Latest Tales from the Tinman -2020


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Touching the Void at Eighty-One

In this Year of the Plague, 2020, at age eighty-one, apparently I'm in the death zone, expected to take my last gasp from infection by Covid-19, the virus fondly known as Kung-Flu.  I've been ordered by State Government decree (loony-tune Democrats) that if I don't maintain social distancing and wear a suffocating Rag-Face, I'm guaranteed to become a statistic in this year's battle for the Free World. As ludicrous as these threats are from our fearmongering politicians, my death will most likely come from taking a fall in the mountains.  The same steep perilous peaks on which I've been escaping the collective madness of the American Left (Democrat Party, Communists, and Media), who weaponized a Pandemic, hoping to prevent the reelection of President Donald Trump.  Sadly, because of massive voter fraud orchestrated by the Democrats, they have succeeded. 

Men don't follow titles – even titles like Mr President – they follow courage. Seventy-five million Americans are about to become the victim of the greatest heist in the history of modern self-governing societies. And those seventy-five million Americans want justice. Mark Steyn

This year has been a difficult time for many people around the world, not because COVID -19 was particularly deadly – it wasn’t - except for the elderly (over 70) with pre-existing health problems, but the response in the USA and other first-world countries has been draconian. To me, it seemed like a rehearsal of how easy it would be to make the common herd obey the rules of authoritarian governments, and it worked, and continues to work. By instilling fear in two and a half generations that have never known war or disease on their home ground, including the last generation of mindless robots living vicariously through their smartphones – hello to a totalitarian future. George Orwell would be stunned by how easy the Hoi Polloi could be made to fall into line, and obey Big Brother. 

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.
W.B. Yeats

It is fair to say that I have been taking risks in the mountains of America, and elsewhere, for thirty-five years, but now, as an octogenarian, shouldn't I be less reckless? Not so.  If I had a death wish, I would be passed out on my basement couch, the television recycling Netflix reruns, drunk and stoned, waiting for the bliss of Dementia.  It has been suggested by close friends that I am essentially narcissistic, and in my estimation, a unique adventurer.  As an example of my vanity, they often quote the description from my primary website: The incredible mountain adventures of the High Sierra Kiwi, one of New Zealand's most unique mountaineers and pilots, yet unsung in his country of birth, and forgotten for his distinguished military war service.

 

 

