Friendly Camping Trip (Geologic Assistant Sidestory)

Jan 17th, 2016
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  1. Friendly Camping Trip
  3. Dear Diary;
  5. Anon has managed to plan a long weekend trip back out across the Rockies, and we are going to meet up with Rainbow Dash and her owner. We are gonna go pick them up in Gleenwood Springs, then go up to the mountains above Moab.
  6. Anon is going to pull what he calls his pop-up camper, and all of us are going to stay in t hat. It should be plenty warm, even at the high elevation now that the weather is starting to get cooler.
  7. Rainbow dash seems really excited when I've been talking to her over the internet. Time off her job and away from human civilization is something she wishes she got more of.
  9. I haven't been too terribly sucessful so far in rock farming in Anon's back yard. I'm not sure if its this entire world, or just where Anon lives, but I can't get it to work like back home.
  11. I also think I have found a new friend. I call him cobble. He will never truely replace boulder, but he helps fill a hole in my heart. I found him digging through Anon's rock collection. He said cobble is a chunk of nephelene syenite from some place called 'are-can-saw".
  12. I've also ran into a few ponies living in the neighborhood around Anon's house. No one I knew back in Equestria, but they all seem decent enough when I run into them on trots outside the house.
  14. I'll be sure to write more after returning from the trip.
  16. -M. Pie
  18. >Alright, got the pop-up packed up with equipment, and hitched to the truck.
  19. >The bed of the truck is loaded up as well...
  20. >Water, food, bedding, cooking equipment, empty growlers...
  21. >Check.
  22. >You are packed and ready to leave for your long weekend camping with Maud, Rainbow Dash, and her owner, Mr. Nito.
  23. >Returning back inside into your houses living room, you shout.
  24. Maud, you ready to go? The truck is packed up.
  25. >You look at your watch.
  26. >Still plenty of time to leave, pick up Rainbow and Mr. Nito, and get camp set up.
  27. >"I am ready, Anon."
  28. >Maud steps into the living room, wearing a pruple smock and Camekbak saddlebag.
  29. >You nod at her.
  30. Alright, lets head on out to the truck, and we can begin our trek back across the rockies.
  31. >A very slight smile grows on Maud's face.
  32. >One of the biggest you've seen from her.
  33. >She is quite excited to get back out and hang out with another pony who she knows from before her race's enslavement.
  34. >Maud heads out the front door, and you step out immediately behind her.
  35. >After locking the door, you follow behind Maud to the truck.
  36. >Your truck.
  37. >No government truck on this trip.
  38. >Maud assumes her position in the passenger seat as you jump into the drivers seat and crank the engine up.
  39. >You pull out of your driveway, carefully, and begin your long weekend trek westward.
  41. >After roughly three hours of driving, taking you across the highest peaks of the Rocky Mountains, you arrive in Glenwood Springs, and the home of Maud's friend, Rainbow Dash.
  42. >Maud seems to have enjoyed the trip, getting another good look at the high peaks, old mines, and interesting rocks than can be seen from the interstate.
  43. >As you stop in front of Mr. Nito's house, you pull out your cell phone, and send him a message that you have arrived.
  44. >You leave the truck running as you step out and take a look at the tires on the truck.
  45. >After making your walkaround, all the tires look good to continue the trip, and a familiar light blue pegasus with rainbow colored hair, folowed by a man, step out of the house.
  46. >"Greetings, Anon! I'm glad you could find the place."
  47. Yeah, was easy to find, Mr. Nito.
  48. >"Please, Anon, call me Incog."
  49. Alright, Incog. There's plenty of room in the back of the truck for your stuff. You can grab shotgun, and let the ponies have the back seat to themselves.
  50. >"Sounds great."
  51. >As Incog puts his and Rainbow's stuff into the covered bed of the truck, Maud and Rainbow begin excitedly talking to each other.
  52. >At least, excited as Maud gets.
  53. Alright, girls. You get the backseat.
  54. >"Awwraight!"
  55. >Rainbow Dash excitedly jumps into the rear passenger side of your crew cab, and Maud moves to sit behind you.
  56. >Incog takes shotgun position after stowing his equipment, and you grab the drivers seat.
  57. >You pull out a topo map, and show it to Incog.
  58. I was thinking we head up here to near Geyser Pass in the La Sals, and pull a little off the road and set up the camper. Shouldn't be that crowded up there.
  59. >While explaining your plan, you point out a few possible camp sites, and Incog nods.
  60. >"Sounds great, Anon. I'll take your word for it, I've not done much camping in national forests, outside of designated camp grounds."
  62. Well, should be a treat. There's a vault toilet up there pretty close to where I was thinking, so that'll make stuff even easier for not staying in a regular camp ground.
  63. Being removed from others is damn liberating, and the views of the nearing autumn should be pretty awesome this weekend.
  64. >Mr. Nito nods.
  65. Also, I didn't ask you before, but I'll ask now before we leave your place... You got any growlers? There's a great place in Moab to fill up, and nothin beats sitting high in the mountains around a campfire drinking fine beer."
  66. >Incog smiles.
  67. >"Indeed. I'll run inside real quick and grab it."
  68. >Incog jumps out of the truck, and runs inside of his home.
  69. >The two ponies sitting in the backseat are catching up with one another again, and discussing general pony stuff.
  70. So, Rainbow Dash. You like beer?
  71. >"Uhhh... Duh? Of COURSE!"
  72. Good. Maud can tell you about how great the beer we are gonna buy at the brewery to drink this weekend is gonna be.
  73. >"Yes, Rainbow. The beer at the brewery in Moab is quite delicious. Especially the hefeweizen."
  74. Yup... A weekend of a little bit of hiking and other such things during the day, and evenings sitting around the campfire with friends, enjoying delicious beer...
  75. Gonna be great.
  76. >As you finish talking to the ponies about beer, Incog returns to the truck with two growlers.
  77. >Fuck yes, 4 growlers, ready to keep you covered with all the freakin delicious beer you'll all need for the weekend.
  78. >Though you might still want to buy some canned or bottled stuff...
  79. >One half gallon per person... and pony... If you are all gonna have a good time, you might need a bit more.
  81. >Once Incog is back in place, buckled in, and his growlers stowed in the backseat between the ponies, you begin the next step of the trip...
  82. >Another three hour drive to Moab.
  83. >However, before you jump back on the interstate, you pay a visit to Rainbow's place of employement to refuel the truck.
  84. >Incog giggles and shakes his head as you approach Kum & Go.
  85. >"Heh... Kum & Go..."
  86. >From the back seat, you can hear Rainbow Dash sigh.
