The RocketDog

The RocketDog

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The Roar of the Silenced Mind

It's been 16 months and 4 days since I have come to this page. I've come many times in my head.  I've written and discarded posts in the dusty attic that always seems to appear when I sit down to write.  I've scribbled a thousand yellowed pages with black scrawl all over them, crumpled them up and tossed them in shadowy corners, where they disappear like bugs that run as soon as the light hits them. Too much to say, too much to post, too much chance, too much information, too much me.  So little time, so little distance, so little anonymity. Then it became too much to catch, too much had passed; too much effort.  I'm not exactly sure where, when and why, I quit writing here.  Something seemed to lose it's voice.  It shouted in my head.  My fingers remained mute.  Things changed, trips were made, glorious trips, begging to be pictured;  my outer body refused to sit down and cooperate.  But, someone reminded me I had this dormant space; and suddenly, when life feels so overwhelming, and the days of summer backpacking seem so far away (although winter backpacking is available), revisiting a la writing seems a soothing balm for a tortured soul.  In all, I have 8 trips from the past year, not counting a few day hikes and a winter escapade, not to mention the trips I have missed in the past years;   baby hold me-- suddenly the thought of all this, hahalolol.  What am I thinking?  Fast and Furious, here we come.  (Is this a metaphor for the last year?)

In May, I was invited to do an overnight to the Idaho side of Hell's Canyon, namely the Rapid River.  It was Mother's Day weekend, beautiful weather and my gracious family knew what a gift this would be for me.  After hot 11 miles of following the river, checking out two old cabins, my friend and I set up our tents in a glorious grove of old Ponderosa Pines, in soft grass like you would find in your backyard after a summer of water but no mowing, full of Balsam Arrowroot blooming everywhere.


Camping in a park!

Alpenglow eastward from the tent

After a night so warm I slept with my bag completely open, we set off cross country for the 9 miles out.  The first step on the trail I realized somehow, my feet had changed over the winter, and my boots were too small.  But what do you do?  Side-hilling off trail in too-small boots make for a lost toenail and a few blood blisters.  I just finally trimmed that big toenail last week, tyvm.  9 months later.  Better than the last time I had to wait 9 months for something, though.  The way out, I realized that my friend had a knack for spectacular trips.  It was like the last few minutes of The Sound of Music.

So glad my friend's feet aren't too much bigger and he could throw his crocs over for me to cross this with.  (I mean, not that I would forget my water crossing shoes, right?  Never)
I like to think this was an old soul, that watched a last sunset before dropping down into a sweet slumber never to be woke. 

We stopped to eat in Riggins and got a bit of small town drama with our dinner.  The Row-day-oh was in town, and a very disgruntled woman came stomping in the bar and demanded of the deer-in-the-headlights-stricken barkeep to know if her drunk husband had been in, and angrily left with STRICT INSTRUCTIONS NOT TO SERVE HIM IF HE SHOWED UP.  He'd apparently been drinking since breakfast.  Oh Idaho, how I love you.

 The next trip, I took with Scott.  We did our usual anniversary jaunt over to my hearts desire, Montana.  This was an easier trip for us, because it had been a long winter for Scott, with his Mother's death. We did a loop, following the Cabinet Divide trail for a bit.  I used Picaridin repellent for the first time, and it was fucking fantabulous.  No smell, no residue, NO FUCKING BITES.

 Then, a couple weeks later, it was on to the Lemhi range.  A quiet and undiscovered range, and let's just keep it that way, shall we?  The fun part of this one, is the day before, I came down with some intestinal thing.  I went to work, as it wouldn't have looked good to stay home, and let's just say I visited the bathroom well over 20 times that day.  I also bought some Nuun and Hammer endurance powder and drank that all day long.  My friend, hereafter known as The Dude, or TD for short,  walked me out to confirm plans for 5:30am the next morning.  He looked at me a little funny when I finally mentioned, (at the behest of my boss all day long "Aimee, you should really say something to him, you're sick.  What if you can't go?"  Me: No, I'm fine, really.  I'll be fine. "Aimee.  You look sick.  You're sick.  You should say something.") that I'd been feeling a little under the weather.  He scrutinized me a bit and said "I wondered why you'd been a little quiet all day."  Honestly, I felt like death and it only got worse, but fuck that noise about missing a trip.  By bedtime I honestly wondered if I was going to make the 5:30 meet up time.

