Okay it’s Saturday morning and our first task… the sun is still behind Mt Whitney, the fields are covered with frost, and our first task of the day is to, Oh God, (painful laugh) walk barefoot across a freezing cold Whitney Creek.
Pete: And here’s how cold it is: Oh Jesus! (Screams shrieks and moans)
Dylan: I just thought I’d record what kind of sound it makes: Oh my God! Oh Shit it’s cold! etc etc etc….
Dylan: It hurts! Oh, we’re on the other side. I’m whippin out my towel. (more shrieks)
Pete: Painful, isn’t it?… It’s like not even cold, it’s like reaking pain.
Dylan: Shooting, black pain. Oh my God, Aughhh. (etc) Okay, it’s starting to wear off now.
Dylan: Oh, the prickling. I get (noises) prickling sensations. Oh my goodness. So, this is the easiest ford of the morning. (laughing) We have three more to do before we get to Forester Pass today. And I plan on giving you the blow-by-blow. So ah, I’ll talk to next time something this interesting happens.
Dylan: I’m standing at Wallace Creek, once again barefoot, standing on the frozen ground.
Pete: Your left foot’s about a centimeter from a giant snow drift.
Dylan: Yup. My ice axe is stuck in a snow drift here. And I’m getting ready for another 25 to 30 foot wade. Looks like about knee deep again, through Wallace Creek, oooh boy. And ah, I don’t know if I’m going to be able to hold the recorder through this one, so you might not get the same sound effects, but just so you know, we’re doing it again.
Dylan: Argh. I made it. Ow. I tried once, and I kinda lost my faith and got confused by the route across the creek, and bailed and went back to the other side screaming in pain. But this time I kinda did the stepping stone method, an ah, tried to keep it in the shallow parts and it worked much better. Didn’t even get in over my knees. Oh, it hurts doing this. We have to do this twice more today. Youch.
Dylan: We’re now here at Wright Creek. It’s huge, but it looks like we might be able to attempt a crossing without taking our shoes, even though, the ford down there looks pretty rough. So ah, definitely won’t be able to hold the tape recorded. Pete’s trying it right now, we’ll see what happens.
Dylan: Made it, got my feet a little bit wet, now Pete’s doing it. He found a jump to a grass island, to a rock, to a slightly watercovered rock, to another rock, to a log, to another grass covered island, to the other side. So ah, we’re back on the trail without too much delay at all.
Pete: Was this the play by play?
Dylan: That was the play by play.
Dylan: Here we are at Tyndall Creek. The crossing, or ford that the guide book described as “formidable”. And it does indeed look like there is no easy way across. Even the wade looks pretty hairy. So, I think we’re gonna, we’ve been wandering up and down the creek, if you can call it that, looking for a way across. We can’t find one. So I think we’re gonna take off our shoes or maybe even leave the shoes on, go across at the ford where its pretty deep and pretty fast but better than anywhere else. Pretty much.
Dylan: Well I just waded through it with my boots and socks and gaitors and all on. And my feet are wet but it was by far the most comfortable ford of the day I’d have to say. I don’t know what Pete’s gonna do, he’s standing on the other side in his bare feet. Looks like he’s just going to take his socks off and do it in his boots. See if that saves him any moisture, I don’t think it will. But ah, you’ve been getting kind of the blow-by-blow of the day, but not really. Cause we ah, after that last ford, Wright Creek, we had kinda wandered up in the high country, and the trail disappeared under the snow. And we had to do ah map and compass route finding. And we mistook a major landmark and wandered off in the wrong direction. Not totally the wrong direction but enough to get us good and off the trail. So we had to climb up over a small ridge to get back on. But we had some nice glacades to get back. Cost us a little bit of time. But, when it comes down to it, even when it comes to making mistakes, I really really enjoy finding my way up here, I mean, it’s hardto describe what its like. This place just seems so inhuman and yet so wonderfully friendly. There’s a few trees where we are right now, mostly snow and rocks. Both banks of this river we just forded are totally snow covered. Um, we’ve been walking around in our boots and gaitors and ice axes and all. Have sunscreen on today and I feel much better. And ah, damn, the day is going slow, the miles aren’t reeling by, but I think its going to be a successful day. We can see, or we could see a minute ago, Forester Pass looming ahead of us. And it really just does look like a huge, giant, granite wall from here. Oh, Pete’s going for the ford. He’s got his boots on, his pants rolled up. Bare feet in his boots. Using the ice axe as a balance point. He’s doing good. This is not really a deep ford, it’s only calf-deep, but the water’s pretty fast. Looks like he’s gonna make it. (water) (laugh) What do you think? I think that’s the most comfortable way we’ve forded yet.
