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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Caretaker's Concern for 7/20/2010

TCC for 7/20/10:

Variations on a theme, this morning's sunrise:

While trying to photograph this:

The Caretaker was standing here:

The above photo doesn't show it but while taking the above two photos the Caretaker was standing next to a cedar tree, to his left, he stopped shooting for a bit and shut off his camera, shortly after a great blue heron flew in from the left just on the other side of the cedar tree, this put the bird about three feet from the Caretaker. In the above photo there is a pointed rock just left of center, this is where the heron was intending to land. As the bird flew in it spread its wings to alight upon the rock, when it did this it was right in front of the bird, being caught by surprise the bird flew off never landing. Being caught by surprised the Caretaker couldn't catch his breath for a few moments, shortly after he cursed himself for having turned his camera off, this is a habit of his to conserve batter life which is good when out in the field but while on the Island it is not so important, he has three batteries. Maybe next time he'll remember to just leave the camera on, chances are there won't be a next time, oh well.

In other news, the Caretaker went for a boat ride in the rain yesterday, he was over at G.G.'s to take care of a few things on the internets, things that can't be done on his computer because it is so antiquated that it can't run the most current web browser which are needed for what he had to do, not to mention being in the dark ages of dial-up. Anyway, just as he finished up and headed outside it started to rain, really rain, total down pour with occasional rumbles of thunder. He briefly thought about waiting it out but since it was a warm day and the rain was warm too he figured why bother with waiting? The fact that he was going to be traveling across the water in an aluminum rowboat with a small outboard motor occurred to him as maybe not being such a great idea but figured that the last rumble of thunder would be the last of the thunder, which indeed it was or at least as far as he could tell over the sound of the engine. Before entering the boat he decided to take his shirt off figuring that there was no point in getting it soaked if he didn't have to, he would have taken his shorts off too but in the interest of other peoples' modesty he decided it wouldn't be such a good idea, not that there were likely to be all too many people to see him for it was such a sever down pour that the East shore wasn't visible. Not to mention that if the thunder and lightening hadn't let up and mother nature decided to give the Caretaker a re-charge of sorts it would have been rather less than dignified to be found dead in a boat with no clothes on, not that the Caretaker would have been too concerned with that either at that point but it is always good to be considerate of those who remain and must handle the body after the spirit has left. Interestingly enough, as the Caretaker was passing through the channel between Clay Island and the mainland he passed a boat, while the Caretaker was still observing the five mile speed limit, they were not. Anyway, once you accept that you are going to get wet in the rain and the rain isn't cold, it is actually a wonderful experience to get "caught in the rain". However, at one point during this deluge the rain was falling at such a rate and the wind was blowing enough that it hurt to be pelted by the thousands upon thousands of rain drops, thankfully that didn't last very long, the rain eased up to just a regular deluge. What's even better than getting caught in a rainstorm like this is taking a shower in a warm rainfall.

The first time the Caretaker did this was up at Oliver Pond, he was right at the waters edge bathing with baking soda, which is good for offsetting the acidity of the lakes (as a result of acid rain), anyway, the Caretaker won't go any further into this experience, which involves a leach (the ones that suck blood), because if he recalls correctly he made mention of it in one of his posts from back in 2008.

Whenever the Caretaker has the opportunity here on the Island (i.e. when no one else is here) he takes advantage of the opportunity to take a shower in the rain out in the yard. If you ever get the chance to shower in the rain the Caretaker highly recommends it, yes you may not know what you're missing but you really haven't lived until you have done so. There is something exceptionally satisfying about getting clean in a shower all the size of your immediate surroundings, a carnal experience indeed, there was a time, before modern pluming, when a rain shower was the only shower to be had.

Sadly our society's modesty will prevent most all of you from being able to do this, images and acts of violence are much more readily acceptable than the human form in its natural state. Sad these things we teach ourselves.

Any who, earlier in the day some contractors came out to the Island to do some work, all the Caretaker will say about this is that they had a seemingly fine day having a crappy morning.

Now, as promised, the "rescues" of last week:

It was around midday, Wednesday of last week, the Caretaker had been at G.G.'s trying to order a new modem for his computer via the internets over there, it didn't work out, but he did find out that the dial-up modem was available locally at a brick and mortar store so he planned to drive down for it later in the day. Out in the tin-boat (the same aluminum boat from above, "tin-boat" is what we call it), the Caretaker was coming around the North end of Clay Island when he saw an average size bow-rider motor boat drifting, it was located not too far North of the Island where the Caretaker was going to go home, 200 to 300 yards or so, someone was off the stern tying to paddle against the wind as they continued to drift North with the Southern wind.
The Caretaker saw this and thought:
Uh-oh, this doesn't look good.

