Story by Deek Speredelozzi • Photos by Deek Speredelozzi and Shane McCarthy •
Nowhere Creek Camp to North Fork Big Sur River Camp
I don’t suppose it’ll seem all that hard to believe that nobody in our group overslept the following morning. No thanks to our less-than-swank accommodations, we were all up and at ‘em just as soon as the forest had filled with enough daylight that we couldn’t ignore it any longer. There wasn’t exactly a lot to hang around camp for, anyway. No swimming hole, no epic viewpoint, no comfy little common area in which to lay back peacefully over morning coffee, listening to the sounds of a new day ramping up in the forest. This was all well and good with everyone in the group, anyway, as our failure to make it to our intended destination yesterday meant that we had further to go today to get back on schedule and reach our intended Day 2 camp at Cienega Creek, six miles ahead. We were in motion by about 8:30 AM.
The trail immediately crossed the little stream, and then promptly began to climb up and over another small ridge. This is weird: I don’t remember there being another ridge to get over before reaching the confluence of Mocho Creek and the South Fork; so WTF? As was soon revealed by a closer scrutinizing of the map than I had as of yet endeavored, there was in fact another small ridge to lump ourselves over before we would even reach Mocho Creek Camp—yesterday’s intended destination. This meant that our progress yesterday had been even less than I’d reckoned. Immediately I thought to myself that it was a good thing I hadn’t fought last night’s prevailing sentiment to bivouac at the nameless creek “site” by insisting that we keep trekking on to our planned destination, since, as I now saw plainly enough, an eruption of mutiny would have been virtually assured the moment the trail had begun to climb upwards again before we had reached Mocho Creek Camp. At any rate, for some lucky reason, even now the next morning, it seemed that nobody on the team thought it odd that we were once again ascending, though we had not yet passed Mocho Creek Camp; and I chose to keep my mouth shut about it. For the sake of group morale, of course.
Anyhow, as luck would have it, this small ridge proved not too troublesome to surmount; and before 90 minutes of walking were behind us, we did indeed find ourselves at last alongside the South Fork of the Big Sur River, at Rainbow Camp. Rainbow Camp? Hold on a second…isn’t Rainbow Camp the camp we were supposed to pass about a half mile after passing Mocho Camp? Again, I kept these doubts to myself, thankful for the fact that none of my fellow travelers seemed to be also having them. But if we’re at Rainbow Camp now, then we must have walked right past Mocho Camp at some point in the preceding hour, and not even noticed it. At least I never noticed it; and I was looking for it. And if anybody else on the team had seen it, I never heard it mentioned.
And so, for the second time today, I found myself relieved that I had not tried to force the team to press on any further last night; for, if I could walk on past an established campsite in broad daylight, what were the chances that I would have seen it in the black of night, exhausted and under-nourished? My only decent guess was that Mocho Camp must have been somewhat removed from the main trail, and served by a minor spur trail of some sort—a minor spur trail that was not obvious enough to be seen in the clear light of day. Another possibility that occurred to me was that Mocho Camp had been abandoned by trail crews some time ago, and was no longer maintained or kept up in any way. That might explain how we could have walked right through it in collective oblivion. At any rate, any such failure to either a) know the current status of the campsites along our route or b) identify said campsites when passing through them, was mine, and mine alone. Sure, the other members of the team all had working eyes as well, not to mention a laundry-list of other faculties identical to those which I possessed; but it was nevertheless I who had taken on the responsibility of seeing this posse from one end of this wilderness to the other. And normally this is a role that I can be safely counted on to execute at least as flawlessly as anybody else, as far as circumstances allow. So yeah—standing there in the clearing of Rainbow Camp, my inner monologue was indeed one of self-reprimand, self-chastisement—even if nobody was the wiser. I vowed to myself then and there to do better next time and, in the future, to probe far more deeply into the specific conditions of areas before leading good, decent folk like these five friends of mine into them in the future.