  87. Whats so funny?
  88. >"Oh, you had to be there..."
  89. >You then heaer Incog mumble something under his breath about breaking walls.
  90. >You then proceed to shrug, as you step outside of the truck to pump up the gas tank.
  91. >Now that the truck was refueled, you take the truck (and trailer) through one of the worst contraptions designed by road engineers to reach the interstate.
  92. >A roundabout.
  93. >Oh how driving through them in a large vehicle angers and stresses you out.
  94. >Your visibility for maneuvering around the damn thing is terrible.
  95. >Luckily, you manage to traverse two of them to return to the westbound interstate.
  96. >As you drive, you catch a little bit of the conversation between the ponies.
  97. >"Well, Maud, you know Pinkie is in New Orleans... Last I heard, Fluttershy was working up near a place called Yellowstone, caring for hurt wildlife that comes into a clinic up there."
  98. >"Rarity, she is working at a mine out in southern California looking for gemstones. Applejack is working up in Washington, on an apple farm."
  99. >"Twilight... We aren't sure where she ended up. No one besides me and Pinkie ever really get on the internet much... The rest are all too remote to get regular access."
  101. >Out of the corner of your eye, you can see Incog, looking slightly sad while also listening to Rainbow Dash talk about her friends.
  102. You alright, Incog?
  103. >"Uhh, yeah... I'll... Tell you what I'm thinking about later."
  104. >You nod, and continue driving down the interstate, following along the mighty Colorado River.
  105. >THe elevation continues to drop, and the terrain becomes more and more arid.
  106. >Eventually you reach the place you first met Maud, the city of Grand Junction.
  107. >You sigh loudly as you see the large warehouse, just off the interstate you picked Maud up from.
  108. >Continuing your cruising down the interstate, you eventually pass the valley in which Grand Junction sits, and rise up away from the Colrado River.
  109. >Shortly after crossing the Utah state border, you can see you final destination for the day, far to the south.
  110. >The lofty heights of the La Sal Mountains, towering over the surrounding colorado Plateau.
  111. >Being late in the summer, nearly autumn, the peaks are currently devoid of snow.
  112. >Another few weeks, and that might change, but for now the mountains will be pleasant during the day, and chilly at night.
  113. >You'll need to gather up a good pile of firewood once you get to camp, but as thickly forested as the place is, that shouldn't be too much of a problem.
  114. >Everyone loves a good camp fire.
  115. >And a big warm one is the best place to spend a cool evening with some friends.
  116. So, what exactly do you do, Incog?
  117. >"Oh, this and that. Enough thigs to pay the bills."
  118. Can't say much more, huh?
  119. >"You are correctd, sir."
  121. >After leaving the interstate, and cutting south, the mountains grow higher hand higher as you drive into the bright red canyons that completely fill the region around Moab.
  122. >The small talk with Incog is interesting enough...
  123. >Though, you arent entirely sure wehat to make of him.
  124. >He's a nice guy, but there is just something odd about him.
  125. >Oh well.
  126. >Soon enough, you arrive back at the Colorado River, and after crossing it, come into the wonderful little town of Moab once more.
  127. >Time for a last minute supply stop.
  128. >First, you refuel again.
  129. >This gives you the perfect opportunity to get a little more ice.
  130. >Maud, Rainbow, and Incog head inside the gas station to buy some snacks of their own while you fuel the truck.
  131. Maud, get one more bag of ice while you are in there.
  132. >She nods in affirmation as she heads inside.
  133. >Just down the road you can see your next destination: the brewery.
  134. >A few minutes later, when the gas tank on the truck is full once again, the rest of your traveling group comes forward out of the gas station.
  135. Alright, everyone back inside the truck for a quick trip across the road.
  136. Gonna grab lunch at the brewery, and fill up the growlers.
  137. >"Awesome! Maud said the chili there was supreme!"
  138. >Everyone gets back into the truck, and you make the quick jump just down the main drag, and end up parked in front of the brewery.
  140. >Once again, everyone files out of the truck, and into the brewery.
  141. >Just like your last two visits, you are greeted by a pony at the hostess station.
  142. >"Going to the bar again, you two, I take i... Rainbow Dash?"
  143. >Rainbow Dash, distracted by the brewery surrounding her, quickly turns her head to the hostess pony.
  144. >"Berry Punch?"
  145. >Apperantly, Rainbow Dash knew her.
  146. >They both used to live in some place called Ponyville.
  147. >Where Maud's sister, Pinkie lived.
  148. >You let the ponies speak for a bit, while yourself and Incog go and take a seat at the bar.
  149. Whelp, here's your chance to figure out what you want to put in your growler. I'm probably gonna get the Pilsner.
  150. Maud likes the IPA. So you and Rainbow need to figure out something so we can have some good variety.
  151. We can also go by the state store and get a six pack or two of something interesting for a little more before we head up into the mountains.
  152. >Incog nods.
  153. >"Sounds good, Anon. I can think of a few craft brews we can grab at the store."
  154. >Soon enough, three pnies come join you at the bar.
  155. >"Hey Anon. Berry Punch here got some time to take a break and hang around with us."
  156. >"Isn't that AWESOME?!"
  157. Sure, the more the merrier for lunch, especially if it's someone ya'll know.
  159. >The three technicolor ponies take seats at the bar.
  160. >Then, the bartender procees to come take everyone's drink order.
  161. >Incog orders the brown ale, Maud orders the rye IPA, Rainbow dash goes for the hefewizen, and the hostess, along with yourself, elect to order a root beer.
  162. >Still got some ways to drive, a good chunk of it off road, with a trailer.
  163. >And, their root beer is made in house, and is awesome.
  164. >"Right, Ethel, be nice to these folks They are friends of mine."
  165. >The bartender looks at the purpleish mare, and nods.
  166. >"Alright, Berry Punch."
  167. >The barkeep, Ethel, artfully fills everyone's drink, and then moves to serve the other patrons.
  168. >"So, Maud, I've seen you and the dude you came in with a few times now. You come to Moab a lot?"
  169. >"I guess so. Anon and I wer doing field work to the north-west of here, and would come to Moab to restock."
  170. Indeed, Berry. I always love to stop here at the brewery when I'm in town. And this is a town I like to come to whenever I can.
  171. >Berry Punch nods.
  172. Myself, Maud, Rainbow Dash, and Incog here are all going camping up in the La Sals this weekend while the weather is still agreeable.
  173. >"Aww, that sounds like fun! I've never gotten a chance to head up there myself, but they look so pretty from down here in town."
  174. >"They are quite nice, even if I was a little elevation sick the last time I got to visit."
