Monday, June 30, 2008

Tabby Tuesday

Hmmmmmmmmmmm.....I've been thinking about giving up

yoga


In favor of

weight training.

Hmmmmmmmmm, maybe I'll stick with

Yoga.

Luv,
Skittles, The Huntress

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Snoozy Sunday

I could hear my pet human calling for me. I had been hiding for quite a while.

"Skittles! Here kitty, kitty!" (I hate it when she calls me kitty.)


She finally found my hiding place. In the closet with her clothes. I told her it was Snoozy Sunday.

But really, I'm in here contemplating which shoe to drop the dead lizard in.

Don't tell her!

Luv,
Skittles, The Huntress

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Flower Friday

My favorite flowers in my garden:





And to satisfy my pet human, I'm letting her post some of her photos:

Joshua Tree National Monument



Luv,
Skittles

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Wordy Wednesday

I had the most wonderful Tuesday! My boyfriend, SlyCat, teleported over here and took me back to his place for a date.

You can check it out here: Sly Likes Things
Oh, I had a wonderful time! Picnic, koi pond, boat rides, lobster, champagne, fireworks.............

eat your heart out, girls.......................he's mine!!!!!!!!!!!!

Luv,
Skittles, The Huntress

Monday, June 23, 2008

Tummy Tuesday

(Scroll past this post for Carnival of the Cats #223)



Luv,
Skittles, The Huntress

Saturday, June 21, 2008

CoTC #223

WELCOME TO CARNIVAL OF THE CATS #223!!!!!!!!

(yawn)(stretch) Good Morning Cat Blooooogggggoooooooospheeeeeeere!!!!

Welcome to my very first attempt at Carnival of the Cats. I wandered and wandered my garden trying to pick the perfect place to host the Carnival. I decided the side yard with my container garden would be perfect.

This is what it looked like one month ago.

This is what my container garden looks like today. I have lots of tomatoes, beans, peppers, and eggplants. Oh, and some basil too!

So lets have fun!!!! Here are all the linkies to my fellow felines who submitted their posts:

Samantha and Mr. Tigger, at Life From A Cat’s Perspective, show us the joys of playing with water!

Snorgle material!!! Cute tummies at Mind of Mog.

Also at Mind of Mog: Tandem Feline Sink Diving. DEY R DOIN IT RITE!

At This is Cyprus, the great mystery of the self starting printer has been solved. Guess who done it! Sophia!

Maddie’s out of the bag over at StrangeRanger.

There’s a big football match coming up, and Chica and Pumuckl are cheering!


KT Cat needs a rating for LOLCats

Sammy, Miles and Bill Meezer share all the rumblings at Meezer Tails. 13 things heard at Casa Meezer this week.

Crash! The Ugliest, most hideous, wacky vase meets Zorro’s dreaded tail of death at House of Chaos

From Elms in the Yard, in Jerusalem, The Lady in Red shows off her fierce hunting techniques.

Composite Drawlings is looking for a little color

At Texas Oasis, Henry makes a very important political statement

Ping, at Manx Mnews, gives us an update on his back left foot. He’s had a hard week, still walks gimpy, but should pull through

Mimi wants cheese, to put it mildly, at The Poor Mouth.

Mike Barus, at Fine Pet Care.com, submits a serious article about what kind of collar you might wish to wear

Chance gets ticked off on Tuxie Tuesday.

Gree at Hot(M)BC gives a peek into her wedding preparations. News about the wedding and reception too.

Ramona plays a trick on her Brother. hehehehehehe!

Cuteness Overload at Cat Care, Breeds and Resources

and the newest in litter box design and architecture:

Puddy likes chin scritches over at A Byootiful Life.

Spectra keeps a watchful eye on things over at Cascade Exposure. (I think my pet human wants to climb those mountains!)

Nosey is wearing the latest in colored contacts for cats at Anniemiz. Very fashionable! I wonder if Daisy has any?????

Tiny does some stunning triangulation at Sisu.


Wowy! That was fun. Thanks to all who visited me and my blogging friends on this edition of Carnival of the Cats.
p.s. if there is a problem with your linky, email me at SkittlesTheHuntress@gmail.com, and I will fix it immediately!

Luv to you all and your humans!

Skittles, The Huntress

Friday, June 20, 2008

My Ally of Oriflamme Canyon


Not all of my camping trips are to the mountains. When I first moved to San Diego, I discovered the wild diversity and lovely, secluded spots of Anza Borrego Desert State Park.



One year I decided to explore Anza Borrego on my own. I needed some time to myself, and I wanted seclusion. I had no plans for a campsite, although I had reservations at the developed site adjacent to Palm Canyon and Indian Head Peak, just in case. I took off around 5:00 a.m. with my gear and an old, worn out map.

I headed down S2 and finally pulled over to the side. I wasn't sure about which way to go, but I knew I wanted to stay away from Whale Peak, certain to be a favorite with campers and visitors. I got back on the road, and drove slowly, looking south for any kind of trail.

I passed what seemed to be an old abandoned road in a wash, but it was faint. The map showed no markings for it. Perfect! I turned down the wash.

I drove slowly trying to stay on the trail, which frequently disappeared. The driving was difficult; deep sand, huge boulders, and debris from the years of flash floods blocked my way.

The trail began gaining altitude, and soon I was looking into a small chasm to the left. There appeared to be cottonwoods, but how odd in the desert. Suddenly,the trail took a sharp left turn and headed down the hill. At the bottom was the most exquisite oasis, a running creek with a waterfall, grassy banks and about a dozen cottonwoods providing shade around the pond. I parked the truck and pitched my tent on the grass.

The day was perfect, not too hot, and I enjoyed the exploring. When dusk fell I made a light supper, had a glass of wine, and sat peacefully enjoying the sound of the waterfall and the solitude of my little oasis. Later I fell asleep easily in my tent.

Very late in the night violent winds awakened me. The gusts were at least 30 to 40 miles per hour. Luckily I had secured my tent well. Even so, I wondered if I were not inside to help hold the tent down, would it have flown away?

The banshee wind howled mystically through the small chasm. The cottonwoods acted as vocal cords for the gushes of air blasting in from the west. A full moon lit up my summer weight tent through the netting.

The howling continued, but suddenly I was aware of footsteps circling my tent. Every hair stood on end, and I almost froze with terror. They were most definitely human foot steps I heard, pacing around my tent. I had a rifle with me, but even so I could not find my voice or the courage to get out of the tent to confront the intruder.

