Monthly Archives: September 2016

Donald Trump and the Hell’s Angel

Bernie Sanders, the replacement Democratic nominee in 2016?   (Can you say “October Surprise?”)

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Have you heard?  Hillary Clinton is so concerned about her slipping poll numbers that she’s had secret talks with Bernie Sanders.  It seems that if it starts looking like Donald Trump will actually get elected, she’s prepared to abdicate.  She’ll see to it that Bernie becomes the Democratic nominee.  That’ll be her version of the 50-year tradition of “October Surprises.”

By the way, I just made that up.

On the other hand, you are now free to say “I read it on the Internet, so it must be true!”  (Bonjour!)  Which brings up the fact I was originally going to call this post, “Hillary wins in a landslide!”  But recent events put the kibosh on that idea.

My idea was:  The “landslide” could occur in one of two ways.  First of course Hillary might – might have? – get or have gotten elected this November.  (Even if only in the Electoral College. See The Electoral College – 2016. ) The other possibility – I thought – was that if “The Donald” really got elected, Hillary could go back to the Senate in 2018, repair her image, and in 2020 re-appear as the Democratic candidate.  (Heck, she might even do the “I told ya so” dance…)

But of course, that’s assuming Donald Trump turns out to be as bad a President as his political enemies expect.  For myself, I’m trying to take the broader view.  (The broader view that “the Republic” will survive, no matter who becomes the next president.)

Put another way, no matter who wins the election, he or she won’t be able to do nearly as much damage as his or her political enemies say.  (Mostly because whatever the outcome, the next president will face rabid opposition from at least 35 to 40 percent of the American electorate.)  

Taking that broad view – the Republic will survive no matter who wins – is admittedly hard.

But for one thing, consider this:  We’ve survived an actor as president, not to mention another actor as governor of California, and a professional wrestler as governor of Minnesota.  (See Ronald ReaganArnold Schwarzenegger, and Jesse Ventura.)

So how bad could it be to have a businessman as president?

And incidentally, here’s what Wikipedia said about Ventura’s term as governor:  “Lacking a party base in the Minnesota House of Representatives and Senate, Ventura’s policy ambitions had little chance of being introduced as bills.”  But that’s a whole ‘nother subject.

Getting back to the possibility of Trump as president, consider the Federal Bureaucracy:

Over 16 million full-time workers now administer federal policy, including 1.9 million federal civilian workers, 1.5 million uniformed military personnel, and 850,000 postal workers.

Oddly enough, that thought gave me great comfort back in 1974.  That was during the dark days of Richard Nixon’s impeachment.  I knew Nixon was inherently paranoid, and it worried me no end that he was the one man in the country with his “finger on the trigger.”  (Especially faced with the possibility of going down as the first president to be impeached and convicted.)

What gave me great comfort was the sheer size of the Federal Bureaucracy.  I figured that with so many Federal employees bent on protecting their own turf, that massive bureaucracy would act as a sort of ongoing, self-perpetuating mechanism – if not a self-guided mechanism – no matter what kind of wacko the president turned out to be.

Which brings up the connection between Donald Trump and that “Hells Angel.”

Years ago I read a book by Hunter Thompson:  Hell’s Angels: A Strange and Terrible Saga.  The original version was published in 1966, long before Thompson became a caricature of himself.  And I’ve long considered it both a classic of pure investigative journalism and a fertile source of mind-jangling metaphoric connections.   (See for example, On the wisdom of Virgil – and an “Angel.” ) 

And so it was – just the other day – when I read some stories about Hillary’s slide in the polls.  That raised the possibility that Trump might actually be “our” next president.  (See also That OTHER “Teflon Don.”)  For whatever reason, that possibility became associated – in my mind – with an episode in Thompson’s book on the Hell’s Angels.

Chapter 16 started off with a lengthy quote from Rebel Without a Cause.  (More precisely, the quote was from the book on which the James Dean movie was based.  Specifically, Robert M. Lindner‘s book published in 1944.  Thompson quoted Linder’s definition of psychopath.)

The main text of Chapter 16 started with, “On a run everybody gets wasted.”   Then – among other things – Thompson talked about habits “widespread in outlaw society,” including “tricks you pick up from drinking in bars when you’re broke.”