  176. >You continue to have small talk amongst your colorful party for a few minutes before the bartender comes and takes your food order.
  177. >The ponies all decide to go for the chili.
  178. >You decide to go for an order of the jalapeno cornbread, and the beer cheese soup.
  179. >Two awesome things, combined to make a third very awesome thing, plus some bitchin cornbread.
  180. >Incog goes for a burger.
  181. >The ponies all talk about what they have been up to.
  182. >As it is right now, all three of these ponies seem to be living pretty well.
  183. >Maud only talks about working and living with you, however.
  184. >You haven't gotten much about her previous owners, and you honestly don't really want to know much considering what little you have gleaned from her.
  185. >Yourself, Incog, and Ethel all listen intently at the happy ponies gab on and on.
  186. >Soon enough, everyone's food is ready, and everyone digs into their lunch.
  187. >A few more drinks for everyone else, and Rainbow Dash and Incog decide on the beer for their growlers.
  188. >For the weekend, you'll have the IPA, the pilsner, the hefeweizen, and stout.
  189. >Upon looking at you recipt, Ethel only charged you for half of the drinks.
  190. >You look up to her, and she smiles.
  191. >"Ya'll made Berry happy bringin' some of her friends here. A few beers is the least I can do to thank you."
  192. Awesome. Maud and I come through town every so often, and I'll be sure to stop by to visit Berry in the future.
  193. >She smiles and waves as your party gets up, and heads out of the restaurant.
  194. >Rainbow Dash and Maud give their farewells to Berry Punch, and everyone embarks the truck.
  196. >Following a short trip to the state store, a few dollars poorer, but two six packs richer, you begin your final approach to the mountains towering before you.
  197. >Using the same path as before, you twist up through the foothills, eventually turning off the paved road onto a gravel road, leading higher and higher, up into the forest retreats the high elevations provide.
  198. >Soon enough, you reach the end of winter road maintainance, and the vault toilet for those traveling with you who aren't well aquainted with the 'joys' of truly roughing it.
  199. >At the far end of the large gravel lot where the winter sportsman who trek these high elevations park, you take a small 'road' that is barely more than a few ruts leading off the main Geyser Pass road.
  200. >Slowly.
  201. >About 200 yards down this small, beat path, you spy a decent place set up camp.
  202. >Someone has already made a pull out, and it looks like there's a passable fire pit already in place.
  203. Alright, here we go. Camp sweet camp for the next 3 nights.
  204. >Hopefully no one will get much elevation sickness...
  205. >This camp is only at about 8600 ft of elevation, rather than the 10000+ Maud got sick from last time.
  206. >You jump out of the truck, and take a deep breath of the pine fresh mountain air.
  207. >Everyone else gets out, stretches a little bit, and takes in the view around them as you move to unhitch the pop-up camper from the truck.
  208. >Moving the front wheel of the trailer into place, you crank it down to lift the hitch up.
  209. >Soon enough, with a satisfying pop, the trailer is freed from the truck.
  210. >Pushing the trailer slightly away from the truck, you set the hitch down, and wipe your brow.
  211. >Rainbow Dash has decided to take flight, soaring around the camp site, hooting and hollering in joy.
  212. >Maud and Incog look on, watching her aerial acrobatics.
  214. Incog, catch!
  215. >When he looks to you, you toss him the keys to the truck.
  216. Pull it forward a few feet while I get the trailer leveled and adjusted.
  217. >"Can do."
  218. >You open the small door of the trailer, and pull out the wooden blocks used to keep the wheels in place, along with the crank for lifting the roof of the trailer.
  219. >After putting the blocks in place, you reach under each corner and drop the struts that keep the trailer level.
  220. >Happy with your handywork stabilizing the camper, you begin cranking up the roof.
  221. >Sadly, no one else is terribly familiar with setting this damn thing up, so you are kinda stuck with the job yourself.
  222. >It ain't too hard though, so not a big deal.
  223. >Several minutes later, the trailer is set up, ready to be inhabited.
  224. >The others have begun go grab some of the equipment out of the bed of the truck.
  225. >Coolers, sleeping bags, duffel bags of clothing...
  226. Alright, ya'll, the trailer is setup. I was thinkin I'd get the right pull out, Incog could get the left pull out, and Maud and Rainbow get the beds in the central part of the camper.
  227. >Everyone else nods in agreement, while heading towards the door of the camper while you move towards the truck to grab your own stuff.
  228. >"Uhhh... Anon, there ain't no beds in the middle."
  229. Yeah, Rainbow Dash, they just ain't set up right now. The couch bit pulls out into one, and the dining table turns into another one.
  230. >"Oh. Alright then, cool."
  231. >Everyone tosses their stuff to near where they are going to spend the night.
  233. >Once everyone was a little settled, you inform everyone of the next order of business.
  234. >Firewood.
  235. Alright, everyone, We are gonna need to go dig around for some firewood. Remember, no green stuff, and only take stuff off the ground. Should be plenty lying around.
  236. >Everyone goes out and after roughly 15 minutes, everyone has built up a pretty decent pile of firewood.
  237. >More than enough for tonight.
  238. >You set down to building a nice log cabin style fire.
  239. >Everyone else grabs a chair and grabs chairs to sit around the soon to be roaring fire.
  240. >After building up a decent log cabin in the fire pit, and filling the middle with some kindling and a home-made fire starter.
  241. >Candle wax poured over dryer lint.
  242. >You pull out your torch lighter, and get the fire rolling.
  243. >The sun is still reasonably high in the sky, but after a long day of driving, just chilling around around the campfire with friends, enjoying the pleasant weather and the surrounding wilderness is totally a fine way to spend the afternoon.
  245. >After watching the fire for a little bit, Rainbow Dash decided to take back to the air.
  246. >Being as remote as you are, flying freely isn't limited or prohibited like it can be in the cities.
  247. >Or, it may be, but there ain't no one around to make a big deal about it.
  248. >Maud wandered off a little bit to look at the random glacial boulders scattered around the nearby meadow, sitting below Haystack Mountain.
  249. >This leaves yourself and Incog sitting by the campfire.
  250. So, what were you thinkin' about earlier on the highway when Rainbow Dash was talking about her friends?
  251. >"Yes, I suppose since they are distracted I can talk a little bit."
  252. >You nod, and get up to grab a bottle of beer from the nearby cooler.
  253. >"I know... quite a bit about these ponies, and the world they come from."
  254. Interesting.
  255. >"Rainbow Dash, Maud's sister, Pinkie Pie, and the others were very special. Buncha friends with some superbly powerful magic powered by their friendship."
