Amazing experience and good speaker:
Well, that was one possible inspiration. But actually, I entered Khartoum sick as a really sick dog. In fact, it was the same sick from the Simien Mountains I wrote about in the last post. I only spent one night in the hospital until they ran tests that showed I was “normal” in every way (heh) except a stool test showed some pus (eew!). So, I started taking Cipro today and escaped from the IV dextrose drips at the hospital. Thanks to Pasteur, Fleming, and all the other relevant deities and spirits for antibiotics! And cell phones! More later… I’m fine, really. Please don’t worry. I’m at a good friend’s place, very comfortable now and I’ll have lots of time to rest and recover here.
Bleck! When I went on a trek up into the Simien Mountains, I got sick. I was trying to hike uphill at high altitude with a scout and a “horse-man” guiding a horse carrying my bags. Probably because of something I ate or drank the day before (the local talla sorghum beer perhaps?), I ended up puking while on the trail. I think my scout wanted me to keep on hiking, but that was out of the question. So, we flagged down a truck and got up to the camp. I got some great pictures before I got sick. The area has beautiful panoramic landscapes. The next morning we headed back down to Debark on a bus that was so overpacked I couldn’t even reach my camera to take a picture of it. I got out of Debark and back on another really bumpy bus to Gonder, which is pleasant and civilized by comparison. I’m still weak and a bit dizzy without solid food in a few days. But, I think I’m going to try to take the buses for Khartoum starting tomorrow (unless I feel worse tomorrow morning). I may stop by a clinic this afternoon. About half of travelers to Africa end up getting something like this, so it’s not really a surprise. I am a bit homesick at the moment. When I arrive in Khartoum, I’ll try to post more details and pictures. Hugs from Gonder!
Although postponed by a couple of days to accommodate attendance at the Romp Naked event in Seattle on July 22, the “Two Spirit Day Out of Time” gathering took place from July 23-26 on Mount Rainier. Sierra, who works as a ranger at the Sunrise Camp on Mount Rainier, issued the call and dealt with logistics, and Franz prepared healthy organic food and Julie Andrews “Sound of Music” inspired art for the gathering. The pictures below come from the cameras of many of those who attended the gathering.
Kirby (pic above) took a bit of a leap by driving up with Sierra and Franz for the gathering while still on crutches! I hitched a ride from Mugwort (above), who also shared a campsite where we both pitched our tents. Thanks to my dad for loaning me a tent so I didn’t have to cart one up on the plane from San Francisco.
My first view of Mount Rainier after two years stunned me. Grandmother Rainier–as Fruitboy has dubbed her–radiates beauty.
Mugwort, Kirby, Dazzle, Tusk, and I admired the landscape at the lookout point on the way up from the White River campground to the Sunrise Camp, which is the highest altitude point on a highway in the state of Washington, according to Ranger Sierra.
The greenery provided an amazing contrast to the mountain, snow-covered even in mid-summer.
Much of the gathering took place at the Sunrise Camp employee living quarters, the home for Sierra and other rangers and interns during the season when Sunrise Camp is open to visitors.
Sierra can see a great view of Mount Rainier, similar to this one above, from his bedroom window.
Sunrise Camp consists of a lodge with a snack bar for visitors and the Visitor Center and employee living quarters. You can’t beat the views from Sunrise.
The first evening Mugwort and I arrived a bit late. After setting up our tents at the White River campsite that Dazzle and Tusk saved for us, we drove up to the Sunrise Camp and found Kirby and Franz chatting near the entrance to the employee residence building with the great view of Mount Rainier. Franz said he’d pull some dinner together for us in a bit, so Mugwort and I hiked a bit up the trail toward Dege Peak and had a look over the other side of the ridge at a beautiful rock slide canyon with a sunset on a multilayered mountain horizon that took my breath away.
After dinner, we were exhausted and went back to the campsite for an early night. I was fighting off a nasty cold, but the next morning I decided to accompany the group on the planned hike to the Burroughs Peaks, thinking I would turn back after reaching the summit of Burroughs Peak I, while the group continued on to Burroughs II and III.
After hiking past a mountain stream and lots of beautiful flowers like the Indian Paintbrush above, we saw spectacular views of glacial lakes and snowy mountain peaks on the way up to the Burroughs Peaks.
At an overlook point, we got a good look at the glacier we would visit the following day. Plus, we saw some Bear Flowers.
Part of the trail was on rock slides and Sierra led us fearlessly upward.
The summit of Burroughs Peak I is large and flat, kind of a moonscape.
We got some great views of the Mount Rainier summit and saw patches of snow all around us.
Burroughs Peak I affords a good peek at Burroughs Peak II, and after some persuasion by Sierra, I decided to continue on to the second peak.
We could see down into Berkeley Park, home of the amazing wildflowers, from the trail between Burroughs Peaks I and II.
We crossed our first snow on the trail at that point too.
The views from Burroughs Peak II were also spectacular.
The Hills Are Alive… with Fruitboy on Burroughs Peak II of Mount Rainier.
In the distance was a snowy lake that may be a reservoir.
After Burroughs Peak II, I headed back down while the others continued onward to Burroughs Peak III.
I was quite exhausted on the way home, due to my cold, but still enjoyed pine groves and flowery meadows while hiking.
We met again at the White River campsite the following morning for a hike to the ice cave at the base of the glacier we had seen the day before. Kirby held down the fort at the camp due to his broken leg.
Besides the strange pyramidal peak, I saw what looked like an owl in stone from an outcrop looking over us on another side of the glacial canyon. On the canyon floor, Sierra noted the change in rock deposits perhaps due to the river, the glacier, or to lava flows.
The floor of the glacial canyon included other mysteries, such as the white lichen and the lime deposits thrust up from the canyon floor.
We got up close and personal to a glacial lake, some composite rock, and Fireweed flowers.
As we walked, I looked back and saw a marvelous vista. We came across Monkey Flowers and strange slime in a creek.
After fording a glacial creek, we approached the glacier. At first, I thought the finger of the glacier extending down between the river and the mountain was the mountain itself, but I eventually noticed the rocks tumbling off the melting ice.
Falling debris gave us the clue that we should not approach the glacier too closely.
At last, we saw the ice cave!
We got up fairly close and I was tempted to crawl inside, but both Sierra and Fruitboy insisted that would be a very bad idea.
So we watched from what we thought was a safe distance.
I decided to call the cave the alabaster ice cave due to the beautiful texture of its ceiling and walls.
A glacial river streamed out from the cave.
Watching the cave became a bit of a spectator sport.
We remained entranced by the glacier melting for a long time, then did a ritual for healing of the earth so that the glacier would continue to exist. On the way back to the campsite, we saw a red succulent and stopped by a flowing stream to rest.
I saw a strange fungus on the trail and Fruitboy taught me how to identify different types of pine trees on our way back to camp. The next day was the day to head home, so I took a few pictures of Ranger Sierra at Sunrise Camp before saying goodbye.
Judy, our gathering mascot, gave us all good luck to spread whereever we go on our way down from the mountains. Thanks to Sierra and everyone else who made this gathering possible. 🙂