Until Allagash Falls do us part

Maurice and I have just returned from our annual hiking trip. Except this time, instead of boots we wore water shoes, and instead of trails we followed rivers, and instead of a backpack full of camera equipment, we had… no, we still had that. (Incidentally, right now my camera is in a bag full of rice, but that’s not the crisis I’m here to write about.)

Let’s make one thing perfectly clear: Migratory Pebbles is a double entendre. Yes, my band of fearless walkers will be assisting some pebbles with their migration from sea to shining sea. This blog will certainly cover our pebble porting adventures across England. But even more so, we are the pebbles. Are you with me? We are the pebbles. Think on that, as I depart on this brief tangent.

Many of you know about my dodgy past. I was married once before in my mid-20s, and failed miserably at it. My ex-wife and I both helped kill that marriage, along with a lethal dose of conditions beyond our control. Yet, after 7 years together, I was still in love. When she asked for a divorce, I tied my platinum wedding band to the bookmark tassel of our butterfly love journal, and packed it well away in a box of memories of our relationship, which ironically included the wedding photos we had only recently gotten around to printing. The ink was barely dry.

Fast-forward half a decade, and I was ready to tie the knot again. Rings inevitably became a topic of conversation. I somehow couldn’t bring myself to do the obviously reasonable thing: sell my old wedding band. So I convinced Jessica that if I simply reused my previous band, that we’d have more money to spend on hers. Problem solved! I had mine cleaned, removing the antique finish from the background of the celtic pattern. I didn’t share my reluctance to part with the symbol of my first marriage, but my new wife is anything but stupid. (Side note: I’ve learned Jessica prefers the label “wife” over “new wife,” “2nd wife,” “current wife,” or “most recent wife.” I guess it has a more permanent ring to it?)

Now, fast forward the better part of another decade, to Maurice photographing my jump off a rock into the fast-moving water at the foot of Allagash Falls. It was taking me much longer than expected to return to the surface. I kept going up and up. Nope, still no air to breathe here, up some more. Oh yeah, and there’s that rock ledge our tour guide, Chip, suggested we raise our legs to avoid. Ouch. That’s going to leave a mark. Better start swimming out of this current to the water’s edge. Oh, good, here’s a rock I can grab onto. … Funny, that felt weird on my finger…

My Precious was now 6+ feet deep in frenzied brown water that light wasn’t penetrating more than 2 feet. Chip declared it a goner. The men gave me that “Oh, damn, sorry man” look. Maurice went in after it, determined to create a miracle, but even he came up empty. I looked at the white stripe on my finger where a ring had been a minute before, 15 years before. I said, “Now how am I supposed to keep the ladies at bay?” To which one of the ladies replied, “Get a stick.”

That ring symbolized much more than I was willing to admit, so it’s best to have met its final resting place. I’m sure that with goggles, an underwater flashlight, and a Maurice, that this artifact of my life could be raised from the deep. But I’d rather accept the closure that Allagash Falls has delivered me, and work out some new symbol for my current marriage.

Jessica, if you’re reading this, it’s my long-winded way of saying, “Sorry I lost my wedding ring.”

To tie this all back into the titular theme of this blog, I’ll now be pouring over Her Majesty’s Royal Topo Maps to find a river that happens to run between St. Bees and Robin Hood’s Bay. Maurice and I really enjoyed the canoeing adventure. Failing that river materializing, you’ll find me walking the Wainwright softly, but carrying a big stick.

Introducing Moe

Hello folks.  Benj’s introductory post was mostly about other people since we know him.  Most of you don’t know me so I’ll take the egotistical approach for the benefit of all you strangers (don’t fry your brain trying to resolve that contradiction).  I’m  Maurice Ribble, aka Moe.  On the trail people might call me Top Bunk if there are bunk beds to be had.  I enjoy high beds and pretty much all other high things.  High trees, high roofs, water towers, hang gliders…  If it’s high I probably like it.  Just this past canoe trip Benj mentioned in the previous post I got to jump off a cliff on Blueberry Island into a lake, a bridge into a river, a giant boulder into a waterfall/rapids (see image above – this is also were Benj lost his ring), and I climbed a fire tower.  Definitely a good trip.  On this coast to coast trip I’ll be looking for some summits to hike and whatever else is high.

I’ll know at least Benj and Seth going into this trip.  All of us worked together at ATI/AMD before we went our separate ways.  We still work on all the same fun computer-y things, just at different companies now.  The folks I don’t know I’m sure I’ll make friends with during the trip.

Outside of work I like outdoors which you have probably picked up from Benj’s mention of our yearly trips hiking or canoeing.  I need to get off the grid for at least a week each year on these sorts of trips.  It helps me keep technologies in perspective.  This coast to coast trip is a little more on the grid than I’m used to for these sorts of events, but it’s longer than a week so I figure it will work just fine.  

Another one of my hobbies is photography.  I like most types, but my specialty is high speed photography.  Here’s my flickr stream which is mostly high speed photography images.

