[Flashing back to the summer of '92—picking up from the orange quartz journel—where we cut our teeth climbing:]
Aug 3, 1992—Yosemite (Tuolumne Meadows)
Finally here in some quiet grove of trees between Unicorn Peak and Cathedral Peak near Bud lake. Incredibly quiet except for the distant murmur of some creek. Last week in Tucson seems eons ago. Thursday night went to Bookman's and hung out then went and saw "Night on Earth." Cool concept for a film, Taxi drivers and their riders in 5 different cities around the world, L.A., N.Y., Paris, Rome and Helsinki. When i rode my boke home at 12:00 i felt hyper-aware of my existence in Tucson, Arizona., as if looking at it from an outsider's view.
Friday i worked all day to finally finish mapping the photometric telescope's electronics, made 2 copies and put them in new notebooks, all organized for any idiot in the future to figure what goes where. Finished at 4:30. Now i'm free! Went to Ultimate. Caught 6 or 7 "touchdowns". I called Mark and he was finally home. He had been travelling 24 hours or so but i talked him into coming down. Went to Gentle Ben's where we ran into Shaheen, Dave Fein, Patrick and Greg. Patrick was fresh back from the upper reaches of Canada studying particles in the atmosphere. He was transformed into a mountain man, stroked his beard and palmed his new belly, sweating profusely cuz he's not used to this heat. Drank 5 or 6 pitchers of tank oil. The place was full of sorority girls and frat boys pissing in the sink. Now i know why i haven't been to a bar all summer. I got pretty twisted cuz i'm not used to drinking so we went to Denny's to sober up. Got to bed around 3:30 a.m. Got up around 9 and hadn't even packed and Chawn was coming over at 10:30. We went to Phoenix via the Florence Freeway. Nice drive. It was a lot hotter in Phoenix. We stopped at a climbing store and i got a 1.5 TCU and Chawn got a #2 Camalot. New toys! Went to his house and his sister Mendy started to take us to the airport in her big clunker El Dorado convertible but we got about 4 blocks before it ran out of gas. For some reason i enjoy things like breaking down in 100+ degree weather. In lame Scottsdale suburbs with no one around cuz they're all in air-conditioned houses. It makes you feel alive, like you have the upper hand on humanity. But Chawn wasn't too pleased with his sister, bitched at her then went running off to get his parent's truck which didn't run so well, but got us there. Southwest Airlines sucks. Festival seating. We got the last 2 seats. I sat between 2 arrogant holier than thou pilots that even tho they were friends made me sit between them. David and Leslie picked us up and we went to Menlo Park and got Mom and went out to killer Indian food at Mum Taj. Sunday we went to the REI store, Redwood Trading post and the North Face outlet... consume! I bought a killer new black bag that was like 7500 cu. in capacity. Also got a camp stove. Chawn got new books and a guidebook for Tuolumne. Now we're set. Went back to 2063 and Eric, Arthur, Andrew, Brian and Kimi, and all their respective friends were there. We jumped off the roof and set up a dynamic rope to climb over the pool. went to dinner at the Fish Market.
Chawn woke me up at 6 a.m., waking me from a dream that i can't remember now. We got out of the bay area before 8 a.m. but had to go all the way to Merced because 120 was closed cuz of some forest fire that was burning out of control. We had to go into the valley and deal with the madhouse of people. The view was spectacular as ever, even though it was hazy cuz of the fire. I had to sit in the car for an hour while Chawn went and got our wilderness permits. I don't really understand it... the campgrounds right off the road are packed with people and you have to make reservations and pay $9. Or you can get a wilderness permit for free and camp basically anywhere you want away from all these annoying people (as long as you hike in at least 3 miles). We went back-tracked to go up to Tuolumne, stopped at El Cap to pay our respects. Chawn drove and i fell asleep and next thing i know we're at Tenaya lake, with rock everywhere on the horizon, just too beautiful to be true. We made some noodles with sauce and chilled out by the lake checking out the scenery. Granite, miles and miles of it. Exposed weathered granite. Feels like the top of the world, not sure there is a more beautiful spot. A glaciated work of art. We moved onto the trail head near Tuolumne meadows, the John Muir trail parking lot. We were planning on hitting Cathedral lakes and the trail said Cathedral Lakes but for some reason we got really fucked up, we passed by this dome and saw a peak in the distance that Chawn thought was Cathedral Peak. So we bushwhacked towards it. After getting over there we realized we were on the right trail initially, the peak we were going towards was Unicorn peak. The mosquitoes were chowing on us each time we stopped. My 85 lb. pack was killing my shoulders. We kept pushing on to where we are now, put all our food and toiletries in bags, threw a rope over a high branch then hoisted them up to keep them away from bears.
Aug 4—Bud Lake (Yosemite)
Woke up because some squirrels were making loud obnoxious sounds. It was beautiful waking up under the trees even if some squirrel was being an asshole. I read a little of John Muir's "My First Summer in the Sierra"... perfect place to read it. Chawn eventually woke up, we were slow to get a move on. Ate a can of beans and coffee and nuts and dried fruit, packed and headed up here to Bud lake. It's incredibly beautiful up here. We're right at the tree line (9800 ft). Bud Lake is sculpted out of a saddle between Echo Peak and Unicorn peak and from where we are on the opposite end we have a great view of Cathedral Peak across the lake. Found a grove of trees and set up camp. Getting the food into a tree was hilarious. We'd get one up then the other, but then the weight would make it hang too low, so we devised ways to counter-balance the weight... how many physicists does it take to keep food from bears? I mentioned we should camp on the island, but Chawn said bears liked to swim.
Headed up to Cathedral Peak, the approach was tiring. There was a marmot licking the backpack that some climbers left below. He wasn't afraid of us at all. We also saw some sort of sage hen and her 6 or 7 little chicks, they weren't afraid either. Some girls came up that were free soloing the whole thing. They were rather rude and knocked rocks on us. Then two guys followed us and the leader only placed one piece of pro the entire pitch. We alternated pitches. Chawn led the 2nd then i led the 3rd. Nothing too difficult, but we were getting higher and higher and it was getting chilly. The 5th pitch was cool, started in a perfect chimney then various crack systems. And the 6th pitch had lots of laybacks and cracks. I led the last pitch coming out on top with an incredible view, 360°. 10,900 feet. There were these huge spires with Cathedral Lakes as a backdrop. And Tuolumne meadows and Bud Lake, etc. awesome view. I belayed Chawn up and we chilled for a while but it was getting dark. We downclimbed the backside in the dark then came back to our cool little campsite. Made pasta, ate pistachios and strolled around in the remnants of a waxing ½ moon. The stars reflecting in the lake was intense.
