West Coast Trail: Day 1

Pre-Game:

It was an early morning rising from our married friends’ place in Chemainus in order to be driven to Port Renfrew. I begged for one last stop at Tim Hortons because it was imperative I have one more good taste of alertness before plunging into oblivion, and we were on our way.  The little Toyota Camry fared well on the logging roads as we made progress, but a good number of logging trucks on the road were aggressive on corners with full loads. Normal to me, worrisome perhaps for other passengers.
We used the bathroom at the campground (where I stole an unidentified amount of toilet paper), said goodbyes to our lovely friend, and in we went to our orientation.
The Parks Canada official took our $32 each to pay for the ferries during the hike. Three older guys came in after us, two young guys were leaving the trail on the bus, and apparently they were expecting two more people to start but they didn’t show. We and the three guys started the orientation complete with slideshow the PC official headed up. Side note: I don’t do well during orientations. Maybe it’s the fact that I’ve worked oilfield and you get orientated 30 times a season and it’s all the same stuff, therefore you acquire the acute ability to tune out. She was French as well, which is all fine and dandy, but she bashed Harper a bit, which always puts me off, and didn’t aid her in keeping my attention.  She also said something about girls having a harder time on the trail keeping warm or something to that extent. LISTEN LADY, WE HIKED 43 KM IN 3 DAYS OVER A FLIPPIN’ GLACIER ON THE SKYLINE TRAIL IN RUNNING SHOES, A BACKPACK FROM 1981, AND ZERO WATERPROOF GEAR OR A JACKET…IT DOESN’T MATTER IF IT WAS A HORRIBLE, DEBILITATING AND UNPREPARED JOURNEY, I THINK WE CAN HANDLE A 7 DAY WALK ON THE BEACH. I brought actual hiking shoes this time.

“Now between Km (blah) and km (blah) there is no camping because of a very active food-conditioned black bear, and you can’t camp at the campground called (blah blah) because there’s no water between Km (blah) and Km (blah) therefore you need to go all the way to campground (blah blah blah)…”

Snore. I’m already bored. This feels like too much to remember. I half-listened and marked X’s on some parts, drew lines on my map, and wrote a schedule time on a part for which later I could not remember why.  Clearly I am the youngest of my group.

Once orientation was complete, we hopped on the 2-minute ferry ride across to the starting point. The three men wanted a picture of them starting the trail with their camera, and they took one of us with theirs. There was a comment about what their wives would ask about who took the picture we heard, and it was a good laugh.

Day 1: Gordon River -> Thrasher Cove = 6km

Well, after Skyline Trail we learned our lesson that the pace needed to be set by the slowest hiker so as not to incur injury to her. Standing at 5’3”, I definitely have some small steps going. The trail was covered in roots and started with some good incline, but I was comforted by Erika, who knew everything about the trail, that on this first day we would be hitting the highest elevation today and then it wouldn’t be so bad. I had both poles out, and Bonnie started with a pole as well, but soon after put it away. Erika has mile long legs, so no poled were necessary. Injuring my hip flexor via Skyline has left me pretty afraid to hurt it again, so the poles the first day definitely helped me get up some steep steps. At one point in time the trail disappeared into a rock face that stood in the way, and had a jagged crack running up and over it. The guys footprints stopped at the rock face…they must have gone up. So crawl up and over it we went. We also had a taste of some of the ladders on the trail. They weren’t so bad…but this was also the first day.

The trail was very dry. Apparently they had not had any rain since sometime in August, and here it was the 12th of September. We stopped and ate lunch at the donkey engine a ways into hiking. Today would be the only day I really enjoyed the taste of the power bar, beef jerky, and trail mix. Conversation between my two friends consisted of sports bras and uniboobs, but I had no input because I cared what mine looked like and brought only Lu Lu Lemon “Ta Ta Tamers” to hike in.

The first guy we passed on the trail said we smelled nice, but that’s because we had only been hiking an hour at that point. He said that’s what people had said to him when he first started, but that we shouldn’t get too close. Erika said she could smell the jasmine in my hair that would definitely not smell as nice a few days in. We passed MANY an attractive man hiking alone, and one point I heard Erika ahead of me say “how many men did we pass?” and I shouted “THREE!!!” loudly from the back. Clearly not only am I the youngest, but also the unmarried one of us three women.