  256. >"Their powerful magic... Couldn't stop mankind when the dimensional rift opened up and we traveled through."
  257. >"The Elements of Harmony, as they were called, were all ripped apart from one another, the forces in charge of such things not entirely clued in on what they were actually doing."
  258. >"Quite sad to see such powerful magic torn apart."
  259. So, how do you know all this?
  260. >"Can't tell you that... And you wouldn't believe me even if I did, me thinks."
  261. Whatever.
  262. >You take a deep swig of your fresh bottle of beer.
  263. >Delicious, delicious Polygamy Porter.
  264. >Can't have just one, as the bottle itself says.
  266. >"So, Mr. Ymous, you are a geologist, eh?"
  267. Yup. Was coming back from an extended field work trip when we ran into Rainbow Dash at Kum & Go.
  268. >Incog giggles like a little girl under his breath.
  269. What's so funny about that anyway?
  270. >"Oh, its just... heh... just a stupid joke. You'd have to have been there..."
  271. >You think to what you are gonna cook for dinner tonight.
  272. >Since its a shorter trip, you aren't so worried about minimizing the amount of stuff stored in the coolers.
  273. >You got some nice steaks marinating for yourself and Incog, and some tofu marinating for Maud and Rainbow Dash.
  274. >A good family friend, who observes a pretty strict vegan diet, gave you a pretty awesome recipe for making the most delicious tofu for grilling.
  275. >You also got some potatoes you can bake by the fire side for everyone as well.
  276. >With the sun getting lower in the sky, and some good coals being ready in the fire, you decide to start some prepping.
  277. Alright, Incog, we are gonna want to call the ponies back soon. I'm gonna prep the potatoes since they take so long to cook compared to the steaks and tofu.
  278. >Incog nods, and stands up to stretch.
  279. >You head over to your handy dandy portable kitchen, and grab the four good sized potatoes you bought for this meal.
  280. >You washed them before you left, so all you need to do now is poke a few holes in 'em, slather 'em in oil, and then wrap 'em in foil.
  281. >Once you have completed that task, you grab a stick from the firewood pile to be the designated fire poking stick for the remainder of the weekend.
  282. >With the official fire poking stick, you pull some of the well developed coals aside to cook the potatoes.
  283. >You set the four potatoes on the coals and look to Incog returning with Maud and Rainbow Dash.
  285. The potatoes are cookin' and we'll have to get the rest cooking soon enough, girls. Come on, grab a drink and stay closer to camp.
  286. >The normally light grey mountain peak, sitting high above the camp site is being lit with a golden glow from the sun setting across the canyonlands far below you.
  287. >The scattered aspens at this elevation are slowly turning a similar golden color right now as well.
  288. >Everyone has returned to camp.
  289. >Rainbow Dash yawns, looking like she is ready to take a nap after an afternoon of flying around.
  290. >Maud digs into the drink cooler, and grabs one of the growlers, and carries it over and sets it on the table.
  291. >She grabs her usual camping cup she claimed while you were both working, and skillfully pours some beer into it.
  292. >Fuckin' ponies...
  293. >How they can manage to do such delicate tasks with their hooves confounds you to know end, but it atleast makes Maud more independent.
  294. >You take another swig of your beer, and dig out the protien for tonight's dinner.
  295. >After everyone grabs themselves a drink, and has a little bit of small talk, you look at your watch.
  296. >Timing looks about right to start cookin' the main course.
  297. >You set a foldable grill that sits over the fire, then slap everyone's protein out on it after a minute or so of letting it warm up.
  298. >Small talk continues as you keep a close eye on the steaks and tofu.
  299. >Eventually, you give the important message of the evening to everyone.
  300. Grab your plates, food's about ready, ya'll.
  301. >One by one, everyone comes by, and you use your tongs to give them a foil wrapped potato, and a good chunk of protein that matches their preferred diet.
  302. >And lastly, you give yourself your steak and potato.
  304. >You return to your seat, plate in hand, beer in drink holder.
  305. >Your steak turned out pretty awesome.
  306. >"Oh man, Anon, this tofu stuff is AWESOME! How did you make it?"
  307. Took tofu. Marinated it in a family secret recipe mix of spices and stuff.
  308. >You lean over to Rainbow
  309. But for you, I'll send you the recipe when I get home.
  310. >"Thanks anon!"
  311. >For the most part, the rest of the dinner is quiet.
  312. >A good sign, everyones stuffing their mouth rather than talking.
  313. >Soon enough, everyone's plate is clear of food, and shortly after that, clean and ready to be used tommorow.
  314. >Everyone then returns to their spot around the campfire, intoxicating beverage of choice in a can or glass, as the sky gets darker and darker.
  315. >In short order, stars become visible in the night sky.
  316. >Rainbow Dash speaks up.
  317. >"Alright, you guys, we are outside, its dark, and we are around a campfire! You know what that means!"
  318. >You raise your eyebrow as you look at the rainbow haired pegasus.
  319. >"Scary campfire stories of course!"
  320. >You give out a slight chuckle.
  321. If you want to, Rainbow. Though, I usually just sit down and shoot the shit with whoever I'm camping with than try to worry about ghost stories.
  323. >"That doesn't sound very fun..."
  324. Well, if you enjoy the company of those around you, it's always a good time. There's also drinking games.
  325. >"Rainbow, Anon and I, when we were doing field work, just told stories about our life experiences. It was quite edifying and enjoyable."
  326. Yeah... Good story about the time my buddies and I played whifflechug. Or the time some of my friends played power hour while driving on the interstate...
  327. >You give a wistful sigh.
  328. Fuckin' idots, but oh man was that hilarious to watch and listen to.
  329. >"What's power hour? It sounds like it could be AWESOME!"
  330. >You look to Incog.
  331. Think it's OK to talk about that one?
  332. >"It's all good. Though no one is allowed to play power hour while we are camped out here. We'll run out of beer to quickly."
  333. Well, power hour is a drinking game where you have to drink a shot of beer every minute, on the minute, for an hour.
  334. It's harder than it sounds, and it usually results in people gettin' sick all over the place.
  335. >"I thought you weren't allowed to drink beer in cars... At least that's what Incog told me. You lying to me?"
  336. Nope, he's right. My friends were just being utter retards. They were coordinating their minutes per shot over the two way radios we all had.
  337. They also were drinkin' in front of the professors who were leading the trip, while they gave lectures on the side of the highway.
  338. Shit was funny... Just glad none of 'em got arrested or dead from that.
  339. >"Power hour sounds like a game my sister might enjoy. She was always big on party games like that."