Eventually the footsteps stopped. I fell asleep at around daybreak and had the most fantastical dreams.

When I awoke, the sun was overhead and the winds had completely died. The silence rattled me. I gingerly unzipped the tent door and stepped outside.

Rings and rings of coyote tracks circled my tent.

A coyote! To this day I don't know why, but at that moment I felt a kinship with the coyote who visited me that night. He was my protector in the desert. My ally in Oriflamme Canyon.

I found out later that in this particular area of Anza Borrego, illegal gold mining continues, especially with cyanide. Those who venture into the area have occasionally been shot at for daring to explore.

My coyote kept me safe.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Carnival of the Cats #223

I AM HOSTING THE NEXT CARNIVAL OF THE CATS!!!! WAAAAHOOOOOOOOOOO!!!

LET'S MAKE THIS TOTALLY FUN AND A BLOWOUT!


ImageChef.com - Custom comment codes for MySpace, Hi5, Friendster and more

HAVE YOU SENT IN YOUR SUBMISSION?????

NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WHAT'S WRONG?????????? DO IT NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

GO HERE: Carnival submissions

Monday, June 16, 2008

Tough Tabby Tuesday

WHOA!!!! I AM ONE TOUGH TABBY!

Threatening a lawsuit works wonders! My 3 pet humans heard my threat after publishing my teddy bear photos, and they flew into action! They headed straight for the garage and retrieved my SlyBear, AND my santa hat, AND, MY SADDLE BLANKET!!

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh, bliss!


I have to remember this important tactic! And I guess since Fred volunteered to be my attorney, then I will discuss keeping him on a retainer. I wonder how much catnip he wants? Wait, he volunteered. Do volunteers get paid? I don't think so.

MY ADVICE: WHEN YOUR HUMANS REFUSE TO TREAT YOU WELL OR EMBARRASS YOU, GET AN ATTORNEY.

Luv,
Skittles, The Huntress

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Intervention Monday

Perhaps you all know by now. I have 3 pet humans to manage. The main pet is WW, then there are Bob and Julie. Bob and Julie are easy to manage, but WW is a pain in the you know what.

Yesterday, all three were sitting in the breakfast room. They invited me to join them.

WW: "Skittles, we are here as your loving friends and family."

Julie: "yes, we love you very much, which is why we are here to intervene."

Bob: "Skittles, you're an addict. Your sex addiction has gone too far. We are worried for you. Remember the "Teddy Dog Incident?"

Me: "I'm not an addict." (Denial works every time!)

Bob: "Well, I think these pictures I got of you tell a different story. WW put your SlyBear in the garage to help, but apparently you needed a fix............


(is anyone looking????????)
(will it play with me????? come hither.........)
JOY and ECSTASY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
(ummmmmmmmm, yes the teddy bear will play with me!)

I've decided Bob is a traitor. I was always so nice to him. I cuddled in bed with him. I slept on his lap. I purred and purred for him. I even watched him take his shower.

This is how he repays me? What is he??? Paparazzi?

I'm gonna sue!

Luv,
Skittles, The Huntress

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Snoozy Sunday

sssszzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
SSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ!!!!!!!!!!!
(sssssssssshhhhhhhhhhhhh!)

Luv,
Skittles, The Huntress

Friday, June 13, 2008

Saturday Caturday

Bring Back Hillary

I was relaxing on the side deck and enjoying the dappled sunlight shining through on the container garden, when I received a phone call.It was Ginny, who lives next door. She, and her husband, Bill, are my unpaid political advisers. Bill was a pilot in WWII (and a character in some of my pet human's short stories), and Ginny worked for the State department during WWII over in England. She was in London during the Blitz!

"Skittles," she said, "I have some Temptations and a bowl of cream here for you. Come on over and see us!"
Well, I didn't waste any time! It wasn't the Temptations or cream, I just like to visit my buddies!

I sat down next to Ginny at the counter, and she moved a magazine in front of me. It was The Week. And the cover was about Hillary dropping out of the race.
"What do you think, Skittles, was it sexism?"

Bill got upset and said: "Look I told you that it's the math! She didn't have enough delegates! Obama had the delegates!"

Ginny: I'm talking to Skittles!

Bill: It's not sexism any more than it would have been racism the other way around.

Ginny: Be quiet! I want to hear Skittles.

Me: I think that most of the SuperDelegates who went for Obama were men, weren't they? Yes, in part I think sexism was involved. At the same time, Obama's campaign started gaining on Hillary only after Oprah endorsed him. So that wasn't sexism. It's both. I never understood why Obama needed Oprah.

Bill: Hey I voted for Hillary. And I'm a man.

Ginny (getting very upset): Bill! Be quiet! Listen, the year I was born, women didn't have the vote! Blacks had the vote, but women didn't! Women all over America are very upset and disappointed. We're the majority after all. We deserve to be heard!

Me: Well, America can redeem itself by voting me into the White House. I'm a girl.

Ginny: I'm voting for you, Skittles!
I finished my Temptations and cream and went back to ponder all this in my garden. Wow, I knew that women in America got full suffrage in 1920, but when Ginny put it the way she did, I finally realized it wasn't very long ago. And look at all the countries who gave women voting power before the US: click on this.

I disagreed with many of Hillary's issues, but I gotta go with Ginny on this one. The press tore Hillary up and dissed her, in a way they never did to Obama.

Bring Hillary back.

BUT

Vote For Skittles, The Huntress

Luv,
Skittles

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Super Delegates

Dear Friends and Constituents,

I received a call yesterday morning from the mother of my pet human, who insists that I call her "grandma."

She wanted to know what I thought of Hillary dropping out of the presidential race. We started talking about the politics of super delegates, then all of a sudden, grandma dropped a bomb!

"Skittles, I'm throwing my support to you as a super delegate from "The OC."

Whoa!

I'm really appreciative to have the support, but.................................

CAN A HUMAN BE MY SUPER DELEGATE????? SHE HAS NO PAWS! NO FUR! WOULD IT BE A CONFLICT OF INTEREST SINCE IT'S MY GRANDMA?

I don't know about this. I like grandma, and I love her garden. But is this a wise political decision?

You can vote.....grandma: in or out?

Luv,

Skittles, The Huntress

P.S. Do I have any other delegates out there?

