It was a good day. The best of days. Rainy, cold and miserable outside and I don't care. I am happy. Content even! As such and as promised I will not whinge and moan "Poor me, poor me, pour me another one." Instead I decided to regale you all (Hi Mom!) with an oft told tale from the past because I was reading my Imaginary Internet Friend Kiki's blog and her hilarious stories made me decide to post one of my own. READ HER! Truly hysterical. This tale concerns myself, one of my best friends Mike, a fifth of peppermint schnapps and the climbing of Mount Washington. But first some background: I met Mike under what can only be the considered the worst of circumstances. To wit: standing on opposite sides of SNB's bed wondering whether to start punching each other or not. She was my unrequited love/best friend and he was her new boyfriend. We were not expecting to see each other and I believe our very first conversational exchange went as follows: Mike: Who the fuck are YOU?" Me: "Who the fuck am I? Who the fuck are YOU?" and so on until SNB broke it up. Mike:
Suffice to say that once she dumped him not long thereafter we became friends in the "Gee we both wish we had her" sense and have been thick as thieves ever since. He wanted to learn to play drums and, being an accomplished drummer, I offered to teach him. Alas, for whatever reason, (*cough* no riddim *cough*) after several attempts I declared it hopeless. I told him to buy a bass and, as I was also a decent bassist, I would teach him to play THAT instead. This we did and he's a passable bassist to this day, though his real talent is singing.
Moving on: at some point not long thereafter we decided to go camping and climb Mt. Washington. Being an inexperienced camper and hiker I decided that my college bookbag would be a sufficient backpack for the trip. Mike, knowing better, declared me insane but I would not be deterred so he made it clear that he didn't want to hear any whining about it when my arms fell off because the straps had cut through my shoulders. I agreed to this and up we went. It was a moderately arduous climb and as it began to get dark we picked a spot to camp. Indeed I did have nasty bruises where the straps were but to my credit I never complained about this. I mention that only because Mike never fails to mention it when telling this story. It is by no means the hi-lite of this missive.
So, we pitch the tent and get a fire going and I dunno, maybe eat something. I think he had a small propane camping stove, whatever. So we smoke some herb and take a few shots of the 151 proof Rumplemintz peppermint snapps we brought for the trip. We must have had a pleasant buzz going because he tripped walking past the fire and kicked one of the rocks ringing said fire and it rolled a couple of feet towards me and stopped directly in front of where I was sitting. Thinking nothing of this I reached down, grabbed it and threw it back.
This was my first mistake. That rock was easily 600 degrees. Then I saw Mike's face. He was white with schock and I didn't feel a thing. Then I realized my hand was thoroughly seared. The entire inside of my hand was one HUGE blister. Then the pain hit. Arguably one of the most physically painful moments of my life. Wow! did that shit ever hurt! I ran to the bog nearby and soaked my hand in the water and steam was rising out of it. This was not good. It was dark and we were many miles hike from anything. There would be no sleep that night I was sure and I was already exhausted so I did the only sensible thing and made my second mistake. I almost immediately drank the rest of the liquor to kill the pain and hopefully knock me out. This did not work and I slept not at all. He crashed out.
In the morning plenty early Mike woke very hungover and cranky to discover that during the night I had made my thrid mistake. I had consumed all of our meager water supply. I wasn't properly apologetic either. Thus hungover, thirsty and exhausted we examined our options: Hike back down the mountain (too far with no water and injured) or continue the ascent to reach water and a ride back down. We chose option B, packed up and headed out in very poor spirits indeed.
We reached the trail and realized that it was some 10 miles as the trail went or we could bushwhack three miles across the side of the mountain directly to the camp at the base of the final ascent. Here I made mistake #4. Bushwhack it was. What I didn't realize until we were too far gone to turn back was that the terrain got worse instead of better. Soon we were navigating through scrub trees about 3 feet tall and too closely spaced to walk between. So we were teetering along actually walking ON these short evergreens and falling through every few steps. Did I mention we were on the edge of a precipice of probably 1000 feet and had one of us fallen it would have meant almost certain death? Somehow we managed this feat proving once again that God watches over idiots, drunks and little children of which I was clearly all three at that time.
Finally we reached the lodge and spent probably 20 minutes alternating at the drinking fountain there. We sat down and I guess ate something while I wrote in my journal something to the effect of "Bushwhacking across the side of a mountain. Great fucking idea!" When Mike saw this he grabbed the pen and journal and wrote "Drinking all our water:You farragin icehole." Finally we cooled down enough and climbed the rest of the way up to catch a ride back down in a car with one of those bumper stickers saying "This car climbed Mt. Washington". Yeah. I climbed Mt. Washington. Luckily my hand healed with no long lasting ill effects. So no, I don't climb Mt. Washington so much anymore.