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no room for hipsters

the occupation of Ashley and Levon

I will keep this brief, for usually it is told as a campfire story where it gets better and better with age.  I hesitate to put it in print.  In the Fall of 2003, my climbing partner Scott Jones and I headed to the Adirondack Mountains.  Finances were low, I had just dropped a class and sold the text book to raise capital.  This was to be our second trip in these parts and we were ambitiously ready to venture a full 3 days of details that I don’t remember and wouldn’t matter.

After two days driving, we spent the second night in high elevation following a 2 mile hike before dusk.  There was heavy snow and it was dark as soon as we’d gotten water boiling.  Our fatigue and the worsening weather made jumping into the tent a top priority.  We made the last-second assumption that bear activity would be low in this storm and at this altitude.  Our bear bag was hung well enough to say that we had one.  The wind made for a loud, cold night.

The next morning a blanket of snow had covered the tent and camp, except for a mysterious area the size of a van where the bare ground was exposed and covered with trash.  Trash, that was our intended comestibles for the next three days, dumped from the tree like a busted pinata.  My nylon bag hung with a single rip around the center, cut cleanly as cheese with a hot knife.  Everything was gone.  A large bear, probably the size of a van, had rolled around all night licking our wrappers, stretching out on his back enjoying spaghetti and freeze dried stroganoff.  The little oxygen packets to preserve plastic packages were opened and consumed.  There was not one calorie to be had.

Worse than a rough night followed by the discoverance that you have lost your mission, is the realization that it will take breaking down camp, retracking two fruitless miles, and driving out of the park before you can have breakfast and a cup of coffee (dammit).  A couple of hours later and we were at a quickstop of some sort trying to reorganize.  One of the joys of being outside is cooking, and our preparation and resources for that had been consumed.  We restocked on what little we could find with the money and time there was left.  With eleven dollars of beanie weenies, poptarts, ramen noodles and large coffees, we headed back to Mt. Marcy for two full days of details that I remember precisely.

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