Monday, June 09, 2008

Tough Economy Tuesday


Dear Friends,

Please check out this link. The housing market in San Diego is particularly bad. Unfortunately, our four legged, feline and canine friends are suffering because of the economy. They are facing housing problems because of the human housing decline.

http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/metro/20080609-9999-1n9pets.html

Or click this.....

My campaign will address these serious issues. I will be posting more tomorrow. Please check back.

Luv,
Skittles, The Huntress

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Snow Creek Stories


(many of my short stories use mountains and climbing as metaphors for life)

The Rules of Mountaineering: A Climb Up Snow Creek


At some point in my life I began climbing mountains. I don’t recall the origin of this inclination. When I was a child, my family had a vacation home at Lake Arrowhead, in the San Bernardino Mountains in Southern California. Yet we were the type of family that strolled on light trails in the mountains only when the comforts of enjoying hot chocolate by the hearth of a large roaring fire beckoned in the evening. Nor do I have any recollection of camping with my parents, or even that they owned a tent. My only experience as a child with camping came when I was 11 years old. My aunt and uncle took my brother and me to Mt. Whitney in the Eastern Sierras, where we hiked to the first lake. Perhaps that trip provided the impetus later in my life to head off to the Sierras whenever possible for the beauty and solitude.

Mountaineering differs from hiking. The term mountaineering describes a wide variety of activities related to climbing mountains. At one end of the spectrum, mountaineering can include peak bagging, where little or no technical skills or equipment are needed to reach the summit of a mountain. The other end of the spectrum includes full-blown expeditions to the highest peaks and the worst weather conditions on Earth. Some hikers consider themselves to be mountaineers. They are not. And in truth, I am at best a low level mountaineer.

A mythical, all-inclusive set of mountaineering rules does not exist. However, over the years, I have discovered that each individual mountaineer tends to develop his or her own set of rules. Some are philosophical, frequently with a humorous bent, such as: climb with passion; it’s always taller than it looks; talk is cheap; no guts, no glory; expect dead ends. Some rules speak to ethical behavior as a mountaineer: pack out more than you pack in; don’t leave anyone behind; render assistance to anyone who needs it regardless of the risk. And some rules pertain to the practical aspects a mountaineer should focus on: if you are caught in a storm while in your tent, wait it out; don’t take unnecessary risks; use the correct gear for the situation; buy the best gear you can afford; and my three favorite rules:
1. Check your gear
2. Double check your gear
3. Triple check your gear.

A climber experiences increasing difficulty as the elevation increases. With each step breathing becomes more labored, and the heart races uncontrollably due to the decreasing amount of oxygen available. Headaches, nausea, and dizziness sometimes occur. To me the view from the top is always worth the effort. However, each mountaineer has his or her own reason for climbing to the summit. The most famous reason came from George Leigh Mallory in 1923. When asked why he wanted to climb Mt. Everest, Mallory retorted, “Because it’s there!” Non-mountain climbers do not realize that reaching the peak is only half the trip. Once at the top, a climber can briefly enjoy the view, but then must descend. Depending on the peak, getting down from the top can be as difficult, if not more so, than the climb up.


This particular story of mountaineering takes place in April of 1998. The year before I had trekked through the foothills of the Annapurna range in the Himalayas in Nepal. From the lower levels I gazed up at the massive, snowcapped peaks mystically floating above the cloud line. I was determined to return and visit the Everest region, perhaps to hike all the way to Kalapattar, a site just slightly to the northwest of Everest Base Camp, which has a view of the Mt. Everest peak itself. When I returned to San Diego, I became friendly with a group of climbers, four of whom, WRL, David, Mark, and Andreas, were planning a trip to Nepal to climb Ama Dablam, a 23,000 foot peak just south of Mount Everest and renowned for the technical ice climbing required to summit the peak.

The entire group of friends had planned a hike up Snow Creek for training, and Werner invited me to join them. Snow Creek is a 10,000’ rise on the north face of Mt. San Jacinto, which is famous for the little tourist town of Idyllwild on one side, and the tram from Palm Springs on the other. Mt. San Jacinto stands at 10,500’, far less than the 14,000’ peaks I had climbed in the Sierras. I had been to the summit of Mt. San Jacinto many times using the Devil’s Slide trail from Idyllwild. Werner described Snow Creek as “a day hike,” but also as an “ass kicker.” I was unfazed. I used Mt. San Jacinto for training hikes in preparation for high altitude work in the Sierras as well. The mountain was like an outdoor playground to me.

“I’m in,” I told Werner.

“Good, be at my house by 11:30 pm. We leave at midnight exactly, and we will be on the trail by 3:00 a.m. Don’t be late. And if you don’t have a headlamp, bring a flashlight,” he said.

I was lacking crampons and an ice ax, so Werner took me to Bill's house to borrow some equipment. Bill is a long time mountaineer, and Werner’s ex- father in-law. He was 76 when I first met him, and his wife, Ginny, was 77. Although Bill and Ginny settled in San Diego after Bill’s duty in the Navy during WWII, he still characterized himself as an old Georgia farm boy. His grandfather’s farm implements, authentic antebellum hand tools, hung on the wall by the kitchen. Age had not dulled the sharpness of mind for either Bill or Ginny, but something had affected Bill’s ability to verbalize his thoughts. Occasionally the flow of words stopped. His thoughts were there and his frustration grew as he struggled to speak.

Bill took to me instantly, and started in with his ol’ Georgia, southern gentleman routine. . His long worn away accent began to creep into his speech as we spoke.

However some tension arose when Werner indicated the equipment was for me, and we would be climbing Snow Creek. Bill’s face clearly expressed deep concern, but the words did not flow easily from his mouth.

“You can’t …not…take her…. up……. Snow Creek!” Bill exclaimed.

Werner did not respond. In retrospect, this was the first installment of a lesson I learned about Werner, although I did not realize it at the time. His strength and athletic skills were far superior to anyone else. If something was an ass-kicker to him, it could put the average person in the hospital. On the way out, Werner told me that Bill’s memory wasn’t the same since a climbing accident he had several years prior.

On the day of the climb, we left San Diego precisely at midnight. Once we arrived at the tiny community of Snow Creek, we unloaded the cars, settled our packs with the gear and supplies, and began hiking by 3:00 a.m. Werner was in the lead. I had been sure about my abilities, but only 15 to 20 minutes into the hike, I knew I was out of my league. The pace was fast. I had only a flashlight, which was inadequate to the situation. I wore only low-topped approach shoes with no support, and I stumbled easily, twisting my ankles frequently. The others had headlamps flooding the way before them with fluorescent light. The first leg of the climb was not technically difficult, but I was unaccustomed to hiking in the dark. I fell behind quickly, and I found my way only by following the flickering headlamps in the distance like a line of fireflies.

