March 8, 2016 – Continued..
We finally get the sled turned around and faced back downhill. The last bits of light were fading fast when we start the sled back up. It takes off by itself down the hill, across the lake and slowly turns itself around and back up a hill into a bush. At first I start laughing because I can’t believe this would actually happen, but, why wouldn’t it. It is a black cloud that follows me around religiously. My laughter fades and frustration sets in. We double to the stuck sled and start digging again. Now were getting really tired. We take a break for a bit and B sits in the snow while I lie flat on the snow staring at the sky. I’d like to say we talked about profound things at this point, but instead we took the time to share dirty jokes.
We finally get the sled out and it doesn’t take off on us this time. We fly back to the cabin that’s well warmed up by now. We dry our soaking wet gear by the air-tight stove and I sit in bed while B makes dinner. I have some issues with food. I can’t eat with my hands – for one. I watch B make dinner and back-seat drive through the whole meal. He throws pork steaks in a hot pan and I pipe in, “WASH YOUR HANDS.” He washes his hands and I can’t help myself, “That’s how you wash your hands?”
“..Fuck…Off…” He hisses.
I beam a big smile and laugh.
We eat dinner and feeling full, content and warm we talk well into the wee hours of the morning. Finally we decide we should actually sleep and quickly both of us are catching z’s.
B loves this next part.
March 9, 2016 – 3am
I wake up to scratching on the outside of the cabin. I picture wolverines and mountain goats, wolves and mink. I settle on imagining a wolf and drift back to sleep. I wake again shortly after to hear the air-tight door being closed and the front door too, being closed. I open my eyes to see a pair of burgundy long johns walk by and jump back into their bed. So nice to not have to stoke the stove in the middle of the night! I savor this grateful little short lived moment, and then.. I hear scratching. Inside the cabin.
I flip on my headlamp and on the chair beside my bunk is a mouse.
“Oh hi”, it seemed to quietly say with its giant ears on alert.
“B”.. I whisper..
“B”.. I firmly call..
“B!” I shout!
“There’s a mouse in here!”
“Oh for God’s sake go to bed.”
My heart is pounding and I can feel my hair rising. I do not like mice.
“PLEASE KILL IT” .. I’m hopping from bunk bed to chair to bunk bed, screaming now and then when it gets close to me.
“How can I kill it it’s too fast..”
“KILL IT!” I shriek.
“If I kill it do I get a kiss?”
I briefly consider this but I respond with silence.
I watch the mouse running around under where I was minutes ago just resting peacefully. I feel the scream building in my head and I try to coolly say, “It’s under my bed.”
It comes out as.. “It’s UNDER my Fucking BED, AHHHHH!!!”
B get’s up now and I jump from the chair I’m teetering on to his bed. I don’t know why I think this is a safe spot. I momentarily have a moment of jealousy because his sleeping bag is so damn nice. He walks over to my bed as the mouse jumps INTO my bed and is running around all over the place, obviously having a party: a shitting party. B lifts up my moldy sleeping bag cover (.. why I might be jealous?) and watches the mouse run to hide under the foamy. He watches it move for a second and QUICKASLIGHTNING smashes it with his fist. A deafening crunch fills the cabin. In the moment of silence that followed I realize I’m still standing on B’s bed and I can hear my heart pounding I’m so worked up.
“Well did you hear that?” He asks as he picks up the mouse and walks to the stove and tosses it in the fire.
“Well if you write about this on your blog.. you’ll have to write, Mr. B was my hero.”
B.. was my hero.
We eat and head up a mountain, sort of. B want’s to teach me how to side-hill (standing on one side of the sled, throwing your weight out to keep the sled from rolling down the mountain) and I struggle. I keep getting stuck as well as fear is slowly building inside of me as I watch the weather turn. B has to come rescue my sled more than a few times. We almost get to the next checkpoint (a version of follow the leader, if you will) and I can’t pull the sled to keep it level enough and it starts going down the mountain and throws me off. I wait for it to roll over me and down. It doesn’t, it stays stuck sideways. Now I’m frustrated and feel like I’m holding us back, and why can’t I do better and why do I get myself into these situations, and .. I’m scared.
B comes back and brings the sled to the memorial point, and stomps back through chest deep snow and grabs his sled and brings it up too. I’m left to walk the chest deep snow to the memorial. I start off and my feet keep getting stuck. I use my hands to try to pull myself out of the snow, and they too sink through. Overwhelmed with frustration and self-hatred, I start to cry. B waits patiently as I cry and attempt to crawl the 40ft up to him. He can’t hear me as the wind is howling from every direction now. I finally get up to my sled and take off my goggles. He looks at me and then looks away.
