languid Early-Season Overtures To An Indifferent Muse

My life is complete--I'd put the 40" spinner rims and rear-deck deflector on the Squirrel. The mountains beckoned.
This story begins in a desultory manner.
It was a cold and dreary night, Heather Locklear was on the sofa eating bon-bons, pining somewhat over the priapic departure of one Richie Sombrero, when suddenly...a shot rang out! She shivered as the flimsy peignoir slipped provocatively down, revealing what to my wondering eyes! but a copy of Dr Geo Sheehan's "Running for Dummies". Oh. My. God. There it was--the oft-thumbed chapter on What To Do After Boston.
People often ask me about my training methods. My answers are Delphic in their delineations. Here is an instance.

Last weekend, Dr Casino Bingo and I did a Circuita Minora, a Mini-Me Transect if you will, a diet-slice portion of the San Gabriels. After duly fortified by a Grade-B Breakfast, we made it to the Trail Head at Clear Creek, the crossroads where the Angeles Forest Hwy crosses Highway 2. The winds were probably 4 on the Beaufort, with a following SW swell 12' crests on 10 second intervals. Visibility was down to 2 miles. Anything lighter than a Lindsay Lohan was in danger of being blown away.

We began up the trail in a manly manner. The cloud deck was above us, perhaps at 4000'. We ignored the ominous portents, because it made better copy. We passed the abandoned remains of Adventure Racing support crews whose hiking poles had snapped under the harsh glare of kleig lights.

Eschewing the murmured temptations of the Old In-Out-Outback of Josephine Peak, we decisively struck out for Strawberry Peak. There was nobody to challenge us, and our Splits Were Good. We had gotten a full 2-1/2 miles before the Lisa Loeb Inflatable Conversation Doll had come out and made its rounds. In penance we observed 10 full seconds of silence.

As we rounded up and over towards the Ransom Of Red Box the weather became noticeably chillier. We couldn't help but become more like Katy Couricesque in our perkiness. We made Switzer's Camp in a brisk time, seeing only .43 of the normal scrum which were huddled around smoky BBQ grills waiting for summer.

A mile later, after an unroped 4.9 section of vintage mid-century asphalt and New-Jack Scree, there it was. And I’m standing at the crossroads, believe I’m sinking down.

Bone Regards, Mr Trail Safety
"Tanned, rested and ready from his Secure, Undisclosed Location"

Listen up! This message is being sent by or on behalf of Mr Trail Safety. It is intended exclusively for the individual or entity to which it is addressed, excluding non-specific incarnations and bardo-state entities. It contains concepts that will challenge you. You may adjust. Insofas as this communication may contain information that is proprietary, privileged or confidential or otherwise legally exempt from disclosure, it is certain to cause cerebral flatulence and conceptual infarctions among the simple-minded and comedy-challenged, perhaps You. If you are not the named addressee, you are not authorized to read, print, retain, copy or disseminate this message or any part of it; including channelling the aforementioned fabulisms to spirit-bodies, Taiwanese Dream-Catchers, Heritage Barbie Dolls or Dale Earnhardt Collector plates. But go ahead, live dangerously, drive left-of-center and give it your best shot. If you have received this message in error, you deserve it--you'll have subsequent incarnations to work out the kinks. Or simply prostrate yourself in front of your Thos. Kinkade Heritage Reproduction while making a Burnt Offering.

Here, have some salt.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Rollin' Away the Stone: Year Zero-Six

It made sense at the time.

Rollin' Away the Stone: Year Zero-Six

I: Alles Kaputt

The bungee cord of recovered memory took me back.

Back to the opening scenes of the powerful film "Das Bööty", where the lanky Herr Kapitan G of U-812 was studying the world through the powerful ZeissOptikon Periskop. He'd been stalking the elusive "Convoy Odalisque" for several days--the round-bottomed freighters were tempting, but he had to wait for the proper moment.

Little Dieter the radioman was monitoring the convoy signals. Suddenly he began to pick up the cluster LS-MFT...LS-MFT...LS-MFT. A distress call broadcast in the clear.

Herr Kapitan G 's commands were curt, with no schwitters.

"Es ist total alte Schule...senken Sie den Periscope"

The periscope retracted swiftly to the deck as the klaxon brayed its 2-note "Muff-diving! Muff-diving!" alert.

The Bosun bellowed "Prepare torpedoes!"

The swift and deadly Mark VIII-PunktFunf FleischTorpedoes were readied, armed, and chambered.

"Triple Cap latte! Ach rechts oben kommen!!