We decided to take a short rest at Rainbow Camp, seeing as how there was a picnic table to sit on, and a river running through, from whose thirst-quenching waters the hounds could have surely used a moment to partake. Plus, we needed to re-up on water ourselves. It was here that the Big Sur Trail crossed the South Fork of its namesake river; and immediately on the other side of the crossing, the trail could be seen to start climbing steeply again at once. I wasn’t exactly excited to start climbing again just yet; but at least this corresponded with my interpretation of the map- which was a welcome change from the series of misreads that I had been committing of late, at great cost to all. I leaned back against the picnic table, propping my backpack on top of it, and went to unclip my hip-belt. Before I was even free of the weight of my pack, the corner of the picnic table on which I had chosen to lean crumbled away, depositing my pack on the ground beside me. Okay, so the picnic table was made of soggy, rotten wood, or wood so thoroughly devoured by termites or whatever so as to preclude its being able to support a 40-pound pack. I decided to abort my plan to sit on the table’s affixed bench, opting instead for the leaf-covered ground, which I trusted would not fall away beneath my weight. And the ground held.
Apart from the soggy, rotten picnic table that had probably, as it seemed, sat in that very spot through 30 or more years of pounding winter rains, heavy spring floods, and sweltering summer and autumn heat-waves, Rainbow Camp also offered, for its visitors’ convenience, a small brick hearth, presumably at one time having been capable of housing a tiny campfire. Not so anymore, though. The pathetic little fireplace, which had never been more than two feet tall and two feet across, was now collapsed on one side, its brickwork crumbled away as if it had been at some point set upon by a vigorously-swung sledgehammer, and its bed overflowing with bone-dry leaves and sticks. I suspected that this derelict little contraption had not housed a cheerful little campfire for many years now; and my suspicions were confirmed to my satisfaction a moment later, when, after I tested it by lightly pushing on one of its still-standing walls with a hiking boot, I was instantly confronted with a cloud of boisterously-swarming yellow-jackets, erupting forth from a newly-exposed crack in the wall of the hearth. Instinctively I leapt away with a vigor that over-reported my present energy level, and made fast tracks over to the river fifteen or so feet away, intending to, if necessary, submerge myself fully beneath its frigid waters, so as to foil any attempt by the disturbed wasps to hold me accountable for my intrusion into their domicile.
Now, if you know me, you know that if there is one thing in this world of which I harbor an absolutely irrational and ungovernable fear, it’s bees.
My terror of these things far exceeds that which would seem appropriate, given my history of dealing with them. Throughout my lifetime, I’ve only been stung on a handful of occasions—fifteen at most; and the majority of these incidents have consisted of me sustaining a single sting which, I must admit, has usually turned out to be not a very big deal at all. It’s not like I’m one of those people who needs to be rushed to a hospital with my life hanging in the balance after being stung by a wasp; so really my profoundly melodramatic phobia of them is largely inexplicable. I don’t even really mind the sting so much—it’s the way the damn things hover about, with that ceaseless, nauseating, low-register buzzing, as they make repeated swoops in and around my body, that gets me worked up into such an embarrassing, undignified tizzy at the first sign of their presence. To tell you the truth, it’s actually somewhat of a relief to me when an aggravated bee finally stings me; because, at least with those wasps that I have had to deal with in my lifetime, the sting means the bastard is dead, and thus no longer a threat to me. I know… it makes very little sense.
So anyway, back to the wilderness. In my frenzy to escape this swarm of bees I went recklessly splashing into the river, in my hiking boots, intending to dive beneath the surface; but instead I found the riverbed to be scarcely deep enough to allow a full-grown adult to become fully-submerged, even in a laying-down position. I suppose we were pretty far upriver, well above the point where the collecting waters had deepened sufficiently so as to allow a full-body immersion. At any rate, I stood there in place, panicked, lurching this way and that in search of a place to hide; but seeing no obvious next course of action, I just kind of froze there in place, waiting for the blanket of angry wasps to envelope me, as I knew it would absolutely do at any moment. I couldn’t even bring myself to look back in the direction of the hearth, lest I turn my head into a nail-bed of proffered stingers bearing down upon my wide-open eyes. After a stone-terror-filled moment of waiting for the proverbial other shoe to drop, I vaguely perceived that, for whatever reason, I was not riddled with venomous hooks attached to dead wasps, and managed to relax somewhat for the first time since disturbing the hive. I looked down to see Dicha, standing in the river a couple of feet away, serenely slaking his thirst in the cool water beside me, and regarding me intermittently with a look that said “Are you through? I’m trying to have a peaceful moment over here.” And he was absolutely right. I was being ridiculous. The bees weren’t after me- they were too busy trying to figure out what the fuck had just happened to their little slice of home, deep in the cracked brickwork of the broken fireplace. Nevertheless, I had come within fifteen feet of that hearth for the last time, cutting it a wide berth as I returned to my pack, which still lay sheepishly in the leaves beside the aged picnic table.
