Monday, September 28, 2009

Ladder Canyon

My good friend, Jake Olmstead, will soon be taking a five week course to prepare for the LSAT exam. He has proclaimed that we will not see him during this stretch as he focuses upon his studies. As such, I thought it would be nice to get one more camping trip in before he disappears. So I asked Jake where he would like to go. . . he chose Ladder Canyon. I was trying to convince him of some mountain location where it would be cooler but Jake was adamant on Ladder Canyon, so I set it up. I invited only a handful of people for this event (the criteria for the invitation was two-fold: people I thought would enjoy such a trip and people that I thought were in good enough condition to make such a trip. If you received an invitation, you should feel honored that you made the short list; if you did not receive an invitation, do not be offended--honest reflection will reveal that one of the two criteria does not match). Keep in mind, this location has no campsites, no bathrooms, no amenities. It is backpacking through a canyon and finding some random place that looks suitable to throw down one's sleeping bags and call it a night.
The trip began later than anticipated and consisted of four guys--Jake Olmstead, Tony Aguilar, Ryan Morgan, and myself. We were hoping to leave by 3:30 but did not depart until 5:30. After taking the long route to get to the trailhead (sorry guys--I forgot that there are two separate exits to hwy 111 from the 10 fwy) we arrived and began backpacking sometime around 9 p.m.
It was nice hiking through the slot canyon in the dark--it made it more mysterious and adventuresome for those who had not been before. It was still hot and we had to consume a lot of water to stay hydrated. Tony had a sudden epiphany when we came upon the first ladder used to ascend a precipice. It was humorous to see his reaction as he finally put two and two together--the name of the canyon and the reality of ladders being used throughout the canyon. We met a nice little bat who was clinging to the canyon wall upon our ascent--he was chillin' and didn't seem too bothered by our presence, allowing me to take a few pictures before we continued on our way.
Once we were atop the plateau we hiked until we discovered a relatively flat location with as few rocks as possible to make camp. We ended up playing cards and talking for several hours before discussing the constellations. Ryan actually knows a bit about the stars and pointed out several celestial sights. Once he was done imparting his knowledge I picked up with my own "constellations" (nothing real, just what particular groupings of stars look like to me) and the others joined in as we created some fantastical images in the heavens.
We finally attempted to sleep, having no tent and spread out where ever we chose to throw our sleeping bags down. It was sometime around 3 a.m. when we made the attempt: Jake and Tony continued their discussion for another hour or so. One might imagine my surprise when the two finally fell silent--at last, I might actually get some sleep! But no, fifteen minutes after it fell silent I heard Tony exclaim: "What size football should I get?" Are you kidding me, Tony! At last I thought I would be able to sleep and I am denied with talk of what size football you want! This started off a whole new round of discussion between the two. Needless to say, I would chime in with some whimsical comment or other when they left the door open for such during the conversation. When the talking did cease I was interrupted by someone's brief snoring. Fortunately, that did not last long and I was able to get about an hour of rest in before the sun rose and made sleeping impossible with its hellish combination of light and heat. We decided it best to get out of there as soon as possible as we did not want to be hiking in the desert in the midday sun.
Once we had arrived back at the car we drove to the North Shore of the Salton Sea. We were disappointed with the fact that they have demolished the old abandoned motel and seem to be renovating the old club building on the shore. Beforehand it seemed as if this location was a vision of a nuclear holocaust--erie in its decrepit and lonesome state, but now that effect was gone with the vanishing of the abandoned buildings (that we would explore in the past) and the fact that people were actually at this location doing some fishing (I don't know what the world one would expect to catch in the Salton Sea, but whatever it may be, there is no way that I would eat it--that lake has the smell of death and decay and is downright nasty). The playground that is half buried in the sand is still there and the abandoned marina still exists but even that has had parts removed. It just is not like the empty, erie feeling that it conveyed the first time I had been there years ago when James Morris and I went down to explore and do some photography.
At last we arrived home and before they departed, Tony and Jake wanted to play some video games. Jake was checking his facebook account before playing and remained logged in when he was distracted by the game, giving me perfect opportunity to get some paybacks. About a month ago, Jake and I were at the gym when I received a text. I was lifting some weights at the time so jake grabbed the phone and responded to it. Without the person on the receiving end knowing that it was Jake replying, he sent some texts that made it sound like I had a man-crush on Jake. Fortunately, the girl on the receiving end understood when I later had to make some clarifications as to what had happened and that it was not me sending these homo-erotic messages. Needless to say, payback was sweet! I left a nice little message on Jake's homepage about how he had returned from camping with an epiphany that Tony is a sexy man. . . that he realized this when the two were looking at the stars and gazing into one another's eyes, and that sharing a sleeping bag together produced a conflict between his body and mind. . . "My mind was telling me no, but my body. . . MY BODY. . ." Needless to say, it took a few hours with friends commenting on his post before he discovered the prank. Jake has since removed the content from his facebook page and has vowed to get vengeance! Bring it on, Jake. Bring it on!

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