"Torpedos 1, 2, 3, 4 away"

There was a burst of sound and bubbles as the torpedoes pursued their prey with blind one-eyed tenacity. Eine Kleinische Schlacht-Musik, Kapitan G thought grimly.

He watched intently through the periscope. Torpedo 2 struck MV Ethyl Murmanskaya right behind the wheelhouse with a blinding flash. Five thousand tons of volatile personal lubricant ignited in a cataclysmic explosion, which made twin miniature reflections in his oval glasses...

I had awoken in a sweat. It was OK.

II: Nomex Is An Island, Its a Peninsula

The penance section of the Chantry Road was empty. Mostly. Save for a few most excellent Chantry Road Hikers who had deployed their hiking poles, mainly to get a better purchase on the relentless blacktop. Moving past them, I was on the Righteous Path to Ascend Mt Wilson-Phillips, and it was good.

I was alone in a breezy silence; the only sound was my tantric breathing in counterpoint to the grinding noises of my thoughts. Climbing up the now-mossy green rocks of the Winter Creek Trail, I set my sights upwards for the Manzanita Ridge. Coming around a corner I surprised a young adult cougar. It a stripling lad, heir and tributary to the Chucky the Cheese-Kutting Kougar predatory tradition.

Seeing the cougar made me realize I was hungry. I unwrapped an industrial caloric extrusion, and savored the complex flavors and textures; red oak sawdust and pink urinal cake, bound together with WD40. Chased it with a swig of water, and left a fluorescent cloud in my wake.

III: The Killer In Ewe Is the Killer in Me

Upper Winter Creek was empty of all traffic. A few apostate squirrels made desultory insults in my general direction. I caught the whiff of post-Saturday night squirrel whiz. The poison oak was trembling and dewy, the glowing ingenue of the trail, begging to be touched in that special way. I manfully declined the oblique proposition, and made relentless forward progress.

The top of Mt Wilson-Phillips was shrouded in the modest veil of mystery and scudding clouds. I began to see outriders of the REI Tribe in traditional Sabbath finery as they made their way down from the top. Evidently another solo unsupported bid.

Water flowed from the summit tap which is always a good thing. The wind whistled through the pavilion, carrying with the echoes of many Alannis Morisette songs that have escaped from the lowlands beneath the mountain.

The Sturtevant Trail was again empty, with only the skidmarks of yesterday's children to remind you of your eventual mortality if you ride a mountain bike. But the mountain lion sleeps well tonight, bwana, for all of our tomorrows. I took a long, reflective pull on the narghyle. Omar knew his shit.

Past the spruce, down the rocky trail to where the canyon oaks dwell and frolic. I'd read in the paper that Halliburton was bidding on a contract to mine and log in this part of the forest. This would remove all the chaotic and unpredictable irregularity. In its place would be uniform tetrahedral slopes, garbed in bamboo, tended by giant robots armed with machetes and AK-47s, which have a better service record according to Consumer Reports.

I was coming into the Sturtevant Camp drainage, populated by the mystic and reclusive Sturtevant Canyon Bears. These bears generally wear green hooded sweatshirts, beer hats, have surly dispositions, and are known to have a fondness for pen-fed Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts.

Free-range Boy Scouts are non-existent, while the pen-fed ones are given a carefully selected diet high in HFCS, white flour, and various stabilized culinary lubricants. The Bears can track packs of these sojourners simply by following the caramalizing vapor trails. Its a remarkable process, one that's been put on hold while the Chantry Road has been closed, and the seasonal herds of Boy Scouts have not been able to have been trucked in to their summer ranges.

IV: Where You Goin' WIth That UB40 In Your Hand?

I stopped by the Sturtevant Camp to visit with the Camp Manager. There we discussed the recent developments wherein some cabin owners had discovered that squirrels had set up meth labs beneath the floor boards. The most effective solution was to burn them out, which was not met with enthusiasm by the squirrels.

This being Easter, an influx of chocolate bunnies had been noticed. The erstwhile hosts had responded by biting off their ears and asses in retaliation. The bunnies were mute in their sufferings, as was their destiny.

Now was the time to Make Time, For Time Waits For Nobody's Goat's Head Soup. The trails were warming up as I came more into the general range of Big Santa Anita Canyon. Looking down various drainages and washes I marvel at the creativity of the names; Dead Horse, Lost Rider, and Remote Control Canyon come to mind.