As an example, Thompson told the story of a Hell’s Angel who visited a non-Angel friend, and while there went to use the bathroom.  While in the bathroom, he looked through the medicine cabinet.  He found a bottle of orange pills “that looked like Dexedrine,” which he promptly gobbled up.  Later he confessed to his host, but only after he started feeling sick:

[H]e had taken a massive dose of cortisone, a drug well known for [its] unpredictable reactions and weird side effects.  The man whose pills had been eaten was not happy and told the Angel he would probably break out in a rash of boils and running sores that would keep him in agony for weeks.  On hearing this, the outlaw nervously retired to whatever bed he was using at the time.  The boils never came, but he said he felt sick and week and “queer all over” for about ten days.  When he recovered, he said the incident had taught him a valuable lesson:  he no longer had to worry about what kind of pills he ate, because his body could handle anything he put into it.

When I first read that – 30 or 40 years ago – I was flabbergasted by the “lesson learned.”  To me that lesson should have been:  Don’t take the &^%$ unknown pills in the first place!

Which leads me to this lesson on what will happen if Donald Trump is elected.  Some people will say:  “We shouldn’t have elected him in the first place!”  But others will likely say this:  “We learned a valuable lesson.  We no longer have to worry about who we elect as president.  No matter what kind of clown we elect, our body politic will be able to handle it!”

For that matter, some may say the same thing if Hillary gets elected…

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Hobbes‘ metaphor of a “body [politic] formed of a multitude of citizens…”

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The upper image is courtesy of Bring Back Bernie Sanders. Clinton Might Actually Lose.  (Huffington Post.)  Which means that I wasn’t the first to come up with this idea of “Sanders as replacement.”  See also It’s Time To Bring Back Bernie (September 12, 2016, 9:30 p.m).  

Re: “Self-guided mechanism.”  The phrase is based on the book by Maxwell Maltz, first published in 1960, Psycho-Cybernetics.  See also On sin and cybernetics, in my companion blog.

For a related story, see On the wisdom of Virgil – and an “Angel.” 

Re:  Hells Angels. See also the Wikipedia article. 

Re: “October surprise.”  I Googled that term and got over 16 million results.  (16,400,000 to be exact.)

Re:  “Internet … must be true.”  The “Bonjour” image is courtesy of ‘French model’ turns heads as hottest TV-ad star du jour.  See the full commercial at French Model Commercial … YouTube.

Re:  “‘Told ya so’ dance.”  See the one I’m referring to at Will & Grace: Told Ya So Dance. – YouTube.

The “Ventura” image is courtesy of Jesse Ventura 2016 For President.

Also re: Jesse Ventura.  According to Wikipedia, Ventura “had no respect” for Vice President Dick Chene:  “a guy who got five deferments from the Vietnam War.  Clearly, he’s a coward. He wouldn’t go when it was his time to go.  And now he is a chickenhawk…  And he’s the guy that sanctioned all this torture by calling it ‘enhanced interrogation.'”  He added, “it’s a good thing I’m not president because I would prosecute every person that was involved in that torture,” during the “Bush II” administration.

Re:  The movie Rebel Without a Cause.  Wikipedia noted the “title was adopted from psychiatrist Robert M. Lindner‘s 1944 book, ‘Rebel Without a Cause: The Hypnoanalysis of a Criminal Psychopath.’ The film itself, however, does not reference Lindner’s book in any way.”  From Thompson’s book:

The psychopath, like the child, cannot delay the pleasures of gratification…  [H]is egotistical ambitions lead him to leap into headlines by daring performances.  Like a red thread the predominance of this mechanism runs through the history of every psychopath.

If that sounds familiar, see Former Obama aide calls Trump a ‘psychopath.’  But consider this from the “other side of the aisle:”  Donald Trump’s Simple Solutions to Tough Problems:  “Trump is an example of the Stupid Psychopath Problem.”  That was posted last March in the National Review.

The lower image is courtesy of Body politic – Wikipedia.  The full caption:  “The cover of Hobbes’ Leviathan famously portrays the metaphor [of a ‘body politic’] by showing a body formed of a multitude of citizens which is surmounted by a King’s head.”

On the Chilkoot &^%$# Trail! – Part 1


As noted in my last post, I just got back – last August 29 – from a trip that began on July 26.

