Author: Steve Hayes
This was my first trip with the Mountaineers, Steve Hays,
member since 2003. This trip could have been a major train wreck had I traveled
with a crew of lesser character. Statistically, you couldn't assemble a better
bunch and still adhere to randomness (this sentence is for Elizabeth, our tip
leader). I can
imagine the collective thoughts of this band. "Who is this guy, and where did he
get all of this vintage gear?" (Editor's note - and how is he ever going to haul
it in and out?!?)
Here's my pack. "Have you measured it?" No sir "You really
should have measured it." I didn't know....... measure?? "How much does it
weigh?" I don't know. "Can you carry it?" I ain't afraid to try "here's a
walking pole " "Be careful Steve, it's pretty steep, are you balanced?" I'm
OK, but If I get more than fifteen degrees out of level, then that's the
direction I'm going.
The start of the trip was exciting, carrying your weight both
literally and figuratively, cool. The middle was treacherous and Jan and others
helped me numerous times. I may have used one or two of my guides as backstops,
that gravity up there sure is fierce. I learned about balancing the pack in the
finest of fashions, the hard way. The good part is: I learned a lesson, the
first of many, and I will never forget the first lesson, I promise Jan, I'll
weigh the pack. The meal was more than you can imagine, a vast number of French
cheeses, salmon, egg plant, soups, the French soup was almost like a hot liquor
as you sipped it from a tin can/packers cup. Wines, wow. We took turns helping
each other in pronunciation, I guess none of the Mountaineers drank too much,
they could all speak French until midnight. I think that's challenging, don't
you? Peter set the record with packing in three bottles and should receive extra
points for showing up at just the right moment. Food. smoked game hens,
Elizabeth stuffed us with a French peasant's stew that was so good, you could
start a fast food chain with it. Chocolate cake, truffles and Cognac topped off
the meal. I had brought asparagus and Cosima helped me out with it, well,
actually if Cosima hadn't taken over, the job never would have been done.
Leslie and, surprisingly, Chris were playing French songs on
an accordion in the background , hell, a Frenchman from Paris would have paid
serious money to be there, talk about ambiance. I was wandering around, catching
bits and pieces of climbing stories. Did you know that Chris has climbed Mt.
Me. How high is it? Chris. "above eight thousand meters" me.
Chris. "it's one of the tall ones" me. oh. OK
Back to the meal. I won first place, mostly because I had
purchased a black tie and I'm too cheap to spend thirteen bucks on something and
not use it (Editor's note - also because Steve brought the most succulent smoked
Cornish game hens and heated them in an ingeniously devised cardboard box oven).
To get the tie, I went into the only store in Clovis that I thought might have
one. Me. I need a black tie Sales women. "what kind of shirt are you going to
wear this tie with?" Me. Mam, forget about the shirt her. "But sir! the shirt
and tie must match, we have black ties with colored accents, European black
ties...... me. OK, It's a North Face shirt her. (dumb look)
Her. "What's that?" Me. Mam, I told you to forget about the
shirt, I need the tie for a camping trip. (Now, I didn't catch her, but I'm sure
that she was looking around and thinking about ways to run from the room.) Me."
I'm going on a backpack with the Los Alamos Mountaineers and I need a black
tie." (I should have quit while I was ahead.) The location for the gourmet feast
was along a river with multiple hot springs. Some of the hot springs along the
river (there's tons) were too hot for me, and you would feel around for a pool
that was just right. Sort of like Goldilocks. I stuck one of my heels in a small
jet stream and it was a water rodeo for a second or two, talk about hot! For you
fly fisherman, let it be known that Bill caught 50 trout the first day. I know
that some of you are dreaming of a sweet place like this, simply gorgeous. The
only way to find the location is pack in with us next year and have a fine meal
with some hearty and true companions.
We hope ya'll join us next year, if you win, you get my black
tie, signifying that you are the Gourmet Supreme. This award will become a club
tradition, being passed from generation to generation until someone says. " Who
in the heck was Bill Priedhorsky?"