We stopped for a rest around 5:30 a.m. The darkness hid the shadowy outline of the mountain, preventing me from orienting myself. Werner sat beside me and offered me some of his orange juice.

“When we get to about 5500 feet, we’ll stop for another break. We’ll be at the lower edge of the couloir and the snow. We’ll put on our boots and crampons. Then I will show you several techniques for climbing, especially how to stop yourself with your ice ax if you fall. We stick together to prevent falls. But once you fall, the only one who can save you is you,” Werner said.

We started up the trail again, and the incline changed significantly, becoming much steeper. The pale light of dawn arrived adding to the sureness of my steps. We were in an extremely narrow chasm with huge granite walls that blocked any view of the mountain peak above and the desert floor below. We gained elevation swiftly, and the trail included some bouldering. Again, I was the caboose, and I fell so far behind I could not see or hear the group.

A staggering wall of huge boulders stretching across the entire chasm stopped me dead in my tracks. Obviously, there was no other way to go. I struggled for several minutes to find an initial hand hold, and then shimmied my way up the cracks between the boulders. Several times I resorted to the very ungraceful, and frowned upon, technique of using my knees.

I could hear voices laughing and talking as I pulled myself over the lip of the last boulder. As I did, the laughing turned to cheering. We were finally at the edge of the snow tongue and the beginning of the real climb.

I sat down facing north, away from the mountain, to catch my breath. I pulled out a Powerbar and water from my pack for breakfast, although the exertion had diminished my appetite. I turned around for a first look at the climb ahead, and the sight took my breath away. The mountain rose 5000’ from our site at what seemed to be a nearly vertical rise. Later I learned the angle was only 35 degrees at most, however it did not matter. This was more than I had anticipated. For the first time, I realized that hardcore mountaineers do not look for the quickest way, or the simplest way, or the prettiest and most pleasant way to the summit of a peak. They deliberately choose the most difficult route up a mountain and then make a race of it.

Once I was outfitted with boots, crampons, and the ice ax, Werner gave me brief instructions in front pointing and the French technique of standing flatfooted to climb. He demonstrated the correct grasp of the ice ax for the self-arrest position, with the thumb under the adze, and the palm and fingers over the pick near the shaft. Self-arrest is the most effective recovery measure from an uncontrollable fall, and the most desirable position for self-arrest is head uphill, face down. Once in that position a climber centers his body weight over the ax, and hopefully the ax catches the ice and stops the fall.

We began the climb up the couloir. Very quickly the group fell into rhythm. Steve took the lead, cutting switchbacks in the snow, and the other climbers followed his footsteps. I was no longer last in line, since Werner was directly behind me bringing up the rear. However, the group ahead climbed at a much greater speed than I did, and as such both Werner and I fell behind. As we gained elevation, my heart was racing and my breathing was shallow and fast. I stopped every fourth or fifth switchback to catch my breath.

“ What are you, my private Sherpa? Why don’t you go on ahead? I’m just holding you back. I can follow the tracks myself,” I said to Werner.
“No. This is good,” he said.

The group stopped for lunch at about 7500 feet. Werner, David, and I sat together on a rock. I had a cheese sandwich but I could not tolerate the thought of even a bite, or even a sip of water. Waves of nausea from the physical exertion rolled over me, and I struggled to overcome the feeling. David noticed I was not eating, and he gently insisted that I try.

Werner’s attention was focused on his brother-in-law, John, as he crossed the couloir and inspected a large bush on the other side. John looked morose as he kicked around in the ice as if he were searching for something buried.

Werner finally turned away to eat his lunch.

This is the first trip up Snow Creek for any of us since Bill’s accident. John and Bill were climbing this alone 5 years ago. Bill was behind John when he slipped and fell almost 1000’ down the ice before he stopped. He was badly injured and unconscious, and that’s the bush John secured him to while he went down the mountain for help. They sent in a Huey from the Marine base to pick him up off the mountain. He almost died,” Werner explained.
(the reader can click the link above for John's account of Bill's fall down Snow Creek)

“This is where Bill had his climbing accident? And he was climbing this at 71 years old?” I asked.

“Yes, he’s strong, and he’s climbed this mountain more than any of us combined, but I should have gone along,” Werner answered.

“Am I wearing the gear he was using?” I asked. There was no reply.

After resting about 30 minutes, we began climbing again. The summit was less than 3000’ feet above us. I have never struggled so hard with any climb, even those at higher altitudes. I stopped at every turn in the switchbacks to breathe; my heart raced at the speed of light, and with each beat it came up through my throat. My head pounded with a throbbing pain that seemed to split me in two. My vision became blurred, and every muscle screamed in pain. I could feel the skin on my right heel rubbing off from the friction of the boot. I thought about turning around, but one look down the mountain convinced me that going up was the only option.

Again I suggested to Werner that he go ahead of me. Again, he said no.

I barely reached the saddle of the chute we were in. The rest of the group turned right to finish hiking to the top but I could not join them. As I waited for them to come back, I looked up at the peak, and felt the deadening sense of defeat grip me. How could this mountain, this playground, conquer me? The answer from the mountain came to me like a soft whisper in my mind. “You underestimated me. You did not know this side of me existed,” the mountain told me.

The group came down from the peak, and we started off for the second half of the climb, the descent. However we did not climb down Snow Creek. We continued over the saddle to the other side of the mountain, hiked across Round Valley several miles to the lodge, and caught the tram down to Palm Springs. With the danger of slipping down the ice on Snow Creek gone, Werner took off at his own speed again. I was hiking alone, although I knew my way. I was beyond exhaustion, and several times I fell forward onto my knees, retching with dry heaves. I reached the lodge at 4:00 p.m., fully 13 hours of climbing. Once there, I removed my boots, and my right sock was soaked with blood.

It was four and a half years before I returned to Mt. San Jacinto. My best friend and I hiked up one day using the Devil's Slide trail over Labor Day weekend, and we each tried to outdo the other with the gourmet picnics we brought along. There at the top, I went to the north edge of the summit and looked down Snow Creek. I thought of the long list of mountaineering rules I have heard, and none of them would have helped me reach the summit via Snow Creek. But that day the mountain taught me there is only one true rule of mountaineering. All other so called rules are merely extensions of it. Know and respect the mountain.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Tabby Tuesday

Hmmmmmmmmmmm.....I've been thinking about giving up

yoga


In favor of

weight training.