Chawn rounding the summit of Cathedral Peak (w/ Bud Lake, where we camped)
Aug 6—Yosemite (Bud Lake)
This lake is starting to feel like home. Yesterday woke up and had coffee and granola bars and fruit juice. I went exploring these little chasms on the ridge above us, really intense. Slits that cut thru the whole mountain. They are narrow (some of them) enough to chimney up and some of them have some climbs on them. It would be a really aesthetic climb, for that matter it would be cool to go rappel into them. One of the splits, split again, leaving a thin long sheet in between— also a really aesthetic climb. I walked all the way through to the other side of the ride, over icy patches of snow still left over from the winter. I imagine during the winter the whole chasm gets full of ice and snow, like a glacier. I got a little hot going up there in a sweatshirt, so when i got down it was time for a bath. Went to the lake, stripped down and jumped in. Invigorating, so intense and cool. Swam around a bit even though it was freezing, then scrubbed myself with a washcloth (no soap)... but unable to get all of the pine sap off. Then jumped back in. We headed off to these climbs at Lambert Dome. Had to walk the 4½ miles + drove up to the Tuolumne meadows store and grill where i got some french fries and a salad. Lots of hikers milling about. Went over to Lambert Dome. The approach was really tiring and when we got there all the climbs seemed too dangerous, pure slab and hardly any bolts. The booked had them listed as PG if they had maybe 2 rusty bolts spaced over 30 or 40 feet, rated R if there was 1 bolt ½ way up the 100-foot pitch or rated X if there basically no protection (why not just free solo at that point?). Yosemite climbers are egomaniacs with death wishes. We climbed around up above them but couldn't find a way to top-rope them. Oh well, it was an cool rock. A huge slab with one end rolling down into Tuolumne meadow and the other end steeper. It must have been a mile or 2 long, sheer granite. We headed down pretty frustrated and sluggish and grumpy. It felt really hot though the high was around 72° (the low was 37° which meant it must have been freezing at Bud Lake but didn't feel like it). We decided to go to the lodge and get a drink and that ended up being a mile walk to the stupid road. And all the yuppie hikers were there being annoying. We decided to go do "Golfers Route" on Low-Profile dome. It was supposedly a sports climb (well protected). So we figured it would be cool. My fingers were completely fried, it's so dry there are cracks splitting on each finger, painful to the touch. So Chawn led it. The first bolt was 15 or 20 feet up. He clipped in then had 30 or 40 feet of runout on easier stuff (still scary, imagine) he found a crack and put a stopper in then made it up this overhang thing. He was able to place another stopper; he was being very careful and slow. Meanwhile these guys next to us were doing Darth Vader, a 5.10d. On the last bolt Chawn was essentially out of rope, so he clipped into the last bolt then i climbed to the 1st bolt. I was 15 or 20 feet up thinking if i fell i would be fucked. Not my idea of a good time. The only holds were these crystal knobs marked with chalk. I was leaving blood all over them. Got to the 1st bolt and clipped myself into a short sling. I had a shitty stance hanging there trusting 1 bolt and i had to put Chawn back on belay. He eventually got up then i had to cling there uncomfortable as hell while he set up a belay. It was good practice though. I realized how reliable those little knobs were for standing on. Once he put me on belay i boogied up, a fun climb up a stairway of little quadratic crystals sticking out of solid granite. We were lucky when we got up there was 2 dudes up there (you needed 2 ropes to rappel off) so we traversed over to their belay. Then we boogied back to the trail. About ½ the way up i stepped over this log onto loose footing and next thing i know i'm on the ground in pain, retweaked my left ankle from when i sprained it a few weeks ago playing Ultimate. Throbbing pain. Let it subside for 5 minutes or so then hobbled the rest of the way up. Got to the camp just as it was getting to be too dark to see. Had dinner, 1 can of beans between us. Our stove was acting funny so Chawn ate his cold but i persevered + heated mine. Right before we went to sleep i went out on the granite to piss and check out the situation. It didn't look friendly at all. Couldn't see the stars. So we decided to set up the tent. Good timing, just as we were setting it up the 1st drops came. Threw everything in and tried to sleep. It didn't rain hard tho. I dozed and woke up these gusting winds, seemingly a precursor to a big storm. There was lightning in the distance. I couldn't sleep, waiting for it. There was crispy crinkling on the tent roof that sounded like light snow or lots of insects. Chawn verified that it had indeed been snowing.
Woke up at 6 a.m. after a restless night sleep. I was planning on doing the John Muir trail from the valley to here. I decided to check my ankle out, could barely walk on it. No way i would be able to walk 20.9 miles on it. So i went back to sleep. Woke up later had pasta for breakfast with coffee and fruit juice then hobbled over here to this island i am now on. Stopped on the way and took a shit in the fertile soil, then waded out here and am perched now on granite boulders with crystal clear water all around me, aqua green. You can see these little trout swimming around. It is so beautiful. I was going to take a bath but i procrastinated and now it's chilly. Oh well, here goes. AAAHHH! Refreshing, Zing! In mid-air the trout scattered. I hit the water and felt its coolness enfold me. Under the water, out of my element, quickly submerge. Fucking cold. There is still patches of snow on the hill above the lake. I went to shore and got my washcloth, rubbing all over quickly. Then scrambled back up on this rock, buck naked. Jumped in again. Fresh and free and enfolding. Giving yourself to nature. And now on a rock in the sun in the gentle breeze. Goose pimples all over, my skin alive. I feel like an animal, a living creature, a large mammal basking in the sun on a day that couldn't get any better, and a place that couldn't be any more beautiful. Today's the "day of leisure." Chawn needs to study every 3rd day for his quals. One day of big wall climbing, another day of single pitch shorter climbs. And the 3rd to relocate and relax. Study for Chawn, and for me, well i was supposed to go on a major trek but it's too nice here and my ankle is fucked up.