“Are you going to tell Kerry (the mechanic) about this?” I sob.
“I like making fun of you, not wounding you.” He replies.
The conditions are quickly turning to white out and I hear a crack in the snow from one of the peaks.
“I hope you’re not mad at me.” He asks.
“I’m mad at myself. Why can’t I just do it? I keep failing!” I am really losing it now.
“Your body can’t do what your mind hasn’t learned yet. It takes practice.” B patiently responds.
We start talking and I collect myself once again. B wants to keep going. I follow him for a bit into whiteout. He stops and turns around deciding that it is too much, and too hard to see. We head back down to the cabin, and I do not feel good.
We each drink a beer and lie back on our beds picking at lunch. My stomach is in knots. He falls asleep and I figure I have about an hour to get my shit together. Wrong. He sleeps for maybe five minutes and hops up and wants to go again. I tell him I don’t feel good because I ate with my hands and I’m probably dying and I’m going to die out here and to just let me die. Thanks.
“You’re just afraid of your sled. Let’s go!”
I consider this, he’s right. But I still don’t want to go. There’s not a lot of point in arguing with him in regards to anything so I feel forced to go.
“Just an easy trip this time.” He hops on his sled and takes off.
“fuckfuckfuck..” I mutter.
I start my sled and follow his trail. Instantly my stomach starts to ease off and I feel myself start to relax. We don’t go very far until we arrive at an old camp. B used to own this camp (and still might..?). Where he is parked there used to be a little cabin. He points to the snow next to him which means, “git yer ass over here” in sign language. I park next to him. He shuts his machine off and I do the same (opening the hood and touching two split wires together because I’m on a ghetto sled.) The sound of water running fills the silence. B hops off his sled and points to the culprit. Water is flowing from a hose coming out of the ground. “This was the water to my cabin, it’s always running.” He hops off his sled and is walking through waist deep snow up to it. He hops down into it and asks me to pass him our aloe-water bottles from earlier. I know where this is going. Ho Ho, No.
Now I’m ready to fight. I am not drinking that water that touched the GROUND. I can’t even eat from my own hands for the love of God. I don’t know why I thought I would win this one.
“Nothing lasts forever Cassandra”
Now I feel tears well up again and my voice wants to catch. What is my problem.
At this point it wasn’t giving in to drinking disgusting glacier fresh spring water that set me off, it was the idea that anything I build or do doesn’t really matter. Something I hold on to dearly. I try to retaliate but my voice wavers and I don’t want to give myself away. I laugh for a moment and look away. Eat shit stupid tears, quit crying woman.. I think to myself.
He fills the water bottles and throws mine back up to me. “Drink it.”
“No.” I felt childish.
“Drink.. It.. ” He is firm and I can tell from his tone that it’s not a suggestion.
I am so angry at this point because I know if I drink this water the world is going to crack open and I’m going to fall through and disappear into oblivion. Or worse.
I take a sip.
Woah. Now that is water.. it’s almost sweet it’s so good.
The world doesn’t open up.
B breaks our silence with, “Worse comes to worse you might have to take an emergency shit on the trail.” A smirk crosses my face and I think to myself, and this is why we’re friends.
I drink more of the water and I feel an overwhelming calm come over me. This is the first time I’ve trusted something in a long time. I usually don’t trust food, or water.. don’t even get me started on people. Any leftover cramping in my gut was completely gone.
That night again, we talked well into the night. We laughed at the thought of other people listening in to our conversations. They just wouldn’t understand us.
March 10, 2016
I wake up and stoke the stove again, and start making breakfast. An incident happened this past summer that stripped the joy of cooking out of me. For the first time I felt joy in it again. I started singing.
“I’m going to tell Kerry not only did you make me breakfast in bed but you sang.”
B and I quickly pack up our things and load up our sleds. I feel sad. I don’t want to go back to stupid society. I want to play follow the leader. I don’t want to have to feel small town expectations and drama weighing on me anymore. I just want to traipse around in the mountains doing whatever the hell I feel so inclined to do. We sled back to where we have the pick-up and trailer parked, a five hour ride. From there we drive the three hours back to town. As soon as I regain cell-service my phone blows up with messages and voice-mails.
I have the overwhelming desire to throw my phone out the truck window.