My phone has the Covids and wont sent pics to my blog so lets pretend it’s the 90’s and use our imagination…
So no shit, there I remained; the only survivor standing next to the Wilkin River.
Perhaps because no one else was around; that is of course unimportant and makes my above statement less impressive.
I had just ripped myself from the merciless grip of the water escalator and my left foot writhed with an attention seeking pain of a dull knife rammed into the thin flesh of my arch. When I am injured badly, I want physical evidence to prove my affliction. The only trophy I held for this mishap came in the form of a light bruising on the soft tissue, and a limp someone might’ve taken as a token of my having lived in Tacoma.
I stood over my traitor of a foot, shaming it rather than mothering it.
What had I done?
I didn’t recollect any physical trauma during the river crossing, however, I was slammed with a torrent of adrenaline; perhaps the masked burglar of my memory. For all I recall, I was William Wallace riding his horse into freedom across the river, and in no frame of this beautiful moment did I remember the hairy animal leaning down and biting my fucking foot off. Shit man, I was in New Zealand; It would take more than a small machete in my limb to keep me from thriving! The Siberia Hut sat only 2 hours away, in a lush basin with craggy mountain views that would make your Grandfather cry.
Your grandfather is John Muir by the way.
I had to make it.
With a fat sigh, I took a step to assess the damage to the machine.
I was working a light stagger.
For a moment, I took a gander through my Rolodex of what to do, which I found buried in any and all new information I had received in my brain since the last time I used it. I recalled the old narcotics I had from my collar bone surgery a couple years back which I kept ina first aid kit in the pouch labeled, “Take when some warrior tries to submit William Wallace’s foot on his God damn horse crossing the Wilkin River.”
Without further thought, I hound dogged my way deep into my pack to my zip lock baggy full of assorted medications and stole a pain medication out of the bag when no one was looking.
This would be my salvation.
I thru it back with a 16-year scotch that didn’t exist in my realm, so I chugged some water instead; the clear alternative. A 20 mile day on a stool pigeon foot was a budget experience compared to my grandiose plans of anything other than that. Luckily I could take a plane back if I couldn’t walk the next day, as many tourists were dropped off at the hut by air because they didn’t want to role-play a Scottish knight through the freak waters of hell on an invisible animal car that eats their foot during the first war of the Scottish Independence.
It’s like my old co-worker used to say, “If you ain’t cheating, you ain’t trying.”
…And then they fired him.
Honest moment: I drank a couple of whiskeys this evening, and I am feeling that my words have chewed through their leash and are currently running far ahead of me.
Don’t worry, I am in no hurry to catch them.
So there I am; was. Was? Yes. There I was, pill in the belly and ready to take on the fucking continent of New Zealand with my Judas foot and passion that could fill a whole lake full of GHB, (if you haven’t read my previous posts then go on and think I am a lake rapist, that’s your own damn fault, keep up).
Too impatient to wait for the loving hug of my meds to kick in, I headed for the Siberian Hut, or what I perceived to be towards it. For 40 minutes I paced back and forth along the bank like a dog on its bed trying to find a good place to lay down. I couldn’t find the route using my map or GPS; both lead me into a hair ball of bush covering the asshole of the Earth.
Asshole of the Earth= “Any opening in the woods that I believe is a trail, but turns out to be an asshole.”
With conviction and lack of patience I decided to moose it, raging forward bushwhacking through the brush concluding that at some point I would intersect the pathway which lie somewhere perpendicular to my large rack.
Eventually after stampeding the wall of infinite shrubbery, the barrier of incalculable frustration; I finally came mouth-to-mouth with what appeared to be the trail. I am not sure how I recognized I was mouth-to-mouth but that sounds better than saying mouth-to-asshole of the Earth, so I’m gonna stick to that.
I stepped out of the underbrush on to the path; my body harpooning the Moby Dick of my 45 minute excursion.
Fucking whales, am I right?
Full of exuberant joy, which may have been falsely appearing through the new eyes of a patient on pain meds, I slammed my painless feet into the packed soil. The proverbial knife had been pulled out, and my glass was half full of whatever the metaphor stands for. I suppose that would change if my glass were half full of shit because then I would want that half empty, I don’t need to smell anymore bad smells, getting out of bed and attempting to survive creates enough for me.
Damn alcohol sure has a way of making a short story long doesn’t it? Hell I should have drug all these stories out into a box set of novels and put two vampires humping on the front and made my millions. Alas, I am just a dirt squirrel who knows nothing about long novels, especially romantic ones. In fact, if you ask me what romance means to me, it’s my boyfriend offering to check me for ticks – and maybe one night of wine and Tiger King.
A few hours passed ascending switch backs and in sometime I emerged out of the tangled bush under a darkening sky in a deep emerald valley; The basin floor, a sprawling meadow split down the middle by a slithering stream. Across the water, I noticed a long strip of damaged grass which I took as a sign of recent tourist planes.
