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We Are Dipshits

We came around a switchback and saw a mule train on the hill ahead of us. The mule driver yelled to us to stay where we were until they began moving, and then to follow at least fifty feet behind. Corrie and I stood there, waiting. No breeze, direct sunlight, 116 degrees baking off of the rocks around us, coming up on noon. I began to feel lightheaded.

Finally, we were moving again. I wasn’t feeling better, I was feeling worse. I was beginning to have a hard time concentrating on anything except for my nausea. I knew that if I threw up, I’d have big problems.

Pretty But Hot!
Pretty But Hot!

My brain began a quick inventory: “Let’s see, we’re about a mile away from the mileage sign. It’s 3.4 miles from the sign to the top, and that’s probably two to three thousand feet of vertical altitude. We’ve got to get to Skeleton Point, then up more switchbacks to Cedar Point. We’ll probably start seeing people again at Cedar Point. Then there’s Oooh Ahh point, then the top. So, probably about 1.5 miles before we see anybody at all, and it’s unlikely that anyone we see at Cedar can actually help in this heat. I’m fucked.”

This went though my head pretty fast, and I pretty quickly choked off the train of thought. “Don’t think at all,” I told myself. “Just keep your eyes five feet in front of you and keep a slow, deliberate pace. Eventually, you’ll surprise yourself by finding out that there’s no more canyon in front of you, and you’ll have a fun story to tell people.”

The nausea kept increasing. I felt as though, if there had been any plants around, I could have set them on fire just by waving my 150 degree arms in front of them. Over and over, I pictured the feeling of jumping into a cool swimming pool, all those gallons of water. Every time I thought about it, delicious goosebumps broke out all over my body.

Suddenly, I realized that I wasn’t sweating anymore. A large part of my brain was insistently telling me that the best idea was to just lie down and take a short nap. Fuck!!!!! Very bad plan. No more rationing water for me — if I’m not sweating, that means that my body temperature is going up very rapidly and I’m quickly going to become “the artist formerly know as.”

I decided that instead of taking a gulp of water every 10 minutes, I’d do five gulps every 5 for about 20 minutes and then back that up to 5 every 10. Yup, I would run out of water doing this. But right now, I’m fucked if I don’t. Five big gulps in, not appealing at all, water yucky, just lie down…

It only took about five minutes before I was feeling better. Five more minutes after that and I felt almost as good as I’d felt as I was beginning the ascent. Catastrophe averted.

“Are you doing okay?” Corrie kept asking. I’d finally admitted to her during all of the above that no, I wasn’t doing okay, and she’d picked up her pace as a result. She was pretty far ahead of me at this point, and I hadn’t told her any of what was happening to me, as it all took place within a 15 minute span or so. She didn’t yet know that I was feeling better.



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