The boat didn't appear to be sinking so the Caretaker did not increase his speed but he did continue to head towards the boat keeping an eye on it waiting for them to flag him down, sure enough, soon after a number of arms went up waving for help. The Caretaker headed on over.
Probably a busted prop from going between the islands and hitting the rocks.

The Caretaker pulls along side their boat, "what seems to be the problem?"

A gentleman in his mid 40's or 50's immediately says, "we're all deaf."

A boatload of deaf people, well this is a new twist.

The boat had 6 passengers, an elderly couple, a couple in their 40's or 50's, and a couple in their 20's, at least this was how they appeared to the Caretaker. He immediately noticed that the young lady was quite attractive but then quickly moved on to focusing on lending them a hand. The high school that the Caretaker attended had a hearing impaired program that served much of the Northern New Jersey population of deaf students so the Caretaker had plenty of experience speaking with deaf people, albeit it was quite a long time ago.

"Can you read lips?"
"If you speak slowly."
"What's wrong with the boat?"
"It doesn't go."
"First time on Lake George?"

At times the Caretaker had to ask the gentleman to repeat himself but the two of them were able to make their way through the conversation. The Caretaker tied his boat to their boat and hopped into their boat, he wasn't sure what they meant by the boat doesn't go, he thought they meant it wouldn't start. The Caretaker started it up easy enough, put it in gear both forward and reverse revved the engine but the boat wouldn't go anywhere. The Caretaker asked if they owned the boat, it was a rental boat, the gentleman provided the Caretaker with their copy of the rental receipt, it was rented from a marina South of there. The Caretaker looked over the paperwork, it was rented in a woman's name.

"This boat is rented to 'so and so', which one of you is her?"

She was pointed out to the Caretaker, his plan was to call the marina on his cell phone but wanted to know who he may need to communicate with if the Marina had a needed information from the person who rented the boat. The Caretaker noticed that the home address given was for a town in New Jersey, a few towns over from where the Caretaker grew up.

"You're from ____? Small world, I grew up in Ho-Ho-Kus, a few towns over."

Once this information was translated to them they all smiled and nodded in recognition. The Caretaker figured that this was probably a rather trying experience for them all, being adrift on a lake they had never been to before, his thinking was that making a sort of home town connection would perhaps help put them at ease. The rest of the group was from points out West.

The Caretaker called the marina on his cell phone and explained the situation and their location. He confirmed with the marina that the renters had damaged the prop and broke the hub (which is why the prop wouldn't turn). The person at the marina said they were sending out a boat to pick them up. After hanging up the phone the Caretaker explained the situation to the group.

"The marina is sending a boat to pick you guys up. I will wait here with you until the boat arrives. If for some reason they can't find us I'll call again to provide further details and if need be I'll tow you back to the Island where I live." He then pointed to the Island.

"You live there? Very nice, we were going by admiring it when the boat stopped working."
"How long had you guys been out on the water for before the prop broke?"
"20 minutes."

The Caretaker made a point to keep up some idle chit-chat to help put the group at ease, every once in a while he had to remember to look directly at the gentleman so he could understand and translate to the group. Various members of the group started asking the Caretaker about his life on the Island. At one point it occurred to the Caretaker that he should call the marina and give them his cell phone number incase they needed to reach him. He called and confirmed his number with the marina, the person on the phone thanked the Caretaker for helping out, his reply, "no problem."

After that the Caretaker was being asked if he was being kept from anything and that they're sorry about the inconvenience. The Caretaker spread his arms and hands out referring to the Lake and said, "I'm on Lake George, you're not keeping me from anything, it's no trouble at all." This wasn't exactly true, but what the Caretaker had to do wasn't all that pressing and even if it were, it would have to be a greater emergency than this for him to take off. You don't abandon people in need of help.

Eventually the boat from the marina showed up, the Caretaker spoke a bit with the guy, who then tied a tow line to the bow of the rental boat. Once the line was tied the Caretaker explained to the group that they were going to be towed back to the marina, everything would be alright. Everyone on the boat made a point to thank the Caretaker, they expressed much great fullness, as the Caretaker finished untying his boat from the rental boat while standing on the back platform of the rental boat the attractive young woman came up to him directly and spoke clearly and distinctly to him, "thank you very much for your help."

Hey, you can speak, why didn't you talk to me during this?

The Caretaker did not speak these thoughts. He could see she had a hearing aid and so probably wasn't deaf from birth but rather became deaf due to an accident or perhaps had some sort of implant or something.

"You're welcome, more than happy to do it. I hope you guys enjoy the rest of your stay on the lake and get another chance to get out on the water."

