Wednesday, October 1, 2014

2014 ALDHA-West Gathering

The 21st ALDHA-West Gathering was held September 26th-28th, 2014, at The Mountaineers Meany Lodge at Stampede Pass, WA near Seattle.

Washroom / Furnace Room.

Meany "Lodge" isn't that big, is way back in the woods, and, after some rain, was really hard to get to by car.

Early on, Friday afternoon — getting reacquainted.

Meaning that the dirt road was full of potholes, and had some dicey-muddy stretches. Especially the last quarter mile, which was almost impossible for a non-military vehicle to get through.

Meany Lodge.

Yet there we were. All hundred-odd of us, shortly after some rainy days, hoping that the sky really would clear.

Friday supper. Meadow Ed and Yogi Hicker on the right.

Inside, well, it was warm enough if enough people were there — the idea, as expressed by the Mountaineers onsite manager, was not to fire up the wood-burning furnace, but to heat the place by bodies. Ours.

Looking the other way — a little sparse yet.

But we had beer. Which was a mixed blessing, if you decided not to have any, and were talking to someone who had two or three. Y'know — beer breath. Which is less romantic in person than it sounds.

Each new triple-crowner had a poster. (Wall at right.)

And there wasn't much to show in pictures. Mostly we were eating, sitting at a talk, or standing around and talking.

Loot for the raffles.

In previous years (early last decade) there were various cottage manufacturers displaying their wares, so there were tents and packs and stoves and other gizmos and doodads to look at.

Saturday breakfast preparations.

When I first attended (in 2002 as well as I can remember), Henry Shires was only thinking about getting into the tarptent business. Ditto for Ron Moak, who was still working for other people. Glen van Peski was still barely beyond the G4 pack, and there was no Gossamer Gear yet, only GVP Gear.

Bagels.

Brian Frankle of Ultralight Adventure Equipment was there in 2002, with a couple of packs, but those were the days when he was still trying to make and sell shelters, and, obviously, before he sold the business.

Various nummy baked goods.

Brasslite had sent several stoves with someone. They were on display, and Bill Gurwell had his Bilgy tarp tent tautly staked out for inspection.

And fruit.

This year it was mostly about sitting and listening, eating, and talking to people you already knew. I'm not a long-distance hiker (yet, and maybe not ever), and have attended these get-togethers only sporadically over the years, so I neither had much to say or much to say it about.

One of the cooks at work.

I did hit it lucky though. Aside from some confusion.

View of the kitchen.

The first person I talked to had a tiny pack that piqued my interest. It turned out to be a tiny new Gossamer Gear day pack that he was only trying. But he's a wide-ranging traveler and gave me some ideas about places.

19th century internet appliance.

But the odd thing was that we were joined shortly by another guy who looked like he could be the first one's brother, though he's not. This was "Car Hop". I kept getting the two of them confused after that.

Map of the area.

Car Hop has hiked, according to his entry in the Triple Crown notebook (see image), 12,000 miles. First he retired and hiked. Then he both burned out and injured himself, so he went back to work.

Saturday morning hike to explore the ski area.

Now he works by day from one of his two vehicles and hikes mostly by night. He'll drive from Camp A in Vehicle 1 to Camp B, then hike backward to Vehicle 2. After work the next day he'll take Vehicle 2 to Camp C, and hike backward to Vehicle 1. And so on.

Proto-wolf, dog, or some other creature.

His larger vehicle is an old-ish, somewhat beat up SUV with a satellite dish on top. It can tow his other vehicle. When he's not hiking he stops at any town that looks good and stays in a motel for a week or so, paying for it out of his salary.

Explanation of where we are.

He said he's never had any problems with breakins or serious vandalism, though once someone let the air out of two of his tires. But he has extra batteries, air compressors, and other redundancies. Go figure.

Downslope in the ski area.

I kept getting the two of these guys mixed up, though no one took a swing at me, though they really could have been brothers, so I should get at least a partial pass on that.

Hut and one of the sno-cats.

Another guy (sorry — no name here either) told me about an experience he had on the Appalachian Trail at Blood Mountain, which, as he told it, was the source of some material in the novel "Cold Mountain".

Which looks like this up close — handy in winter.

On his way up, he met someone descending in tears, someone who told him the story of a Civil War battle there, when local Union-supporting forces, compose of small, non-slave-owning farmers, were annihilated by Confederates.

Summer-cat.

Things like that. You never know what will happen or what you'll hear when you get a bunch of hikers together.

Indoor wolf. He worked security, I think.

I guess the oddest thing for me was having two different people ask if they and I had ever met before. Eh?

Hiker thoughts.

I didn't think I looked that familiar, but this has happened before, so there must be something generic about me, even though I don't get out that much.