That’s when my brother and I started the drive from Utah to Whitehorse, Yukon Territory.  Four days later – on Friday, July 29 – we met up with my nephew, fresh out of the Army.

In due course, my brother and I – alone and aged 70 and just-turned-65 – paddled our canoes “‘up’ the Yukon River.”  (440 miles in 12 days.)

But first, we two brothers – joined by our nephew-son – hiked the Chilkoot Trail (See Naked lady on the Yukon.)  And to hike the Trail you have to start in Skagway, Alaska.  (Above left, the day we arrived.)  I also noted that people call the Chilkoot Trail the “meanest 33 miles in history.” in Naked lady on the Yukon, I posted this news flash:*

There’s a reason [why] they call it the “meanest 33 miles in history.”  I’ll be detailing that little jaunt in a later post.  (To be titled, “On the Chilkoot &$%# Trail!”)  

And so, here it is – drum roll please – my blog-post on the Chilkoot &$%# Trail!

First of all, note the picture at the top of the page.  It includes an easy-to-miss orange pole.  (You see them marking the “trail.”  The one in the photo above is to the hiker’s right – the viewer’s left – and “up the trail” a bit.)  Note also:  There doesn’t seem to be a “trail” anywhere around, either in the top photo or the ones below.  Just one big pile of &$%# rocks after another.

So now you’re getting a feel for “hiking the Chilkoot.”

More background:  Before doing the hike I learned that the trail actually started in Dyea, Alaska. (It ends in Bennett, British Columbia.)  I also learned that Dyea is actually pronounced “DIe-eeee,” perhaps prophetically.  (As in, “that’s what you feel like doing once you get on the &$%# Trail!”)

Further, the Chilkoot was a major access route – from “DIe-eeee” to the Yukon goldfields – in the Klondike Gold Rush of 1896–99.  That gold rush “transformed the Chilkoot Trail into a mainstream transportation route to Canada’s interior.”

And I learned that the only other route to the gold fields was through White Pass.  (Up to 1899, when a railroad was built from Skagway to the Yukon.)   As to which route was better, a pioneer – Mont Hawthorne – said there really was no choice:  “One’s hell.  The other’s damnation.”

13 Dead Horse GulchA side note:  White Pass was also called “Dead Horse Trail,” apparently renamed by Jack London:  “Nearly 3,000 pack animals died.  Drivers rushing over the pass had little concern for beasts.  Exhausted horses starved, were hurt on rough ground, became mired in mud and fell over cliffs.”

Which also gives you a feel for “hiking the Chilkoot.”

And finally – after the fact and back at the Westmark Hotel, Whitehorse – I saw a plaque about the Trail.  It noted that every Klondike “stampeder” had to haul a year’s supply of food – 2,000 pounds – up and over the Chilkoot Pass.  “This often took 35 to 40 trips up and back down.” Further, the last 1,000 feet of the climb “took an average of 6 hours with a loaded pack.”

Which made me feel better about my performance – detailed below – but only after the fact. (On Tuesday – August 2, the day we climbed over the pass itself – we averaged a little over half a mile an hour.  Which turned out to be not too bad, historically speaking.)

By then I’d already developed a host of blisters, one of which – a blister-on-a-blister on my right heel – got infected.  It was still throbbing – from time to time – and didn’t fully heal until well after two weeks of canoeing and then six days driving back home from Dawson City.  (I’m sure the 12 days of feet being wet and cold 11 or 12 hours a day canoeing on the Yukon didn’t help.)

But we digress… 

I packed a notebook for the hike – which lasted four days – and duly made an entry at 8:32 p.m., August 1.  (Day 1 of the hike.)  But then I didn’t make any more entries until August 4, when we finally got to the railroad station at Bennett.  There I noted:  “I wrote no more until we reached Bennett, on the 4th day. Too [&$%#] tired and late arriving on the 2d day.  And the 3d.”

There’s more on those second and third days below.

But on the first day we made Sheep Camp: “13 miles or so – nobody seems sure of the miles – by 7:30 p.m.”  That included crossing the swaying footbridge, à la Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.  (There’s a picture from the movie in the notes below.)  There’s more on that in Part 2, but unfortunately, I’m now approaching the limit of the ideal length for a blog-post.  (No more than 1,200 words.*)  So, I’ll wrap up “Part 1” with a story relating to the photo below.