Hmmmmmmmmm, maybe I'll stick with

Yoga.

Luv,
Skittles, The Huntress

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Snoozy Sunday

I could hear my pet human calling for me. I had been hiding for quite a while.

"Skittles! Here kitty, kitty!" (I hate it when she calls me kitty.)


She finally found my hiding place. In the closet with her clothes. I told her it was Snoozy Sunday.

But really, I'm in here contemplating which shoe to drop the dead lizard in.

Don't tell her!

Luv,
Skittles, The Huntress

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Flower Friday

My favorite flowers in my garden:





And to satisfy my pet human, I'm letting her post some of her photos:

Joshua Tree National Monument



Luv,
Skittles

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Wordy Wednesday

I had the most wonderful Tuesday! My boyfriend, SlyCat, teleported over here and took me back to his place for a date.

You can check it out here: Sly Likes Things
Oh, I had a wonderful time! Picnic, koi pond, boat rides, lobster, champagne, fireworks.............

eat your heart out, girls.......................he's mine!!!!!!!!!!!!

Luv,
Skittles, The Huntress

Monday, June 23, 2008

Tummy Tuesday

(Scroll past this post for Carnival of the Cats #223)



Luv,
Skittles, The Huntress

Saturday, June 21, 2008

CoTC #223

WELCOME TO CARNIVAL OF THE CATS #223!!!!!!!!

(yawn)(stretch) Good Morning Cat Blooooogggggoooooooospheeeeeeere!!!!

Welcome to my very first attempt at Carnival of the Cats. I wandered and wandered my garden trying to pick the perfect place to host the Carnival. I decided the side yard with my container garden would be perfect.

This is what it looked like one month ago.

This is what my container garden looks like today. I have lots of tomatoes, beans, peppers, and eggplants. Oh, and some basil too!

So lets have fun!!!! Here are all the linkies to my fellow felines who submitted their posts:

Samantha and Mr. Tigger, at Life From A Cat’s Perspective, show us the joys of playing with water!

Snorgle material!!! Cute tummies at Mind of Mog.

Also at Mind of Mog: Tandem Feline Sink Diving. DEY R DOIN IT RITE!

At This is Cyprus, the great mystery of the self starting printer has been solved. Guess who done it! Sophia!

Maddie’s out of the bag over at StrangeRanger.

There’s a big football match coming up, and Chica and Pumuckl are cheering!


KT Cat needs a rating for LOLCats

Sammy, Miles and Bill Meezer share all the rumblings at Meezer Tails. 13 things heard at Casa Meezer this week.

Crash! The Ugliest, most hideous, wacky vase meets Zorro’s dreaded tail of death at House of Chaos

From Elms in the Yard, in Jerusalem, The Lady in Red shows off her fierce hunting techniques.

Composite Drawlings is looking for a little color

At Texas Oasis, Henry makes a very important political statement

Ping, at Manx Mnews, gives us an update on his back left foot. He’s had a hard week, still walks gimpy, but should pull through

Mimi wants cheese, to put it mildly, at The Poor Mouth.

Mike Barus, at Fine Pet Care.com, submits a serious article about what kind of collar you might wish to wear

Chance gets ticked off on Tuxie Tuesday.

Gree at Hot(M)BC gives a peek into her wedding preparations. News about the wedding and reception too.

Ramona plays a trick on her Brother. hehehehehehe!

Cuteness Overload at Cat Care, Breeds and Resources

and the newest in litter box design and architecture:

Puddy likes chin scritches over at A Byootiful Life.

Spectra keeps a watchful eye on things over at Cascade Exposure. (I think my pet human wants to climb those mountains!)

Nosey is wearing the latest in colored contacts for cats at Anniemiz. Very fashionable! I wonder if Daisy has any?????

Tiny does some stunning triangulation at Sisu.


Wowy! That was fun. Thanks to all who visited me and my blogging friends on this edition of Carnival of the Cats.
p.s. if there is a problem with your linky, email me at SkittlesTheHuntress@gmail.com, and I will fix it immediately!

Luv to you all and your humans!

Skittles, The Huntress

Friday, June 20, 2008

My Ally of Oriflamme Canyon


Not all of my camping trips are to the mountains. When I first moved to San Diego, I discovered the wild diversity and lovely, secluded spots of Anza Borrego Desert State Park.



One year I decided to explore Anza Borrego on my own. I needed some time to myself, and I wanted seclusion. I had no plans for a campsite, although I had reservations at the developed site adjacent to Palm Canyon and Indian Head Peak, just in case. I took off around 5:00 a.m. with my gear and an old, worn out map.

I headed down S2 and finally pulled over to the side. I wasn't sure about which way to go, but I knew I wanted to stay away from Whale Peak, certain to be a favorite with campers and visitors. I got back on the road, and drove slowly, looking south for any kind of trail.

I passed what seemed to be an old abandoned road in a wash, but it was faint. The map showed no markings for it. Perfect! I turned down the wash.

I drove slowly trying to stay on the trail, which frequently disappeared. The driving was difficult; deep sand, huge boulders, and debris from the years of flash floods blocked my way.

The trail began gaining altitude, and soon I was looking into a small chasm to the left. There appeared to be cottonwoods, but how odd in the desert. Suddenly,the trail took a sharp left turn and headed down the hill. At the bottom was the most exquisite oasis, a running creek with a waterfall, grassy banks and about a dozen cottonwoods providing shade around the pond. I parked the truck and pitched my tent on the grass.

The day was perfect, not too hot, and I enjoyed the exploring. When dusk fell I made a light supper, had a glass of wine, and sat peacefully enjoying the sound of the waterfall and the solitude of my little oasis. Later I fell asleep easily in my tent.

Very late in the night violent winds awakened me. The gusts were at least 30 to 40 miles per hour. Luckily I had secured my tent well. Even so, I wondered if I were not inside to help hold the tent down, would it have flown away?

The banshee wind howled mystically through the small chasm. The cottonwoods acted as vocal cords for the gushes of air blasting in from the west. A full moon lit up my summer weight tent through the netting.

The howling continued, but suddenly I was aware of footsteps circling my tent. Every hair stood on end, and I almost froze with terror. They were most definitely human foot steps I heard, pacing around my tent. I had a rifle with me, but even so I could not find my voice or the courage to get out of the tent to confront the intruder.