Well, at this point, for my part, I was done with Rainbow Camp, and antsy to move on, though I had not really rested since arriving here a minute or two earlier. I gathered my pack to me and started towards the river, my soaking-wet boots squirting tiny little jets of water as I went. I didn’t really need more water anyway; so the rest of the crew could catch up with me when they were done extracting their drinking water from the river. I trudged through the shallow water to the other side, having no reason to seek for a dry route across logs or rocks. Behind me, the others went about their resting and water-pumping, laughing to themselves at my most un-mellow outburst. Apparently, un-mellow outbursts from me had long ceased to be newsworthy events with this lot.
Battle For The Saddle
From the crossing of the South Fork, the Big Sur Trail climbed steeply up the south side of the ridge which divided it from the North Fork. The climb was bru-tal– nearly 1,200 feet of relentless, exposed uphill drudgery, on a trail which clearly had not been visited by a working maintenance crew for many years;- and all this under a pitiless sun whose heat was growing more stifling by the hour. And as if that weren’t enough, about 2/3 of the way up this miserable incline, the leaf-cover on the trail had grown so profuse as to, with the help of the excessive pitch of the trail, render adequate traction close to impossible to achieve. Thus, with the weight of our heavy packs bearing down on us, and our boots slipping out from underneath our intended purchase-points on the dusty ground, we found ourselves struggling mightily just to make any progress whatsoever. At a few points I was even relegated to literally crawling on all fours just to be able to advance along the trail at all. And we still had another 400 vertical feet to go before topping out at the saddle on the crest of this ridge. Throughout this stretch, the switchbacks of the trail were damn-near pointless; and it was necessary much of the time to grab onto trees and branches and literally pull ourselves up the trail. And in this dry, parched environment, a substantially-high percentage of the trees and branches within reach of the trail would simply break away from and forfeit their grip on the mountain, repeatedly leaving us with handfuls of useless shrubbery which now had to be cast aside, having served us in no productive way whatsoever.
The battle for the saddle should have taken at most two hours, and surely would have, had the trail been in the kind of condition that I had gone into this adventure expecting. Instead, though, the team suffered through this unbearable hell of an ascent for the better part of four hours, at last topping out sometime in the mid-afternoon. And it wasn’t one of those climbs where the mountain starts to round off near the top, either; but was instead a ridge of such precipitous dimensions that the trail proceeded straight up it until there was suddenly no more land above- nowhere to go but back down the other side.
Despite our having at long last reached the apex of the ridge, nobody was happy. Except fuckin’ Phantom, that is. Like I said earlier, he just doesn’t give a shit. Put him on a mountain and he’s jacked—case closed, end of discussion. All members of the beaten team again lay strewn about like fallen soldiers, scattered across the ground surrounding the trail—every one of us too worked to even care that the ground on which we lay was covered with sharp, prickly, almost desert-like grasses—not the soft green kind that feels so good between your toes on a warm summer day. All of the vegetation in this area was pretty-well parched, thanks to the area’s rain shadow: that profound dryness that pervades all the lands of this range east of the Santa Lucia Crest, over which we had fought so valiantly yesterday. And for what?
As we at last dragged our weary bones back up onto our feet, and again shouldered our loathsome packs, we turned to face whatever the descent down to the North Fork held for us—be it hardship or… wait, what else is there again? Whatever it was, it had to be less of a bitch than what we had just come through; or so went the desperate reasoning of my mind. To tell you the truth, I couldn’t at that time even imagine that our hardest challenges might still be ahead of us, given all that we’d been through in the past several hours—to say nothing of yesterday’s travails.
Death March Revealed
At first look, the trail down the north side of the ridge seemed reasonably promising, by comparison to the preceding ascent, anyway. Though it would descend almost another 1,200 feet back down to the North Fork, at least the trail did not instantly plunge straight down the mountainside from the crest, as it did on its southern side. At any rate, though, the idea of sitting on our asses and letting gravity carry us down a 1,000-foot slide of frictionless leaves to the river below did not at seem on the surface like such a bad one.