  340. Well, with her living in New Orleans, she probably gets to play games like that quite often, Maud.
  341. >Everyone around the campfire nods, and takes a sip of their drink.
  343. >As the evening rolls onward, and the starry night sky above becomes more impressive as everyone sitting around hte campfire takes turns spinning a tale.
  344. >Times at band camp.
  345. >stories from wonderbolt training.
  346. >Random drunken debauchery.
  347. >Mixing fire and batteries
  348. >"Scary" stories.
  349. >Ocassionaly a break is taken to refill cups, and stoke the fire.
  350. >Incog speaks up.
  351. >"So, how did ya'll come to work together, Anon?"
  352. >Oof, that's kind of an awkward thing to talk about...
  353. Well, few months back, my boss assigned me to do some detailed mapping of a big ass chunk of land out here in Utah.
  354. >You take a sip from your glass.
  355. Didn't assign anyone else from the USGS to work with me. Told me to find some grad student to take out.
  356. Asshole seems to miss that almost no one wants to do real field work like that shit anymore. Couldn't find anyone.
  357. >You take another, deeper swig from your glass.
  358. One of my coworkers told me I should look into a pony assistant. So, I looked into one of the sales agencies, and found a pony with a rock for a cutie mark.
  359. She was on a deep discount for reasons unknown to me, but her profile looked like it was a good match for me.
  360. >Maud winces slightly, and you finish off your glass of beer.
  361. Worked out well enough in the end I guess. Maud likes the kind of work I do, has a higher degree than I do, and she gets about as much freedom as a pony can have in this world now.
  362. Now, I need another drink.
  363. >Everyone takes the opportunity to refill their glasses, before returning to the campfire.
  364. >Before you sit down again, however, you toss another good sized branch onto the fire.
  366. So, Ingoc, care to share the story between yourself and Rainbow Dash?
  367. >"Not too much to say... Went to an Auction, brought her home... I like to think I got her in a reasonable lifestyle compared to many ponies."
  368. >"You don't let me fly enough, and you make me work at that stpuid gas station!"
  369. >You shrug.
  370. Doesn't sound awful compared to what I hear some ponies have to deal with.
  371. >"He's Right, Rainbow Dash. I had some... unpleasant living situations before I came in with Anon. You have it pretty good."
  372. >Maud keeps up her generally calm demeanor, and Rainbow Dash sits back in her chair, a slightly sad look on her face.
  373. >"I guess you're right... I am pretty well off. I mean, most of my friends don't even get to use the internet very often... some never."
  374. >Rainbow Dash lowers her face downward.
  375. >"Incog doesn't even make me take the drugs that weaken my ability to fly..."
  376. >Once more, everyone around the campfire nods, and takes a sip of their drink.
  377. Yep.
  378. >"Mmmm, yep."
  379. >"Mmmhmm."
  380. >Everyone continues to silently sit around the campfire, watching the fire burn, occasionally looking to the sky, and just generally enjoying the slight twinge of early autumn in the air.
  381. >Eventually, you speak up, after the fire has burned down a little bit.
  382. Alright, I think I'm about ready to head to sleep. It's gettin' a bit late.
  383. >The others around the campfire all nod in agreement.
  384. We all will need rest for getting out and hiking tommorow.
  385. >The campfire is low enough to just burn out now, so you stand up, and head into the camper, with everyone else in tow.
  386. >Everyone moves to set up their sleeping bags in their dedicated spots, and soon enough the camper is filled with the sound of sleeping ponies and people.
  388. >The next morning, you are awoken by the slight glow of the sky as the sun slowly rises on the far side of the tower peaks to the east of your campsite.
  389. >Quietly, you roll over, and take a look at the others in the camper, not yet awake.
  390. >You've had time to think about what exactly to do today.
  391. >Spend some time hiking around taking in the views in Gold Basin.
  392. >Hike a portion of the Trans-La Sal trail.
  393. >Pick a nearby peak, and bag that shit.
  394. >Incog seems pretty athletic, and Rainbow Dash is apperantly a star flier, so you are pretty confident any of those are within reach of your little party.
  395. >You quietly put on some clothing, and climb over Maud, sleeping just below your pull out side on the trailer.
  396. >Time to brew up some proper coffee.
  397. >None of that instant shit.
  398. >You are on vacation, so a little more effort for some good coffee is totally worthwhile.
  399. >Slipping silently out of the trailer, you drag out the cooking equipment, and you crank up the stove, and put on your stovetop coffee pot.
  400. >You know that soon, the smell of coffee should wake up the rest of your party.
  401. >Maud for sure.
  402. >She is a fiend for coffee, especially when it isn't that shitty instant stuff that was your bread and butter during the mapping project.
  404. >As you guessed, once the smell of coffee was on the air, you hear stirring within the trailer, and soon enough, Maud came stepping out, yawning.
  405. Mornin' sleepyhead. You about ready for some wake up nectar? Should be ready pretty soon.
  406. >Maud grumbles incoherently, as it appears somepony has had just a little bit to much to drink the previous evening.
  407. >You hear some other rusting within the camper.
  408. >Sounds like everyone else is slowly getting up as well.
  409. >You proceed to dig out the frying pan, some nonstick spray, and the pancake mix.
  410. >Everyone will eat well this morning.
  411. >You also dig out a second frying pan, and open a can of corned beef hash intot for yourself and Incog.
  412. >Maud isn't bothered by things like "chicken flavored rice-a-roni" really, but actual meat, she can't do, and you assume the same for Rainbow Dash.
  413. >Within a few minutes, everyone is out of the bed, yawning, and slowly getting their morning caffiene on while you make a nice big stack of pancakes.
  414. >When the hash is nice and crispy, and the pancakes are made, you transfer everything over to the small table everyone is waiting at.
  415. Alright, sleepyheads, here's breakfast.
  416. >Maud quickly digs in, Incog and Rainbow Dash are a little slower on the uptake.
  417. >They definitely aren't as used to stuff like this like yourself and Maud.
  418. >This shit is pretty god damned luxurious compared to all the camping stuff you did while mapping.
  419. >You pile some hash, and a nice stack of pancakes onto your plate, and dig in.
  420. >Gotta love 'dat instant just add water pancake mix.
  422. >After some food and coffee, Rainbow Dash and Incog are a little more conherent.
  423. So, for today, I was thinking we go hike around a little bit up in Gold Basin. It's a pretty high elevation up there, but it's not that rough to walk around.
  424. >You turn to Maud.
  425. And you were kinda elevation sick last time we were up there. You'll have a better opportunity to take in the scenery this time.
