Monthly Archives: June 2002

Live Help Schedule for Saturday, 6/29/2002
I’m watching “Oh Brother Where Art Thou?” right now but when that’s done, I’ll be online for live help. Say around 9:30 pm eastern time. Ok, talk to you later.

Had my ass kicked on a 15-mile section hike on the Appalachian Trail (AT) today. This section began at Lyme-Dorchester Road summitting Smarts Mountain and Mt. Cube and ended at NH Rte 25A. Ouzo and I started on the trail at 1005 hours this morning and got off at the Mt. Cube trail head at 1635 hours. Susan and the kids picked me up at 1700 hours and ferried me back to my truck at the Smarts Mountain trail head.

Why did this hike kick my ass? Afterall, I’ve done plenty of hikes with much steeper grades and higher summits than this one. I think it came down to humidity and trail conditions. At lower elevations, the air was so humid that water kept condensing on my eye glasses. This very annoying psychrometric reality once again reminded me just how badly it sucks to have to wear glasses. But, with 20/400 vision (legally blind in some states), hiking without glasses is a great way to bust ass big time. Also, all the rain we’ve had lately has made the rocks extremely slippery with new-growth algae. This was especially annoying ascending Smarts Mountain where every third or fourth step was a jolting slip. After four miles of that, I was one soggy, pissed-off cracker. By the time I approached the summit of Smarts, my vocabulary had degenerated into a near-constant stream of choice X-rated words.

And I sweated more on this hike than on any of the other hikes I’ve done so far this season. At one point, I realized that I had salt deficiency, evidenced by an inexplicable energy crash. I popped a couple of salt pills and electrolytic harmony was restored. That’s a tricky one to catch because it can fool you into thinking that you need to eat more when what you really need is plain ol’ salt.

Met several AT-thru and long-section hikers. All had been on the trail for at least six weeks. ACK! I can’t imagine living on the trail that long. It goes on for five months for the folks that thru-hike the entire AT. I admire these people immensely. They’re almost always young people, 20-somethings, and they make me optimistic about the future of this country when everyone else makes you think the whole country’s going to shit. Anticipating encounters with them, I try to bring along stuff to give them that they don’t normally get in trail life: chocolate, tobacco, alcohol, and toilet paper, all of which are highly prized by thru-hikers. Oh, I know, you’re thinking, “But these are back-to-earth, starry-eyed, granola-crunchers, why would they want such things?” You go spend several weeks in the woods–you’d be surprised at what you start craving. So I’m giving out bars of Ghirardelli chocolate, packs of Camels, cans of Skoal, pints of Jack Daniels, and rolls of Charmin to eager, grateful thru-hikers. It’s called Trail Magic in the AT culture. It’s a good thing.

Hillstomping Update: Mts. Hale, Wiley, Field, and Tom

Two kick-ass hikes in two days! Monday, Ouzo and I bagged Mt. Hale (elev. 4054 ft.), one of New Hampshire’s 48, 4,000 footer peaks. We went up the Hale Brook Trail and returned on the Zealand Trail for a round trip of a little more than eight miles. Perfect weather, clear blue skies with enough of a breeze to keep the blood suckers off without needing DEET. The Hale Brook Trail is a nice climb to the summit, some of it through a cool birch forest. Didn’t see anyone else on the trail, either. Now the Zealand Trail was another story. Being a flat, easy trail, it was a freakin’ highway through the woods with lots of pastey, overweight office-types smelling like soap in clean, pressed hiking clothes unstained by sweat or grime. Several people looked resentful at seeing a dog on the trail. It’s a wilderness area, not Disneyland, you Twinkie! Some people go to a wilderness area and think it’s gonna be like walking in a man-made park with concession stands and toilets and lots of other people to be annoyed at and complain about. Kinda like I’m doing now.