humping the Tourquiose Panther Love Machine (as we called our pack) looking down at Tanaya lake
Aug 8 (?)—Tuolumne Meadows
I am sitting on a rock in the middle of the Tuolumne river. Feet dangling in the water. The water is so amazing, so clear, so flowy, it just keeps flowing. The concept of liquid is abstract right now. Chawn is chasing after empty beer bottles in his bare feet. He says he's studying for his qualifier exam, trying to predict the chaotic path. Walking on the slippery rocks philosophizing about physics. The water ebbs and swirls, so gently, so cool. The sound is the onslaught of a deeper state, sweeping me away. The sun is on my bare back. There are flowers on the grassy banks and big granite domes rising over the trees. Let's see... the day i left off, the day of R'n'R, we packed our shit and left Budd lake. As we were leaving we met this woman who told us we were lucky to camp there and not get caught, as you aren't supposed to. We crossed the saddle down to Cathedral Lakes and it was strenuous, my ankle was still giving me a great deal of pain, and very unstable. I had to move deliberately with concentration. We got to the upper Cathedral Lake and circumnavigated the lake and were successful in finding a campsite with an established fire ring. We realized we were above 9,600 feet (where you aren't allowed to get wood) so we went down to the lower lake and circumnavigated the lake but were unsuccessful in finding a spot with a fire ring, so we made our own. We set up camp and were completely wasted. Next thing i knew i woke up on a smooth embankment at the lake's edge. It was as smooth as polished stone cuz of the glaciers. I laid down to chill and fell asleep thinking about how there was once 2,000 feet of ice over this spot, imagine that! Watched the sun set over Tenaya lake down below us, ate dinner of beans and pesto and then pasta and pesto. The coals were dying down and the noodles took forever to cook. They tasted like soap and we're getting really sick of the pesto sauce. I slept outside that night cuz Chawn was farting like a mad man. Somewhere in the middle of the night i was having a dream that incorporated thuddy footsteps, then a sniffing noise in my ear. I woke up and this black bear was right there sniffing at my head! He turned around and boogied out of there. It was cute the way it clumsily galloped away, in big swooping awkward clutzy movements. I yelled argghh! at him, though not with much vigor. He started to climb up into a tree but didn't get very far, he slid down and took off. It was hard to get back to sleep knowing the bears were sniffing and prowling around so i joined Chawn in the pesto-farty tent, with the door open. I woke up again and Chawn was up with his light and going "hey" at something. He looked out the tent and said the bear was in a tree. We both went out in our thermals and yelled at him and he split. It was a pretty shitty night sleep. Now i'm sitting in front of a fire making frijole/onion quesadillas.
Woke up and had a bath, this time in lower Cathedral lake then hiked down to the car (4.5 miles) and drove over this climb "Barnacle Bill". A long approach up rocks on a slap overlooking Tanaya lake. Chawn won at Rock, Paper, Scissors so he led, for the better since my ankle was still killing me and my fingertips trashed anyways. He got about 20 feet up some relatively easy stuff (the route is 5.7) and made his first 2 placements and was about to lay back the crack when a rock chipped off on him and he decided not to do it. He let down the gear and dropped the rope. Then he started to downclimb but wimped out. The cracks still had weeds in them. Obviously not a well-travelled route. This book sucks. I had to go up around and found some trees above him so he could lower himself down. We wanted to top-rope some 5.9 slabs but they were a pain to top-rope and we were getting frustrated. So we left. We decided to go to "Canopy World". The walk there was incredible. We went around Pothole dome right off the Meadow then forded the river. There were deer in the meadow, really intense scene. Followed the river down and came to some really cool layered falls. A series of pools pouring over granite, back and forth. Crystal aqua blue water. We finally found Canopy World, once again the book was fucked up but we were eventually able to top-rope this 5.9 crack. Chawn set it up from above and top-belayed me. The first ½ of it was a quick moving layback. The crack split and that was probably the crux. I made the mistake of following it right then had to downclimb to go left. Lots of arms jamming and grunting, and close to falling but i made it up.
I rounded over into Chawn's view then heard this weird noise, a high pitch squeaking, i thought it was some bug or maybe a rattlesnake. I looked closely and it was a vampire bat! Hence, we renamed the route Bat Crack (or Belay Le Goatee) instead of "Trick Shot". Fun ass climb. The sun was setting so Chawn didn't get a chance to do it. We tried to hurry back so we could make it to the store by 8 pm; Got lost in this dark forest where all the trees were dead then went across the meadow in the moonlight. Back at the car we decided to check out the campground, all full. Hmm. Wen back to the trail head. Parked. Neither of us seemed in a hurry to leave the car. First we ate "dinner"—granola bars, pretzels and chocolate chip cookies. It was cold as shit outside. It was almost 10:00. I mentioned jokingly that we should just sleep in the car. But Chawn seemed to buy into the idea. Ok, why not. We still had ½ a gallon of wine. We got it out and started guzzling it... in case we should change our mind about going to the campsite.
(Now i'm in the T.M. Grill at 8a.m. drinking coffee). Got completely twisted and i started reading Calvin and Hobbes while Chawn passed out and was snoring. Calvin + Hobbs became very lucid and twisted and i was really getting into it. I passed out somewhere along the way but woke in the middle of the night when a bunch of sugarbear deadheads parked next to us and started packing their gear loudly. It was a miserable night sleep. Waking up every hour to turn on the heat. We had no blankets. The seats were really uncomfortable. The sun finally saved us of our misery and rose. We decided to camp at the campground, sick of spending ½ our time getting to and from our campsite (9 miles RT). They were full, but we got on a waiting list, then we went back up to Cathedral Lakes (not carrying anything, what a relief!) we were very surprised that the bears had not taken over campsite and chewed everything in sight. Got our stuff and headed the back way out of Cathedral Lakes. There was no trail but there was stone slab watershed heading towards Lake Tanaya. From there took the shuttle bus back to the car, then got food for burritos and had a picnic on the meadow by the creek. And eating while walking in the river, having a deeply religious experience tripping out on the river. We were stalling until they called off names on the waiting list. We got a site. Had to drive the maze of hundreds of sites. Then we took off back to Canopy World. We stopped on the way to swim in the falls—excellent. Jumping into the deep swirling pools and sliding down the slippery rocks into the next pools. It was a blast. And we got really clean too. So refreshing.
