Friday, October 23, 2009

The Backpack

So, since I still have access to Phil's blog, and he doesn't seem to be actively blogging, I thought I might share the "incident" in the Colorado mountains this summer, which many of you, no doubt, have already heard.

As the story begins, Karen was living in Crestone, a "small village at the foot of the western slope of the Sangre de Cristo Range, in the northern part of the San Luis Valley" according to Wikipedia. In mid-June Kim and Bill, Dawn and JT, Pat and Janelle, Phillip and I, all headed toward the little town with a thirst for adventure. Little did we know how much we would find.

Upon finally reaching the log cabin, after turning right after the first stop sign and right again on the road past the second dirt pile (Karen's very accurate directions), we found that the place was empty except for some pizza and quiche. Assuming that these would keep better in the fridge I placed them inside and we all headed for bed (it was a really long day at the airport, plus a 4 hour drive from Denver). Just as we were all (at this point we had only Kim and Bill, Doc and Janelle) hitting the sac, in stumbled Karen. While nervously waiting for our arrival she had prepared lots of food, and when she had run out of food to cook she headed down to the bar where people proceeded to buy her drinks until she was quite wobbly. On her walk back to the cabin in fact, she had fallen into a ditch and gotten herself quite wet and dirty, something Janelle was so worried about that she made her change clothes.

So, since we were near the mountains, what would be the logical thing to do? Hike right? Well that's what we did anyway. We put in two days of successful hiking, though in neither case did we reach a summit. On the third day Karen was determined to get to the lake, however. At this point Phil had arrived and we decided to hike the Willow Lake trail. Karen had climbed the trail before and was confident that the lake was an obtainable goal. At about 11am we headed for the trail head with Pat, Janelle, Phil, Karen and I. By 2pm we had made our way up to the waterfall, a very defining point in the trail (this is of importance later). We sat down on a large rock near the falls and had a small lunch. The sky was looking overcast, however, and Doc and Janelle decided that it would be better to head back down the trail in order to avoid a mountain storm. (they did not walk down the trail together mind you, just left to walk down at the same time) With the adults out of the way Karen was sure the climb would go much faster. The estimated time and the actual time were much different, however. Karen, while trying to avoid some snow, was almost killed in a rock slide. Though, thankfully only her shoe was taken. We were able to recover the shoe under a pile of snow, only after removing a large boulder under which we thought it might lie. (So the truth is, her life was not in that much danger, but had she been walking the trail alone and broken her leg or such a matter, this could easily become life-threatening)

During the entire climb up the mountain Phil and I were taking pictures of the beautiful scenery and meandering along as Karen tried to hurry us. Eventually we made it to the lake and got some pictures of both it and a sheep that was in close proximity. The pictures were pretty awesome, and I was looking forward to sharing them with lots of people (another important point of the story). Well, when we reached the lake I gave Phil his camera (I had been using his Nikon) and I started back down the trail about 5pm. (Actually, I was very upset with myself for giving Phil his camera about 3/4 of the way down the trail because I saw a black bear that was within 150 yards of me. SO exciting!)This, I felt, would give me sufficient time to get down the mountain at my pace. Karen and Phil were goofing around, but I figured they would soon catch up, based on the fact that the day before I had traveled slowly down the mountain only to be overtaken by them in short time. Yet they never passed me this time. Apparently they spent another hour near the top of the mountain just fooling around. That's all fine and good, except, unlike Karen, Phil does not like to run down trails. Thus, when Karen started down the mountain at 6pm Phil did not follow right behind her. He decided instead to find his own trails and head toward the side of cliffs. At the time no one knew what he was doing.

So, as it began to get dark Karen and I had gotten down to the trail head, but Phil was nowhere to be found. Janelle went into the woods in hopes of keeping him from heading down a wrong path, and Karen ran on back to the cabin. So, I sat at the trail head for an hour before I was tired of waiting. By the time I got back it was 9pm. When I walked through the door everyone said, oh they're back, but I informed them that wasn't the case. This got everyone a little worried and Karen and JT set out to hike up the trail with headlamps in order to try and find Phil. They hiked about 1/3 of the trail before turning back with no sign of him.

The next morning everyone woke before 6am and Karen headed back out to hike the trail. In the mean time we called the search and rescue team because we were concerned for Phil's safety. Everyone we talked to had suggested it. So, we gave them descriptions and I told them of his last known location. Meanwhile Karen got to an area we termed "the meadow" before she found some campers to question. In fact, they had seen a man with no backpack walking through the meadow early that morning. Phil had been carrying a backpack though, so Karen was unsure if it was him. She decided to try walking back out through the meadow though, because it was possible that this mysterious hiker was Phil. As it turned out, it had been. Just as the rest of our party headed out to start hiking up the mountain, Phil was found walking down a road in "the Baca." He was worn and dreary, but he didn't think we should have worried.