Then on Tuesday, a contingent of Hillstompers, including Ouzo and me, bagged three more peaks on The List. We bagged Mts. Willey, Field, and Tom in a nine mile, peak-bagging extravaganza. The merry entourage included: Kurk (human), Tim (humanoid), Anna (humid), Brett (humus), me (inhuman), Bruno (canine, shepherd-lab mix), Bula (canine, lab-other stuff mix), and Ouzo (canine, German Shepherd). The extremely steep, slippery ascent up Mt. Willey included ladders up the steeper sections of the rock slide portions of the trail. The dogs all need more ladder training. Bula and Bruno did OK negotiating the ladders until they reached one of them that was missing a rung. Ouzo sucked on the ladders. He’d boldly jump right on them and start scampering madly, hind legs frequently missing the rungs. He fell off one of the ladders, slid down the rock and crashed into a log. I felt my nuts clinch as I scrambled down to grab Ouzo, fearing he might have damaged or broken a shoulder. But he seemed fine and finished the hike, staying with me the whole time. Weather was partly to mostly cloudy with light sprinkles toward the end of the hike. Unlike yesterday, the winds where very calm so the black flies were in a blood frenzy, frantically seeking any crack of skin not slathered in DEET. I got more than a few choice bites, including several on my privates from those little perverse scions of Hell flying right up my hiking shorts going for the family jewels. And I got my first black fly bite ever right in my butt crack WITHOUT dropping my shorts. Thank you, thank you.

These are physically intense hikes that take all day, including the hour and a half drive time, each way, to and from the trail head. And when I get home, I typically eat a late dinner that Susan saves for me, say hi to the kids while quaffing a couple of beers, and then pass out on the couch with Ouzo while watching Comedy Central. Not much time left over for web-work but I sure appreciate the hell outta Jeff’s and You Hurt My Brain’s excellent help answering posts in the forum!

Today is a down day so I’ll be here at the house doing domestic Dad stuff like antagonizing the kids, bothering the wife, and mutiliating the lawn. The forecast is calling for severe thunderstorms for the next two or three days. Since I probably won’t be hiking, I’ll be on-line dishing out more appliance disinformation in the forum and maybe even adding some new content to my website. The smoking lamp is lit, smoke ’em if you got ’em.

Dizzy-Dazey is still at it, whining and complaining. If she’d stop running her mouth so much, she might actually fix something. I think the real help she needs is here. And to help her along on her journey to mental health, I wrote her this haiku:

the bamboo reveals all

Like pearls tossed to swine,
give free washer repair help,
still she squeals and whines.

Netscape version 4.7x has a problem with how it handles java. As a result, people coming to my website using one of these versions would cause my HumanClick console to load up and it would drive me crazy. I finally added a little snippet of java code to each of my webpages that detects these odious browsers and sends them to this page in the hopes of encouraging them to upgrade their browser. For crying out loud, people, it’s FREE! Why would you continue surfing the web with an antique browser when you can upgrade to a much better version for FREE?

Awesome hike up the Osceolas today! We bagged both East Osceola and Mt. Osceola. Here’s the route we took:

Except we started at the Greeley Pond trailhead and ended at the Mt. Osceola trailhead. Total mileage was something over 10.

Just four intrepid souls and their two faithful canine companions. The dogs both did great on the vertical ascent up East Osceola, with a little help from their humans. Had a nice long stay at the summit despite the black flies in a blood frenzy. (Got some good bites, too) I love how my body feels wrung out and beat-to-shit after a good ass-kicking hike. I’m gonna sleep good tonight!

Pictures from this hike, the Moosilauke and Mt. Garfield hikes are all coming soon.

WARNING: Cheesedork Alert!

Dazey is a classic cheesedork who apparently believes that it’s her Constitutional right to have her appliances repaired for free. Gas Man did a nice, albeit semi-literate, job of mocking her. But Brain’s post was really the coup de grace–way to go, Brain!

Dazey, you won’t find a very sympathetic audience here, Toots. And, hey, lemme hear that door smack your ass on your way out.