Then we went up to Canopy World and Chawn did Bat Crack. The worst part of that climb was that fearsome bat that was hissing and bearing it's fangs. And that was my handhold! The bat wasn't there for Chawn. He did it no problem and i did it again then we top-roped Billiard Room, another 5.9 crack, though it was more of a face climb. I struggled a bit but made it and Chawn did too. The sun was falling so we set back, stopping for firewood which we strapped to our backs. (Chawn is spurting spaghetti sauce all over the page). Across the meadow carrying a huge log. We started jumping on it back at the car and some foreign dude came frantically running from Pothole dome cuz he thought someone was breaking into his car. "No, but you just ran across the meadow, which is a $1000 fine (it is). Came back to our new home and had more quesadillas and chilled in front of the fire where once again i was writing before i fell asleep (just can't catch up).
This morning got up and had breakfast at the grill (nice to eat something besides nuts and dried fruit). We set out to do "Northwest Books" on Lembert dome. There was a long 3rd class scramble, then Chawn led the 5.6 or 5.5 pitch with a bunch of mantles and a layback crack (with a hex stuck in it). The 2nd pitch was supposedly 5.6 or 5.7. I was supposed to go up this crack and traverse to a bolt. At the traverse it was really thin so i kept going up the crack which was a 5.9. I accidentally led a 5.9, my first, that's cool. My hands were bleeding all over the place after i finished. Two knuckles ground down. I was siked. From there it was a walk-off. But it was fun smearing down the long low-angle slab of Lambert dome. Like walking down the back of a massive whale.
your author + his trashed tips after accidentally doing his first 5.9
We had some lunch then set out for the "Western Front"—a wall on Daff dome that is top-ropeable. We decided we needed to practice slab climbing. And this shit was indeed slab. The 1st was Green Eggs and Ham, a 5.9 that started off as a 5.7 layback crack. It was thin and we were bitching, as in complaining. There was a 5.10a next to it, asked Chawn if he wanted to try it and he said no way, but what the hell, i figured may as well give it a go. The first ½ was easy, then it got into these weird holdless ripples that you had to smear on little holds. I peeled off once but kept at it and made it up. A 5.10! And a slab at that, granted on top-rope. I was siked. Chawn was being lethargic but i told him once he started his adrenalin would kick in. He did it after peeling off a few times. Yah, now we're into TR'ing 5.10s and i've led a 5.9. We TR'd another 5.9, Deadhead's Delight—more smearing action but with slightly bigger crystal holds. No problema. This also had a 5.10a on the same belay which i id after falling 3 times and penjying. Talk about thin. You look at it and say "no way" but miraculously are able to hold on. Totally on the brink of control. Feet slowly slipping, you have to move quickly, stepping on micro-nodules and pulling up on slight dimples or imperfections in the smooth rock. But i made it. Chawn slipped on the 1st move than said "i'm not up to it." but i pried him to at least try again. He did it and finished the route only slightly dogging once. What a day, three 5.9s and two 5.10s. We figured we had to drink 10 beers a piece since they were our first 5.10s, then settled for 10 between us, 5 a piece, of Henry Weinhardts. Had spaghetti and sourdough bread for dinner. I've only had 3 beers and switched over to coffee and Chawn is still intent on 5, enraptured in front of the fire.
Aug 11—Tuolumne Meadows
Monday was our "day of rest"—the day to hike from the valley to Tuolumne meadows... well, i was to walk from the valley (after driving the car there) and Chawn was going to walk from the meadows to the valley to pick it up. I got the shitty end of the deal l since Tuolumne was a mile higher than the valley. Actually, we decided to start at Tanaya lake and go via 'Clouds Rest' since we'd already seen the lakes and all that, and since high ridges are better than low valleys. We tried to get off early, up at 7 and the at the grill to chow "the special" then get organized in the Tanaya parking lot. Dropped Chawn off there at 9 then i drove around to the valley. There were lame tourists all over the road going 30 mph. I picked up some hitchhikers from Toronto who proved to be good company, deadhead bohemians. I dropped them at the lodge (they were going to Frisco). I had to go get gas, ended up paying $1.58 a gallon, then got stuck on that hideous valley loop. Arrgghh. This is supposed to be the heaven on earth beautiful valley and it's a living hell. By the time i was able to park (at the stables) it was 11:00. I had to motor cuz i was sposed to meet Chawn at Clouds Rest (we were expecting it to take one hour, not two). It was a mile just to get to the John Muir Trailhead at Happy Isles. It was big and paved and there were hundreds of fat American tourists huffing and puffing their way to Vernal Falls (one whole mile). A few more daring (mostly foreigners) were going further up to Nevada Falls and some even to Half Dome. The trail did nothing but rise and the valley disappear below, getting lost in the haze. I motored—did the 11.3 miles (with a mile vertical) in 4 hours. Met Chawn a short way below Clouds Rest. Gave him the keys and said C-ya. Made it up to the Clouds Rest and it was well worth it. Incredible 360° panoramic view, Half Dome with the valley and El Cap in the background, and North Dome, Merced Lake, Tanaya Lake, Tuolumne Meadows all the distance Sierra Peaks—you could see it all from there (about 9800 feet).