We made it to the first campsite, Thrasher Cove around 5pm I believe. We started after our orientation at 1030-11am, so we had done about a km/hour. Legs were a bit sore, limping and stiffness were a little more pronounced in Bonnie and I. Erika and Bonnie then went to go visit the three  husbands who had gotten here before us starting a fire, but I took an ibuprofen for an unbelievable headache I’d developed that day, and was curled up in the sand half-napping.

We cooked our dinner, a Backpackers Country “Pad Thai” meal and mixed it with a “Sweet Thai Chili” sidekick. Packing up the food for the bear locker, I discovered cat food in Erika’s stuff. I inquired why, and the answer was that’d we’d eat it. I loudly opposed this idea grossed out by the thought, whether or not it was just dehydrated chicken breast, the fact that it came in a cat food bag made me gag. “Just don’t tell me when you are going to add it to one of our meals. It’s better I not know”. The Pad Thai fed us enough, and we washed our dishes with gritty sand in the ocean. As the sun began to set, we made our way over to the guys’ fire after setting up our tent and sleeping stuff. It would be the first of many fires with them.

We will call them “G”, “J”, and “T”. They were very welcoming with us, but we forgot to find some firewood to contribute. “J” was the one we’d heard shouting ahead of us on the trail, the line from a Ramones song, “Hey, Ho…Let’s Go!” in order to keep the bears away. We were not as ambitious. He had mountain man hair and a bit of a beard with a grey soul patch, and was only a few inches taller than me. He was the go-getter of his group.
“G” was a bartender in his town, dark grey hair, and of a more chill personality. Can’t ever imagine the guy getting worked up over anything, and he was hilarious. Quite obviously a people reader, and able to have a good time anywhere.
“T” was the baby of his group at 43 years old. But they poked fun at him as much as mine did me. He was quieter at first but then warmed up to us, and adored the little 6 year old princess waiting at home for him. Good guy.

After some conversation, “J” offered a shot choice of either Southern Comfort or Fireball. Whiskey is my worst wing man, so I took the Fireball as well as Erika, which was nice and made of cinnamon. Bonnie had the Southern Comfort and really liked it. Through conversation with them we discovered they had brought quite a bit of alcohol. Some mickeys of tequila, southern comfort, fireball, and God knows what else. Their packs, at least “G’s” pack weighed in at 52 lbs with alcohol, and they brought things like nutella, peanut butter, and hard cheese. I was indeed jealous. Erika schemed for the rest of the week what we could trade for the cheese, but that arrangement never developed.

We said thank you and goodnight to the boys, and with headlamps on we made our way back to the tent. Back at the campfire I kept thinking something had been crawling on me, but of course everyone thought I was crazy. I lie down in my sleeping bag and instantly felt something in my hair and on my face. I sat up fast making this panicking sound saying something was on my face. I am met with disbelief once again. I turn my headlamp on, swearing there was something on me, so I lift up the end of Bonnie’s sleeping bag next to me, and the biggest, nastiest spider I have seen (besides an orb weaver) crawls out, with a fat black body and brownish-red legs. I’m screaming the words “that was on my face!” as Bonnie admits it’s a pretty big spider, and then unceremoniously kills it with my Bible.

Guess who had trouble sleeping that night?

Day 2 will be posted tomorrow  (I realized there was no way to type this journey in one post…so it will take me as long as the hike did.)

Sierra

Cleaning and Cheating

It seems I enjoy both.

Since finishing practicum, and after winning a few days of work, I have been poorer than I know what to do with, and eating more than my jeans bandwidth…
My closet was a mess, and so was my truck, I still had blonde hair, I guess I was stuck.
I looked at the house, then at the scale, I`ll kill two with one stone, therefore I can`t fail!
First the closet, then the clothes, bottles to deposit, then who knows!