Instead of a precipitous drop down a 60-degree mountain face, the trail leaving the crest actually contoured along the upper wall of the ridge for several hundred yards or more, before turning and heading downward in a series of well-graded switchbacks, gentle enough in slope to suggest the possibility of actually walking the trail for this stretch, as opposed to slipping our way down the pitch, at the mercy of gravity and whatever obstacles might intervene to slow our out-of-control sliding.
The first few switchbacks were negotiated with an encouraging dearth of hardship; but on the third or fourth one down, everything went to shit. Rounding a switchback, I promptly found myself standing face-to-face with a fallen pine tree, laid squarely across the middle of the trail and perpendicular to it, the tree’s upper and lower sections extending far into the thick brush on either side of the trail. There was definitely no going around this thing; and getting over it was quite obviously not gonna happen- not without an energy draining exercise in futility beyond reckoning. So what to do?
I had been walking with Shane when I reached the fallen pine tree; and as the two of us stood there contemplating this new devilry, the other members of our team could be heard making their way down the preceding switchback, some even having momentarily cast aside their cares to such an extent as to be whistling, or engaged in jovial conversation; and this was notable inasmuch as there hadn’t been any conversation among us in the past four and a half hours that wasn’t about what a goddamn miserable mockery of a good time this trip was proving out as. One-by-one they rounded the switchback; and with each successive body to turn the corner to join us, the sound of care-free voices dwindled accordingly, until at last six hapless fools, in way over their heads and out of their collective element, stood before the fallen tree, its branches fanning out in all directions from the horizontal trunk, like those metal spikes you see on rooftops and windowsills, set there to discourage pigeons from setting up shop. And just as those metal spikes are very effective at dissuading the pigeons, so did these fanning tree branches ward off any inclination of mine to try and enter into their array In an instant, all minds present considered, and then rejected, the prospect of retreat. Let death take us before we should retrace our hard-fought steps all the way back to the cars, at the foot of Partington Ridge, more than ten miles away, back over three or four impossible ridgelines, and through more briars and nastiness than we could ever care to recall.
It was right around this time that the term “Death March” was first applied to this outing- this outing which had at one time held so much recreational promise, so much potential for friendly camaraderie.
I don’t remember who it was to first utter the term “Death March”; but the claim went wholly uncontested, as all on hand could see plainly enough that a death march was indeed precisely what we were now entangled in, inextricably, irreversibly. Whatever course of action we might choose to take at this point, we were inexorably fucked. This trip was now officially an all-out disaster, and from this moment onward, an extraction mission, first and foremost. The new goal was no longer to reach any particular campsite, river crossing, swimming hole, or hot spring: it was now about getting the fuck out of this god-forsaken wilderness, as soon as might be achieved. A straight-up, bona fide death march.
Not that we weren’t having moments of enjoyment. I mean, we were a posse of pals, sharing a fate for a time. There’s bonding in that.
At this point we had covered slightly less than half of the 26 or so miles we had set out to hike; but I still believed that retreat was most definitely not our best option- and not just because I found the idea of retreat unappealing, though I did, as I’m sure we all did. I proceeded to make my case to my understandably-skeptical posse.
As I saw it, the overarching reason to press on, come what may, was that I knew of a certainty that the Pine Ridge Trail would be well-maintained, and would make for easy going, if we could just reach it. Our route would join the Pine Ridge Trail less than a mile east of Redwood Creek Camp; and I knew, having hiked that stretch of trail on two prior occasions, that that stretch of trail was maintained annually: all obstacles and washouts repaired each spring, to the highest standards, from Big Sur Station east to Sykes Hot Springs, and another two miles further east as far as Redwood Camp. I also knew that we were at this point only, at most, three and a half miles from the junction of the Big Sur Trail and the Pine Ridge Trail. It stood to reason, as I saw it, that whatever the three miles in between here and the junction held for us, even should it prove considerably more dilapidated than anything we had thus far encountered on the trip, fighting our way through it to the Pine Ridge Trail had to be preferable to bushwhacking almost 11 miles back the way we’d come, through what we knew for a fact would be largely ruinous terrain. If we could just make it up to Pine Ridge, I assured the group, we would be at last greeted by what I promised would be a veritable “wilderness freeway”.
