Living @ 1% to circumnavigate (but not summit) Cloud Peak + sleep @ West Ten Sleep Lake


[12/1/2020> Happy December. Posted chapter 3 of thriver meme, a semi-autobiographical account of the fortnight around April 1, 1982 (thru the lens of viral co-opters). Now we'll flash back to September 1994, still in the Black Hills, picking up where post #814 left off.]

Sept 1 [1994]
Beginning of September. Definitely feels like fall, actually snowed a bit yesterday. Had the last 2 days off. I was going to climb w/ Barb but she flaked so i went north, stopped in Rapid City to get typewriter ribbon and "Lakota Myths" and "Dakota Texts". Ran into Scott S at a trendy CD store then went to Bear Butte. I don't know much about it but evidently it was considered sacred to the Lakota and other tribes. "Stay on the tail and do not disturb praying Indians" said the signs. There were pieces of cloth hanging all over the place from trees and prayer bundles. Felt conflicted to even be there witnessing it if i wasn't Native American. It was like walking amongst ghosts. As i crossed up into this saddle i felt like i could lapse into a vision or altered state of mind if i let myself but i felt confined to the white man's trail.  I was torn between the desire to wander freely and respecting their wishes. I must remember i can't change who i am, where i come from. I'm just a tourist walking through a museum, can't participate. An observer paying cautious respect. I feel we should always feel this way wherever we go in America. I got about 20 feet from the top and there were stairs leading to the platform. I turned around and went down without summiting. I had to pee really bad so just peed on the trail since the trail was already desecrated. Lame justification maybe but i couldn't hold it.
     I went to Deadwood after that and broken even and strange weather was coming in like it would snow so i did a hasty retreat back to Hill City. Matt came by and we went to the Reno Gulch and then once we were good and drunk we went into Oriana's and invaded the kitchen. Then Laura came in. We went to my place and watched bits of bad movies. This morning she came back and we drove to Custer to meet Rusty and Sveria [sp?]. They're all cuddly and grossly into each other. We all went to Hot Springs and then to Evan's plunge and slid on the slides, dipped into hot tubs, etc. They all had to work so Laura and i got terrible Chinese food in Rapid City, hung out downtown and went to see Natural Born Killers, an over-the-top onslaught of extreme violence and perpetration of evil and cynical emotion. When we got out of the movie it seemed it would be cool to kill people for fun.  That's the easiest way to leave your mark on the world. Why be a writer when you can just buy a gun and kill people? That would make more of an impression than writing ever would and bring you instant fame. I felt like taking advantage of the vulnerable little 18-year old with me. I drove out of town gripped with a desire for power and to kill and destroy and rape. We stopped at a park cuz she wanted to swing on some swings. I felt like how Kevin must feel living in L.A., how people living in cities must feel, so removed from nature, no wonder they make movies like that. I started to go nuts running around jumping into bushes and low branches of trees, climbing into trees and hugging and kissing them and breathing their scent and soon i was pacified, rid of whatever urge watching that violent movie instilled in me. Laura was probably all weirded out but whatever. She almost crashed the car on the way home. We went into a corner wet with mist and she locked the brakes and lost control and we were spinning and she was crying and hysterical before we even came to a stop. Almost smashed the guardrail but we're all right. She was losing her shit completely but even more-so cuz she was embarrassed that i saw her cry and that was her biggest concern, but for that moment when we were off the road with the lights out and engine off and i felt a stillness as still as i've ever felt before. Needless to say I took the wheel after that.

Sept 4, 94
Dark A.M. Johnson hotel. Phone's ringing in the hall and no one's getting it. Grateful for the silence following it. Last night i was all set to do some writhing when Laura shows up, basically in her pajamas, laying on my bed. Won't take the usual hints so i finally ask her to leave cuz i want to be alone and have to hold my ground while she acts all hurt. The night before it was DD calling at closing and wanting me to come over again and i just flat out said no, didn't even make up an excuse. She just doesn't get it, said "correct me if I'm wrong but there's this mutual attraction..."
     "Um, no, you're wrong." What's with all these desperate women in small towns like this? The population of Hill City is like 300 so i guess available young males must be hard to come by.
I tell her over and over and she doesn't get it, just acts all hurt. It's a really fuckin' sad state of affairs on the romance side that's for sure. Not that i care cuz all i want is time and space to myself. Been working 10-12 hours a day except the day i got food poisoning from eating gross Chinese food at the Great Wall. I'm not remembering my dreams yet am having trouble making a distinction before my dreaming and regular life. Like this morning i think i woke up at 6 a.m. and watched an episode of Wild Wild West filmed in the oh-so familiar Joshua Tree with cowboys and Apache Indians (one of who was Victorio) and there was a scene where they're torturing this guy by tying him up spread eagle and letting hot coals burn into his heart... was this an episode of WWW or a dream of my own?