Right now people down the way are screaming and trying to make noise to scare some bear away—poor bear. They're honking horns and blowing whistles and yelling. The bear is rampaging the whole place—you can follow its path by the commotion in its wake. Our neighbor who went to the rescue just returned with his video camera in hand... very amusing scene. Anyways, I chilled out atop of Clouds Rest and ate lunch (bread and cheese). It was still 7.9 miles more to get back to Lake Tanaya, very soul nourishing. Got to the lake and jumped in and bathed. Went to our meeting place, where we stopped and had our pesto picnic. I laid on the rock as the sun was setting and fell asleep. Woke up and was freezing. My shorts were still wet. I gathered some wood and made a fire. That did the trick. It was all there. Laying down next to the warm fire, the almost full moon shimmering through the pines and mirror of the flat lake and the darkening lavender sky. Air, water, fire and earth, not to mention trees and the moon and well, me, cuz it would exist otherwise. Chawn finally showed up an hour late, some accident backed up traffic. We were really fucking hungry and had no food. Went to the lodge but it was reservations only. Then we got the idea of going to Lee Vining, 20 miles over Tioga Pass. The only place open was Nicelys. Hip place. I completely splurged and had a veggie sandwich with fries, bowl of soup salad and apple pie ala mode.
This morning i woke up nice and warm cuz i decided to sleep in the car. I didn't even have to get up as i talked Chawn into driving to the store. Had the usual again then set out to do Tenaya Peak. To get to the beginning of the climb was a major bushwhack from hell, and it was vague where the actual climb started. I did the first pitch which ended up being 2 pitches of "simul climbing," basically 4th class with some protection between us. Then Chawn led a pitch which ended up being another 2 pitches of simul-climbing. This shit was a joke. But we kept going, hoping it would get harder. Another couple of pitches then a pitch of 3rd class, maybe 8 pitches in all til we were at the headwall where it got significantly steeper and difficult. Dark clouds were forming over our heads. I decided to just find the easiest way up, we were doing more simul-climbing when we heard thunder and it started sprinkling. Chawn went into semi-panic wanting to get off the rock, still traumatized by the recent lightning episode [we saw 2 people get struck a few weeks before]. We realized the only way down was to downclimb til it got pretty hairy, then i "led" downhill, meaning i was belayed from above and i placed a few pieces of protection for Chawn, who followed down. Then he went ahead. Now i was following, meaning, i was more at risk. And he forgot to take the pack, which i had to downclimb with. It was raining harder and the rock was getting slicker. Chawn had placed a friend for me but when i got there it had dislodged. It was getting pretty steep and ugly and i had to throw the pack down (and it ripped). Somewhere along the way Chawn had gashed his arm open. One final 4th class and a travers and we were into a field of boulders. I took off my shirt and strapped it to Chawn's arm with tape. By this time it was really pouring. We tried to get down but the thunder was getting closer, so we figured the best thing to do was crouch in a ball and just chill out. Going into depressions or under rocks is supposedly not smart. We squatted in the pouring rain with lightning striking all around us for quite a while until it finally subsided. We still had one hell of a bushwhack to go. We got to a steep face which to far to rappel so we traversed down on rope. Then lots more shitty down-climbing. We decided to hit Lee Vining to find gauze and a good meal. Both of us are out of cash. Had a huge fucking pizza then went to check out Mono Lake. Saw some film on the Mono basin. Wow, what a trippy place. All the weird limestone and salt formations, 90% of the Pacific Coast seagulls next here, all these weird flies, the brine shrimp, etc. We went down to the lake to check it out. I tasted it, it was slimy and salty. It felt like being on another planet.
Chawn crossing Tuolumne river
Aug 13—S.F. > Phoenix
Our last day in Yosemite we were decadent once again and had breakfast at the lodge. We set out to Tanaya Lake to do West Country. Ended up chilling the parking lot for quite a while letting our gear dry out and organizing the car/sleeping quarters/suitcases and took a swim in the lake. West Country was 4 pitches on Stately Pleasure Dome. The 1st pitch was supposedly 4th class, ha, what a joke. We ended up doing it 5th class. The 2nd pitch was a nice 5.7 open book with a crack though it, though a rounded edge. Chawn led that and wasn't having an easy time of it. The next pitch was slab, 150 feet with 3 bolts and i could only see 1 bolt in advance. But after doing those 5.10s this was easy. Kind of freaky belaying on old archaic rusty bolts, especially in a semi-hanging belay. The last pitch was 5.5 crack that Chawn led, then a hard walk off. Another swim in the lake, talking to these English dudes. We decided to et our stuff, climb the rest of the day and leave to Menlo Park that evening instead of the next morning. When we got back to T.M. it was raining. Quickly loaded the tent and all that shit. Went back to some overhung 5.10. It was clear but starting to thunder and we were burnt so we just left (around 5:00). Drover through all the burned area along 120 and ate at some redneck diner along the way and got into Granini's around 11:00—hot tub! yes! And a real bed, sheets, stretched out. Ah, the simple pleasures. Too us forever to clean out the car and deal with our shit. A disgusting mess. Drove up to the Block's and visited them and they fed us sushi and Chinese chicken salad. Then went to Burlingame with Dave where they fed us shark and pasta and then barely made the plane.
I'm sitting on the curb waiting for a bus on the corner of 6th and 6th. The bank tower says it's 118°. The sun bakes off the asphalt like a stove burner. I've been here for ½ an hour waiting for the 16 to take me to the Tucson mall. All these cars come up and wait at the light in front of me, spilling anti-freeze and making unhealthy noises. The people are in their air-conditioned protective bubbles. I helped some man in a wheelchair up on the curb. He started fumbling for his bus pass and i think he discovered his penis instead and started fiddling with it and throwing his head back and forth, his mouth hanging open. He's got no reputation to keep, he has sunken to the lowest state—a biological organism trapped in a malfunctioning skin bag with certain pleasure buttons that are the only pleasure in his life and he is at their mercy. He did get a little self-conscious and pulled out his black bible and put it on his lap and slipped his hand under it. A bus stopped to pick him up and now i'm finally in another big metal bubble, but it's full of other low-life people. And on your left is the "No-tell Motel".
