My Thinks Considered Em-PR:
Alright, deep breath. Don’t panic. Hoggle yelped and barked from the inside of the van. I hastily felt my pants pockets for a second time, hoping maybe I had missed the key on the first go ‘round. No such luck. Just my headlamp. So that’s where that thing went…
“Alright, let’s try this again. It has to work eventually,” I thought to myself.
“Hoggle!! Hoggle! Come here boy! Come get Mommy!!” I pounded on the window while calling to the dog. I could hear him jumping around in the van in a frenzy of nervous excitement. He jumped up onto the driver’s seat. “Good boy Hoggle!” I banged on the glass some more, “Bark, Hoggle! Get me!” I heard him scratching on the glass, trying to do as I asked, and then suddenly the mechanical sound of the door lock! For half a second I felt hope ignite, but it quickly extinguished when I recognized the sound as being the doors trying to lock again rather than unlock. I tried the handle half-heartedly anyway. Still locked. “Good boy Hoggle, you were so close!! You can do it!” clapping my hands to keep him excited and jumping by the window, “Get ‘em Hoggle! Ruff!”
After our time in Mt Rainier we headed north to North Cascades National Park. The park, which borders Canada, is especially popular among hikers and backpackers. Since we are feeling the need for a little time apart, Jay took advantage of the nature of the park and went on an overnight trip.
But first we went to the visitor center to check it out and grab a wilderness permit. Then we drove through the park past one beautifully colored reservoir after another until we got to the Maple Loop Trailhead, a few miles east of the park itself.
Jay went on that loop hike, at about 8.5 miles while Em, having no desire to hike that long with Jay stayed behind for some peace and quiet. The hike was recommended in Sunset Magazine as the best day hike in the North Cascades. It climbs a few miles up the the top of the mountain ridge to Maple Pass, where you get views of the nearby peaks, and the show and glacier covered peaks of the Glacier Peak Wilderness to the south. All this with snow spotted alpine meadows to walk through. It was a pretty hike.
On the way down the trail passes by Rainy Lake and giant waterfall feeding it. When Jay got back we all jumped in the van and headed to Easy Pass Trailhead, where Jay would leave backpacking in the morning and where we would camp that night. But before we left Jay got to see Em and Hoggle playing a game where Hoggle jumps around on the bed like a bucking bronco in circles. I guess that’s what he does when there is no room to play chase. It was really cute.
Em’s Night Off
Em was seeking some tranquil alone time…and she got some initially. After doing a short easy walk to Rainy Lake (which was beautiful, but she took no pictures) in the morning, she and Hoggle headed to another trailhead area to hang out. She stopped at one called Canyon Creek. There was a pleasant rushing creek, and a nice spot to hang the hammock. There was also a trail that Em and Hoggle walked on a little ways to see an old cabin from the 1900’s. It wasn’t very exciting. So they came back and Hoggle explored while Em read “Cloud Atlas” in the hammock in the shade.
The van was sitting out in the sun to get some much needed juice for the battery, which had been running low. After a good bit of time, Em packed up and headed back to the van with Hoggle to make some dinner. The battery was still a little low after dinner, so Em started up the van to charge the battery with the alternator now that the sun was getting lower. Since the engine tends to make the van get hotter, she jumped out afterwards to put the hood up to let some of the heat from the engine dissipate. Big mistake.
When she came right back to climb into the van for the evening, she found the door she had come out of was now locked. With a sinking feeling, she immediately suspected what must have happened. Hoggle, in his antsy excitement, had jumped on the door console and locked her out by accidentally pressing the lock button with his paw. Em quickly checked the rest of the doors, which unfortunately confirmed her predicament. This was something that we have known to be a risk with Hoggle as he’s locked the doors before. But up until this point, it has never been with us outside and no way to get back in. Normally Em brings keys with her, or leaves a door or window open if she is leaving him in there, but it totally slipped her mind this time.
Shit. “Okay, take a breath – you’ll figure this out.” Em checked her pockets knowing what the verdict would be. No keys. Headlamp though, been looking for that.