Alright I`m done the Doctor Seuss lines, onward men! I DID in fact change my hair back to dark brown, and it was instantaneous relief. Why I had done it in the first place, I don’t know, but my hair is not it’s luscious liking anymore, still fried at the ends :(..but the color! it is just right 🙂 I’ve been cleaning the closet, and got rid of so much! I cleaned the house a bit for mom, and even touched on the backyard (and mom, if you’re reading this…I have no idea what else to do with the sandbox). Ahh, now we can relax, and study a bit before school next week.
Did I mention I’m doing the Master Cleanse? Look it up. For ten days all I drink is fresh squeezed lemon, maple syrup, and cayenne pepper. Wait, I know what you’re thinking. “But Sierra! That’s not healthy! You SURELY must eat SOMETHING?”. Nope, no I don’t. I drink 6-12 glasses of that (about every hour) for the next ten days. Today is Day 4, but I cheated last night 😦
My dad and my brothers came home, and their favorite awful eating habit showed up at the door in the hand of a delivery man. I ran from the house in terror. I could not bear the smell of it. It had been three whole days since I had any kind of food. I took refuge at a friends house only to find that pizza followed me there too. Sigh. I caved. I fell in the fight last night and had a couple pieces, but it disappointed me. It was not all it promised to be. The smell told me it would taste better than that lemonade I go home to every night. The lemonade that has not failed me yet. Nobody will ever know except you and I, and what you don’t know can’t hurt you, it beckoned me. It knew all the right things to say. Oh, but though my eyes (and stomach) coveted the pizza, it was not my true and faithful. It only left me feeling fat, and dirty inside. A true love would never do that.
But I’m right back at it today, and determined not to let this get me. Harp all you want, I have never felt better while I am cleansing!

Speaking of which…I’m gonna go make some of that spicy lemonade. Mexico’s coming baby.

Sierra

It’s the Little Things in Life

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Mmm! A spoonful of delicious, forbidden granola from the palace of the worksite. I’ve been there. It’s like a prison. The men call it Auschwitz, but it’s formally known as the “lodge”.
If you like the luxuries but you mind not having friends, this place is for you. There’s a mudman who works for the rigs I befriended. He smuggled two bags of the granola out of there. He’s pretty much my dealer for granola and Starbucks tea.

It’s truly the little things in life you come to treasure and appreciate here.
One of them being a toilet. Imagine having to go to the bathroom outside, whip your pants down, and pee before someone drives by. You learn tricks though. You come to learn how to pee in a bucket in the back of an MTC and when you discover that, it definitely FEELS like a luxury. There’s technique to be learned though. It only takes urinating on the seat of your own pants once and having to sit in it the rest of the day to teach you to make sure they are out of the way!
And going number 2? There is no woman who can take a graceful sh*t in the woods. After a long hike, it’s a “stop, squat, and plop”. And then you bury it like an animal, but with your eyes closed pretending it never happened. No, it was not that color, and no it did not just smell like that.

The worst part? You get into the habit of peeing outside your car door like its a normal thing. The first time in the city when you feel the urge and reach for the door handle, you realize you must make it to a bathroom. Quickly. How did you ever hold it long enough before? The memory eludes you, and you pee shamelessly in the darkness of the Calgary Zoo Parking lot anyways.

The end.

Sunday Morning

Most of us have been here, with a headache, nausea, and an adamant amount of regret. It’s generally on either a Saturday or a Sunday morning, with the past nights events a haze, the clues to what happened vary to where you wake up, bruises, and the appalling debit machine receipts in your pockets.

That’s my friend, Angie, currently sitting at a 4/10 hangover. Her next actions will be crucial.

And rewind…
Yesterday was my 24th birthday, and my day was spent doing my last shift on my hospital practicum. My preceptor was so amazing and let me leave early. I boogied home and commenced to go out with friends. I stopped for some rum, and went to Angie’s.

10:10: I show up at her house. I pull out the rum, pour two doubles with splashes of coke. I down one, gagging the whole way, Angie fights her heaving as I tell her there is only 15 minutes till the cab gets there.

10:11: I pour another double, with a little bit more coke, and have at it. Angie is just finishing her first, starting the second, whining “do I have to do this?”. I tell her she does. She’ll save her money.

10:30: The cab calls. He’s here. We run outside but forgot to change out of boots. The cab can’t make it down her 1/2 block long driveway. He wants us to hike. We start running through the foot and a half deep snow. Angie is yelling her boots are suede. I don’t care.