Our plane got into Phoenix and we realized Chawn had forgotten to call his parents to pick us up. So we had to wait a while. It was still 120°+ even though it was evening. They finally came and said Chawn's jeep wasn't starting. I definitely needed to be in Tucson by 7:30 the next morning for the G.A.T. orientation. (Now by the graveyard on Oracle, the one we used to stroll thru when we spent summers in Tucson way back when). I tried to get a shuttle but the last one had already left. Went back to Chawn's and sure enough, couldn't get the jeep running. I felt bad, them having to go thru this trouble on my behalf. His parents let us take their Buick back. We got in to Tucson around 3 a.m. Home sweet home. I set my alarm for 6:30. Next thing i know it's 8:05. Holy shit! I was sposed to be at orientation at 7:30. I didn't eat breakfast or shower, but jumped on my bicycled and boogied up to Social Sciences. It ended up they fucked up and the thing began at 8:30, registration was at 7:30. I registered and went and got some donuts and coffee. the orientation was so boring. All day long in workshops about diversity, sexual harassment, etc. I ran into Nitesh, which was cool cuz it made it less boring. Except sometimes he seems so artificial. Now i'm sitting in front of the fountain near the 'tea pot in the air" at the Tucson Mall, amidst the hustle and bustle of materialistic weekend shoppers and general mall crawlers and people who have nothing better to do but hang out at the mall (I'm meeting Mark).
Went to Ultimate after all the boring G.A.T. workshop... there was one on "left-right brain thinking". Went out to dinner with Mia at Good Earth she has since pierced her belly button and is now sleeping with Joe. Then Mark and I tried to go to Ben's Genitals to see Wyse Monkey but it was packed, so we went to the Shanty to shoot pool. Some girl started giving me the eye and right as i was commenting to Mark the waitress comes over and gives me a beer and tells me it's from that girl i was pointing out to Mark. What to do in a situation like this? I nodded from the across the room but didn't even have a full beer in my system yet to give me courage to go over. Besides, we were in the middle of a game of pool. She looked cute from across the room, but then again, you never know, "bar eyes". I was going to approach her, when the blonde bimbo waitress comes over and said "aren't you going to go thank her?" I said, "no, i'm playing hard to get." Before our game was over she left. I felt bad, i hope she wasn't embarrassed. Got home late, woke up at 9:00 to do some food shopping—Yes! back to strawberry-banana-spinach shakes. Chawn came by at 10 and we went to Windy Point. First i led Hitchcock's Pinnacle, a 5.7+. Cool climb. It's a thin spire sticking straight up and this is the only way up besides a 5.11 route on the other side. Then we headed to Crab Corner. I led the first pitch, a 5.8 beautiful layback open book. Hard to lead those cuz you got to stop to place pro. Struggled a bit at the crux where the dihedral met the roof, all sorts of hand-jams and awkward contortions, my arms starting to give out then i realized i was going too high and got down lower where i could do the splits, stemming across, made the move to the belay bolts. Heard a "hey Derek" and it was Mark up on the same pinnacle. Chawn came up and led the 2nd pitch, which was an easy 5.7. When i got up Claire was there with Tasha and calling out "now" at 8-second intervals to Mark across the way, his head down looking thru a super-8 camera pointed at the clouds. He was doing time-lapse photography of clouds. They were getting darker and started spitting a little. Then we heard thunder and we're like let's get the fuck outta here. Chawn and i had to downclimb in the wash, involving a rappel and some gnarly traverses. These 2 other guys were struggling up Crab Corner. (Mark just showed up with Orange Julius in hand so i'll finish this later).
We went back up to the parking area where Mark and Claire were waiting. "Fuck it, if it's gonna rain and lightning then let's go underground." Agreed. Mark and Claire were game. Chawn and i went to eat macaroni and cheese and refried beans then went over to Claire's and sat there for a while while she fought with her boyfriend. Then went to get Mark at Hemmel park where he was playing soccer, but he wasn't there. Went back to Claire's and he wasn't there so we went to my place to get the rest of the gear. There was a message from Mark saying he didn't play soccer but he was going back down to Claire's. There was a message on Claire's machine explaining the whole thing. He went back down and did play soccer then went to Claire's (probably while we were looking for him) then to my place (when we went to Claire's) then just went home (while we went to my place). Life would be easier if we all had cellular phones. We eventually got on our way to Agua Caliente which was really fun. Didn't see that much as Mark and Claire were lagging. Had to set up ropes for beer can slide, going down to the lake which was really cool. The water was all slimy and clear and full of minerals. Made me feel like we were in a living organism. We went to Denny's after and stayed there til 4 a.m. Was sposed to go to Yoga at 10:00 today but it appears my alarm is broken. That's why i decided to take the bus over to the mall to meet Mark to go to his place where mostly we just played Sonic Hedgehog. Then to Ultimate and then to see Howard's End. I'm a hopeless romantic, Helena Bonham Carter fills me with longing. She's amazing, but maybe too British. Better fix my alarm before i fuck up tomorrow too.
Aug 18—Dream [not logged yet in our dream journal]—I had to write an essay for some test i had to take. The essay was on some movie. I was busy finding paper and pen and didn't get what the instructor said. When i asked her she mentioned name of some movie i had never seen or heard of and it sounded lame. I begged and pleaded, telling her that to really write is to write on something you passionately know about rather than to bullshit. So she made an exception and told me the name of another movie that was a take-off on Moby Dick, which was fine with me, even though i'd never seen the movie. The question in particular was "if you were in the boat against the whale would you bail water towards the back (and risk drowning) or bail towards the front (and risk death by getting chewed by the whale)." Pick your poison. I guess in the dream it didn't occur to me that i had a chance to fight the whale and i chose death by downing because i didn't want to give the whale the satisfaction of eating me. Metaphorically it seemed better getting engulfed by the all-encompassing ocean, rather than getting swallowed by the beast. I might think differently in waking hours as drowning seams painful and is giving up. I'd rather take on the whale and i'd even rather get eating then drown. After that i was walking around this intricate building complex. There was water everywhere tin these gutters and chutes, gushing into drains way down big open drains that you could get sucked into. Then there was all these chutes with fresh water gushing out and people were swimming in them, some were trying to fight the raging headwaters at the source. I really wanted to go in but there were too many people. I went out the "no entrance door—authorized personnel only" and i was in some foreign country and i was supposed to meet mom. I found her and said "hey, let’s go get a chimichanga" and was all excited to eat a chimichanga though i'd never had one and it seemed disgusting. We were having a jolly old time, i had my arm around here and we were skipping. In the distance i could hear this twisted jazz band playing "Holiday in Cambodia". As we got closer i saw Jell-O Biafra and i'm all "hey mom, there's Jell-O Biafra." Shen said she expect him to be that old. He looked like Bozo the clown, balding with red puffy hair wings sprouting out. I was wondering where all his energy was. He came to the chorus and i expected him to explode but he was mellow, like a drunk lounge singer at a piano bar, sing-speaking "it's a holiday in Cambodia." Out of the corner of his mouth he blurted that porky pig stuttering precursor to "That's All Folks!" directed at us. I burst out in uncontrollable laughter. And Jell-O kept looking at me and i felt bad that i might have hurt his feelings but i couldn't contain my laughter.
