September 28th; Zero miles
This entry will start back where I had left off in the hike before being cut off from civilization. The last thing that happened was that the sobohobos and I stumbled into The Howard Johnson in Snoqualmie, WA, which is basically just a ski resort area, after two consecutive, very rough zeros.
Def: a Vortex Zero is a “zero” (when you hike zero miles for the day) that is unplanned. I.e. You get sucked in.
1) Bad weather: when we woke up in the morning, you could barely see past the parking lot in front of the hotel. Not very inviting for a day of hiking.
2) A tough, late hike the day before: we all got in either right before or after dark. We were exhausted and sore from the 60 miles in 2 days we had done. My achilles tendons were feeling really tender and seemed swollen. Not to mention the backs of my feet were so torn up you couldn’t tell if it was skin or a bandage there.
3) A late start: with these two circumstances in place, people will drag their feet a little with getting packed up and finished with laundry, resupplying, etc. We didn’t get to spend much time there, making it really hard to tear ourselves away. We already extended checkout to 12, and by that time it seemed we still weren’t all ready.
4) The seed is planted: For the unplanned, vortex zero, someone had to have the idea and then you need the proper environment for fertile growth to the rest of the group. When hiking in a big group like with the sobohobos, if some people aren’t happy staying, then it won’t work out. In our case, Bigfoot, T-Bone, and I were sharing a room. #1-3 were in place so when Bigfoot had heard that there might be a hiker discount for a second night, this got the ball rolling. Of course, there turned out to not be a discount, but by the time we found out there was too much momentum to stop it.
5) Justification: First, you have to convince yourself that it’s a food idea and then have some allies. So as Bigfoot went to confirm the discount, T-bone and I identified as many reasons as we could for why it was a good idea: weather, injuries, ability to make up the missed miles later, pizza and beer nearby, and anything else we could think of.
6) Convince the rest of the group: The key to this is to isolate each person individually to convince them until you have a majority of the group. As soon as we were convinced, T-bone quickly got up to go convince BR who we knew would be a key part to swaying the others. I followed soon after but BR was already coming out of his room with T-bone right behind. He had an accusatory grin on his face, as I had been the one vehement about my deadline, but it seemed like he was convinced. Soon after, Swiss came down he hall and we quickly converted her as Bigfoot rejoined. At this point, we went over our justifications again with everyone else, now all with big smiles on our faces (no hiking in the rain today!). As we were doing this, Grinder came down the hall. We said we had to talk to him about something, but our looks gave it away, as he said without hesitation, “We’re not leaving today are we?” Once you’ve got the large majority of the group (count is at 6 with Grinder), it’s almost impossible to stop the vortex. The best part was that we didn’t even have to break the news to Steiner and Gangles who we were most worried about (and Moosey tends to be very “go with the flow”). It was about 12, so we went to the front desk to say we wanted another night. They said they needed to confirm with Steiner and Gangles before adding another night. So the concierge called their room and explained that they were staying another night. Apparently, Steiner simply replied, “We are?” in confusion and then checked if everyone else was too.
7) Enjoy the Vortex with no regrets and relax: the rest if the day was spent watching Law and Order, hanging out, eating pizza, and drinking beer. We also got to use the guest computer in the lobby. In the end, if seemed like we all enjoyed ourselves and did not in the least regret the time off. Though the test tomorrow will be the 20 miles our of town to make up for lost time.
And that… is how you get sucked in by the Vortex!