  426. Lot's of great things to see up there... Tarns, hanging valleys, cirques... All kinds of cool shit.
  427. >"Sounds pretty good, Anon. I'm not too used to this hiking stuff, so that sounds gentle enough."
  428. >"I think some more high mountain action sounds AWESOME!"
  429. >Rainbow Dash then shudders for a moment.
  430. >"And being fairly gentle would be nice. I don't feel all that awesome right now... Too much beer last night I think."
  431. >Buncha lightweights...
  432. >Atleast Maud is doing pretty good this morning once she got into her coffee.
  433. Right. Let's get these dishes cleaned, and and our day packs prepped, then we can load into the truck and head up to the Gold Basin trailhead. Remember to carry plenty of water.
  434. >You saw that Rainbow Dash had atleast some saddlebags.
  435. >Nothing quite as fancy as the CamelBak you got for Maud, but should be good for carrying the supplies she needs for the day.
  436. >Incog also just has a plain ol' pack, but it should work for something as simple as the Gold Basin hike.
  437. >Yourself and Maud have much fancier equipment.
  438. >Once everything is clean, and everything else ready, you lock the trailer, and everyone loads into the truck.
  439. >Adventure time.
  440. >Maybe moreso tomorrow, but this should be good for today.
  442. >Two and a half miles further up the gravel mountain roads, you reach the end of the rough road at the entrance to Gold Basin.
  443. >There is a small parking and turn around area here, and so far, it looks like you are the first ones up here, enjoying this particular alpine respite from the deserts below.
  444. Alright, ya'll, this is where the truck is gonna be parked all day. If we get separated, and there is an emergency, there is a key for the truck hidden behind the liscense plate, upper right screw.
  445. >Everyone nods, and dons their day packs.
  446. >"Oh man, this view up here is gonna be AMAZING!"
  447. >Rainbow Dash has perked up quite a bit after eating pancakes.
  448. >"I can't wait to look at some of those moraines and rock glaciers higher up in the basin."
  449. >Maud is also quite excited.
  450. >As excited as she gets, really.
  451. >"Ugh... my head..."
  452. >Incog...
  453. >He isn't quite as ready for this.
  454. >You pass him a small bottle of ibuprofen.
  455. Take some of this. It'll help you deal a little better. Once we get moving, you'll be fine.
  456. >Before you, a large meadow stretches before you, going slightly downhill towards Brumley Creek.
  457. >Across the valley is a small cirque, just below the small peak they call 'Little Tuk'.
  458. >"Anon, why do they call this Gold Basin?"
  459. Well, Maud, they used to try to mine gold up here. Not the best place, but there is atleast a little bit.
  460. >You point down to the creek below.
  461. The big open area across the stream is an old reclaimed mine.
  462. >"So wait, you could find GOLD up here?"
  463. Well, if you wanted to pan over in brumley creek, you might be able to find a little, bu t it's probably not worth the effort, Rainbow.
  464. >You slowly lead the way down the narrow path across the broad glacial valley.
  466. >Leading the way, you cross Brumley Creek, and begin moving your way further up the basin.
  467. >You pass through stands of pine trees, aspens, along with meadows along the creek.
  468. >When you reach the first big rock glacier, Maud insists you stop for a litlte while.
  469. >"Look at tall this fine grained diorite... Some of it almost looks like Cobble."
  470. >Maud digs into her bag and pulls out her pet rock, 'Cobble'.
  471. >A chunk of rock you collected in your undergrad days in Arkansas, and a big quarry just outside Little Rock.
  472. >It don't make much sense to you, but hey, it makes her happy having a pet rock she talks to.
  473. >Probably something to do with that earth pony magic she's talked about.
  474. >"Incog, is it alright if I fly up a little bit? I wanna get a good look at the land."
  475. >"That's fine Rainbow. Don't get too far away from us."
  476. Keep an eye out for some of the ponds up in the valley. We'll have to get up to the highest elevation one up in one of the very headwaters of the creek.
  477. It'll be the easternmost of the big cirques up ahead.
  478. >Rainbow Dash gives you a little salute, and then takes to the air.
  479. Whelp, I guess we can keep heading up the creek a little bit. We should get back into some more meadows up ahead, and she should have an easy enough time finding us.
  480. >Incog and Maud nod, and you continue forward, into another stand of pine trees, slowly moving higher and higher up the valley.
  481. >A few minutes later, you reach another meadow of sorts...
  482. >Not so much a grassy field, but a rough field of scrubby brush, broken timber, and many very small pines.
  483. >"This is a bit different, Anon. Whats up with this?"
  484. >You turn to face Incog.
  485. Well, this was probably forested before, but there must have been an avalanche from that big slope over there.
  486. >You point up to one of the lower peaks looming high over the valley.
  487. You can see all the big logs are fallen down away from over there. A big pile of snow rushing down into the valley'll ruin even pretty big stands of trees.
  489. >After about 15 minutes of taking off ahead, Rainbow Dash returns, landing deftfully in front of you.
  490. >"So, I saw three ponds higher up. I didn't take a close up look, but it's looking really nice."
  491. >"Ugh, how much further ahead, Dash?"
  492. >"Well, with all the trees and fields of boulders... I think it'll take you guys about half an or so to reach the first pond from here."
  493. >Incog lets out a large groan.
  494. >Everyone else, including yourself, giggles a little bit.
  495. Gotta drink more water, or drink a little less beer tonight, man.
  496. >You continue following the clear, rushing braided stream as you hike up the valley floor towards your goal for the day, though Rainbow Dash is staying nearby in the air now.
  497. >From previous trips, you know this stream will take you straight to the highest pond, but the other two are gonna be a bit off to the western side of the basin.
  498. >Looking westward, across the stream, you see another large field cleared of trees by an avalanche, with smaller stream flowing downward into the main stream.
  499. Alright, I think if we head up this field, following that little creek right there, that'll lead us up to the closest tarn.
  500. If I remember correctly, there's a nice rock glacier we can climb across to get to it, or we have to push through the forest, where there ain't gonna be a path.
  501. >"I'd like to look at the rock glacier. Get a broader look at the rocks of these mountains."
  502. >"I can just fly, so I don't really care"
  503. >"Ugh, both sound rough."
  504. You can probably stay right near the edge of the trees and the rock field and get something not too terribly shit.
  506. >Eventually, after a rough trek through rough terrain, you and your party find yourself at the first little pond.
  507. >One end dammed up on one end by the top of the rock glacier, with a small clearing on the oppisite end, and surrounded by pine trees on all other sides.
  508. >You walk over to the top of the small dam keeping the pond in place, and take a seat on one of the large boulders, taking in the view.
