Toilet on a Sled. Ta Ta Toilet on a Sled…to be sung in your favorite rap melody. Insert tune here.
The Toilet had arrived!
Winter cabin preparations were done and the last piece de resistance was the winter toilet.
My Mom was popping into LA for a quick visit Halloween weekend and my plan was to head up to the cabin directly after with new toilet in tow as well as a couple of other last minute supplies.
As of yet it hadn’t snowed up at Mammoth and I was thinking I was in good shape to get everything in before they closed the road to the Twin Lakes Campground and my cabin. As usual one can always count on our good friend Murphy to come into play at the least opportune time.
I was anxiously watching the weather Halloween weekend and saw there was a storm coming in. I couldn’t dine and dash with my Mom in town so knew I was going to be in a race with the elements.
As soon as she took off to continue her trip to visit my sister in Colorado, I took off to try and beat the storm and the potential road closure.
The weather was gorgeous heading up as it usually is in the Owens Valley. I could only think of John Muir, our early pioneer ancestors, and the many roads to ruin they had been led down by stunning hot weather in the valley only to be met by the fury of the Sierra Nevadas once they met the higher elevation. Today was no different. I was optimistic though heading through Bishop. There was no way there was such horrible weather in Mammoth today bad enough to close the roads considering the utopian blue skies I was cruising through.
Guess again said Murphy.
I got into town to a white deluge of “Mammoth” proportions. It was dumping as all us ski and board addicts pray for all season. However the mountain wasn’t open yet and the only thing I could see was an obstacle on the race for the gate. The windshield wipers were singing a tune as they swished the heavy snow back and forth on the glass in front of me. The odds were not exactly in my favor as Katniss Everdeen would be thinking right about now and I sensed an adventure about to unfold. The real life game programmers were throwing everything at me. I could only hope there were some sponsors at the forest service willing to help a girl out.
As I arrived at the gate I was not met by a group of heavily armed, hot teenagers in spandex and survival gear but by an incredibly unyielding locked gate.
The lock was not one lock but a multitude of locks locked together in a Jenga worthy jigsaw puzzle. It seemed odd to me that one massive bolt wouldn’t have been enough, but I had already been warned by the neighbors that multiple powers that be had locks on the gate. Edison had one, the US Forest Service had one, the phone company had one, and who knew who else. I’m actually not sure anyone could figure out how to get that gate open but I figured I’d give the Forest Service a call and just test the waters on the winter gate. As I looked in the rearview mirror at the massive box for the toilet riding in the cargo space I thought in my head this could get interesting.
I guess it was worth a shot. After a bit of pleading and a couldn’t you just open it for 15 minutes while I drive the toilet in and drop it at the door I was met with a very polite but firm no. I knew the no was coming but figured if I didn’t try I wasn’t a very good optimist.
So it was to be the sled. As I’m sure had run through the head of Shackelton, Amundsen, Nansen, and all my other favorite Polar Explorers of old. I didn’t have any delightful huskies on hand so it would have to be some good old fashioned polar man hauling. As I was hoping to host a “Come as Your Favorite Polar Explorer” party at some point at the cabin I guess it didn’t hurt to get some research in on my first “Winter Voyage”.
The snow was coming down in an unceasing deluge and I had failed to pack my ski pants. So it was to be wet sledging. I could just picture Frank Wild, Shackeloton’s right hand man taking a look at me (while wearing his fantastic goggles) and shaking his head at my rookie unpreparedness.
I was all lost in though about how to get this stuff to the cabin when I looked past the locked gate and saw a man approaching through the blizzard towards me.
It crossed my mind who in THEIR right mind would be walking from the campground in a blizzard when I realized I was about to do the reverse while toting a TOILET on a SLED. Hmm, I think Frank Wild, Shackelton, and Worsley would be having a good laugh at my expense on that one.
As the man got closer my victim of violent crime spidey senses started going off and I decided to halt the pre-packing business and get back in the car. The windows were completely covered with snow now, so I couldn’t see out and was hoping the reverse was in effect.
When the knock came on the window I lurched so strongly I’m surprised the airbags didn’t engage. I’m not sure why my first reaction was to open the door. Jack the Ripper would have even probably advised me to lean on the horn and then immediately put the car in reverse and get the hell out of there.
No instead I opened the door and in my most polite Southern voice said “May I help you?”.
My would be assailant was about 6 feet with a crown of dark red, slightly greying hair. I didn’t think my death would come at the hands of a red head but it would probably look good in the papers and news reports. “Ginger slaughters new cabin owner in her second attempt to kill herself by being incredibly stupid.”
The (in my head) stark raving serial killer asked me if I was trying to camp. I looked at him like he had indeed lost his mind (as my potential serial killer murderer he probably would have already) and said no of course not , I’m just trying to get to my cabi….nnnn. Umm yeah this is where it all goes wrong in the movies. I quickly corrected myself with a meet my boyfriend at the cabin, umm and the forest service rep, and my swat team that travel around with me. At this point I felt like there was probably a massive neon sign stating “Are you an idiot?” flashing above my head.
Or course our fair red head didn’t miss a beat. “Oh you have a cabin over there?” Alone, in the woods, where I could happily come murder you later…was what I heard.
I hastily made some excuse about how the Forest Service ranger was coming out to meet me and I had to go. Immediately shut and locked the door, then spent the next 10 minutes trying to figure out how I was going to deal with towing a toilet to the cabin while waiting for Charles Manson’s buddy to come have his way with me en route. A potential mountain lion or bear encounter would have been more comforting, hence why I didn’t panic when I saw this track in the snow shortly thereafter.
I slipped out the door and made my tow preparations. Pulled the sled out, lashed down the toilet, popped on my brand new snow shoes and set sail for the cabin, full speed ahead.
SNOWSHOES DON’T GO BACKWARDS.
Was one of the first things I found out. The next thing I realized was that jeans are not water resistant as I towed the toilet through the mounting snow. I can’t imagine the image I would have presented to my serial killer buddy if he had come by. A girl towing a toilet through the snow with saggy, wet jeans hanging off her tush, while awkwardly trying to tighten the new snow shoes that didn’t seem to be on quite right. I don’t think sexy would have come to mind, so it may have lessened his desire to cut me into pieces and throw me in the frigid lake.
I panted my way up to the cabin and managed to make 2 more round trips in my saggy jeans bringing in the rest of the supplies before the snow got any deeper. When I peeled off the jeans to change I was surprised by how cold and soaking wet I had gotten. I slipped right into survival mode and starting working on using up that delicious fresh pile of wood. Now that I had the carbon monoxide detector installed I was ready to turn on every heating element in the cabin at full blast and get a Dante level fire going. Hell yeah!
With a massive sense of accomplishment I set out to get my fancy new toilet set up then hunker down for a cozy night in the storm. I was going to have a lovely pee inside first of course. I earned it after all!
Here I was….alone in my cabin, massive blizzard raging outside, road closed, toilet all set up, fire going full blast with ensuing smoke trail, and that’s when it hit me that the only person other then my boyfriend in LA who knew I was out there was the strange red headed man I met on the road. I’m thinking this is going to be a long night…..
Suggested reading: Apsley Cherry- Gerrard’s “Worst Journey in the World”