I’ll finish up with a big one.  I met Emily the love of my life about 5 years ago and we got married about 2.5 years ago.  We should be having our first baby around the end of this year.  This little one is the reason Emily won’t be joining us on this hike.  We’ve always been supportive to each other doing their own things.  For example she likes to go on week trips back to her homeland each summer, and I like to go on snowboarding trips each winter.  But most of our other trips we do together.  This is a trip we would have loved to have done together, but after a little research it seems a three week hike is a bit longer than most people would recommend for a  6 month old baby where “appropriate” hiking trips are typically measured in hours not weeks.  Emily recommended I go on this trip without her and she’ll stay at home with the baby.  Thank you Emily!  I suspect this might mean I get some double shifts during the first six months though.

Hope this gives you a little flavor of who this “Moe” guy is.  See you next June!

Moe Top Half

And now a word from our sponsor

Seriously, maybe we should start considering endorsement deals, but this one comes straight from the heart. What gives that guy on the right his swagger? What puts that smile on his face? What propels, nay catapults him those extra miles?

ExOfficio Give-N-Go Boxer Briefs, that’s what.

I like to cover a lot of ground. I remember walking all over San Diego 7 years ago, both because it was my first business trip away from my brand new baby daughter (thanks, Skype!), and because of the severe physical pain. My inner thighs were chafed for the first time in my life, a bloody mess. And yet it wasn’t until my 9-day hiking trip through the White Mountain hut system in 2011 that I solved this problem. Permanently.

With pack space at a premium, I could afford the luxury of only two pairs of underwear. (Maurice’s wife, Emily, incidentally received her trail name, “9 Pair,” on that same trip.) So I wanted to make them count. The plan was to wear one pair each day while washing the other in the sink at the hut and hanging it to dry overnight. A bit of research for “best backpacking underwear” revealed the correct answer, and I’ve been in love with them ever since. They are quick drying, super comfortable, and they prevent chafing. Completely. Even when running up hills, swimming through mud, and jumping over fire, as in the Spartan Race two days ago.

My days on this earth are numbered. There is no reason why I should ever waste a day wearing different underwear than these. I now possess 2 full weeks’ worth. I hope my fellow Wainwright Walkers will take measures to protect their… assets, as I have mine.

Google’s Coast to Coast Directions

I asked Google to route me from St. Bees to Robin Hood’s Bay with stops in each of the towns we’re staying in.  About half way through I realized not enough of the Google Map team members have done this hike.  They didn’t allow me to add every town to one map!!  So I had to break it into two maps.  Bummer.  Still it’s pretty cool.

I’m sure this isn’t the final route we will take, but it is the Google route.  They said it is 172.4 miles and would take 60 hours of hiking.  Since Benj said it’s 192 in his introductory post, I imagine we’ll be taking a few scenic non-Google approved “Moe-cuts”.  And I’ll need to do some extra summits.  (I did mention how I love high things, right?)

Anyways, here are the maps:

Requiem for a constant companion

There was a grave accident involving river rapids and a canoe. The body will be returned to me soon. This is the beginning of my grieving process.

There’s always one main character missing from every home movie, the one capturing the footage. I find myself today without a lot of photos of my dearly departed for this reason. The shot above is the first exposure I made to test it out. The Alpha frame as it were.

My Canon 5D Mark II had a good run. I purchased it second-hand in anticipation of a 9-day hiking trip over 3 years ago. It has been up and down more mountains than I care to count. It has traveled the world with me. It’s captured all our holidays, weddings, road trips, and a stupid number of sunsets. Who knows what adventures it had with its first owner? <foreshadowing>And to think in our first months together I was afraid to even take it along with me in a kayak on calm water!</foreshadowing>

On the Allagash River while undertaking the Chase Rapids, we took on water. (Obviously!) The 5D is quite resistant to water. I learned that the hard way, after leaving it out in a thunderstorm overnight earlier this year. It bounced back nicely after bag o’ rice therapy. However, it’s decidedly not as good at resisting partial submersion in several inches of water for several minutes. It probably would have been fine if I could have applied rice therapy later that same day. Alas, no bags of rice in the Maine wilderness, and despite my attempts to irradiate it in the sun each day, it ultimately succumbed to corrosion and ennui. No bag o’ rice could have saved it. Not even the experts at Canon Professional Services:

Dear Benj Lipchak:

Thank you for contacting Canon product support concerning the repair of your EOS 5D Mark II. I am happy to assist you.

I did check and the Factory Service Center found your camera has extensive water damage and corrosion. Unit would require most structural and electrical components. Camera has been deemed beyond economical repair.

I am very sorry for the inconvenience that this has caused you.

Please let us know if we can be of any further assistance with your EOS 5D Mark II.

Thank you for choosing Canon.


Technical Support Representative

This is the last exposure made before the rapids… Haunting. The Omega frame. RIP.