  509. Ahhhh...
  510. Nothing quite beats the clear alpine air, the pine trees, and a nice little tarn like this.
  511. >Maud takes a seat on a nearby boulder, examining the large rock.
  512. >Incog sits further away, on a log, letting out an exasperated sigh.
  513. >Rainbow Dash flew a few low laps around the pond, before taking a seat next to Incog on the fallen tree he chose for his seat.
  514. Eat a snack while we are here. Gotta keep your energy up, yo.
  515. >You dig into your backpack, and pull out a zip locked baggie of your own personal GORP mix.
  516. >Dark chocolate, peanuts, cashews, dried cranberries and dates.
  517. >Good shit to keep going.
  518. >Maud has her own preferred mix she has come up with since finishing the San Rafael project.
  519. >Incog and Rainbow both have some pretty generic granola bars.
  520. >You spend roughly 10 minutes, just taking in the surroundings, and enjoying the calming effect it has on you.
  521. >The rest and scenery seems to be doing Incog some good as well.
  522. >He looks significantly... perkier since snacking and taking a nice little rest in such a pretty place.
  524. So, ready to continue up? I wanna get to the highest tarn by lunch so we can enjoy the nice cirque meadow up there while we eat.
  525. >Everyone nods, and gets back up, ready to continue the trek upwards.
  526. The next pond is fairly close, so we could probably get to it in like 15 minutes or so passing through some heavily forested stuff.
  527. >The trek upwards continues, through the dark, heavily forested alpine valley.
  528. >Around lunch time, you eventually reach your main destination; the highest of the tarns in gold basin.
  529. >You break out of the thick forest, though more thin than at the lower elevations, into a large broad, relatively flat valley.
  530. >Back in the Pleistocene, this would have been the top of probably the biggest glacier in the La Sal range.
  531. >Today, it is a beautiful cirque, and the perfect place to relax and enjoy lunch with friends.
  532. >Everyone heads up to near the tarn, removes their packs, and takes a seat.
  533. So, we made it. Lunch time!
  534. >Today, you passed out an MRE to everyone.
  535. >Vegetarian to the ponies, and some regular ones for yourself and Incog.
  536. >You took salsbury steak.
  537. >Always one of your favorites.
  538. >After getting the built in heating element steaming, Maud took to looking more closely at the surrounding peaks, being much closer than before.
  539. >"Anon, these peaks look a little different... Like they are sedimentary rocks rather than the volcanics we've seen the rest of the way up the basin.
  541. You'd be correct, Maud. Got a decent chunk of the Jurassic section, from the Navajo up to the Morrison up there towards Mt. Peale.
  542. >You point towards the south-west.
  543. Tallest peak in the range. Over there, though you probably can't see the top from here.
  544. >Everyone nods, as they snack on the parts of their lunch that don't need heating.
  545. >As with the earlier snack time, everyone just relaxes, eats, and enjoys the stunning location they are sitting in.
  546. >"I just LOVE these mountains! Best I've gotten to see up close in this world. Can't wait to fly a little more up here after lunch!"
  547. >"They are quite nice mountains. Lots of rocks to look at."
  548. >"Yeah, and the wind currents are great. Just AWESOME to glide around on."
  549. >"I need to drink more water or something tonight. Bleh."
  550. >You hapilly nod at the conversation, and snack on your piping hot lunch.
  551. >Tonight, you will continue the drunkening.
  552. >Some of the others might have to cut back a little bit, though.
  553. >Lightweights that can't handle getting piss ass drunk in the woods.
  554. So since we've done a nice little hike today, what do ya'll want to do tomorrow?
  555. I was thinking we could try to climb Haystack Mountain, that one looming above our campsite, or maybe a bit of hiking on some regular trails.
  556. >Incog groans a little bit.
  557. Or, if we aren't feeling so hot, we could possibly pay a visit to some of the parks back down near town.
  559. >"Ugh, let's get back to camp and see how I'm feeling later. I'm still recovering, but I might be up for something a little more intense tomorrow."
  560. >You nod at Incog's answer, and finish off eating your lunch, before laying down to enjoy a nice light nap in warm, late summer sun.
  561. >You've already hit most of the big sights that are easily accessable from Moab in the parks last time you were here with Maud.
  562. >Hitting a few up again might not be terrible.
  563. >Though, you never did get all the way into Canyonlands...
  564. >Haystack mountain is another good option.
  565. >Approaching the peak from the Southeast, near Geyser Pass is easy enough.
  566. >Or, you COULD always just laze about camp and enjoy some general outside time.
  567. >You'll figure something out.
  568. >While you lay about, Maud finished her lunch and walked to the far side of the pond, and started looking at the large pile of boulders at the edge of the valley.
  569. >A big ol' lateral moraine, you do believe.
  570. >Incog and Rainbow Dash have also taken to relaxing, finding nice spots to doze.
  571. Alright guys, this is about as high as we are gonna go today. It's all downhill from here.
  572. >You hear some positive monosylabic grunts from the others who are resting, though Maud continues to climb and look at the boulders.
  573. >"You are right Anon, these definitely look similar to the rocks we saw around the flanks of the swell when we were mapping out there."
  574. >Maud sets her hoff down on a large beige-red rock.
  575. >"This is definitely a big chunk of Navajo Sandstone right here... Kinda messed up looking, but still."
  576. Yup. Stuff gets a little fucked up when It gets magma intruded near it, ya know.
  577. >"I guess so, Anon."
  579. >About a half an hour after everyone finished up their lunch, and got a good chance to relax, you stand up, and stretch out a little bit.
  580. Alright, folks, we about ready to start hiking back down the mountain to camp?
  581. >Everyone gives an affirmative, and you begin snaking your way down the valley, back towards where you parked the truck.
  582. >From here, you can mostly follow along the main branch of Brumley Creek, considering you could pretty much consider the little pond you sat by the headwaters.
  583. >No real permanent streams above there, really.
  584. >Rainbow Dash has once again taken to gliding around above the rest of the party, giving directions from her high point of view when needed.
  585. >"Oh man, going down is so much easier than going up here."
  586. Indeed... I did some work up here as a student, and had an awful time much further down this valley, beyond where there was any glaciation.
  587. I'll just say, climbing directly up the sides of one of these damn canyons, in a god damned thunderstorm, is not recommended.
  588. Nearly had a god damn stroke...
  589. >"Sounds... magical."
  590. >"Why would you do something like that, Anon?"
  591. >You turn to Maud to answer her query.
  592. Because a big ass thunderstorm rolled from the east over these high peaks while we were mapping glacial features.
  593. My group got down into one of the lower part sof the canyon, and we made the decision to climb out of the canyon.
  594. Other possibility was to keep heading downstream to find a possibly non-existant 4x4 trail. Wish we had done that...