“What are my options here?” Em ran through a mental checklist. “I could always bust a window with a rock. Yea, okay, but don’t want to do that, last resort. There is the key hidden under the van. But Jay has never shown me where it is or how to get it since he doesn’t think I’d be able to get it out myself anyway. But I bet If I have to I could probably find a way to get it out. Maybe I could use a rock or something to pry it out. Or flag down a car and get a tool from someone or something. Ohh, and I do have my headlamp, that would help me find it underneath there. Okay, I can try that if need be.” Em felt better that she had a few options if the Option A she already had in mind didn’t work. “If Hoggle locked me out, then it stands to reason he can let me back in.” Option A. Best option. Commence.
Em began pounding on the driver’s window and getting Hoggle amped up so that he would come hit the button again. At first it seemed to be working really well. He was right there on the door scratching at the window and jumping around, but he just wasn’t hitting it. Em tried a different angle, peering in through a crack in the window shade through the windshield. All the windows were covered up in reflectix, so Hoggle couldn’t even see her, and she couldn’t see him. He hit the lock button again at one point, but not the unlock. Then he seemed to give up. He was still in a frenzy, but wouldn’t jump back up onto the driver’s door. He was too frustrated maybe. Em could hear him pacing around and jumping on and off the bed fussing, but he wouldn’t come back to the window. Crap.
“Okay, maybe he’ll try again if I go to the other side.” Em went over to the passenger door and began her antics again over there. It worked! He jumped up on that chair and started jumping around by the window and then suddenly she heard it! That magical sound! Click! Em responded very quickly lest Hoggle accidentally hit it and immediately relock the door again. She pulled the door open, and poor Hoggle, who was propped up against it, came tumbling headlong out of the van. She did her best to buffer his descent, and fortunately he landed more or less on all fours. A bit of a stumble and face plant, but no worse for wear. She scooped him up and hugged and kissed him and praised him as the best dog ever. “You saved Mommy!!” He was so worked up, she had to let him down so he could go run around the parking lot.
Relief surged through Em like a shot of hard liquor. “It worked!” The whole ordeal had only lasted about 5 to 10 minutes, but those were a pretty tense few minutes.
We calmed down and the rest of the evening passed pretty uneventfully and soon we were off to bed. That’s when a bunch of folks started turning up in the parking lot, around 11 PM. People coming to camp at the trailhead like Em. Probably planning to do the 15 mile hike the next day. Three or four different cars showed up over the course of an hour, and the people were all very noisy while they settled in, keeping Em and Hoggle up. Irritating. Finally all that stopped, and they both fell asleep.
But then Em sleepily awoke while it was still dark outside to Hoggle wriggling around next to her. “Ugh, God, what on earth is that smell??” She turned on the lights. Hoggle was very very busy licking his butt and licking the bed. Em didn’t have to get very close to know what had happened. His anal glands had released in the bed, right next to her. For those readers who haven’t owned dogs – dogs have an anal gland that stores rank smelling fluid that typically comes out with bowel movements, but sometimes the fluid will expel at other times. Well, it had decided to expel in the bed, right next to Em, at probably around 4AM. Revolting. Poor Hoggle was doing his best to clean up after himself, but the only result was that he gave himself really foul disgusting breath in addition to the foul smelling everything else.
Em snapped into action. She picked Hoggle up and plopped him onto the floor onto his dog blanket. She then picked up the vinegar alcohol spray bottle and sprayed the crap out of the sheets. Then she lifted the sheets, and sprayed the memory foam underneath too. Then she scrubbed it with a towel, and put down every towel they had both on top and in between the foam and the sheets, covering up the offended spot. Now the van just stunk like vinegar and alcohol. That she could handle. She got some wet wipes and cleaned up Hoggle and then left him to continuing to lick his butt on his dog blanket, and fortunately was able to fall back to sleep.