10:58: We arrive at the country bar. There is no line. Amazing. We get in. Ladies are free till midnight. Even better.

I went on to only have only maybe four more drinks (don’t quote me on that).
The next thing I know, it is 1:33am and we are grabbing a cab home. We get the driver to take us to McDonald’s and then take us home. We ate our meals, got home, and crawled into bed
Angie fell asleep right off the bat. I was going to be sick.
I hopped out of bed and proceeded to crawl across the floor, but decided the floor was much comfy-er.
Next thing you know, I’m waking up at 6:30am with a balled up pair of pajama pants for a pillow, wrapped in a dog blanket staring at my wretched face in a mirror. I groan, and crawl back into bed with Angela. My body definitely loosed two separate shotgun farts that were loud enough to wake me. Angela didn’t stir at all. Probably better she remain oblivious, or our friendship would never be the same.

When 11:15am rolled around we dragged our asses out of bed. Off to Denny’s we go.

Now Sunday mornings at Denny’s, there are two types of people generally eating: the hungover people, and the church people. It’s like a meeting of the light and the dark. Usually you can tell by sweaters. All the church people wear cardigans, and are neat and matchy. The hungover people are either wearing what they wore the night before with a sweater over top, or its hoodies galore.
Eggs Bennie brought me from a 4 to a 6 out of 10. I went to the bathroom to have my first of three eye-watering bowel movements. The girl in the stall next to me must be crying, but I have no shame.

Somehow by the end of breakfast we are bouncing back. We decide to go shopping. While standing in line at the GAP, Angela doubles over in pain and gives me the shirts she’s buying and her VISA. She says she’s going to the bathroom, it’s an emergency. I can’t stop laughing in the lineup for the GAP. It’s her first of two in the next 30 minutes.

She has to go on a date tonight. Baha.

The Return, the Recap, and ER

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Its been a small hiatus while I have had final exams and whatnot. In short the last two weeks, I passed my course portion of EMT, I went home and got some days off, I pigged out, went blonde (more on that later…) and started my hospital practicum in a rural hospital north of Edmonton, AB.

Now I’m very sleepy and it’s my 24th birthday tomorrow, but the hospital has been great. I’ve learned three good lessons:

1. Young South African doctors are hot, have hot accents, but unfortunately the moment you walk into their emergency room with “student” on your uniform, you are now a nuisance, invisible, and have no chance.

2. Watching a woman have a biopsy on her breast in a table in front of me has taught me I will probably never do well in a surgery. I can handle having to take action in stuff…but watching a scalpel on a breast was unfortunately enough to make me woozy in the legs. Thankfully the nurse said if I had fainted, it wouldnt be the first time that’s happened in the room. I guess some lady’s husband dropped flat while she was giving birth, and all the doctors and nurses were so busy, there was nothing you could do but grab him by the shoes and drag him to the corner out of the way. Hilarious.

3. Never ever make a pirate joke to a one-eyed patient. Had to help change a dressing on a guy who got his left eye and sinus cavity removed. Way gross, and cool, but as in taking his vitals and talking to him, he’s telling me he’s got big plans for the night. In my head I thought “yo ho ho, and a bottle of rum.”
“Sir, do you smoke?”
Patient: “Uh, we’ll that’s complicated”
“The doctor needs to know. It’s an Arr or no question”
Ok I didn’t say THAT but I thought about it.

Anyways, sleep is coming, and I’m hoping they call me in the middle of the night for a guy that’s shot or something. You know…good stuff.

Night 🙂

C U l8er, Greg

Today wasn’t very exciting, except a vac truck driver brought me pizza and a kilogram of Sierra Mountain Trail Mix.

His 49-yr-old buddy Greg a.k.a. Patrick Swayze thinks he’s such a sweet talker. He gave me a shabby, dirty little stuffed penguin as a gift and always refers to me as “brown eyes”. He got my number by mistake (?) from another medic and texts like a 14 year old boy.

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I rest my case.