Sept 6
Went across the way and got a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon and 2 dinner rolls and came back with it and am sitting in front of the typewriter that's got the blank paper already spooled up. Before that i went hiking up above Horse Thief lake and went off the trail and sat on a rock closed my eyes and reeled my whole life backwards and waited... though i didn't know what i was waiting for. Why do i have such a desire to express? What is the motive to create? The motive if the motive itself.

Sept 9
[dream from Sept 9, 94 already logged in our dream journal]

Sept 11
Started to get pretty bitter these last few days working at the cafe. Two weeks and no break and DD kind of just dumped the responsibility on me and ran off to San Fran and has been calling on her cellular from random locations like Yosemite or Death Valley. She sticks me with these 12 or 14 shifts with just Shane or Roxane or just by myself. Guess it's alright cuz i'm saving up cash to get the hell out of this place. Managed to get out on Saturday evening and went up to the Poet's table and saw a really cool porcupine. He buried his head in a corner, showing his quills on his butt like a fan.

[don't have a pic of the porcupine but here's a pic of a goat from another day]

Finished "Red Sleeves". I like the dreamlike mythic part. Maybe i should just do stuff like that. Ulysses is starting to sink in, though i'm digging the Lakota Myths more. Finally got today off and went to Crazy Horse. Actually my 3 day break started last night when i went to Deadwood. Lost $45 just cuz i'm losing patience and one place kicked me out cuz they suspected i was counting cards. Other places just shuffle the deck prematurely when they see me bet more. Went onto Sturgis, nothing doing, so on back to R.C. Firehouse was closed, no good movies but i ran into Nori and within minutes we formed this communication line that takes most people years to form. She's this "man-hating  feminist lesbian" poet folk singer that plays occasionally at the cafe. Anyways, she gave me a lot of insight as to why women can be manipulative bitches and men can be such assholes. Woke up and went to Crazy Horse then did a 15 or so mile hike, from Iron Creek to Horse Thief to Rushmore to [undecipherable] trail back to Iron creek. Tomorrow i finally get to climb. Dreamt [not yet logged] I was on this trail where snowslides kept crossing the path and i was fighting with mom after going home and split to a hotel.

Sept 15 (?)
[Dream already logged in dream journal for Sept 15, 1994]
Finally had 3 days off. Went hiking Monday. Tuesday i had plans to climb with Mike Baker but he didn't show up so i just went on down to the lake and Larry Shaffer was there and the funny thing is he was also waiting for Mike. So Larry took me up an insane first ascent that he's working on on the end of Outer Outlet that he will call Living @ 1% (5.11+)[looking it up now it's actually 5.12a R]. By the time i set up a belay on a huge comfy chockstone in this chimney, he had already climbed ⅓ of it, got to the crux and put a bolt in and fell a bunch of times working out the move. Then he cruised up some easy runout  to an excellent beefy crack that ends at a huge jug and then you got this sloping undercling and nothing really for your feet and the whole thing is overhanging. He did a lot of downclimbing and resting and eventually pulled through the crux and into this overhanging thin seam and he's just hanging there 10 feet above the bolt for quite a while trying to get shitty gear in the seam. It stayed hard 5.10 for a while after that. He rested on his gear once while he cleaned the crack to get a good piece in that would hold more than body weight. Towards the top he put in 2 bolts going over this headwall, one of them on stance, then the other he was hooked upside down on an undercling. He's insane. He fell on that move, just a little fall, then summitted. At some point before, he ran out of rope and i had to solo up the first 20-30 feet while keeping him on belay, to the base of the beefy crack. I grunted up the beefy crack (haven't been climbing for 3 weeks) to the crux. I step up and reach for the undercling and pop! A huge block comes loose, like the size of a microwave! I fell about 10 feet cuz i was to the left of the bolt, the rock falling next to me and onto our gear below as I'm yelling "rock!". Adrenaline pumped through my body. I went back up and pitched off again and swung out too far over to get back on and i was on this blank face. So i bat-manned up to a piece (15 feet) and had him pull up the slack and pretty much dogged the rest of the route. Evidently "living at 1 percent" is a term Hell's Angels use when someone's death is faked (cuz of a crime they committed) and they file down the fingerprints and get plastic surgery to give the person a new identity. The climb took the whole day. Chowed at the Continental then went over to Susan's to watch Short Cuts. Even better the 2nd time through.
     Larry was first up the next day so i waited for him and no clients [he was a climbing guide that was on call].  So we went to do God's Own Drunk (5.8+)(2 pitches). I led the first pitch and was pretty shaky. It was classic and burly. He did the 2nd short pitch so we could rap down to the anchors for another route he's working on, Bourbon and Butterflies (5.12–). We were doing the 2nd part which he hadn't done yet, up this steep prow with weird angles. He did some totally sketchy moves way above small brass. Some excellent moves with amazing exposure, nothing but air below. He thought that pitch was 5.9 but i think it was harder than that, can only imagine what the 5.12 pitch was like. He is insane. Ate at Garbanzo's and now i'm back into working 13 hours a day mode.