Pete: Just walk with your boots, yeah.
Dylan: At least in the short term. Well that’s that, we’re both across. Next big item is five miles away, we’ve got Forester Pass. And ah, it looks steep but it doesn’t look like there’s a lot of snow on it, so ah, hopefully we’ll just walk up it and give you another message at the top. We’ll see.
Pete: Alright, well, we’re sittin here, uh, on a kinda of an island of rocks and grey-brown grass and dirt, with ah, stuff drying on all sides of us, socks, boots, shoes, sleeping bags. It’s kind of an island in the middle of a big field of snow. And um, Dylan, I’d like for you to tell me the first thing you did when you got up this morning.
Dylan: First thing I did when I got up this morning was put on my boots. They were cold and stiff and frozen solid. And uh, you want me to keep going?
Pete: Ah, it’s up to you.
Dylan: Well, um, the next thing I did was take a leak, after I hobbled out of my sleeping bag. It was kind of a regular morning ritual. Um, following that I think I walked back and packed my frosted sleeping bag into its stuffsack,
Dylan: and rolled up my mattress.
Pete: Ok, and what transgressed immediately after uh, packing up?
Dylan: Well, ah, the events that followed that were barefooted in nature
Dylan: Um, they involved icy cold Whitney Creek, and the crossing of such, and I believe those events are recorded earlier on this tape.
Pete: Ok. Um, so kind of locate us right now. In the grand scheme of things, where are we? What are we doing?
Dylan: Well, we are at the center of the universe looking outwards
Dylan: And ah, we’re not so much observing as creating for ourselves a vast panorama that is made up of our own fears and anxieties, as well as our own fantasies and ah, the little facets of our selves are kind of rising up around us, and we’re currently travelling through them, and having to look at them, and having to see the unseen facet and tread the unseen snowfields of our inner selves.
Pete: Alright, so do you think that your surroundings at this point are more internally created, or do you think that they rely more on external stimuli?
Dylan: Well it’s ah, it’s kind of a philosophical question, but for me, I would say my surroundings, and the reasons that am experiencing my surroundings at this moment are internal.
Dylan: Even though it might be very similar to the ones you’re experiencing, they’re definitely not the same.
Pete: Ok, well ah, then, taking that ah, taking that that your ah, I guess your internal experiences are creating your experience, what do you thinkof ah, that big giant cliff wall in front of us called Forester Pass?
Dylan: Well, Forester Pass (laugh) would represent, oh my anxieties, and ah, I would say Forester Pass would be definitely a symbol of surmounting the difficulties that I face in life. And ah, of doing something that I’ve never done before, you know my fear of doing something I’ve never done before, and I have to ah, I have to face that fear and I have to face, you know the every day survival fears of not falling, and all that kind of stuff. But its its bigger than that you know I have to overcome the fear of being isolated from civilization, being away from people. I have to overcome the fear of, of ah, intense labor, and ah, the the threat of not only failure to reach the top of the pass, but also (laughing) failure to make it through the experience alive. (more laughing) And ah, you know, I was just thinking when you started this little interview, in my head, that ah, our whole lives are on our back, i was thinking that we were a couple of tortoises or something but for the kind of environment we’re in right now, to have everything we need to eat, sleep, stay warm, go to the bath-room, do all the things that you have to do every day, to have those all travel with you through this immensing and (pause) mind-numbing (laugh) landscape is ah, is something i think that I never imagined I’d do. It’s definitely not a little week backpack trip. And its not a day trip into the mountains. This our life, right here all around us.
Dylan: And we’re looking at it really close right now.
Pete: Yup. Ok, well on that note, lets put our houses together, put em on our backs, and we can continue this, uh, if we’re still alive (laugh) on top of the pass.