TagBoard is having problems staying online. In the short time I’ve been using it on this page, it’s had several outages. Lately, at least once a day. I wouldn’t mind so much except that when it goes down, it prevents the rest of the page content from loading. Well, you get what you pay for and only paid $15 for the “enhanced” version. When I get too disgusted with it, I just remove it from the page until it seems to be working again. So, if you don’t see the message board in the right-hand, shaded column, you’ll know that TagBoard is having a flare up of cranial-rectal colocation. Wouldn’t it be sweet, sweet irony if the free, ad-supported version had 100% up-time?

One of my cats, Lovey, is driving me insane with her nightly rodent gifts. It wouldn’t be so bad if she would at least kill them before bringing them into the house. But she insists that I eat them while they’re still writhing and squeeking. So, every night around 1 am, she brings me a live rodent snack. Live or dead, I’ve never been a big fan of eating rodents. But I don’t know how to tell Lovey this without hurting her feelings. Oh sure, I’ll still eat them when she brings them in because I don’t want her to think that her efforts are unappreciated. It’s the thought that counts…right?

The problem started when I finally installed a cat door after my wife had been nagging me about it for weeks. She was tired of Lovey waking her up several times during the night wanting to go out hunting. So we find ourselves in a situation where we have more rodents in the house because of a cat. The other night she brought in a live baby squirrel. It escaped under the dishwasher and went behind the wall where, presumably, it’s now happily chewing through sheet rock and live electrical wires. Last night, she brought in two field mice. I was able to catch them with gloved hands, wring their necks and pop them in my mouth before they escaped to other parts of the house.

It’s gotten so bad that I had a rodent nightmare last night. I heard a high-pitched rodent squeeking coming from the tool drawer in the kitchen. I pulled open the drawer to see a small squirrel raping a loudly protesting chipmunk. I pulled the brutish squirrel off the chipmunk and bit its head off. Then I ate the chipmunk. Chipmunks taste even worse than mice.

The solution to this sorry domestic situation is to send Lovey to Mousing School where she can learn how to kill the rodents she catches. I spent hours searching the internet for such a school but, alas, to no avail. If anyone knows of a mousing school for cats, please email me. Domo.

Ahh, there’s nothing like hiking in a steady, driving, cold rain. We decided not to attempt Mt. Washington because of the forecast calling for snow, freezing rain, and sub-freezing temps. So, Mike, Dina, Ouzo, and I hiked 11 soggy miles on the Monadnock-Sunapee Greenway. Many times we were hiking through streams and ponds in what is normally firm, dry trail. This was beyond the mud stage–we’ve had so much rain that water is pooling up along stretches of saturated soil.

When we started off at Pitcher Mountain, it was raining steadily so we threw our ponchos on over our packs and headed off. At the top of Pitcher Mountain (and all the other exposed sections of the hike) the wind was kicking up, whipping rain into our faces and making our ponchos flap wildly. Since it was a chilly 47F, we doffed our ponchos and put on our waterproof shells in an futile attempt to stay drier and warmer. As long as we kept moving at a pretty good pace, we could stay reasonably warm despite the frigid rain.

The other challenge was the slippery footing. All the rocks and roots were so slick that it was like they were coated with ice. We each had a turn at some pretty spectacular tumbles. Fortunately, no one was seriously hurt beyond bruised butts and egos. One nice thing about all the rain though: no bugs! Usually, this time of year along that stretch of trail you’d have to have a thick coat of DEET on every square millimeter of exposed flesh to keep the frenzied mosquitoes from extracting quarts of your blood. Even the blood suckers had enough sense to stay outta this kind of rain. But we didn’t. Who’s really higher up on the evolutionary scale?

When we reached the Washington shelter, we set our packs inside and headed for the Washington General Store for their famous cheeseburger subs. Back at the shelter, where it was still raining steadily, we reached a spontaneous consensus to reconvene the camping portion of our trip back at my house in our popup camper. Mike and Dina headed off this morning for Bretton Woods, NH, for Dina’s IFA meeting. We may get another shot at Mt. Washington on Monday if the weather clears up.

Many thanks to Jeff, the webmaster of for answering questions in the Samurai School of Appliantology while I was out gettin’ soggy. Thanks, Jeff!