Me: “Why’s Greg sleeping in your truck?”
Vac Hauler: “He’s had a long day.”
Me: “Or maybe he’s just old.”
Greg: “MY YOUTH MIGHT BE GONE BUT MY HEARING AIN’T!”
Me: “And he’s senile too.”
Vac Hauler: “That’s the way it goes.”

What is up with his text speech? I asked him about it and he tried to tell me he has to text like that or he can’t get all his thoughts out without forgetting what he was going to say…insert Alzheimer’s comment here…

Weddings. Sigh.

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Oh yes, I know this is not work-related but it’s worthy of blogging no doubt.

See, this past year (and the next year and a half to come) has and will be a challenging time period in my life. It’s the time where all your friends or people you know start getting married all over the place. And you may even be, dare I say it, lucky enough to be involved in a few of them. Several ones. At once.

I love all my friends. Do not doubt that for a moment. But I am all wedding-ed out after this past year.

A good friend of mine, Bon-Bon, got married to an Australian. I co-emceed that wedding. Just getting to THAT wedding was a disaster.

And then there’s my best friend. Dearest Alicia, if you ever read this, I love you and am honored to be your maid of honor, but getting married in July 2013 (engaged since May 2011) is like two years+ of my life to talk about weddings. And making me go dress shopping multiple times AND THEN making me go with two brides at once with your snobby other friend who is also getting married? Shame on you.

I’m a good yes-man to all the bridal fantasy weekends and sitting to talk about colors for the bagillionth time. I’m patient with all the tears about what “that friend” said and what the “other bride-to-be-did”, but if I hear “but this is suppose to be about me” one more time, I’m willingly going have an aneurysm to get me out of this.

There’s so many small, picky details to plan, too much useless stuff to fret over. And far, FAR too many things to get upset over.

Is my apathy because I am single? Likely. But we are not going to go there.

And after all of this, I decided (actually it was probably during bridal fantasy after id seen everything three times) that when I get married, it is going to be SO chill. My invitations will read wedding PARTY…not wedding.

I’ll sew my own dress. Short white summer one. I’ll braid my hair wet and let it out dry for the wedding. I’ll wear my gold hoop nose ring, and have some self-applied henna on my arm.
I’ll make my own bouquet, and go barefoot. So will the groom, but he doesn’t know that yet. Pig roast, BYOB, and no stress. Don’t bring gifts, bring a salad instead! 🙂

See doesn’t that sound nice ❤

Co-workers: The Best of Conversations

Conversations are often the highlight of my day at work wherever I am stationed. So as I sit here (preparing myself for a couple night shifts by staying up to sleep tomorrow) I decide to recount to you some favorite snippets of mine.

The coworkers involved?

  • BRIAN: My site coordinator/paramedic for all the medics on site. Like a dad.
  • BRENT: Brian’s former paramedic partner. Brilliant. 0 people skills. No idea how they worked together.
  • MORGAN: Very good medic friend of mine. Works on the site. Same age as me.

Today…

BRIAN: Don’t worry, we’re going to be discreet. Brent is bringing the ambulance.
[a moment later loud sirens are heard in the parking lot outside]
BRIAN: (head shaking) Oh Brent…
ME: (to patient) Hey your ride’s here.
PATIENT: Really? How do you know?
[BRENT walks in the door and stoops in front of the patient]
BRENT: Hey there, sir! How’s it going?
PATIENT: Don’t yell at me!
BRENT: Alright..

The day before, at dinnertime

MORGAN: Bob didn’t bring me a coffee today (sad look)….but that’s ok! I don’t need coffee. I’m not going to make him my hand-servant like you.
ME: Don’t be ridiculous. He’s not my hand-servant. Hand-servants get paid.

BRIAN: [finishes a long explanation to me the pathophysiology of an anaphylaxis in a patient]
ME: Wow. You’re a good egg-head, Brian. That’s why I keep you around.
BRIAN: YOU keep ME around?

[a day after getting bit by a whiskeyjack while feeding it from my hand]
BRIAN: Did you learn your lesson and not feed the birds today?
ME: Actually I learned a better lesson: I fed them with a GLOVE on! And now I have trained them to eat cheese from my shoulder. I hope they never bite my face.
BRIAN: I swear to God if I ever have to write that report….

And the conversations get better the longer you’re out here 😉