Surfacing again at Chantry, it was clearing and sunny. I tucked it in and made my tangent-cutting drop down to the bottom, where the Shire of SIerra Madre slumbered in the wan afternoon light. The inhabitants were closing in on their final Easter Dinners, and if it wasn't Lamb With The Bone In, it was Wild Tofurkey in some description.

And thus another day was spent in the contemplation of resurrection. Word.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Musical Verities

Your morning is now ruined.

Several of us were discussing this on Tuesday night. My favorite Backstreet Boyz songs from The 2-Pac Tribute Albumz are:










and yes,


All this is to set the stage for your discovery of Rage Against The Machine's long-lost "Chiapas Sleigh-Ride: the Zapatista Xmas Album".

also, not to be missed:

R Kelly: "Stray Cat Blues"
Avril Lavigne: "Cher Before Her Thyme"
Michael & John Bolton: "Classic Renditions"
Richard Simmons: "Channeling John Lee Hooker"

PS: you know you want this: "Britney Lip-Syncs Nico"

Monday, April 10, 2006

Trail Work, Playing Nice, and Other Topix

Uncle Hal WInton kicking it old-school, trail work.
Hanta ho, truthseekers!

 AC100 Trail Work

This past Saturday I ascended the Aulde Mt Wilson-Phillips trail, departing the Shire of Sierra Madre, wherein the Hobbits were busy for another fine breezy day of debt-stacking down at the Santa Anita Mall, and perhaps the Racetrack. I, of course, was a mendicant on my way to see the first trail work of the new year, led by the inestimable Hal Winton.

Uncle Hal, you may recall, is the co-RD of the AC100. In this capacity, he is the head of the AC100 Trail Volunteer Group. This entitles him to palaver, entreat, negotiate, commiserate, and cooperate with the local US Forest Service here in Southern California. On any given day he'd rather be blasting stumps, but these are the necessary steps to ensure that the Race has a place at the table when decisions are being made.

Some of the decisions involve who gets to go where when roads wash out, when forests are tinder-dry, and when little tiny frogs become very large in an environmental impact reports. Because the working relationship between the Angeles Crest 100 Race, CalTrans and the USFS has been consistently positive, the race has been able to carry on. When others have not.

A Different Planned Race Stillborn Due to Operator-Error.

 Which brings me to another juncture--the short-lived BackBone Trail 100k that was supposed to run this past weekend. On paper it looked like a swell idea. I looked at the map, and thought "my oh my, this is an interesting idea...but gee? are they gonna handle the Etz Molloy section which to my last recall was on, you guessed it, private property?"

I needn't have wasted time thinking about this. The National Park Service got wind of this fine event, and did the No-No Smack-Down on the witless RDs.

"Whuh-fo? Whyzzat??"

Because they didn't bother to get permits.

Talk about bone-headed, this was it. And, they figured they could traipse 30+ people across a private-property section without anybody noticing? This is America, and every ultra-dork in the race knows 3 people with a car, and they'll be swarming up and down those canyons...

So now these wanna-be RDs are 2 strikes down. One, with the NPS, and two, with the folks that had donated time, money and effort to this still-born frolic. Note to the lads: both communities are very small.

Back to the Main Event

So back to the AC100 people. There was a fine turnout on the Manzanita Ridge Bypass, where the new trail was surveyed almost 9 years ago, and hacked through all kinds of resistant greenery, the most predominant being manzanita and poison oak. The Bypass laid to rest a vertical, ridge-running sandy rutted nightmare that was just too much fun in the middle of the night. Aaaah... one of the more fun buckle-eating sections in the last 25 miles of AC. The trails were being trimmed back, water-bars realigned, some downed trees shoved over to the sides, mainly to prevent idiot mountain-bikers from getting the Final Air of their short, brutish existences and so on.

Of course Uncle Hal wasn't anywhere near the top. I had to chase him down into the Heart of Darkness itself, the Hoegees Junction 3 miles down back towards Chantry. There I found him in an extended meditation with Scott Sullivan and Danny Westergaard. Things were looking pretty good, all told, and we commenced the hike back up to Manzanita Ridge, amusing ourselves with vintage AC stories involving projectile vomiting, trail-time crying sessions, and so on. The merriment was contagious, and before we knew it Scott and Danny had hurled a downed tree over the side of a switchback.

A Happy Ending

Collecting the others on the way up, everyone gathered at the Dave Trinkle Bench on the ridge, ate some cracking-good brownies brought by Ms XY herself, juggled a pulaski or two, counted coup, and then called it a day. I returned down whence I came, having secured some photographic evidence of the good works and continuation of process by all involved.