Aug 19, 1992
Monday i went to the G.A.T.O. thing, didn't learn much at all, though the first speaker was entertaining. Managed to get all my books and I.D. somewhere in between. A big monsoon rolled in and drenched me on the way home. It was a little chilly but the warm water coming off the asphalt felt good. Went to yoga, still drenched as it was still pouring and lightning. Still frustrating and hard, but i can foresee the benefits. Mark and Rich came by after, Rich just back from N.J. We went to Coffee Etc. and got carrot cake and coffee. I woke up Tuesday early to go climbing and Mia shows up at my door wanting to wash he car. She was a little irked that i couldn't (wouldn't). Chawn showed up and we drove away to Green Slabs. Started off with some supposed 5.8 but Chawn got Elvis leg and zig-zagged around the hard moves. Then we top-roped this 5.10- Chawn went first. There was this 5.9 overhead towards the beginning that he struggled with but go thru. Then he took the wrong way up and peeled off traversing back over. I did it next, my arms felt like Jell-O but i pulled it off. Chawn did it again and that's all we had time for... had to go down to meet the doctor. They went back up but dropped me off at Grant + Tanque Verde where i hopped a #9 bus. It was empty and i fell asleep. Woke up and it was full, what a weird feeling as i heard the commotion only in my sub-conscious. Hot as hell walking from downtown. Well into the 100s. Drank a strawberry-spinach concoction then went to Ultimate—won the first game then came back from 8-4 in the 2nd game, only to lose the last point. Talked on the phone all night. First Susanna, then Sather, first time i've talked to her since South Dakota, then Mom. Went to sleep at 11:30 then Mia shows up at 1:30 with this note she wants me to read, about how she's a slut and not independent and in control, really twisted sick note that i thought was from Brett but it was from Joe, towards the bottom was all this bullshit about he's only writing this stuff cuz he cares (thought it was a hateful angry note). Mia was pretty shaken up and i tried to tell her to reflect it off and take it as insecurities and projection of Joe's own problems. God damn water man sposed to be here but called and flaked. Oh well, got to get out of this heat.
Aug 22 (1:30 a.m.)
Wednesday was the day of last-minute preparations for classes. more G.A.T. orientation—this time we got to try to take picture looking in a mirror... trippy. We left for Santana around 4:30, me, Rich and Mark. It was a really magical show with the storm clouds billowing to either side of us, lit by a beautiful sunset and lightning flashing all around except on us. Almost as if Santana was so charged he was repulsing the clouds, causing them to break up right above us. The wind blew from behind making for an eerie backdrop. And of course they were awesome. Where does he get his energy? He's been doing that shit for 25+ years.
Thursday was 1st day of classes. I'm actually really motivated to start studying. Quantum is cool but Jenkins from Math Methods sucks. Very dry and nerdy, unhealthy alcoholic look, flakey red skin no muscle and boring as shit. Went climbing in the afternoon to Campbell Cliffs. Did 3 different 5.8 or so faces and tried that 5.10 crack unsuccessfully (as were Chawn and Shaheen).
Came home, ate dinner and was gonna have a chill evening when Rusty and Sather and 2 other girls pop by. Sather was drunk enough to be acting stupid and distant. We went over the D.P.C. to check out Dave's Big Deluxe and Ska Pickle. Stevo let me in free which was cool cuz i only stayed for 5 minutes. Just so tired of this younger scene. When i got back to my place Brian called and said they were at the Rock. It started raining big time the second i hung up but the more so fun. Riding thru the dark rainy streets of Tucson. The Rock was a hive, Wyse Monkey was playing. The sing some sort of soulified Greek goddess. Didn't see anybody right off so i went to get myself a beer and Chris Gishey walks up as i was ordering. "What's happening?" Then "Who are you with?" I said no one really. She told me to hold on while she got a beer. She was looking fine in a colorful tight dress, quite a change from her Ultimate garb. She's a pretty girl, she has a nice healthy glow to her. We talked about when we would go climbing. It was hard to say anything with all the noise. She was grabbing my arm and putting her mouth virtually on my ear. [Zo—our bedder-½ who we'd broken up with at this point] walks by and i started talking to her. The rain i was wet with was now turning to sweat, it was so hot in there. Steamy. Zo was being artificially friendly, sucks when someone talks to you just out of courtesy. I turn around and Chris is gone. So i go with Zo and she shows me where Brian and Mark are. Brian's got a fearsome red beard and looks like Jesus. Rich and John and Alan etc. are also there and they're gathered around a pitcher like it's a ceremonial drinking vessel. Got into Wyse Monkey for a while. After an hour Chris walks by again, or i should say, staggers by. Sees me and heads straight to my arm for support. She is annihilated. She says "I need to go home."
"Do you need a ride" i mention that Mark or Brian could drive her.