The route curved with the natural arch of the stream and as I rounded the bend, a white wooden structure with a metal roof graced my peripherals. I maneuvered words around in my mind, thinking of how best ask if they had any beds left. The young ranger, a granola women of her late twenties, greeted me at the deck, and agreed to exchange three of my hut tickets (5 dollars each) for a bed. Very graciously, I thanked her, and clambered up a set of stairs to the porch, dropping my belongings and peeling off my rank, wet shoes. Multiple hikers were gathered at the picnic tables outside where I sat, and an older kiwi gentleman took to questioning my whereabouts that day. I tried to portray humbleness, as I figured some people around me had flown in and didn’t backpack 20 miles that day to earn their bed, but still the man appeared shocked and amazed by the few words I handed over to describe my days journey.
“You crossed the WILKIN?” he exclaimed, mouth open.
“WONDER WOMAN!” he cried.
I left amused and embarrassed to make my bed, which required the shaking of my sleeping bag out on to a hefty furnished ground pad. The cushion lie 3-5 inches from the other pads on either side, and I truly hoped my unconscious body would cancel the regularly scheduled sympathy of horn sections in my throat later that evening. I had been practicing all my life, and still all who hear this beautiful flesh music are never impressed.
I am told there is an app that will record my snoring, but I refuse to do this. It’s easier believing everyone else is lying. Plus, what I do in my sleep is none of my business. I’m unconscious for a reason.
I don’t want to listen to it either.
I returned to the deck which supplied majestic views of the neighboring mountains and sat with the kiwi I previously spoke of. He lead a discussion with a couple from Australia who shared their whiskey with us. My new friend boasted about my trip to the Australians, and they enthusiastically inquired about it, placing me on a pedestal which I quickly fell off of as soon as I opened my mouth. This was followed by a discussion of the differences between the words we use in our separate countries.
Presumably because whiskey.
Kiwi man: “We don’t call it hiking we call it tramping.”
Me: “You also say bush instead of forest. In America bush is another word for pubic hair, and tramping means having sex with lots of people.
Kiwi man: “…I’m never saying it like that again.”
I imagine there are more appropriate and thoughtful conversations I could partake in with strangers, but then I would have had nothing to write about in the above paragraph.
The next morning, I was reduced to a one legged mountain pirate. Sans parrot, which was hardly fair. My left foot had swelled up and I could barely walk, proving to be quite disagreeable considering I had planned another 20 mile day. The reality was crushing, eroding my enthusiasm and energy. I had traveled all the way to New Zealand and for the second time, my backpacking plans were diluted. I found solace in the gratitude of being able to hitchhike with a plane back to my car. Nowhere in Washington State could I get injured and flown out by plane without having to call a SAR team. Granted, I might have clawed myself the 20 or so miles out of there, but it would have taken a very long time, and the rest of the Australisn’s booze.
I shuffled out to the porch pathetically to replace my raunchy moist shoes on my feet and was greeted by the kiwi.
“Wonder woman!” he yelled.
I smiled weakly, although I didn’t feel I deserved the title.
With ridiculous effort, I hobbled the quarter mile back to where I had spotted the air strip, however, I had forgotten that the landing zone was on the opposing side of the stream.
I was not fit for fording another waterway. There was however, a helicopter landing on this side of the water; it would be coming before the the plane but cost a lot more money.
I crumpled down into the dew covered weeds knowing I would have to pay for the helicopter, and played my ukulele to lift my mood while waiting.
I imagine I probably looked like a sad ugly Tiny Tim.
Two young men walked up during my funeral symphony for my foot as I was lowering the coffin. They were looking to hitch as well and asked if I was the girl who did the crazy trek the day before.
This brightened my spirits.
From my seat in the grass I watched the two cross the stream, and the current did not appear to cause them any problems. Just then I heard a plane in the distance, which I found odd, as the plane was supposed to come after the helicopter. I spied the air craft flying over head circling to land. I could leave now and save tons of money, if I was able to make it across.
I climbed to my feet and did my best impression of a three-legged dog staggering with one leg and my trekking poles in the direction of the stream. The men saw my struggle on the other side and offered to come out into the water and help me, but pride hears no one but its self. I charged into the current, and to my relief the ford wasn’t half as difficult as the previous day.
I hopped on the aircraft and for 30 dollars I caught a ride all the way back to my car.
I was disappointed to end the backpacking portion of my time in New Zealand, but I knew that reminiscing over my ailment would spoil what would continue to be an amazing trip.
In the last few days of my trip, I stayed at a Hot Springs resort, took a cruise around Milford Sound, and went cage diving in the ocean with a great white shark and somehow didn’t piss my wetsuit.
I convinced myself over the years that I was an apex predator, but once I starred down the jaws of a great white, I found that I was just a small awkward goat.
The cage diving experience was one of the most incredible experiences, and it would not have happened if I didn’t get my foot viciously gnawed off by a non existent horse.
A glass half full makes life abundant.
Especially if the glass is half full of whiskey.