Sept 21—Buffalo, Wyoming
A few hours before closing on Sunday i decided i needed to split town. Actually i was experiencing pretty bad wanderlust on Saturday. Work was dead so i took off even though i needed the hours. Didn't feel like hiking so went to Deadwood and played a long time without winning anything and it seemed stupid so i hung out on the street. Ran into Eddie who had shaved his head into a mohawk with tattoo on the side and he had no shirt on and seemed like he was higher than a kite. I was getting very disillusioned with the Black Hills scene so told DD and Bob the next day that i was leaving. After work i decided to see the Bighorns while i had the chance so i took a nap then took off driving in the moonlight  across the plains of South Dakota and Wyoming. After 4 or so hours i was coming close to Buffalo so i pulled over at a rest area and slept until dawn then went and got groceries and went on Hwy 16 towards Ten Sleep. The colors on the aspens were vibrant and vivid, infrared death. Indescribable, why such beauty? What's in for the tree to have such a display? It can't see itself and the leaves aren't like flowers that need to be pollinated. Then i took a dirt road to West Ten Sleep lake. There were people saddling horses but no hikers. Threw together my pack and took off. 5 miles to Helen lake, another couple to Misty Moon lake. That's where i was intending to camp so i could wake up to hike Cloud Peak. I would have gone past Misty Moon lake but i was above the tree line and it was hard to find shelter. I didn't bring my tent, but brought a tarp and slung it between 2 trees then made some very starchy tuna casserole.  Then took a nap. I woke up and was frustrated cuz it was still early. Walked around exploring the inhospitable and barren shores. Clouds were forming like a dark cauldron. It started snowing a bit but passed over. The sun set and i crawled into my sleeping bag. But then i saw th moon rising, a full moon, and the skies clearing. there was no way i could sleep. The desolate pass was beckoning. So i packed up and decided to hike over the pass to Solitude lake by moonlight. There were no trees, just tundra-like permafrost and patches of snow (weird, i'm writing this in a pizza hut full of cowboys and conservative Wyoming folk and they are playing Velvet Underground... "Sunday Morning" makes perfect restaurant music!)
     So anyways, walking over the high pass in the moonlight made it all worthwhile, makes life worth living.  I looked back and saw Misty Moon lake shimmering in the full moon. It was glorious, like being on the moon itself. I could see my moonshadow next to me with the huge pack. The trail was a rut full of snowmelt. I went over and dropped into the dramatic canyon leading to Solitude lake. A few times i would smell a musky scent and sure enough i'd see a deer run off in the moonlight. Another time i heard this low thunder and stopped to listen. Then i could smell them and stepped aside as a few dozen elk came running across my trail and up a ridge. They're bigger than deer and darker and some of the males had huge antlers. I had to wind through some dark forests to turned on my light. Crossed a patch of snow and realized no people had been on this trail since the last the snow, just a lot of deer and elk and coyote. Came to a bridge under a waterfall and decided i had to camp with this backdrop, listening to the waterfall. The ground was still wet but i found a large flat exposed boulder and slept under the cascade and the moon.
     Had more dreams [not logged yet] of being in the river with the edge lined with logs so i couldn't get out, i'd start to climb out and the logs would sink. Eventually i thought to grab a vine (like when i grabbed the rope to batman up Larry's 5.11+ Living @ 1%). I woke up and had a nice espresso then went down to Solitude lake which is probably the prettiest of all the lakes, crystal clear and lined with huge granite boulders that you can see dropping down into the depths. Definitely an alpine lake. Undecided, i didn't feel like backtracking to bag a peak so i went over towards Lily lake but all the trails turned to 4WD roads going everywhere and the map didn't make sense and i ended up at this trailhead where a park ranger was saddling a horse. He told me how to get to West Ten Sleep but was all "that's 10 miles away and you've already come 7 or 8!" No matter. Wasn't pretty enough to camp in these logged out lowlands. I went to Lily's lake trailhead and contemplated. Didn't feel like backtracking a few miles north into a thunderstorm when i was going to southeast. Would rather circumnavigate cloud peak rather than bag it. A bow hunter on an ATC pulled up and asked to see my map and after talking shit he took me to Baker (?) Mtn or some place where these logging roads cut up to below the west side of Bald ridge. There was no trail but i figured I could traverse over and drop in the east side. Dark clouds hung on the ridge. I walked on logging roads strewn with fallen gray timber. Trying to keep an eastward direction until the logging roads petered out and i started this heinous bushwhack through thick trees. I had to follow the compass though it always seemed easier to go north. Eventually i came to a clearing that felt i was on a ski run with no snow. It wound up to the ridge capped with threatening dark clouds. Blue sky was behind me and wind was blowing east so i wasn't too worried except it would have been a shitty place for a makeshift bivy. I kept trodding and never seemed to top out, just slowly roll into this immense barren plateau. Snow was  coming down on Cloud Peak. You could almost get lost on the ridge top it was so big and vast with no trees or rocks. But i kept my bearing going east. There was a trail with snow makers going north > south but i had to ignore it. I looked behind and a dark cloud was on my ass. I quickly made for the east end and it finally dropped off abruptly down own steep snow and scree. A herd of ten elk crossed the path right in front of me. I kept at it downward until i got to the edge of the forest and then it started to snow. I found faint game trails here and there but it was still hard getting through that forest. I had to trust the compass completely as all i could see was trees and snow, a wet snow that wasn't sticking. Finally i came on the trail and it had stopped snowing. A few miles on a trail back to the truck and i was craving pizza and so here i am. Mowed a whole pizza and now i'm tried, it's dark and cold and i have nowhere to go. Even a campsite is $15. Maybe ill find a 7-11 buy a 6-pack and get fucked up and pass out in my truck?