I took the photo on Day 4, when we finally reached the railroad station at Bennett.  But it relates back to an incident that occurred on the second – the worst – day of the “Trail.”

We were approaching the summit of the Chilkoot Pass.  (Slowly in general and especially slowly for me.)  What with my lack of depth perception, going over “one big pile of *&$% rocks after another” was like negotiating a minefield.  I wore heavy hiking boots, but they felt like ballet slippers.  Every step was sheer torture, and brought new pain to each aching foot.

I had just taken one of many missteps – especially bad that day – and let loose a string of pungent epithets. Then I looked behind me and there – climbing “personfully” behind me – was this sweet young thing.  Sheepishly I apologized, noting that I had “no depth perception.”

She went ahead and passed me.  (And probably rolled her eyes in the process…)

A short while later I had another misstep – again, the “Trail” is sheer torture for someone with only one good eye – and let loose another string of pungent epithets.  I looked behind me again, and there was a young couple, including another “sweet, innocent young thing.”

So I said to myself, “Hey, I may be on to something here!”

Unfortunately I tried it a few times later on the trail, but my magic formula didn’t work.  (On the other hand there I did see that “Naked lady on the Yukon,” 10 days later, on August 12…) 

The point being that on the forth day of the ordeal, most of the people who’d been hiking the Trail met up on again at the railroad station in Bennett.  There was only one train, at 3:15, so all us hikers had a chance to sit on something besides rocks, and pitch our tents to dry out.  (It had rained the night before.)  Including the young lady I’d insulted on Day 2…

But before we got to the end of the trail, I had to experience the phantom pack phenomenon – weaving and rolling like a drunken sailor – and slip and slide down a glacier or two.  Then I got to the point where “if I could have cried I would.”  (Hey, I’m secure in my masculinity.)  

And finally, we got to take part in a little parade.  (See On the Chilkoot &^%$# Trail! – Part 2.)

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One of many happy hikers who finished the Chilkoot Trail at Bennett, B.C.

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Unless otherwise noted, the images in this post – including the photos at the bottom and top of the page – are ones I took during the aforementioned “hike.”  (More like sheer torture…)  Also, an asterisk (“*”) in the main text indicates that a word or two of explanation will be made in these notes.

For example, the “news flash” image is courtesy of

Re:  “One’s hell.  The other’s damnation.”  The quote is from The horror of the White Pass Trail | Yukon News.  Also, “Dead Horse Trail” was also known as Dead Horse Gulch.  The photo accompanying the paragraph is courtesy of the Yukon News.

Re:  Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.  See also, which included the image at left, of a bridge like the one we crossed on the Chilkoot’s second day of hiking.

Re:  Ideal length of a blog-post.  See How Long Should My Blog Posts Be?  (Suggested length, 800-1,200 words.)  But see also The Ideal Length for All Online Content – Buffer Blog, indicating a preferred post-length of 1,600 words.

Re:  “The end of the trail.”  The link-quotation notes that the “trail is the thing, not the end of the trail. Travel too fast and you miss all you are traveling for.”  I could have used that quote both on the Chilkoot Trail and again on the Yukon River, when I was always “slow ship in the convoy.”  See e.g. The Pacific War Online Encyclopedia: Convoys:  “The convoy can only advance at the speed of the slowest merchant ship in the convoy, which negates the speed advantage of the faster ships.”

I could have used that little quote too, if only to ease my own own mind…

On the Chilkoot &^%$# Trail! – Part 2

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Okay, it wasn’t quite as bad – crossing that “swinging bridge” the first day on the Chilkoot Trail – as it was for Indiana Jones in the photo above.  (For example, we hadn’t been “cornered by Mola Ram and his henchmen on a rope bridge high above a crocodile-infested river.”)

But that second day on the Trail was pretty &^%$ bad…  In case you hadn’t noticed, this continues Part 1 of “On the Chilkoot &^%$# Trail!”  We left Part 1 with we three – brother, nephew and I – all having made Sheep Camp by 7:30 p.m. on the first day of the hike.

13 miles or so – nobody seems sure how many – by 7:30 p.m…  That included crossing the swaying footbridge … à la Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.