Ron Moak showing his cuben fiber Gatewood Cape.

Although there was officially no new gear on display, Ron Moak did bring a cuben fiber Gatewood Cape. Probably won't make it to production, since the fabric in it, alone, cost over $100, and there is a huge amount of fiddly detail work involved in making things from cuben. He thought that if it did become a product, it'd have to sell for over $500. Which is...

Everybody at once.

Then there was the obligatory Gathering photo. I guess the membership is near or over 200 now. When I was involved in the organization, they were struggling to rise much over 100.

More eats, sometime Saturday.

Still, the Gatherings seem to bring in a lot of the same people, year after year, and they keep getting older, and remain pale. It's an old white-person's group. That has to change or it will eventually just die out.

Meany Lodge from the south.

At least the food was good this year, which it never has been at the Lake Wenatchee site.

The non-circulating Martin D. Papendick Award.

Altogether, though, I didn't think that Meany Lodge was great. Not any scenery except for trees, and basically nowhere to go. And it was high enough to be unpleasantly cool.

Signup sheet for dishwashing.

I managed to avoid signing up for any chores. I tried that once, and found myself standing around with nothing to do anyway. I did locate a broom and swept various floors. No one else thought of that, and it helped. And I didn't have to sign up. OK.

Cuben fiber shelter by an unknown person.

Someone — and I don't know who — had a couple of cuben fiber shelters up. They didn't look slept in, but no on advertised them. Nicely made though. The first one looked like a Gatewood Cape without a hood.

Henry Shires tarptent prototype.

Henry Shires brought a new Tarptent, a pre-production model, and slept in that, but didn't advertise it in any way.

Henry Shires tarptent prototype, end-on.

I'm always amazed by how smooth and sleek his products have gotten. I saw one of his originals back in 2002 or 2003, and then a real production model the next year, and they were good, but the current selection is excellent.

Cuben fiber shelter by an unknown person.

Then there was a flat/catenary-cut tarp, also cuben, from that unknown source.

Cuben fiber shelter by an unknown person.

I slept on a small flat halfway between the lodge and the other campers.

Meany Lodge from the tent area.

You can just about make out the tip of my Mountain Laurel Designs Cricket tarp in the trees.

My Mountain Laurel Designs Cricket tarp.

Despite it's being an open-sided shelter, I'm getting to like it. I have a Six Moon Designs Serenity net tent inside, and like the setup. It's easy to put up and the netting blocks a lot of the airflow, even on a windy night.

Back of Six Moon Designs van.

Ron Moak slept in style inside his van.

Saturday night eats.

And we had plenty of salmon to munch Saturday night.

Being prepared for outdoor cooking.

For some reason this was cooked outside, along with corn-on-the-cob and boiled potatoes — maybe it was a space issue. The kitchen wasn't that big.

ALDHA-West president Whitney "Allgood" La Ruffa showing tie-dye technique.

And for those with nothing better to do, there was a table set up to tie-dye T-shirts.

Tie-dye "Hiker Trash" T-shirt.

This one did turn out well, if you like that sort of thing.

Fire pit for cooking Saturday night.

After dinner, the fire pit was full of coals for hours, and made a good place to stand around and talk.

Listing of attendee lifetime mileages, page 1.

And then someone came up with a list of hikers and mileages.

Listing of attendee lifetime mileages, page 2.

You'd think it would be obvious just by looking around, but I honestly don't know who had 30,000 miles. I'll never get close, and I don't really care. I like to follow my nose and just see what happens.

Just after supper, Saturday night, before the program began.

Then, Saturday night it was time for serious talks, awards, and endless presentations.

Meeting time.

I had to bail out twice. Once during an endless digression jumping from Mexico's Copper Canyon to Egypt and a story about a dog bite.

Announcements.

And later, during the presentation of the Papendick award to Meadow Ed who rambled on an on about things I couldn't see were related. Anyway, it was past my bedtime by then, so I faded out and missed the Triple Crown awards.

And more.

Everyone else was rapt, I guess. For me, if I finished the Appalachian Trail, the Pacific Crest Trail, and then the Continental Divide Trail (usually done in that order), I probably wouldn't care about getting an award anyway, so no one should take offense if I don't hang around to see a plaque handed over.

Afterward, around the fire.

A warm fire — yes — I get that. Darkness. Darkness and warmth and quiet. Meetings, not so much.

The security detail caught everything.

Security was momentarily distracted while I slipped out. I was able to slide into my tent around nine p.m. and fall asleep in peace, which is what I value more than anything else anyway. But if you want to hang around thru-hikers, check out next year's Gathering.

Etc.

Martin D. Papendick Award

ALDHA-West

ALDHA-West Gathering

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