Pete: Alright, so ah, we didn’t, we didn’t ah finish the interview on top of the pass because it was gettin late and we had many miles and many feet of elevation to lose before we could get down to a little patch of ground with no snow. So now we’re layin in the sleeping bags, and we’re gonna do it now. So ah, (stutter) just basically describe some of the trail conditions we had today.
Dylan: Well uh, the trail condtions after the ford of Wright Creek were pretty much, we had some slush, we had some some harder snow, no powder but maybe some packed powder along the way. Ah, the trail was visible I’d say during the entire, maybe 15% of the day.
Pete: Yeah, probably. Ok, um, let’s see, what was my next question. Alright, uh, ok you mentioned earlier something about overcoming a fear of civilization, I mean a fear of being away from civilization. Do you think that ah, just in general being out here and doing this trip has changed the way that you relate to society or large groups of people in general?
Dylan: Well I think its strengthening my confidence in my ability to ah, escape (Pete bursts out laughing) from large groups of people, if I should be, necessary, or or even just ah just ah something good to do.
Pete: How about groups like ah, like other groups of hikers? We’ve probably come across 20 other long distance hikers. How do you feel you relate to those people as a group, or people you meet out here in the wilderness, in the woods?
Dylan: Um, well that was something that I wasn’t sure of at the beginning of the trip. I wasn’t sure I wanted to meet anybody. But ah, I find that especially after, especially if we’ve gone a few days without seeing anybody, all of a sudden I feel amiable and talkative and when I see somebody then ah, all of a sudden I want to be their best friend, and sit down and have a conversation. I find that instead of being the one who’s trying to sidestep out and continue down the trail I’m usually the other person who’s just talking along and not letting the poor hikers go. Make em stand there with their heavy backpacks on.
Pete: Ok and ah, in layman’s terms, would you give a brief synopsis of the chaos theory? (both laugh)
Dylan: Um, I would say the chaos theory says that oh, (laugh) that unpredictable things have predictable patterns within them.
Pete: Ok. Do feel that the, like I guess the measure of that has increased or decreased, ah being out in the woods compared to being in a city?
Dylan: Hmm. It would be hard to measure chaos in terms of location I think.
Pete: You’d have to go on a hunch, just a general feeling. You know, like do you feel that… Well I don’t know do you feel that more irregular stuff happens to you out here that you have no control over, or vice versa?
Dylan: Well, no I feel, I feel like the general social chaos that I have to deal with every day has dropped almost to zero.
Dylan: And that helps a lot, but you know, there’s also just the chaos of nature that I see around me all the time.
Dylan: That makes me more aware of that kind of chaos.
Pete: Uh huh.
Dylan: So there’s more of one kind and less of another.
Dylan: And it’s just ah
Pete: Or you’re kind of just ah, if it’s predicable like as you said, things happen in, chaotic things happen in somewhat predictable patterns, maybe you ah (tape stops) maybe you just have your finger on the current or you’re starting to be more in tune with the patterns that are happening out here.
Dylan: I think that’s true. But ah, yeah its, I see chaos, and that kind of pattern, everywhere I look really.
Dylan: But I can see it in, when I look at groups of people in society, and I can see when I look at trees and snow in the mountains.
Dylan: But, so it wouldn’t be fair to say there’s more in one place or another.
Pete: Oh I think that’s a good answer. Ah, how long have you been a member of the Institue of Sociometry?
Dylan: Um, I’ve been a member since, I think ah, January of this year, 96, was it January?
Pete: Uh, I don’t know. How’s it treatin you so far?
Dylan: So far I think my membership and my interaction with the institute has broadened my horizons in a lot of ways. Ah, definitely has been the motivation for me to do things that I wouldn’t have done otherwise. So, so far I’m a, I feel like I’m interacting with that group of people in a pretty positive way.
Pete: (laugh) All right, thank you. That’s all for me.
This is Dylan. Same night, just after the interview. It’s something like June 1st, Ithink.
Pete: 15 days to my graduation.
Fifteen days to Pete’s big graduation day, woohoo! I think the events of this day have been duly recorded and ah, the full moon has just risen up over the ridge to shine down on us and wish us a good night, so I think I’m gonna let the day stop there. Goodnight.