Feb 6, 2011

The assault on Bomber Mountain - 3, snaking towards the Badlands

Fish @ Badlands
Friday, August 25
I dropped Pigtails with her sitter, then met up with Fish.  He smirked and said “You'll be surprised where I’m at with packing.” When I stepped into his basement, I was very surprised, but not pleasantly so. His pool table was covered with a flee market of freeze dried beef and oodles of ramen noodles, expensive tech underpants that claimed to prevent S.B. (sweaty butt), water filters, collapsible fishing poles and insect repellent.  It was all there, but not neatly tucked into his pack.  

He thrashed around, haphazardly throwing bits into his pack with no order or caution.  Clothes, maps and unidentified objects were scattershot and flying everywhere.  He zipped up and smooched his wife, then we headed over to grab our wingman.  Sherpa's son leaked alligator tears as we bid farewell.  Sherpa stuttered, I punched his shoulder and told him it would build character in the little guy. 

We headed over to Enterprise to rent a “full size American sedan”, I was expecting grandma's Crown Victoria or a Lincoln Town Car.  They chucked us the keys to a blue Pontiac Grand Prix, that'll work.  Time was slipping, it was 11:30 am when we finally loaded and left town. 

sayonara, civilization
“Are we there yet?” I whined as annoyingly as possible from the backseat ten minutes into our drive. We'd bite off 550 miles today and camp in the Badlands, halfway to the Horns.

This billboard greeted us at the South Dakota border crossing:

Fish and I laughed, Sherpa looked puzzled. 

“What does that mean?” he asked in his Indian curried accent.  

I responded, “You ever seen an old western movie where two cowboys are primed for a pistol match at high noon, and one of them snarls, 'Are you ready to meet your maker, punk?'  Then they shoot each other silly and both die instantaneously. God is using this billboard to tell us we'll all die in the mountains.”

I was only partially kidding.  Other than Fish's hike three decades past, we had no clue what we were doing when it came to roughing it.  A cluster of computer dorks heading to the sticks, the only trekking we were experienced at was meandering the aisles of Walmart.  We were doomed.

That billboard bothered Sherpa, he brought it up again later that evening.  The next day, we spotted a similar banner in Wyoming that read “God Loves You.” Sherpa felt better after that, problem solved.

Men attack miles on the road like they do flipping channels on the TV.  Keep ‘em rolling continuously.  Fish leaned on the go pedal, with quick petrol and pee-stops when the gauge arrowed a quarter tank.

We tarried at Chamberlain, South Dakota, a picturesque rest stop where the Missouri River bites a deep gouge into terra firma.  Strolled the Louis and Clark exhibit there, then worked through a spicy mound of vegetable biryani and yogurt sauce Sherpa's wife had steamed up for us.  

64. That’s the number of Wall Drug signs tallied by the time we hit our campground inside Badlands Park.   

Snakes!! Sherpa's armpits get sweaty thinking about them.  While pulverizing tacos at lunch one afternoon, Fish asked:

"Sherpa, what do you think about snakes?" 

"Horrified, I can't stand them," he said.

"Well," I chimed in, "snakes are cold blooded, and the temp will drop into the 30s at night.  So odds are one of the little critters will try sneaking into a tent or bag to warm up." 

His eyes widened as he landed his taco back on the plate.

"Yeah, you'd better keep your tent zipped up, there are rattlesnakes in the mountains," Fish added
with concern.

The first thing we noticed when pulling into the Badlands campground was an abundance of signs that read, “BEWARE Rattlesnakes!” Now, what exactly are you supposed to do with that?  Remove from storage your trusty snake charming flute to lure the poisonous serpents into a deep trance? 

Sherpa nervously glanced at the sign, then at the pocket of snake holes directly in the loading zone where we'd launch our dome tents.  He went around filling up the holes as best he could with rocks and sand.  

Oh yeah, forgot to mention we also saw a poisonous snake sign back at our Chamberlain rest stop.

This was all working perfectly into our plan.   

The final day of our trip, we'd plant a rubber snake in his sleeping bag and cure his phobia for good.  We cared about our friend and were simply trying to help him.  We also wondered if he would cry.

1 comment:

  1. Over from YHL - love hiking and ALWAYS bring a rubber snake backpacking - it can become a fun game seeing who can sneak it in to each others's packs/sleeping bags/whatever without getting caught. Love the idea (very belatedly).


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