Only to be woken up again, maybe about an hour later. A bit of daylight was just starting to stream in through the windows. And Hoggle was freaking out. This time, he was acting like there was some sort of critter in the van. He was back in the kitchen area, standing on top of the stove, sticking his head in the back of the food cabinet. But he had no interest in the food, he was acting like there was something back there. “Oh my God, am I ever going to get any sleep??” Em could hear something scratching around too. “Oh no! Could we have brought a hitchhiking mouse back from the campsite recently that Jay said was infested with mice?” Damn it! Em turned on the lights again, and pulled everything out of the food cabinet looking for any signs of a rodent hitch hiker. Fortunately she found none. No poop, no chewed holes in boxes. And the scratched sound had stopped. Hoggle settled back down and so did Em. She was just dozing off when…
A scratching sound started on the roof. “What the hell??” Hoggle jumped around excitedly. Em banged on the roof and yelled, “Get out of here!” to whatever it was. Probably some squirrel or bird or something from the tree she was parked underneath. The sound stopped, but the opportunity for sleep had passed. Em was up, and so was Hoggle. Ugh double ugh. One of Em’s big things with Jay is that she likes to sleep in and he doesn’t. Of course, on her one morning without him – this would happen. What a bust of a “break.”
The rest of the day was pretty uneventful. Em did the usual morning stuff plus more cleaning from the night’s events, and then drove to Diablo Lake and hung out there for a little while. Pretty, for a dammed lake. Then she went to where Jay’s trail was to pick him up. Meanwhile…
Jay’s Backpack – Easy Pass
Jay woke up early in the morning and hit the trail by 7am. The trail climbs slowly through the green forest, up and up, until it hits the meadows below Easy Pass. The trail keeps going and going, through switchback after switchback until you reach the pass. It was a long climb. While named Easy, the climb over the pass is not. It gains 3,500 feet. But it only starts at 4,000 in elevation, so there is no altitude difficulties to speak of nor are there any technical-like climbing sections. So Jay would rate this as Moderate Pass.
The views from the pass were awesome. Huge Peaks, glaciers, snow fields, abundant wildflowers. Easy Pass had it all. It also had flies. Massive swarms of flies. If you sit still the swarm and cover you. Jay had some all natural eucalyptus lemon bug spray crap that was completely useless. There are fires burning in eastern Washington, so the haze in the mountains was definitely noticeable.
After all he could stand he packed up and headed down the other side of the pass, through switchbacks through more wildflower filled Alpine Meadows. The trail on this side of the pass is well overgrown, almost like a glorified game trail in some places. But he did pass a volunteer trail crew on the way down cutting down fallen logs and clearing some brush. Snow was also still prevalent even in early August.
The hike after the pass to the campground was mostly in the woods, hiding the mountains above. But it was a pretty hike. The trail is narrow and cuts through a thick carpet off moss and small bushes scattered about.
Finally, after 15 miles he hit the camp. It was a busy camp, four other groups there. Jay found a quite place to place a tent and found stuff to make a fire. He started it using the gold method as described in the scale above – he brought a flint stick, and used that with his pocket knife and some old-mans-beard (kindling) to get the incredibly dry wood started. All the dry kindling and tender made it too easy.
After dinner it thundered, lightning and rained for about 45 minutes. But other than that time when he was huddled in the tent, Jay passed the time looking at the fire, somewhat bored, for about four hours before bed time.
In the morning Jay broke camp and headed down the trail toward Colonial Creek where Em was picking him up. The ten miles that day where all through the woods, with only one small view of the massively tall and steep mountains, and the glaciers that cling to them, above. The trail was pretty though. And so was Thunder Creek, which the trail followed most of the day. It has that light blue color that the dissolved glacier flour gives it. The color of it contrasted with the dark green of the trees and moss was really pretty.
And finally as he starts seeing more and more day hikers (meaning he’s close to the trailhead) he sees to his surprise Em and Hoggle come to meet him on the trail! What a pleasant surprise. Well Jay quickly learned that Em had a time of it on her night alone.