(Reprised in the photo above right.)  Part 1 also included the tale of a “young thing” I managed to insult on the second day of the hike – approaching the summit of Chilkoot Pass – and how most or all us hikers met up again – on the fourth day – waiting for the 3:15 train back to Skagway.

But I had to cut it short – and make this a two-parter – because I was “approaching the limit of the ideal length for a blog-post.”  (About 1,200 words.)  So now, back to Day 1 of the hike.

On Monday August 1, we left the trailhead – near “Die-eee” – at 9:00 a.m.  We made Sheep Camp by 7:30 that night, and after getting situated I managed to write a little something in the notebook I’d packed.  I wrote:  “I’m shivering as I’m writing.  I’ve been sweating all day despite the cool 68-degree temps.  And now it’s turning cool, so I’m shivering.”  I then added:

There were many times – many times – today when I wondered what the hell I was doing here.  And that this was just too far to go in one day.  And I like hiking at my own pace.  Rather than always bringing up the rear…  So today was the tough one, as far as miles traveled.  “Only” eight miles, but we’ll be climbing the Pass [tomorrow].  BTW:  I just had my fifth swallow of “O be joyful.”

So here’s another side note:  “O Be Joyful” was our code-word for ardent spirits.  We started packing them – in past canoe trips, like down the Missouri River from Fort Benton, MT – as a way of following in the footsteps of Lewis and Clark, and other American pioneers.

You see, back in the old days of our country, whiskey – for example – was used instead of hard currency:

One of the first media of exchange in the United States was classic whiskey.  For men and women of the day, the alcohol did more than put “song in their hearts and laughter on their lips.”  Whiskey was currency.  Most forms of money were extremely scarce in our country after the Revolutionary War, making monetary innovation the key to success.

See Why Whiskey Was Money, and Bitcoins Might Be.  So it was in that spirit – primarily – that I took a flask of “O be joyful” along on the Chilkoot.  Be that as it may, after I wrote, “I just had my fifth swallow of ‘Oh be joyful,’” I then added, “Which helps a lot.”

(I wasn’t so sure about the “song in my heart and laughter on my lips…”)

Also on the evening of August 1st, I wrote that the campground was more crowded than I expected.  And that in the audience – listening to a lecture by a ranger when we arrived – there were some cute women, but “romance is the last thing on my mind tonight.”

(Which itself was telling…)  I concluded,Altogether a good day.  I had my doubts, which were justified in a way, but ‘we’ came through.  Albeit with me bringing up the rear the whole day.”

On that note, I “brought up the rear” the next day as well, and for pretty much the rest of the hike.

Which brings up the fact that hiking the Chilkoot Trail is sheer torture for someone – like me – with only one good eye and and thus no depth perception.*  And that applied even on the relatively smooth parts of the trail, like the section shown at right.

Also – as mentioned in the notes – anyone hiking the trail is advised that if they have to get airlifted out, the cost will be a cool $28,000.00.  Which brings up another point rangers make in the process of getting your permit to hike the trail:  Watch out for the bears!

For one thing, the general rule is “no chow in your tent.”  Each camp has a tented-in dining facility,* and there – and only there – are you supposed to eat.  Eating on the trail can be messy, and the usual solution for crumbs or spills is to wipe the stuff off on your pants.  But bears have an extremely keen sense of smell, and so some crumbs in your pocket or syrup from a snack-cup on your pants could lead to an extremely unpleasant midnight visit.

But for me the message distilled down to this:  You don’t have to be faster than the bear.  You only have to be faster than the others in your party.  (Which of course spelled trouble for me…) 

But once again we digress…  The point is that eventually – in our case, the second day – we got  past the smooth parts of the trail and began approaching the summit.  It got so bad for me – after we got up and over the summit – that first my brother and then my nephew left their packs ahead and came back and carried my pack for a while.  Which led to its own problems.  Much like the phantom limb phenomenon, the “phantom pack” syndrome leaves you disoriented.  Especially when negotiating “one big pile of *&^% rocks after another,” you end up walking like the proverbial drunken sailor, weaving to and fro.

Finally – after much anguish – you get to and over the summit.  But as noted, things don’t get any easier.  There – on the other side of the summit of Chilkoot Pass – were at least three “glaciers,” or ice-fields.  (Like the one at right.)  My first reaction was:  “Great!  Nice smooth snow to walk on!”

