03/28/2004 - 04/04/2004
In taking advantage of my alone-time here I spent the last two days on an unbelievable, breathtakingly spectacular 26-mile hike through the mountains.
Before leaving, my host suggested that I should get some bear spray, as it wouldn't be entirely unlikely that I would encounter a bear at some point. We went to Walmart, and we asked the guy at the camping counter for some bear spray. He showed it to us, but then said that the only true protection against bears is a 36 gauge, something caliber, other gun terminology I'm unfamiliar with... to the effect that I should procure a massive firearm with which to shoot wild animals.
Thankfully I was not confronted with any variety of aggressive animal; and, gun fanatics aside, the entire trip was absolutely amazing, though there were some terrifying parts. Halfway through you have to ford the eagle river, and they suggest that you do so in the morning when the currents are weakest, so I camped a mile out from it intending to cross it the next morning. I awoke the next morning to an earthquake, which, while only 5 or 10 seconds in duration, was nonetheless really awesome. It had rained the night before and it also shook all the water off of the surrouding trees onto my tent.
Now, the river's tributaries are various glacial-fed streams; consequently, it is extremely cold. I'm normally exceedingly confident in situations involving water, and take special pride in my ability to withstand very low water temperatures. I thusly assumed that this crossing would present little problems. About 5 meters in, however, the water is up to the top of my thighs, and my legs and feet are almost entirely numb and not responding well to my attempts to move them in a generally forward direction. Because I've lost feeling to my feet, I can no longer tell whether I'm placing them in a stable spot that will allow me to withstand the current without being pushed over. Amyway, I was seriously fearing for my life and thinking that there was at least a 50% chance that instead of making it across I would be toppled to a frozen, icy, watery death.
I encountered many people traversing the trail in the opposite direction, but apparently the direction I was travelling in was considerably less popular. I discovered why this was so as I neared the end of the hike, encountering a 4000 ft mountain that needed to be climbed and descended in the last 6 miles. Most people, understandably, would rather accomplish this at the beginning of the hike, rather than at the end. The difficulty of this feat was compounded by the fact that it required crossing a great span of the mountain's side on perilously tiny slanted trails across pointed rocks or slippery snow where a single mistep could send you tumbling toward a rocky death. I truly don't think this trail was intended to be undertaken solo by under-equipped people wholly lacking in any hiking experience whatsoever. But I got through more or less unscathed, so all's well that ends well, n'est pas?
Moments of terror aside, it was one of the most enjoyable experiences of my life. The views were mind-blowingly beautiful - countless waterfalls running the entire length of the mountains, pristine glacial pools, glaciers, snow-capped mountains, so many rivers and streams and lakes.
It's now 11:30 here and still light out. Near-perpetual sunshine is perhaps the greatest thing ever.
Also, please forgive my excessive gushing about Alaska. It's just that I'm really, really in love with this place.
Because of my miscalculation in times, I found out that I will be able to attend the last ever Catch-23. This is very awesome and makes me very happy. Almost as happy as finding out about this Russian word:
smertnik n, a man who is dying, but who wants to kill as many people as he can before he goes.
Is it not awesome that not only is this a word but it's only 2 syllables?
And you know what else is awesome: this M.I.A. Supermario mash-up?
As is Frank Zappa dusting it up with Bob Novak et al.
But you know what isn't awesome? That I have to get shot. With a needle. Cause the ethicists drew out my starting time, making me 13 months since my last TB test (instead of 12 months which would've meant I'd be okay).
I flew into Anchorage today, and I'm staying at my soon-to-be-brother-in-law's cousin's house. This is exactly what the view from her house looks like:
She lives amidst the Chugach mountain range, and it's spectacularly beautiful. She also has the two most affectionate German shepards I've ever met.
Apparently this time of year it doesn't ever really get dark here. The sun threatens to set around midnight, it's slightly dim for an hour or two and then by 2 or 3 the sun is on it's way back up. Consequently, my sister's outdoor wedding is going to be one big, long party. I can't wait.
To watch I mean, not to invest your venture capital in as they're apperently haemorrhaging money. So if the article is right and the million-a-month price-tag will become too heavy here's some great things on it:
Jedi Breakfast is really funny and is made by fellow Torontonians.
If Star Wars stuff isn't your thing, what about a history lesson on George Washington in rap form. (Washington, Washington/Twelve-stories high, made of radia-tion).
And quite a bit of Clone High is online which is a great show that some of you may have heard of. Many whole episodes are (sotto voce, illlegally) there.
Okay, that was a joke (I know everyone watches it), but here's something that you all may have seen so don't mock me if you have. Nobody's Watching (Parts one, two and three) is a half hour pilot about some people making a sitcom that was killed in focus groups and spawned itself a new life on the interweb.
Speaking of Clone High ("I stayed up all night before American Pie because I was so excited. Do you remember the part when he had sex with the pie? Well I don't. Because I was asleep!), I saw American Pie recently. Which was pretty much the same as haven't not seen American Pie. I had picked up literally every single joke through some form of pop culture osmosis over the last seven years.