  • Hopkins Pass above Big McGee Lake.  The Pass is at the snow gap on the right. Hopkins Pass above Big McGee Lake. The Pass is at the snow gap on the right.
  • Hopkins Pass up close.  The old route between McGee Creek Trail and Hopkins Basin. Hopkins Pass up close. The old route between McGee Creek Trail and Hopkins Basin.
  • At the base of the rock buttress when climbing Hopkins Pass from the western side. At the base of the rock buttress when climbing Hopkins Pass from the western side.
  • Approaching Hopkins Pass from above the rock buttress.  Loose talus. Approaching Hopkins Pass from above the rock buttress. Loose talus.
  • The final pitch along the narrow ledge below Hopkins Pass. The final pitch along the narrow ledge below Hopkins Pass.
  • On the crest of Hopkins Pass.  The eastern side is easy - a grassy slope. On the crest of Hopkins Pass. The eastern side is easy - a grassy slope.
  • The guardian marmot at the top of Hopkins Pass.  Big McGee Lake below. The guardian marmot at the top of Hopkins Pass. Big McGee Lake below.
  • Laurel Lake on Ropers High Route.  Red and White Mountain in the background. Laurel Lake on Ropers High Route. Red and White Mountain in the background.
  • Practice rescue operation by the US Navy at the PCT Kern South Fork bridge. Practice rescue operation by the US Navy at the PCT Kern South Fork bridge.
  • Swallow nests beneath the PCT Kern South Fork bridge Swallow nests beneath the PCT Kern South Fork bridge
  • The rustic picnic table by Bear Trap creek campsite on Summit Meadow. The rustic picnic table by Bear Trap creek campsite on Summit Meadow.
  • Lost with Carla in the Lost Meadows. Lost with Carla in the Lost Meadows.
  • Carla on the long swtchbacks below New Army Pass (12,200') Carla on the long swtchbacks below New Army Pass (12,200')
  • Me on the long switchbacks below New Army Pass (12,200') Me on the long switchbacks below New Army Pass (12,200')
  • Carla patiently waiting for me to catch up on the switchbacks.  She's so kind. Carla patiently waiting for me to catch up on the switchbacks. She's so kind.
  • Me lost on another meadow. Me lost on another meadow.
  • Bird on a perch.  Carla at our Lost Meadow camp. Bird on a perch. Carla at our Lost Meadow camp.
  • View of Olanche Peak from near the PCT and South Fork of the Kern. View of Olanche Peak from near the PCT and South Fork of the Kern.
  • With Mary the Dog on the high point of the PCT above Hat Creek. With Mary the Dog on the high point of the PCT above Hat Creek.
  • Car camping on the PCT above Hat Creek.  Lucy and Mary in the vehicle. Car camping on the PCT above Hat Creek. Lucy and Mary in the vehicle.
  • Looking west to Mount Shasta (14,000') from the PCT above Hat Creek. Looking west to Mount Shasta (14,000') from the PCT above Hat Creek.
  • Looking up the South Fork of Big Pine Creek.  Old ground for me in the Palisades. Looking up the South Fork of Big Pine Creek. Old ground for me in the Palisades.
  • My last gasp camp along McGee Creek in November. My last gasp camp along McGee Creek in November.
  • My trusty 2007 Toyota 4-Runner at the McGee Creek trailhead parking. My trusty 2007 Toyota 4-Runner at the McGee Creek trailhead parking.
  • Self and Kim at our camp near the PCT bridge over the Walker creek. Self and Kim at our camp near the PCT bridge over the Walker creek.
  • My new equiment for 2020: Tiger Wall tent, Exos 58 pack, WM 20F Bag, Luna sandals. My new equiment for 2020: Tiger Wall tent, Exos 58 pack, WM 20F Bag, Luna sandals.
  • Rosie and Kim after a cold (17F) October night in the Emigrant Wilderness. Rosie and Kim after a cold (17F) October night in the Emigrant Wilderness.
  • Carla above Leavitt Lake, on our way out from the Emigrant Wilderness. Carla above Leavitt Lake, on our way out from the Emigrant Wilderness.
  • Bob on our climb over Big Sam, coming out from the Emigrant Wilderness. Bob on our climb over Big Sam, coming out from the Emigrant Wilderness.
  • The road to Whitney Portal - in the time of fire and smoke. The road to Whitney Portal - in the time of fire and smoke.
  • My planned view for Eternity. My planned view for Eternity.
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Setting aside the braggadocio, it's getting closer to recognizing that my mountain dreams are slowly fading.  That aside, I retain enough confidence to believe I can still survive in the mountains, but sometimes feel danger, and sense a darkness closing in.  The training remains, and years of experience return to save my aging butt when the going gets tough, or worse, treacherous. Friends and family often remind me that I should not continue doing extreme physical activity in the outdoors as an octogenarian.  Instead, I should realize I'm an Elderly Person.  Even more critical, because I often do it alone, that's considered irresponsible since I'm in the zone for sudden heart attacks, strokes, and severe falling accidents.  Therefore, my crime is putting rescuers at risk searching for me or my mortal remains!  Not a problem:  they will find me, dead or alive, because I carry a Garmin Inreach SOS device that tracks my every move in the wilderness.  Also, I've been told that I show no fear in the backwoods, climbing potentially dangerous routes, but they're wrong, because fear is one factor that has kept me very much alive.

Recently I’ve been dreaming of my final resting place in the mountains I call home.  For many years I’ve experienced vivid dreams from my two passions:  flying and mountaineering, but more often now, the dreams include visits to my chosen location for spreading my ashes  in the High Sierra.  While still alive, I’ve been there many times.  The outlook is breathtaking, surrounded by two peaks over 14,000 feet and many others over 13,000 feet.  This view for eternity is sited beneath a three thousand year old relic of a Foxtail Pine, with two crossed trunks, set in a series of granite ledges looking over a shimmering pond encircled with Springtime grass and wildflowers

I attempted one "Last Gasp" backpacking trip in the middle of November.  It was on the McGee Creek Trail, a few miles south of Mammoth.  Short days and long nights in the deep dark forests!  Made it to a familiar campsite on first day, sleeping on snow in my winter tent (MSR Access One) and +5F sleeping bag (Western Mountaineering Antelope).  Very comfortable and cozy until the wind arrived in the early morning.  Packed up and retreated to the trailhead with a 60-mph wind blowing me downhill.  Decided to sleep at the trailhead in my Toyota 4-Runner, which I'd positioned with the nose into wind.  Despite that, the vehicle rocked and rolled throughout the night until it began snowing!  Then, in the early morning light, I drove home in a continuous snow blizzard, avoiding the many 18-wheelers and RV's lying on their sides having been either blown off, or slid off, the road (Hwy 395).  It was a dramatic few days, but just another risky and stupid adventure to add to my memoirs.

 

©2020 Peter Tremayne, Reno NV

 

 

 

 

 

 

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