Now, you could understand easily enough why this assertion was met with incredulous laughter, doubt, skepticism. This would not be the first assurance of mine to prove unfounded, at considerable cost to all, on this trip. Why should the team indulge me with one more helping of good faith, considering how spectacularly I had misjudged the route thus far? Fair enough, I allowed. I deserve that. However, the difference, I argued, was in the fact that I actually had first-hand experience with the stretch of trail about which I was now offering assurances. I admittedly had failed to properly research the DeAngulo and Big Sur Trails; and I wasn’t making excuses for my shortcomings as a route-planner, as regarded those two routes. And I was well aware that I had by now exhausted whatever good-faith equity I had begun the trip with, in the eyes of my fellow death-marchers. So at this point, I insisted, there was obviously no way I was gonna go out on a limb with another round of merely hopeful assurances, and write a hail-Mary check backed solely by the Bank of Crossed-Fingers; because failure in that would mean that I would never be able to show my face again at any gathering of these folks; and I recognized that and admitted it freely enough to alleviate suspicion, as I deemed. But please, let’s recognize as a group that there is a considerable difference between what I can reasonably expect from a trail that I’ve never even been on—even if the necessary information I’ve failed to collect was in fact readily available all along, had I simply gone and sought it out—and what I can claim to know about a trail with which I have multiple prior occasions of personal experience. I conveyed to the group that I fully understood what was at stake here, should I lead us astray with this new assertion.
In the end, whether it was due to the strength and/or conviction of my monologue, or the simple fact that nobody could bear the thought of a full-on 11-mile bushwhack of a retreat, my impassioned plea for continuing along our established trajectory carried the day; and so once again we turned our collective mind back to the task at hand: how to get past this fallen pine tree reclining across our path.
Responding to some reckless, visceral compulsion within, I suddenly made a spectacularly-misguided attempt to simply charge through the splaying branches forthwith, without any warning—as if catching the tree off guard might somehow avail me of some tactical advantage. But this immediately proved as ill advised as it sounds in the retelling- not that anybody had actually advised it. In short order, I was hung up in the protruding branches of the tree, flailing ineffectually, like Frodo Baggins dangling in Shelob’s giant spider’s web, deep in that dark cave high above the stinking plains of Mordor. As Dennis and Shane endeavored to pull me from the clutches of the tree limbs, rogue branches held fast to the various loops and straps adorning the outside of my pack; and the more the boys tugged at me, the more the menace of the tree’s spring-loaded appendages loomed insidiously. Finally, with a concentrated and deliberate yank from my fellows, I at last broke free of the tree, pack and all, and came crashing to the ground atop my mates, but not before the scraping splinters of the tree’s wayward branches lashed me across the face, etching into my skin several new battle scars. The blood seeping from my perforated cheeks mingled with the dirt and sweat of my trial to create a cocktail of misery, from which I would drink liberally for the rest of the afternoon.
I stood up, dusting myself off like a self-deprecating buffoon weakly selling the explanation “I meant to do that” to his amused audience. Okay, so that didn’t work. Time for Plan A, I guess. I took off my pack, and re-entered the array of branches, this time more carefully, breaking off any in my way that I could snap with my hands, in an attempt to clear whatever path I might through the mess. Then, reaching the tree trunk, I got down on all fours and crawled underneath it, and emerged on the other side of the tree after some difficulty. Shane then took my pack and slid it through the tunnel I had just made, pushing it firmly until I could get a hold of the strap and pull it the rest of the way through. The crew followed in like manner, until we were all clear of the obstacle. Not surprisingly, the dogs found their own route through the cluster of branches. Phantom seemed invigorated after completing the challenge, and tore off down the trail and around the next switchback, as he would continue to do for the better part of the remaining descent to the river. “Whatever that dude’s been eating,” I thought to myself, “that’s what I want for dinner tonight.”
Somewhat cut up, but little worse for the wear, the team re-shouldered their backpacks and continued walking. Around the next switchback, we re-encountered the same pine tree that had barred our way just above. My shoulders sank to my sides when I saw this. Once again I dropped my pack; but this time, after crawling underneath the tree, I walked down trail a bit to see if this same tree would bar our path around the next switchback. It didn’t, thankfully; so everybody crawled on through. In this slow, painful manner, we battled our way down the mountainside for more than a thousand vertical feet, contending with major obstacles of fallen trees at least ten more times on the descent. Some of these we would crawl underneath, a few we managed to crawl up and over, and one we were actually able to go around, since one end of its trunk, as luck would have it, lay just a few feet off the side of the trail.
