May 16, 2011

The assault on Bomber Mountain - 15, onward, forward, homeward bound!

Thursday, August 31, 2006

I hear Fish’s JetBoil hissing steam into 20-degree frost at 6:00 am.  I pack my junk and yell for Fish to room service the hot cocoa. 
He obliges, rings the tent doorbell and drops a topped mug and breakfast bar at my doorstep.  

We dismembered camp efficiently, ready to hightail it down the trail and motivated by homesickness.  

The return hike would be a touch over seven miles, hopefully the Pontiac rental would still be waiting for us at West Tensleep Lake.  We passed modest Lake Marion and the strikingly pretty Lake Helen.  

A quiet brook gurgled like percolating coffee.

Video of the waning hike:

Three hours in, sun scattered off West Tensleep Lake.  “We made it, boys.  Nice job!”  I
said with a grin. 

The greaseballs before tucking into the car.  Look Ma, no rabies or bloody stumps!

I called shotgun and relegated Sherpa to the backseat.  Hey, I rode back there for 921 miles on the way up, my giraffe legs twisted like yoga and knees up by my nose.   

Fish is an expert driver, he instructs students at track school in his Bimmer.  He must’ve thought he was in Germany on the Autobahn, once we hit Highway 16, we descended at a dribble-your-pants clip.  The roadsigns warned “Notice, 9% Grade” and “Slow for Curve” and "Say Your Prayers".  He treated the speed limits like low-balled suggestions.  Curves that read 40, he mowed down at 70, the wimpy tires squealing in protest.  "Yeah, we had plenty left in the bunkers on that one.   Let’s give 75 a shot on the next one,” he said in a voice of iced craziness.  I was holding on, pinching pee and enjoying it.  Sherpa was fast asleep, his head rolled to the side at each curve like a crash test dummy.

Although it took us nearly an hour to drive up the mountain, I believe we hit the bottom in precisely 4 minutes, 12 seconds. 
We made a pass through the Sports Lure in Buffalo to grab souvenirs.  I waited outside the bathroom as Sherpa took care of business.  I good hear him in there hustling around like he was wrestling Guinea pigs.  After ten minutes, I hollered “Sherpa, watchya doing in there, taking a full sponge bath in the sink?”  He turned off the faucet.  Emerged with a sneer, smelling and looking slightly better. 

I locked the door and proceeded to take a full sponge bath in the sink.  I hope the owners of the Sports Lure threw the sink away after I finished.

We headed over to Pizza Hut with armpit fumes you could taste.  Lunch buffet was $6.00, I piled my plate four times.  Pretty sure I folded at least a large pizza into my face, $12 worth.  The Hut lost money this day.

Fatigue hit me like a ton of ramen noodles the second we left Buffalo.  I yearned to nap for a couple hours or days to replenish the batteries.  Fish would have none of that.  As soon as I’d start dozing, he’d yap his hole.  After fifteen minutes of the doze, hole yap, doze cycle, I finally fired daggers at his four eyes and quipped:

“You’re not gonna let me sleep, are you?”

“Hey, I need some help staying awake,” he said, which was a reasonable request.  

“Just give me an hour" I begged, then Sherpa jumped in and said that he’d keep Fish entertained while I napped.   

There was dead silence for an hour.  

I'm pretty sure both Sherpa and I fell asleep.  For all I know, Fish was also fast asleep, steering wheel neatly centered and the car cruise controlled at 80 miles per hour.  It was probably like the movie
“European Vacation” with Chevy Chase, where the camera pans to the kids sleeping in the back of the car.  Then it shows mom up front sawing logs.  Then the camera slides over and shows driver dad drooling.   

Our plan was two days to return home.  We'd eat most of the miles today and finish her up tomorrow.  

Made a quick pass through Wall Drug for ice water and jackalope mounting.

Exiting Drug, I could hear the hamster up in Fish’s head squeaking full speed on the little wheel.  He finally asked:  “What do you guys think about pushing through and returning home tonight?  That will put us home around 3:00 am."  "Sounds good, let’s do it.”  And so it was.

The sun painted clouds as we motored through South Dakota.  Slung the Panasonic out the window for the final photo of the trip.  Fish and Sherpa were certain I'd spill it on the tarmac of Highway 90, spoiling the 375 pictures bottled inside.  Nah, I hung on tight. 

We geeked in the car for a thousand miles.  Perpetual motion, computers, engineering questions and answers, lithium battery technology, juice generation from the sun, wind and water, the merits of gas/electric hybrids vs. diesels.  And the surprising amount of damage that can be inflicted by a strategic blow to the back of the head with pita wheat bread.

We pulled into town at 3:00 am, dropping Sherpa off first, then me.  I came home to an empty
house.  Fish decided to surprise his wife and break in unannounced.  I told him what a terrible idea, he’d scare the stuffing out of her and very possibly get clubbed in the crotch by a Precious Moment. 

So there you have it, a quick recap of our hike.  Hope you are still awake.  We'll return to Bomber Mountain this summer, five years since our last trip.  We'll find the plane this time.


P.S.  I sorta miss that wretched straw hat now for some reason.

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