And she said "I am your ride". Hmm, this girl doesn't waste any time. Says she needs to get her purse and grabs my hand to lead me to the stage. I'm trying to be casual about this. "Maybe if we dance you'll sober up." So we danced a bit. Mark Levine (Zo's ca) walks up. I really dig his sincerity and openness, something cool and sincere about him. He starts talking to Chris or actually Chris starts talking to him and after a while says "I'm going outside for a second, i'll be back." I kind of figured she wouldn't so hung out dancing. Mark comes back and motions for me to come outside with him. "Are you fucked up?" he asks. I said no, that i'd had one beer. "Ok, i just got to get this off my chest cuz there's no one else that can relate to this." Evidently Christ had cornered him and said (in a drunken slur) how much she liked him and how she thought he had good family values, etc... Guess that freaked him out. By the time this was over i drove myself home in Yar's bus. "Zo is sure looking good, isn’t she?" Yar says, to which i tell him to shut up. I had to make him and Rich coffee so he could drive. And why not shave the back of his head while we're waiting for the water to boil? It seemed really ceremonial and it occurred to me that we were living culture, that it was happening now, this was like tribal people piercing their ears or putting those rings on their necks. Rich and I were gathered around Mark shaving his head, then making funny lewd messages for my answering machine. We kept deciding they could be funnier. We were getting louder. It was 2 a.m. I told Rich to chill, that i had neighbors and he's all "fuck your neighbors" Carlos' door was open and i'm sure he heard. Mark goes to pee in the bushes and my other neighbors light goes on. I shoed them off. I started to go to sleep and the cops pull up and the neighbor talked to him for a little while. But the cops didn't bug me.
shaving Yar's head at 2 a.m.
Yesterday more classes (at 9 a.m.) and more errands, paying bills, find out teaching assignments—i got the 112a lab with Dr. Tam. He seems fairly reasonable. Went home and took what ended up being a 2-hour nap. Walking up completely disoriented thinking it was morning and not knowing what day it was. Went to Ultimate in the (not quite) rain, came home and refused all offers to go out. Stayed home and cleaned house in a big way and made "Laksu Bambu" with funny nuts, mushrooms, tempeh, spinach, onions, water chestnuts, over brown rice. Yum! Elva called around midnight and we talked for about an hour. She is in this predicament where she really loves this Tom guy but she hates L.A. and wants to leave and he likes L.A. Of course i was polite and didn't tell her to leave him. It's her fault for going to L.A. in the 1st place, a big trap.
Woke up to the phone ringing. I answered it saying "shit, it feels like i'm in Oregon". It was Shaheen. I was right. It was gray and rainy. No climbing today. It's been raining all day, a drizzly Oregon rain. Not the violent Tucson rain. What to do when it rains? What did i do my whole childhood? Yoga, read, movie, read, bake an apple pie, red, coffee, read, watch the rain, read, meditate, read, stand on my head, read, sit on my porch, read, nap, etc. Well, i did go to the Rock and saw Wyse Monkey. Let me try my luck at some fiction:
"The notice on the bulletin board of the Suva Yacht harbor bar said: "Crew wanted to go to Tuvalu. Room and board paid. Contact ben on channel 47 The Yacht harbor was packed full of yachtees drinking and dancing. Most of them have been at sea for weeks or months so the ground felt good to them. I asked the bartender if i could use his CB and dialed 47. "Come in Adelaar, do you read me, over."
"This is the Adelaar, go ahead, over."
"I'm calling about the notice."
"I'll send a dinghy over. Over and out."
[here's the originals of the next 2 pages of a draft of a story we never finished:]
[... An unexpected journey deviating from the island to island view of life.] Once again, woke up to the phone ringing but this time i answered by saying "god's a bastard". It was a Shaheen. Once again our climbing plans rained out. But we are going to a nocturnal ultimate tournament up in Phoenix tonight.
The 1st real week of classes, in control. enjoyable. Understanding so far Had a meeting with Dr Hill and everyone else. I'm going to help write a paper on measuring the absolute diameter of the sun, the most accurate measurement to date. He casually asked me if i wanted to go to Coast Rica in November. Hells yah! The paper would be presented there. T.A.'d my 1st class on Thursday, wasn’t nervous prior but i got in and got nervous. It was weird, i was watching myself go thru the motions, introducing myself and saying what the class was about and everyone's talking notes! As if what i'm saying is important. Almost out of body, what's coming out of my mouth is not really what i want to be saying. Getting nervous, everyone staring. It was a nerve-wracking 3 hours and my stomach was churning by the time i got out.
Had a dream [again, not logged] last light i was chilling in this dark, decaying swamp, up to my neck. I was just spinning in circles enjoying the view.
Answering machine message from Michelle, Aug 30, 92: God! That was some message (sounding disgusted). This is Michelle. Remember your eyeball story? That you're an eyeball wondering whether your body grew around it, the stuff we were talking about in the Grand Canyon? Well i was reading this book and i found this poem, I'm going to read you part of it, it's by Robert Bly and the poem's called "looking into a face" (at which point she recites the poem).
Aug 30, 1992
Friday had the Ultimate league finals. We were the worst team in points but managed to make it to the finals with Bogart and we didn't have Adam. They beat us 9-8. Potluck after. I brought sushi-California rolls. In a circle, almost ritualistic, mixing the wasabi-soy sauce in my special little Japanese plate.
Yah, god's a bastard for not letting us climb Saturday but the nocturnal was fun. Drove up with Shaheen and Chris Gishey. Chris was playing with the 'A' team. Shaheen and i and a few stragglers hooked up with some Vegas dudes. We sucked but it was good practice for me cuz i handled a lot. The 5th game we were up against Flagstaff 13-8. They beat us 15-13. I was disillusioned as hell. They turned the lights out, no warning. The 'A' team made it to the finals against Phoenix 'A'. Halfway thru the game the lights go off again. Had to call he stupid dude and he comes over his truck. Our team was hot, especially Tom. The is incredible. Once again, they were up 13-11 and lost. Chris was having bad vibes about the drive back. Went to Denny's 2 a.m. Decided to follow her vibes (especially after "bye, bye Miss American pie, drove her Chevy to the Levy... this will be the day that i die" came on. Chris said she couldn’t picture "tomorrow" she felt really empty. We got a motel 6. Dark and cool. I had a bad feeling too but not so much for us as the other guys (some of them had been drinking). 10 a.m. in Phoenix. Went to Coffee Plantation. Played in the fountain. Hot drive back. Kept pouring water all over everybody. Dairy Queen made me really ill. My body already trashed. Got home and napped it off. Went to the Climbing wall under the horse statue near Campbell and 15th, in a culvert— 4 long tunnels with rocks glued to the walls. Chalk marked above black skid marks on the lower ones. Did all the moves on "no big whop" but not consecutively.
"I must invent my own system or else be enslaved by other men's."—William Blake
[... journal continues chronologically in post #743]