Eventually the footsteps stopped. I fell asleep at around daybreak and had the most fantastical dreams.

When I awoke, the sun was overhead and the winds had completely died. The silence rattled me. I gingerly unzipped the tent door and stepped outside.

Rings and rings of coyote tracks circled my tent.

A coyote! To this day I don't know why, but at that moment I felt a kinship with the coyote who visited me that night. He was my protector in the desert. My ally in Oriflamme Canyon.

I found out later that in this particular area of Anza Borrego, illegal gold mining continues, especially with cyanide. Those who venture into the area have occasionally been shot at for daring to explore.

My coyote kept me safe.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Carnival of the Cats #223

I AM HOSTING THE NEXT CARNIVAL OF THE CATS!!!! WAAAAHOOOOOOOOOOO!!!

LET'S MAKE THIS TOTALLY FUN AND A BLOWOUT!


ImageChef.com - Custom comment codes for MySpace, Hi5, Friendster and more

HAVE YOU SENT IN YOUR SUBMISSION?????

NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WHAT'S WRONG?????????? DO IT NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

GO HERE: Carnival submissions

Monday, June 16, 2008

Tough Tabby Tuesday

WHOA!!!! I AM ONE TOUGH TABBY!

Threatening a lawsuit works wonders! My 3 pet humans heard my threat after publishing my teddy bear photos, and they flew into action! They headed straight for the garage and retrieved my SlyBear, AND my santa hat, AND, MY SADDLE BLANKET!!

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh, bliss!


I have to remember this important tactic! And I guess since Fred volunteered to be my attorney, then I will discuss keeping him on a retainer. I wonder how much catnip he wants? Wait, he volunteered. Do volunteers get paid? I don't think so.

MY ADVICE: WHEN YOUR HUMANS REFUSE TO TREAT YOU WELL OR EMBARRASS YOU, GET AN ATTORNEY.

Luv,
Skittles, The Huntress

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Intervention Monday

Perhaps you all know by now. I have 3 pet humans to manage. The main pet is WW, then there are Bob and Julie. Bob and Julie are easy to manage, but WW is a pain in the you know what.

Yesterday, all three were sitting in the breakfast room. They invited me to join them.

WW: "Skittles, we are here as your loving friends and family."

Julie: "yes, we love you very much, which is why we are here to intervene."

Bob: "Skittles, you're an addict. Your sex addiction has gone too far. We are worried for you. Remember the "Teddy Dog Incident?"

Me: "I'm not an addict." (Denial works every time!)

Bob: "Well, I think these pictures I got of you tell a different story. WW put your SlyBear in the garage to help, but apparently you needed a fix............


(is anyone looking????????)
(will it play with me????? come hither.........)
JOY and ECSTASY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
(ummmmmmmmm, yes the teddy bear will play with me!)

I've decided Bob is a traitor. I was always so nice to him. I cuddled in bed with him. I slept on his lap. I purred and purred for him. I even watched him take his shower.

This is how he repays me? What is he??? Paparazzi?

I'm gonna sue!

Luv,
Skittles, The Huntress

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Snoozy Sunday

sssszzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
SSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ!!!!!!!!!!!
(sssssssssshhhhhhhhhhhhh!)

Luv,
Skittles, The Huntress

Friday, June 13, 2008

Saturday Caturday

Bring Back Hillary

I was relaxing on the side deck and enjoying the dappled sunlight shining through on the container garden, when I received a phone call.It was Ginny, who lives next door. She, and her husband, Bill, are my unpaid political advisers. Bill was a pilot in WWII (and a character in some of my pet human's short stories), and Ginny worked for the State department during WWII over in England. She was in London during the Blitz!

"Skittles," she said, "I have some Temptations and a bowl of cream here for you. Come on over and see us!"
Well, I didn't waste any time! It wasn't the Temptations or cream, I just like to visit my buddies!

I sat down next to Ginny at the counter, and she moved a magazine in front of me. It was The Week. And the cover was about Hillary dropping out of the race.
"What do you think, Skittles, was it sexism?"

Bill got upset and said: "Look I told you that it's the math! She didn't have enough delegates! Obama had the delegates!"

Ginny: I'm talking to Skittles!

Bill: It's not sexism any more than it would have been racism the other way around.

Ginny: Be quiet! I want to hear Skittles.

Me: I think that most of the SuperDelegates who went for Obama were men, weren't they? Yes, in part I think sexism was involved. At the same time, Obama's campaign started gaining on Hillary only after Oprah endorsed him. So that wasn't sexism. It's both. I never understood why Obama needed Oprah.

Bill: Hey I voted for Hillary. And I'm a man.

Ginny (getting very upset): Bill! Be quiet! Listen, the year I was born, women didn't have the vote! Blacks had the vote, but women didn't! Women all over America are very upset and disappointed. We're the majority after all. We deserve to be heard!

Me: Well, America can redeem itself by voting me into the White House. I'm a girl.

Ginny: I'm voting for you, Skittles!
I finished my Temptations and cream and went back to ponder all this in my garden. Wow, I knew that women in America got full suffrage in 1920, but when Ginny put it the way she did, I finally realized it wasn't very long ago. And look at all the countries who gave women voting power before the US: click on this.

I disagreed with many of Hillary's issues, but I gotta go with Ginny on this one. The press tore Hillary up and dissed her, in a way they never did to Obama.

Bring Hillary back.

BUT

Vote For Skittles, The Huntress

Luv,
Skittles

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Super Delegates

Dear Friends and Constituents,

I received a call yesterday morning from the mother of my pet human, who insists that I call her "grandma."

She wanted to know what I thought of Hillary dropping out of the presidential race. We started talking about the politics of super delegates, then all of a sudden, grandma dropped a bomb!

"Skittles, I'm throwing my support to you as a super delegate from "The OC."

Whoa!

I'm really appreciative to have the support, but.................................

CAN A HUMAN BE MY SUPER DELEGATE????? SHE HAS NO PAWS! NO FUR! WOULD IT BE A CONFLICT OF INTEREST SINCE IT'S MY GRANDMA?

I don't know about this. I like grandma, and I love her garden. But is this a wise political decision?

You can vote.....grandma: in or out?

Luv,

Skittles, The Huntress

P.S. Do I have any other delegates out there?

Monday, June 09, 2008

Tough Economy Tuesday


Dear Friends,

Please check out this link. The housing market in San Diego is particularly bad. Unfortunately, our four legged, feline and canine friends are suffering because of the economy. They are facing housing problems because of the human housing decline.

http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/metro/20080609-9999-1n9pets.html

Or click this.....