Sept 28
Ended up driving all the way back to Hill City from the Bighorns after taking a moonlight nap on the banks of the Powder river. I got back to Hill City at 4 a.m. and when i woke up to do my laundry it was snowing. Guess that's my cue to leave. I went and hung out in Rapid City and on the way back it was like hyperspace, driving in a whiteout of snow. Didn't stick much though. Matt and Martin came back from their trip so now i have a climbing partner. we went to Rushmore after work one day and he tried lead Mr. Critical (5.11c). I followed it with no falls. When our Mon-Tues-Wed arrangement came along we went out to the needles. The colors were magnificent. and some fire in Idaho was making it hazy and the lighting weird. Matt led Rustler (5.10d) and i followed no falls. I forgot the trail rope and he was complaining about his shoes so he went to get them and i hung out on top of Outer Outlet just absorbing the Black Hills aura. We TR'ed Two Year Plan (5.11a) on the backside and i cruised it, excellent climbing.
     We drove to the tower  after that and met up with Larry and this guy Steve. Next Morning Matt and I went up McCarthy West Face (5.10b) while Larry and Steve did El Matador. McCarthy West was superb. A 5.9+ pitch of fingers and bulges and then a long pitch with a roof crux, pulled some booty out of it. Then sustained stemming, fingers to hands to fists. Larry and Steve took pictures of us from atop El Matador. As we rapped down Larry was leading The Hong Variation (5.11c) of McCarthy West Face so we got some excellent shots of him. He took a 20-footer on it, was cool to watch. Matt took me up the 1st pitch of Deli Express (5.10c) which was thin laybacking. We were pretty tired after that so we went back to the site.

Matt on McCarthy West (5.10b) w/ Larry taking photos


Larry starting up the Hong Variation (5.11c)



after rapelling down looking up Hong Variation (L) + McCarthy West (R)

Today we did Burning Daylight (5.10b) which was fucking hard and strenuous and we were in the hot sunlight so were trashed after that. I feel pretty solid following 5.10 crack but haven't been leading much lately, my head is just not in the right place. I did the 1st pitch of Soaring (5.9) which was a choss pile so we left. DD just called and wanted to know "what i was afraid of?" and started going into this psychological mumbo jumbo and once again asks "so you honestly think there is nothing between us?" and i said "no, no, no." She won't take no for an answer. Not sure why i even talk to her except that she's my boss, tho i've given my notice so what do i care? That she won't send my last paycheck? After our fun trip to Devil's Tower i was thinking i might stick around a bit longer but  not with this weirdness with the boss. I think i'm definitely departing Oct 10. I've been thinking a lot about Joshua Tree lately, that maybe i'll just go hang out down there.

[... journal continues in post #819]

816 <(current)> 818> Banana slug + mice mascot manifesto (circa '88 driving '66 cars in Santa Cruz)
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