Second Night’s Camp
When at last the trail leveled off, the sound of flowing water could be heard just ahead. In a moment we were standing at the North Fork of the Big Sur River. The river was narrower and deeper than the South Fork had been at the spot where we’d crossed it, back at Rainbow Camp, a seeming lifetime ago—though it had really only been six hours earlier. The crossing would be a wet one. On the far side of the crossing, the trail could be seen to immediately begin climbing again, though not as steeply as it had done to gain the ridge between the two forks of the Big Sur River. According to the map, the trail would climb moderately along the south bank of Cienega Creek, whose confluence with the North Fork was just a short distance downstream from the ford, and reach Cienega Camp, our day’s destination, a mile after that.
On the near side of the river, however, there was a small clearing, off the trail to the right; and we decided to make camp there for the night, rather than risk getting ourselves all wet- and so late in the day- fording the river. It was still early- not later than 6 PM-, and team morale required that we find camp in the daylight, at least one night of this trip. Even if the primary mission was now extraction from the wilderness, as opposed to lingering in it, per se, we still had to make it out; and this would necessitate spending at least one more night in the woods, like it or not.
With tempered jubilation, we set to making camp; and though the clearing was pretty small, we did manage to get four tents set up, and even cleared a space for a small fire pit. Jeremy and I dug out a shallow depression, about eight inches deep and two and a half feet across, as Dennis and Shane went on the hunt for firewood, which wasn’t all that hard to find, considering downed trees were all about. In a few minutes, we had ourselves a usable little fire pit, and a stack of branches to go with it, piled up haphazardly on one side of the campsite. Shane and Emily went on a water-pumping mission down at the riverbank, not more than twenty yards beyond camp; and Melissa fed the hounds, while the rest of us took our bear canisters from our packs and began to sort through the food stuffs in search of dinner materials.
At last we were all gathered around the still-unused fire pit, reclining in our backpacker chairs, or seated on bear canisters like stools, passing around trail mix, bottles of newly-pumped chilly water, and most importantly, a flask of bourbon. The bourbon made the rounds at double-speed. And a glass-blown bowl, born of milky blue-green hippie breath, was repeatedly packed, passed, and cleared, until grins rode every face on the team. Meanwhile, Dicha sat there on the ground nearby, conversing with us casually- in accordance with his wont, while the Tommy Beast held down the perimeter, as always, by vigilantly patrolling the outskirts of camp against any would-be intruders.
It was good to be sitting around camp, yukking it up like regular people on a non-awry backpacking trip, even if only for the duration of the illusion. For a time, though, we all managed to put the reality of our situation far from our minds, and enjoy the fact that for the next 14 hours or so, all we had to do was kick it here and relax. Tomorrow’s bullshit would remain just that—a problem to be addressed tomorrow, and not a minute sooner.
By 7:30 PM, bowls of mac and cheese, and Mexican chicken with rice, were making the rounds of the group, as the dogs sat hard at hand, heedless to all but the goodies being passed back and forth under their noses. If any creature had wanted to creep on our encampment, this would have been the time.
After dinner, we got the fire going with no delay. After all, nobody was gonna be up all that late, considering the beating we’d taken on the trail today: a worse beating than the one we’d taken yesterday, all things considered. A few rounds of Yahtzee served as the evening’s entertainment. Any other activity would have been beyond our collective mental capacity.
The girls were first to drop; and the men lingered about the campfire for awhile afterwards, though we weren’t exactly what I would call a rambunctious campfire crowd. Jeremy was the next to find the wisdom to go seek out his sleeping bag; and after his departure, it was myself, Shane, and Dennis remaining by the fire. As somehow always seems to happen when it’s just the three of us around a campfire, time began to accelerate its pace of elapse; and before long it was late, and we were all hammered. The bourbon was gone, the satchels of herb were growing light; and I seem to recall a faint memory of one of us—I can’t remember who, standing on top of a nearby fallen tree, gesticulating wildly and spewing nonsensical utterances, until losing his balance and tumbling headlong off of the log and into the nearby brush. Luckily, we were by that point all sufficiently stupid so as to feel nothing, save for the inclination to laugh, which we did heartily, when whoever it was collapsed into the shrubbery. I think it was probably Dennis. Finally, around 11:30 or midnight, we called it a day and crawled off to our respective tents. I was asleep within minutes.
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