I wasn’t going for a cliff-hanger, I was having technical problems with the blog. The guys at BJJ Globetrotter who generously host the blog were off doing Jiu Jitsu, surfing, and running a week long BJJ and surf camp. I’d love to go and do one of those one of these days. Maybe, after all of this hiking and watching Jen hike is done, she’ll feel obligated and let me go. Or, as usual, I’ll just go, and she’ll gladly have some time off to watch trashy T.V. and have popcorn or pie for dinner.
But it did snow, for a couple of days. It snowed on me, in my trailer, which was fine, and actually quite beautiful. It snowed on Jen, in her tent, which was expected, but not awesome. Especially the part where she’d forgotten to bring her tent poles.
Jen and I have had this ongoing debate about ultra-light vs. not-so-light backpacking. She wants everything as light as possible, of course, since she has to carry it. I want things to work and not be a hassle and not break, and since I’m heavier myself, I worry less about the ounces. Her backpack and her sleeping bag are ridiculously light, made from some kind of spider silk or titanium fabric. They’re made by http://www.zpacks.com/ and it’s good stuff. It works, the company has good customer service, etc. Her tent, however, is a point of contention.
It is also made by z-packs, this is one of those items where I think light has sacrificed too much. You use your walking poles to set the thing up, and there’s a fair bit of driving in stakes and adjusting lines and the whole thing is complicated, and well, I don’t like it. I would prefer Jen lug around a heavier tent which has its’ own poles and will stand on its’ own without all the mucking about with engineering. Since I’m her husband I worry about her, and since I’m a man, I like to be right about things, especially about manly things like traipsing about in the wilderness. Even though I do much less of it than Jen, being a man and growing a beard makes my opinion on these things carry more weight, much like I do. You know, some things make less sense when you say them out loud, or write them in a blog.
Irregardless (which is not a word, I know, but I like it), Jen has this ultralight tent, but she got one that is a little more sturdy since there are some poles in addition to the trekking poles and all that string, but she forgot them in the trailer. If the weather is nice, it’s not a problem. If the weather decides to put a bunch of heavy snow on your tent, it causes problems. And makes everything you own, and need to wear, or sleep in, wet.
After taking a few days off, hiking across the ugly dessert corridor, seeing some beautiful sights, Jen decided that between being all wet, and her feet not having healed up, maybe it was time to reset and dry off, so I picked her up, and she spent the night with me and the boys, and babied Marley, who is recovering nicely.
First, she had some milestones to accomplish, so as soon as the weather cleared, and her gear had dried, she was back at it for a few more. She hiked back up into the hills, this time on the other side of the Coachella valley. She hiked up out of the valley, past a huge windmill farm, where she shared the sunset with the moon, and a lot of bats. Bats are cool.
She hiked towards the next big climb, after having dropped thousands of feet of gain.
She hiked past these beautiful flowers, which she is convinced is the notorious poodle dog bush.
which looks more like this
but she doesn’t care and is avoiding all purple flowers for now.
and she hiked all the way to mile 250. Yep, 250!
And what was I doing all this time? Well, being awesome and supportive and opinionated, and doing some Jiu Jitsu of course.
I had to head down the hill for a vet appointment, where Marley got his drain tube taken out. He’s doing great, no sign of infection, and he looks and feels like nothing happened. Except where they had to do a little hair cutting to get at his stitches. He feels great, but he looks a little off I think.
I also had a chance to roll in Yucaipa. Yep, that’s what I said. Not only that, but I had options. There were three gyms in this little town at the base of the mountains. I chose the very nice but unfortunately named BloodSpiller BJJ. http://www.cjjfsocal.com/index.html
The class was being taught by a purple belt, who did a good job on a half-guard escape. Mostly white and a couple of blue belts in the small, clean gym. Very welcoming of course. After class the instructor asked me to roll, suggesting that we keep it playful. That means a lot of things to a lot of people, of course, and this was a prime example. We slap hands, fist bump, and I kind of casually slide into a buzz saw. Now, this guy was young, smaller than I by about ten or twenty pounds, but damn he was strong and quick. He also, let us be clear, was NOT being a dick, or going all world championship match on me, but his “playful” involved a lot more pretty hard choking than my “playful.” He got on top, and I tried to survive and escape, and keep his damn hands out of my collars and off my throat. I would like to say that after about ten minutes of this, he gave up on choking me. Which is true, but only because my choke defense eventually gave him a Kimura, which I tapped to.
It was a really good roll, and I think he wanted to test his Purple level against mine, since he probably rolls only with the newer students, and his black belt, Aaron “BloodSpiller” Miller, whom I didn’t meet. Funny, of course, because I did talk to him on the phone, and he sounded about as nice a guy as you could want. However, I’m not sure I’d want to roll against a guy like that as my primary opponent. It’ll make you better, if you don’t quit, which you’ll want to.
As I’d mentioned, I was being my usual awesome supportive self. That’s a giant red velvet cupcake, with the “250” in icing on it, which I picked up special for Jen.
I also had a bunch of cookies to share with other hikers to help them celebrate, but only one guys showed up. I could neither remember or pronounce his name, since he was Hungarian, but it was the Hungarian equivalent of Paul, or so I told myself. He had a cookie, hung around politely for a while, and hiked on.
Jen came back to the trailer with me, now parked at Barton Flats on the Angeles Crest highway near Big Bear, and rested up. Her blisters were still killing her, not really healing, and it was time. We had an intervention, and she broke up with her bad boyfriend boots, for now. We drove into the smog, found an REI, and got her some new boots, some Chinese food, and a diet Pepsi.
For now, Jen is going to let her feet heal. We’re taking a few days off, heading to the beach, and holing up in a VRBO in Dana Point.