But these glacier-slash-ice-fields were just as treacherous, though in a different way.  My fellow hikers hadn’t relieved me of my pack yet, so walking on the slippery snow led to several falls.

It got so bad that finally I stayed down – on the snow-slash-glacier – and slip-slid to the end.  That got my pants and boots thoroughly wet in the process, but at least – for a moment or two – I wasn’t struggling over “one big pile of &^%$ rocks after another.”

Somewhere in there I slipped and fell on some rocks, banging my right knee enough that by Thursday, at Bennett, that area of my jeans was covered with crusted blood.

Which leads to my confession – I “do not deny, but confess” – that there were times on the Trail when if I could have cried I would.  (But that wouldn’t have helped the pain in my feet, or made the journey any shorter.)  Which brings us to the late afternoon and evening of the second day.

Along with the usual “one big pile of &^%$ rocks after another” – and the three “glaciers” noted above – the other side of the pass featured a seemingly-endless series of streams and/or rivulets like the one at left.  They too were beautiful, but treacherous.  (I was going to say “like some women I know,” but decided against that.)

I know my brother took a spill or two – and got an infected elbow as a result – but mostly because he told me so later.

And as far as I know my nephew did okay crossing the many “beautiful but treacherous” streams, but not from any personal observation.  He – and my brother as well – were usually so far out in front of me that I often lost sight of them.

Then it started getting dark.

Back at the hotel in Skagway – before we left – it was still light as late as 10:00 p.m.  Therefore – I deduced – we should have plenty of hours to hike on the Trail.  But for some reason it got darker earlier on the Trail, which meant that by 7:00 p.m. or so my brother started getting worried.  The result was that in the fullness of time – just in time – we had a little parade.

To make a long story short, my brother went ahead the couple of miles to Happy Camp, dropped his pack and hiked back to where I was.  He carried my pack for a bit, then some strapping  young lad showed up.  He – the strapping young lad – had heard someone at Happy Camp talk about my struggles, and decided to come back and help.  (Apparently we – or at least I – became quite a conversation piece around Happy Camp that night…)

So the strapping young lad carried my pack a while – “jabbering all the way,” my brother said – and finally my nephew came back.  He had also dropped his pack at Happy Camp and then he carried my pack the final mile and a half.  That was my brother’s recollection.

David Allan Coe.jpgAll I remember is that along about 7:30, I could see some people on the Trail ahead of me.  Eventually I limped up to where my brother and nephew were.  Also there were the aforementioned “strapping young lad,” along with a nice white-haired Canadian ranger lady who called me by my name.  (They keep tabs on all hikers on the Trail.)

From that point, we all set off toward Happy Camp.  The nice ranger-lady followed behind me, engaging me in conversation.  (Probably trying to keep my mind off my aching feet.)  So, eventually we all made it to Happy Camp, and that’s how we “had a little parade.”  But this time I wasn’t bringing up the rear.  (For once.)

On that note – and as described in Campgrounds of the Chilkoot Trail:

Happy Camp is the only campground on the Chilkoot Trail in the alpine…  Happy Camp owes its name to the relief prospectors (and hikers) experienced from arriving at the first outpost after the pass. The camp is situated in a true alpine ecosystem and receives heavy use because of its location.

Personally, I can vouch for the “relief” part.  And it got better.  (At least for that night.)  

Happy Camp shelterApparently the nice white-haired Canadian ranger lady felt sorry for us.  (Or at least for me.)  So she let the three of us use her personal shelter tent.  That is, she said she had to get up early the next morning for some meeting elsewhere on the Trail, so she’d stay in main – wooden – shelter at Happy Camp, shown at left.

That meant the three of us didn’t have to set up our tents in the waning light of that second day on the Trail.

It also meant that two of us got to sleep on cots.  (My nephew slept on his air mattress on the floor, despite my saying I’d sleep on the floor.  But I made it up to him – for carrying my pack – by splitting two six-packs of beer once we got back to Skagway, as described elsewhere.)   And finally, the nice white-haired Canadian ranger lady brought us each a juice-box.

And a sweeter nectar I’ve never tasted.  

Wooden tent platforms among trees in front of a lakeFrom that point the rest of the hike is a blur.  I know we made it next day to the campground at Bare Loon Lake. (Which included numerous tent platforms like the ones at right.)  