The search and rescue team got a few statements from Phil so they could fill out a report. They wanted his license, but as it turned out he couldn't give it to them because it had been in his backpack which he dropped off the side of a cliff. Hearing this I was very concerned, somewhat about Phil's safety (I mean if the backpack fell off, could Phil have fallen off too?), but mostly about the camera's which were in the backpack (Phil was safe, why worry about the past). First, would we ever be able to recover the backpack and it's contents, and second, would there be anything worth recovering. So, the search team told us there was likely to be storms in the mountain that afternoon, so we might want to wait until the next day to make a recovery mission. (THE NEXT DAY!!, if it was going to rain that was all the more reason to try to make a recovery that day, the cameras would surely be ruined if they were allowed to be drenched!) However, we couldn't start right out on the search because we needed Phil, and he needed some sleep, because 2 hours of sleep under a fallen tree does not a rested man make. (By the way, the reason that Phil was then not able to make it down the mountain the day before was because he began searching for his pack and it got dark before he could find it.)

So, all of this happened before 9am, and then Phil got some sleep. When he woke up it was around 1:30. We talked about the options, did he know where he dropped the backpack?, did he think he could find it?, etc. He was fairly confident that he had marked the location well in his mind, so Karen, Phil and I started up the trail to find the missing pack at 2:30. About 5 minutes into our hike Karen got a call from Chesterfield, a friend that wanted to go on a hike with her. Phil and I told her to invite him along because he could help us search, and that he did. So, while Karen waited for Chesterfield, Phil and I started up the mountain, knowing we would hike slower. As we neared the waterfall Karen had caught up and Phil was thinking that the backpack's location might be near at hand. "I think I dropped it on the left side of the waterfall," said Phil. So we searched, and silly me, I said "I found it," only to discover I had not. So we searched in this area for 20 minutes before Phil decided it didn't seem like the right location and he decided it was likely on the other side of the falls. "There are lots of waterfalls," he said. Which was true, but this one was much larger than the others, there should have been little question as to what side of this waterfall it was on. So, to the other side we went. We found a rocky area that Phil seemed to remember and we questioned why he would have been that far from the trail, but he insisted that he was following "trails" and that the one that he was following had lead him toward this rocky cliff face. We then proceeded to get as close to the edge of these cliffs as we dared in order to look down and see if we might spot a blue backpack. Thinking on this, we would never have been able to find a backpack from this height, except that Pat had made Philip take his sweatshirt before he left and Phil had put it in the outer pocket of the pack. Therefore, when Chesterfield said, "I see a white shirt down there," I thought to myself, could it possibly be? "Phil," I asked, "could that sweatshirt have fallen out of your pack?" When he said yes we decided to follow the lead. We knew the pack was somewhere down below and now we had a starting point for a search. However, it was not as easy as jumping off the cliff down to the sweatshirt's location, we had to find a way to get down 40-60 feet without killing ourselves.

This was the most time consuming part of our experience, and in my opinion, the most fun. We crossed over the large river several times as our options of travel on one side would become limited. Then we shimmied down rock faces and over fallen trees, jumped over boulders and worked our way toward the shirt. Finally we got to the location that we had seen from above. Chesterfield was willing to walk up into the cavernous area and found both the sweatshirt and a backpack, as well as another item that had fallen out of the pack (Phil's pipe). So our first task was to check the cameras (though I think Phil cared more about some other items that were in the pack), and to our surprise, they were fully functional. We even took a picture of our triumphant recovery.

The last thing we had to do was make it back down off the mountain, which actually required that we travel back upwards because we had traversed downward to locate the pack. We were finally able to locate the trail before dusk which made me very happy because even though we had brought head lamps in case we were on the mountain at night, I really didn't want to travel on the mountainside without a trail in the dark. So, we all got back with the treasure we were searching for and now have an exciting tale to recall of our Crestone experience.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Cleaning my car

I've spent quite a bit of time living out of my car - and working construction for a good part of that time.

The last time Karen rode with me, she complained about the smell, which I didn't really notice - probably desensitized to it or something. But it seemed to be making her nauseous or something. And I recently lent the car to some friends who put 2 or 3 air fresheners in there... though I still didn't notice much of a smell.

So I decided to really clean out the car. Right now, it's sitting in the driveway with no seats, no gear selector, several interior panels removed, etc. I've pretty much gutted the interior. I'm going to thoroughly clean all the upholstery and interior panels and run the carpeting through the laundry.

I still haven't decided if I'm going to try to get inside the A/C system and clean that out as well.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Google Page Creator

The goog's page creator is pretty cool. It's still pretty young, so there are a lot of features lacking, but I bet Google will make it more and more awesome as it ages... The Google people are smart/cool like that.