My campaign will address these serious issues. I will be posting more tomorrow. Please check back.

Luv,
Skittles, The Huntress

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Snow Creek Stories


(many of my short stories use mountains and climbing as metaphors for life)

The Rules of Mountaineering: A Climb Up Snow Creek


At some point in my life I began climbing mountains. I don’t recall the origin of this inclination. When I was a child, my family had a vacation home at Lake Arrowhead, in the San Bernardino Mountains in Southern California. Yet we were the type of family that strolled on light trails in the mountains only when the comforts of enjoying hot chocolate by the hearth of a large roaring fire beckoned in the evening. Nor do I have any recollection of camping with my parents, or even that they owned a tent. My only experience as a child with camping came when I was 11 years old. My aunt and uncle took my brother and me to Mt. Whitney in the Eastern Sierras, where we hiked to the first lake. Perhaps that trip provided the impetus later in my life to head off to the Sierras whenever possible for the beauty and solitude.

Mountaineering differs from hiking. The term mountaineering describes a wide variety of activities related to climbing mountains. At one end of the spectrum, mountaineering can include peak bagging, where little or no technical skills or equipment are needed to reach the summit of a mountain. The other end of the spectrum includes full-blown expeditions to the highest peaks and the worst weather conditions on Earth. Some hikers consider themselves to be mountaineers. They are not. And in truth, I am at best a low level mountaineer.

A mythical, all-inclusive set of mountaineering rules does not exist. However, over the years, I have discovered that each individual mountaineer tends to develop his or her own set of rules. Some are philosophical, frequently with a humorous bent, such as: climb with passion; it’s always taller than it looks; talk is cheap; no guts, no glory; expect dead ends. Some rules speak to ethical behavior as a mountaineer: pack out more than you pack in; don’t leave anyone behind; render assistance to anyone who needs it regardless of the risk. And some rules pertain to the practical aspects a mountaineer should focus on: if you are caught in a storm while in your tent, wait it out; don’t take unnecessary risks; use the correct gear for the situation; buy the best gear you can afford; and my three favorite rules:
1. Check your gear
2. Double check your gear
3. Triple check your gear.

A climber experiences increasing difficulty as the elevation increases. With each step breathing becomes more labored, and the heart races uncontrollably due to the decreasing amount of oxygen available. Headaches, nausea, and dizziness sometimes occur. To me the view from the top is always worth the effort. However, each mountaineer has his or her own reason for climbing to the summit. The most famous reason came from George Leigh Mallory in 1923. When asked why he wanted to climb Mt. Everest, Mallory retorted, “Because it’s there!” Non-mountain climbers do not realize that reaching the peak is only half the trip. Once at the top, a climber can briefly enjoy the view, but then must descend. Depending on the peak, getting down from the top can be as difficult, if not more so, than the climb up.


This particular story of mountaineering takes place in April of 1998. The year before I had trekked through the foothills of the Annapurna range in the Himalayas in Nepal. From the lower levels I gazed up at the massive, snowcapped peaks mystically floating above the cloud line. I was determined to return and visit the Everest region, perhaps to hike all the way to Kalapattar, a site just slightly to the northwest of Everest Base Camp, which has a view of the Mt. Everest peak itself. When I returned to San Diego, I became friendly with a group of climbers, four of whom, WRL, David, Mark, and Andreas, were planning a trip to Nepal to climb Ama Dablam, a 23,000 foot peak just south of Mount Everest and renowned for the technical ice climbing required to summit the peak.

The entire group of friends had planned a hike up Snow Creek for training, and Werner invited me to join them. Snow Creek is a 10,000’ rise on the north face of Mt. San Jacinto, which is famous for the little tourist town of Idyllwild on one side, and the tram from Palm Springs on the other. Mt. San Jacinto stands at 10,500’, far less than the 14,000’ peaks I had climbed in the Sierras. I had been to the summit of Mt. San Jacinto many times using the Devil’s Slide trail from Idyllwild. Werner described Snow Creek as “a day hike,” but also as an “ass kicker.” I was unfazed. I used Mt. San Jacinto for training hikes in preparation for high altitude work in the Sierras as well. The mountain was like an outdoor playground to me.

“I’m in,” I told Werner.

“Good, be at my house by 11:30 pm. We leave at midnight exactly, and we will be on the trail by 3:00 a.m. Don’t be late. And if you don’t have a headlamp, bring a flashlight,” he said.

I was lacking crampons and an ice ax, so Werner took me to Bill's house to borrow some equipment. Bill is a long time mountaineer, and Werner’s ex- father in-law. He was 76 when I first met him, and his wife, Ginny, was 77. Although Bill and Ginny settled in San Diego after Bill’s duty in the Navy during WWII, he still characterized himself as an old Georgia farm boy. His grandfather’s farm implements, authentic antebellum hand tools, hung on the wall by the kitchen. Age had not dulled the sharpness of mind for either Bill or Ginny, but something had affected Bill’s ability to verbalize his thoughts. Occasionally the flow of words stopped. His thoughts were there and his frustration grew as he struggled to speak.

Bill took to me instantly, and started in with his ol’ Georgia, southern gentleman routine. . His long worn away accent began to creep into his speech as we spoke.

However some tension arose when Werner indicated the equipment was for me, and we would be climbing Snow Creek. Bill’s face clearly expressed deep concern, but the words did not flow easily from his mouth.

“You can’t …not…take her…. up……. Snow Creek!” Bill exclaimed.

Werner did not respond. In retrospect, this was the first installment of a lesson I learned about Werner, although I did not realize it at the time. His strength and athletic skills were far superior to anyone else. If something was an ass-kicker to him, it could put the average person in the hospital. On the way out, Werner told me that Bill’s memory wasn’t the same since a climbing accident he had several years prior.

On the day of the climb, we left San Diego precisely at midnight. Once we arrived at the tiny community of Snow Creek, we unloaded the cars, settled our packs with the gear and supplies, and began hiking by 3:00 a.m. Werner was in the lead. I had been sure about my abilities, but only 15 to 20 minutes into the hike, I knew I was out of my league. The pace was fast. I had only a flashlight, which was inadequate to the situation. I wore only low-topped approach shoes with no support, and I stumbled easily, twisting my ankles frequently. The others had headlamps flooding the way before them with fluorescent light. The first leg of the climb was not technically difficult, but I was unaccustomed to hiking in the dark. I fell behind quickly, and I found my way only by following the flickering headlamps in the distance like a line of fireflies.