And I know that that left only four miles to do the next day, Thursday, to get to the railroad station at Bennett.  And that rangers and other hikers kept saying the Trail would get easier and smoother “a mile or so further along.”

But it never happened.  At least not until a mile or so from the station, when the Trail got wide and sandy.  In fact the Trail at that point was pretty much like walking on the beach.  Which of course presented its own different challenges, but at that point I wasn’t complaining.  (Much.) 

Thursday, August 4, 1:20 Alaska Time.  We’re at the Bennett railroad station.  Got here at 12:05 AT.  I’ve set up my tent to dry it off – it rained last night – and heated up some water…   Spilled some walking back across the tracks.  (“No open fires.”)  But there was enough left over to make hot coffee.  For the first time since Monday morning.  The right knee of my jeans is covered with blood.  The ankle areas are dried mud.  I have two or three large blisters, one each inner heel, that have already popped.  And one large blister on the right big toe that looks about to pop.  Huge!  But right now the world looks great!

That’s what I wrote in the notebook I’d packed, writing in it for the first time since Monday.  So there – at the railroad station that would remain unmanned until the 3:15 arrived – the right knee of my jeans was crusted with dry blood.  And my feet were blistered and beyond sore.

Which is another way of saying they don’t call the Chilkoot Trail “the meanest 33 miles in history” for nothing.  Meanwhile, I had one final point to be made.  I made it via email – to the folks back home – once the three of us got back to Skagway:  “I used up my quota of expletives for the next couple of years, so any prayers in my direction would help immensely.”

So now, to paraphrase that great philosopher, Forrest Gump:

“That’s all I have to say about the Chilkoot &$%# Trail!”

 that's all i have to say about that - that's all i have to say about that Forrest Gump

*   *   *   *

Unless otherwise noted, the images in this post – including the photos at the bottom and top of the page – are ones I took during the aforementioned “hike.”  (More like sheer torture…)

For example, the image at the top of the page is courtesy of  See also Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom – Wikipedia, which provided the “cornered” quote.

Re:  “O be joyful.”  See also Definition of oh be joyful – Online Slang Dictionary, and/or O-be-joyful – 17 of the Finest Words for Drinking.

Re:  Whiskey and other “ardent spirits” used as currency.  See also Alexander Hamilton And The Whiskey Tax:  “small farmers on the young Nation’s western frontier in the Appalachian Mountains, often distilled whisky from their surplus corn crop.  This whisky was then often used as a form of currency on the cash-strapped frontier.”

Re:  “No depth perception.”  As illustrated by the image at right – courtesy of – imagine trying to negotiate “one big pile of &^%$ rocks after another,” with no depth perception.  And while trying maintain enough speed to keep up with your brother and nephew, while seeing the “piles of &^%$ rocks” as a blur.  (As in the background at right.)  And with the full knowledge that one bad move – one twisted knee or ankle – will cost you a cool $28,000 to get airlifted out.  (That’s what they told us in Skagway when we got our permits.  Meaning it’s happened often enough that they have the figures down pat.)    

Re: “No chow in your tent.”  The photo at left – courtesy of Campgrounds of the Chilkoot Trail – Wikipedia – shows both a “dining shelter” in the background, and in the foreground a ranger at Sheep Camp giving a lecture like the one in the main text.  Also, “Rangers recommend 7.5 to 10 hours for a group to travel from Sheep Camp to Happy Camp.”  We took longer than that… 

Re:  “Called Me by My Name.”  The allusion is to a song by David Allan Coe.  (Which – incidentally – is one of my signature karaoke songs.)  The photo shows Coe on stage in 2009.  It is not intended to refer in any way to the “nice white-haired Canadian ranger lady.”  That nice white-haired Canadian ranger lady should – in my estimation – be elevated to sainthood, along with Mother Teresa.

Re:  The juice boxes and “sweeter nectar.”  My brother said his was grape juice, but I could have sworn that mine was “raisin.”  I remember thinking that it was such an odd flavor for a juice box, but I couldn’t find any such flavor on the internet.  (Or maybe I was in a state of delirium.)  One thing I do know:  No matter what the flavor, that juice box – at that point in time – was delicious!

The lower image is courtesy of that’s all i have to say about that – Forrest Gump – quickmeme.