Oh, here's my page:

I'm going to move my tech blog over to this page and set it up as individual articles instead of blog posts. Then I'll probably delete my tech blog and maybe freeze and just update this blog, Craziness.

Monday, February 04, 2008

I can draw.

I pretty much just learned how to draw overnight.

Here's a pic I've been practicing on. I started with a photo and started painting in black and white overtop of it. As I've been playing around with it, my skillz have improved - in just a few hours.
my drawring

Sunday, December 23, 2007

gettin paid

well, the whitewater company doesn't really want to pay me to watch the Bed&Breakfast - probably 'cause they lose a lot of money here in the off season. People still come by, but not very many or very often.

So I may not be able to afford to stay up here very long - may have to go get a real job in Tacoma or Everett or somewheres.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Water slides, no more

The water slide installer I was working for doesn't have any work until mid January and probably won't be getting jobs on any regular basis after that, so I quit.

I'm going to start working for Tom's whitewater rafting company instead - hopefully. I've talked to them and it sounds good, but it's not definite yet.

Saturday, December 08, 2007


This is a ramble - like a rant, but not angry.

K - for anyone who doesn't already know this, my family is totally crazy. My dad just built a new vet clinic and moved the computer from his home office to the new clinic. A while ago, he'd suggested that I set up my mom's computer to fetch his email. So my mom decided that I would set up one of the old computers I had stuffed in a closet in place of my dad's displaced laptop because "he doesn't share well". She didn't tell me this straight away of course. Here's how she broke it to me:

"Can you come with me this afternoon to get a computer desk?" It turns out that someone has an old crappy one they're selling for $25.
"What do you need a computer desk for? Don't you have some kind of table you could use? You have a laptop. You don't need a 'computer' desk for a laptop. Any old table will do." But to keep her from getting upset and because I didn't have anything better to do, I went with her to get the desk.
On the way she mentioned something about me setting up some computer - first I'd heard of it. With a little persistent questioning, it eventually became clear to me that she intended that I'd set up one of the old junk computers in the closet for my dad to check his email. And this is why she wanted the computer desk - so I'd have some place to set up the old behemoth desktop.
So I venture into the aforementioned closet to see what I've got in there that might be half decent for email and maybe a little web browsing with some modern web browsing software (Firefox). I have a 500 MHz PIII IBM something or other that Tim was using for a packet sniffer at one time. This is the fastest thing in there and not too bad - I know it would run windows XP and Firefox, but I have something more open source in mind.
First I gotta fiddle with the hardware to see if I can even get it to boot. I had to put the fan/LED/speaker/button module back in because I'd taken it out a while ago to use the fan for something else. And I had to solder a few of the fan's wires back together. And I have no idea what became of the power button itself. So I yanked a button out of another old computer, but it's the wrong size to fit in the button housing, so I have it hanging out the floppy bay opening, dangling on the wires. Before I rigged up this switch, I'd test started the PC a few times by touching the bared power switch wires. I had to guess which ones they were because it's not using the standard colors or plugs and I have two pairs of bare wires - the other is from one of the front panel LEDs which I used for something else. But I guessed right the first time and now I have a real switch rigged up. I'd considered just leaving the bare wires hanging out, but other people might want to start this puppy up and might not understand or be comfortable with the touch the 2 bare wires method.
I'd envisioned a multiheaded setup, but the only extra video card that would fit appears to be shot and one of the two monitors may be shot (the thing was always questionable). So I'm stuck with a single monitor for now. The mobo, cpu, ram, and hdd all appear to be operational. I threw in an old DVD writer drive (it was the first DVD writer I ever bought).
It's already got some linux distro installed on it, but I've long since forgotten the login password and it's got some router/firewall setup junk in there that I'd rather not mess around with. So I've wiped the hdd and am currently installing a brand new linux disro (gentoo in case you care (PS. gentoo is for ricers)) It's a good thing I put that DVD drive in there because I didn't want to hunt down my blank CDs - while my blank DVDs were quite handy. So I burned the 64MB minimal install disc image to a DVD. The gentoo installation process generally takes a few days -especially if I compile everything on the 500 MHz PIII with 256 meggaram. I might do a distcc and compile everything on my Core 2 lappy if the distcc ain't too tricky to setup - I've never distcc'd before.
Way back when I was still figuring out what monitor/video card combo would work, my dad came in and asked what I was doing. I told him I was setting up a computer for him to check his email. He said he could check his email just fine at the clinic and he'd never use this one. So I said, "well, hell, I got this thing out and running, and now we got this computer desk that shouldn't stand empty - so I may as well get it all setup. I'll use it from time to time if nobody else will."