They had planned to go water skiing, a broken prop obviously put an end to that. The Caretaker then hopped in his boat and started away wondering why the young woman who could speak distinctly, but softly, didn't do the translating. Oh well. While motoring away the Caretaker noticed that the tow boat was having some trouble with his tow rope arrangement, the Caretaker turned back and waited in the area in case he needed to lend a hand again. Eventually, after a few tries the tow boat driver got the line corrected and off they went back to the marina and back to the Island went the Caretaker. Thus concludes the broken prop incident. However, there is one other part of this story that the Caretaker is not going to share in order to protect the innocent, perhaps in the future he might share if given permission but he's not going to even ask for it. If the Caretaker knows you and sees you in person he might share it with you.

The Caretaker is out of time for today, the rest of the "rescues" will have to wait until tomorrow.

Before there was the blog the Caretaker sent out posts via e-mail, the following is from the Caretaker's second winter on the Island:

Island Ice Report for 3/20/2007
Brief account of Tongue Mt. field trip that took place earlier in the week:

The trip to the Tongue Mountain range can best be described as an exercise in misery. Interestingly enough this didn't really come as a surprise to the Caretaker because he has done this hike before, only that time it was summer and the Caretaker did the loop in the other direction and for some reason he thought it was a good idea to not bring any water on the hike. By the time the Caretaker made it down to Tongue Mt. point he was lapping up water from the Lake like a dog. While doing this hike back in the mid-nineties the Caretaker quickly realized that a rope would have been rather helpful during this hike. The reason being that pretty much every peak's South facing ascent requires a varying degree of rock climbing. Overall the lasting impression from this hike back in the 90's was that it wasn't much fun. Now, why the Caretaker would think that doing this hike in the opposite direction in the snow would for some reason be "fun" is a question he is still trying to answer. When the Caretaker first did this hike he came from the North and so all of the Rock climbing segments were down hill for him, so when he did the trip this time from the South, he had to climb up all of the rock climbing segments, and they were all covered in snow which didn't make it any easier. Most of his time on these segments was spent on his hands and knees, either trying to find hand holds or searching around in the snow with his ski poles trying to get a strong enough hold to pull himself up on. One of the annoying things about this hike is that on the map there are only three named peaks and if you don't look at the map closely you fail to notice that there are at total of 7 peaks. So after French Point Mt. it becomes "are we there yet" with the peaks, you work your way to the top of a peak and then have the joy of realizing that there is still another to go, the first time it happens it's funny, the second time it's annoying, and by the third time you have long since resigned yourself to your fate of never getting there. However, eventually you do, you make it to Fifth Peak Mt. you know this because of the Lean-to and what do you get as a reward for making it to Fifth Peak? a rather mediocre view. The Caretaker's advice on the Tongue Mt. range hike, don't bother with the peaks between First Peak Mt. and Fifth Peak Mt. that is if you are looking for a view, if you are looking to put a pretty good pounding on your body then by all means hike the whole range. To be honest the Caretaker technically did not hike all the peaks, at one point he lost the trail and wound up hiking around a peak, while doing this he came across the carcass of a deer which was mildly interesting. Eventually the Caretaker found the trail again and continued on up the next peak. The Caretaker also lost the trail on Fifth Peak (but still made it to the top), and saw a rather large root system of two trees that were knocked down, there is a photo of it attached. So to make the story short the Caretaker finally makes it to the top of Fifth Peak Mt. drops off his gear at the lean-to and then takes in the view and had this to say: "That's it?" The Caretaker didn't hang around for long, after a short rest and some food and water the Caretaker took the trail that goes down to Clay Meadow, once down at Lake level he took the "shore trail" along the Northwest Bay Swamp. Once he made it to the Northwest Bay he went on to the Lake and snowshoed back to Tongue Mt. Point to pick up his x-c skis and sled. Once there he switched from his snowshoes to his skis and then skied back to the Island in a head wind of 10 to 15 mph, thankfully the wind wasn't too cold and very little snow was being picked up and blown by the wind. Unfortunately, based on the weather reports for the coming week, this will probably be the last winter hike for the Caretaker because most of the snow will probably soon be gone due to warm weather and rain. The Caretaker was hoping to snowshoe up Pilot Knob, but that probably isn't in the cards, then again, who knows? Maybe this warm spell will be followed by a cold snap with snow.

As for the attached photos, the first one is a view from half way up the rock climbing section of the second to last peak to Fifth Peak. The second one is the root system. The third is of the Lean-to on top of Fifth Peak, the fourth is one of the views from Fifth peak, and the last one is a repeat of the photo from last night but I think the color is better, of all the photos taken it is pretty much the only one worth looking at, and, it was taken from the peak before "First Peak", so as far as a photographic standpoint the Caretaker could have had a much shorter day. All things considered, it wasn't a bad hike, but it's not one he'll be doing again any time soon.

--The Caretaker

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