We stopped for a rest around 5:30 a.m. The darkness hid the shadowy outline of the mountain, preventing me from orienting myself. Werner sat beside me and offered me some of his orange juice.

“When we get to about 5500 feet, we’ll stop for another break. We’ll be at the lower edge of the couloir and the snow. We’ll put on our boots and crampons. Then I will show you several techniques for climbing, especially how to stop yourself with your ice ax if you fall. We stick together to prevent falls. But once you fall, the only one who can save you is you,” Werner said.

We started up the trail again, and the incline changed significantly, becoming much steeper. The pale light of dawn arrived adding to the sureness of my steps. We were in an extremely narrow chasm with huge granite walls that blocked any view of the mountain peak above and the desert floor below. We gained elevation swiftly, and the trail included some bouldering. Again, I was the caboose, and I fell so far behind I could not see or hear the group.

A staggering wall of huge boulders stretching across the entire chasm stopped me dead in my tracks. Obviously, there was no other way to go. I struggled for several minutes to find an initial hand hold, and then shimmied my way up the cracks between the boulders. Several times I resorted to the very ungraceful, and frowned upon, technique of using my knees.

I could hear voices laughing and talking as I pulled myself over the lip of the last boulder. As I did, the laughing turned to cheering. We were finally at the edge of the snow tongue and the beginning of the real climb.

I sat down facing north, away from the mountain, to catch my breath. I pulled out a Powerbar and water from my pack for breakfast, although the exertion had diminished my appetite. I turned around for a first look at the climb ahead, and the sight took my breath away. The mountain rose 5000’ from our site at what seemed to be a nearly vertical rise. Later I learned the angle was only 35 degrees at most, however it did not matter. This was more than I had anticipated. For the first time, I realized that hardcore mountaineers do not look for the quickest way, or the simplest way, or the prettiest and most pleasant way to the summit of a peak. They deliberately choose the most difficult route up a mountain and then make a race of it.

Once I was outfitted with boots, crampons, and the ice ax, Werner gave me brief instructions in front pointing and the French technique of standing flatfooted to climb. He demonstrated the correct grasp of the ice ax for the self-arrest position, with the thumb under the adze, and the palm and fingers over the pick near the shaft. Self-arrest is the most effective recovery measure from an uncontrollable fall, and the most desirable position for self-arrest is head uphill, face down. Once in that position a climber centers his body weight over the ax, and hopefully the ax catches the ice and stops the fall.

We began the climb up the couloir. Very quickly the group fell into rhythm. Steve took the lead, cutting switchbacks in the snow, and the other climbers followed his footsteps. I was no longer last in line, since Werner was directly behind me bringing up the rear. However, the group ahead climbed at a much greater speed than I did, and as such both Werner and I fell behind. As we gained elevation, my heart was racing and my breathing was shallow and fast. I stopped every fourth or fifth switchback to catch my breath.

“ What are you, my private Sherpa? Why don’t you go on ahead? I’m just holding you back. I can follow the tracks myself,” I said to Werner.
“No. This is good,” he said.

The group stopped for lunch at about 7500 feet. Werner, David, and I sat together on a rock. I had a cheese sandwich but I could not tolerate the thought of even a bite, or even a sip of water. Waves of nausea from the physical exertion rolled over me, and I struggled to overcome the feeling. David noticed I was not eating, and he gently insisted that I try.

Werner’s attention was focused on his brother-in-law, John, as he crossed the couloir and inspected a large bush on the other side. John looked morose as he kicked around in the ice as if he were searching for something buried.

Werner finally turned away to eat his lunch.

This is the first trip up Snow Creek for any of us since Bill’s accident. John and Bill were climbing this alone 5 years ago. Bill was behind John when he slipped and fell almost 1000’ down the ice before he stopped. He was badly injured and unconscious, and that’s the bush John secured him to while he went down the mountain for help. They sent in a Huey from the Marine base to pick him up off the mountain. He almost died,” Werner explained.
(the reader can click the link above for John's account of Bill's fall down Snow Creek)

“This is where Bill had his climbing accident? And he was climbing this at 71 years old?” I asked.

“Yes, he’s strong, and he’s climbed this mountain more than any of us combined, but I should have gone along,” Werner answered.

“Am I wearing the gear he was using?” I asked. There was no reply.

After resting about 30 minutes, we began climbing again. The summit was less than 3000’ feet above us. I have never struggled so hard with any climb, even those at higher altitudes. I stopped at every turn in the switchbacks to breathe; my heart raced at the speed of light, and with each beat it came up through my throat. My head pounded with a throbbing pain that seemed to split me in two. My vision became blurred, and every muscle screamed in pain. I could feel the skin on my right heel rubbing off from the friction of the boot. I thought about turning around, but one look down the mountain convinced me that going up was the only option.

Again I suggested to Werner that he go ahead of me. Again, he said no.

I barely reached the saddle of the chute we were in. The rest of the group turned right to finish hiking to the top but I could not join them. As I waited for them to come back, I looked up at the peak, and felt the deadening sense of defeat grip me. How could this mountain, this playground, conquer me? The answer from the mountain came to me like a soft whisper in my mind. “You underestimated me. You did not know this side of me existed,” the mountain told me.

The group came down from the peak, and we started off for the second half of the climb, the descent. However we did not climb down Snow Creek. We continued over the saddle to the other side of the mountain, hiked across Round Valley several miles to the lodge, and caught the tram down to Palm Springs. With the danger of slipping down the ice on Snow Creek gone, Werner took off at his own speed again. I was hiking alone, although I knew my way. I was beyond exhaustion, and several times I fell forward onto my knees, retching with dry heaves. I reached the lodge at 4:00 p.m., fully 13 hours of climbing. Once there, I removed my boots, and my right sock was soaked with blood.

It was four and a half years before I returned to Mt. San Jacinto. My best friend and I hiked up one day using the Devil's Slide trail over Labor Day weekend, and we each tried to outdo the other with the gourmet picnics we brought along. There at the top, I went to the north edge of the summit and looked down Snow Creek. I thought of the long list of mountaineering rules I have heard, and none of them would have helped me reach the summit via Snow Creek. But that day the mountain taught me there is only one true rule of mountaineering. All other so called rules are merely extensions of it. Know and respect the mountain.