                                                           ****Break for product testing******
So I'd wanted a new sleeping bag.  I had an old Marmot Teton, that I loved, loved with the fire of a 1,000 suns it was soooo comfortable, and warm, and fucking all around awesomeness.  But it was old, and it weighed almost 4lbs.  Sacrilege! Anyhow, the bag I chose (after reluctantly deciding against a Feathered Friends or Western Mountaineering bag, because they do not use hydrophobic down) was a Rab, Neutrino Endurance 600, 850+ fill hydrophobic down, Pertex  Endurance 30d WDR treated outer fabric, Pertex Quantam 20D fabric inside.  2.2lbs.  Only one left in the U.S, (after calling Rab, since my gracious Scottish friend Lisa had offered to bring me one back, to find out where she could pick one up, they bluntly said in true Scot fashion "Blimely hell, why don't you just bag the one in the States?") and it was at Backcountry.  The young dude I was talking to at 7:30pm on break at work, on Wednesday night, offered to ship it overnight for $15 to Salmon Idaho by 11am Friday morning, so I could take it on this trip.  Fuck yes Mildred, I'll take it!  I'd also switched packs, and dropped almost 2.5 lbs there, so between that and my sleeping bag, I'd dropped 5lbs from my pack, so my pack weight before water for the 3 day/two night was only 24lbs.  Sure enough, the bag was waiting for me, thanks to the astute young man who had ditched UPS, since he knew they were slow and had the bag FedEx'd to the Salmon drop site.  I coulda kissed him. The drawcords are bizarre, and Brits have strange heads obviously, but otherwise, I Fucking LOVE THIS BAG.  More on that later.
When my alarm went off, I felt like even Death didn't want me, and had left me by the side of the road, but off we went.  We started the trail about 1:30 and put in about 10 miles.  Around 6pm, TD stops and tells me we can go a few minutes more over thisaway to this lake that everyone goes to, or we can go for another quarter/half mile about 600ft up and go into a basin no one goes to.  Well of course then.  Who minds a sickie that wants to pass out?  Upward and onward we go.  I confirm my feelings he make good trip, grasshopper.

We went over 4 passes the rest of the trip.  We were running just ahead of a storm system, and we managed to keep ahead. Pretty spectacular scenery. We also chased and smelled elk.

Yellow Peak

Ridge walking

If you look veewwweeeyy cwwwoosswweeeyy, you can see TD on the ridge.  We went over the pass just to the left of center of pic

Backside of pass pictured above.

Meadow at beginning of hike. So sue me because they're out of order.  YOU'LL GET WHAT YOU GET AND LIKE IT

Earlier pass.  This was an easy one. 

Such a fun lodgepole pine thicket to squeeze through.  

 Just as we hit the Jeep and drove away, the storm broke behind us.  We stopped in Salmon to eat at Betram's Brewery, where I learned some people can put away an entire pound of hamburger in one sitting.  Impressive!
If you look close, (enlarge) you can see the rain.

There was also a great dayhike to Beehive Lake on July 1 (I'm a little out of order here.  Who the fuck's counting)

Whew.  I'm only 3 trips in, and I'm exhausted.  You too?  Part Deux to come.  The Wind Rivers, Alpine Lakes Wilderness, Goat Rocks, Eagle Cap, and The Blue Mountains.  Plus, a little more on the Silence of the Blog. 


  1. Wonderful, compelling, and breathtaking. Thank you!

    1. Thank you Klem. It's nice to know I have someone fooled. ;)