  595. >"Why?"
  596. Because when I got back to civilization and looked at the aerial photograpy, the 4x4 trail definitely crosses the stream.
  597. Woulda been out in the rain longer, but would have probably felt much less like shit.
  598. >"Couldn't you have just gone back the way you came?"
  599. >You turn to Incog
  601. Oh fuck no. You think the stuff we climbed up here in the basin was rough? The stuff below where we parked is probably twice as steep.
  602. Shit's basically one way. We should'a taken out the hiking trail by the waterfall instead of dropping further down, to be honest...
  603. Anway, I know better now, and I'll make sure we don't do anything too rash up here.
  604. >"Glad to have someone of experience up here then, dude. Sounds like what you did was kinda shit."
  605. Believe me. It was.
  606. >As you finished that conversation, Rainbow Dash decided to drop down from above.
  607. >"OK, guys, we are almost back to where we left this stream on the way up the valley."
  608. >Incog lets out a happy sigh
  609. >"Oh thank god... Shouldn't be too much longer."
  610. Indeed. The path gets better there, for sure.
  611. >Soon enough, you do in fact return to the reclaimed gold mine, and you begin your final, very slight climb back to the truck.
  612. >"So, Anon, you totally said there was gold here right?"
  613. Yeah, there was some gold found here, Rainbow.
  614. >"Can we like, come back here tommorow and try to find some?"
  615. >You pause to think for a moment.
  616. >Prospecting for gold is always slightly entertaining.
  617. >However, you didn't bring any of your panning supplies.
  618. Maybe next time, Rainbow. I didn't pack any stuff to try to find any. Definitely need a pan to dig through the sand and gravel down in the creek.
  620. >Finally, you move away from Brumley Creek, and up to the truck.
  621. >"Sweet sweet relief!"
  622. >Incog looks quite happy to see a chance to sit on something comfortable.
  623. >You unlock the vehicle, and allow everyone to pile in.
  624. >Everyone looks quite ready to have a nice evening to relax.
  625. >Probably drink more beer.
  626. >Nothing quite beats an ice cold beer after a good day of hanging out in the field.
  627. >Friggin' brits don't know what the hell they are doing with their 'room temperature' beer.
  628. >After a short drive, you get back to the trailer, and camp.
  629. >Now, comes the important decision.
  630. >What to cook for dinner tonight.
  631. >You'll figure that out after you get the fire going again.
  632. >After parking the truck, and letting everyone out, you get to that most important job of fire starter.
  633. >Everyone else grabs drinks, light snacks, and gets a chair around the fire pit.
  634. >Tonight shall be a good night for friends, food, and delicious drink.
  636. >Digging through your food supplies, you decide tonight is gonna be vegetarian gumbo night.
  637. >You made sure to bring some fresh okra to ensure proper thickening of the dish.
  638. >Hopefully everyone can handle a little bit of spice too...
  639. >Surely, they can.
  640. >You've also gotten some good sausage for yourself and Incog to mix in with your gumbo, for that extra flavor and protein.
  641. >Rainbow Dash has gone off, flying about the relatively flat area that lies below the tall peaks, and to the west of Geyser Pass.
  642. >Incog has started his evening nursing a bottle of powerade and a handfull of asprin.
  643. >Maud has already started up her beer drinking for the night, having a nice glass of something from one of the growlers.
  644. >You've cracked open one of the bottled beers while you stand, prepping dinner.
  645. >Off in the distance, to the south side of Haystack Mountain, you see a large flash of green and pink, and a little bit of smoke rising from the forest in the golden sunset of the day.
  646. Fuckin' kids and their damn fireworks...
  647. >You continue chopping vegtables for the stew, tossing them into the large waiting pot.
  648. >"That was an odd flash. Almost looked like... No, couldn't be."
  649. >You look to Maud while you are working through the dinner preparations.
  650. What was that Maud?
  651. >"That flash... It looked kinda like some kinda large magic spell or something."
  652. Odd... Not many unicorns around without something supressing their magic. But, here in the middle of nowhere, would be where people mess around with that kinda stuff.
  654. >About 15 minutes after the flash, all the chopping of veggies was complete, and you were working on cooking them down a little bit in the pot.
  655. >Rainbow Dash decided to return, with quite a bit of speed, looking quite excited.
  656. >"Hey you guys! I found somepony I knew camping further up the mountain! Can they come hang out with us tonight?"
  657. >You look to Incog, and he shrugs, and you return it.
  658. >Maud raises her eyebrow.
  659. I don't see why we couldn't have some more folks come by tonight... I'll cook some beans and make more rice. How many should we expect?
  660. >"One pony, one human, and one... changeling."
  661. >Do what now?
  662. >Maud switches which of her eyebrows is raised.
  663. >"A changeling? Really? Is the pony anybody I would know?"
  664. >Rainbow Dash ceases floating excitedly above the campfire, and moves to whisper in Maud's ear.
  665. >"Oh. So nopony I knew personally."
  666. >"So, it's totally OK if I invite them down to hang with us then?"
  667. Go for it. Always good to have more company around a nice warm campfire.
  668. >"Yessss!"
  669. >Rainbow Dash quickly leaps to the air, almost leaving a trail of rainbow in her wake, as she flies up towards Geyser Pass.
  670. >Incog gets a surprised look on his face.
  671. >"Wow... she must be really excited."
  672. So, what's a changeling?
  673. >Both Maud and Incog turn to you.
  674. >"They are beings from Equestria that have the ability to shapeshift into ponies. They feed off of love. In their basic form, they appear as bug-like ponies."
  675. >"Uhhh... What she said."
  677. Interesting... I thought I saw stuff about bug ponies when I was... perusing the online marketplaces and guides.
  678. >You take a deep swig of your beer, and you start getting the rice pot ready to go.
  679. >A few more mouths to feed, and a big pile of rice will take a little longer to cook.
  680. >And you'll need that second burther to heat up beans and sausage while the rice cools too.
  681. >Fuckin multipot cooking...
  682. >Why do you do this to yourself while camping.
  683. >Roughly 15 minutes later, you see a large, old, beat ass army truck coming down the dirt road to your camp site.
  684. >Must be Rainbow's friends.
  685. >They pull up, and out pop's Rainbow, a strangely large pink unicorn, a fairly small... bug pony?
  686. >And lastly, some oddly nondescript dude.
  687. >You take a break from stirring and go up to greet your guests, starting with your fellow man.
  688. Hey, nice to meet you! Welcome to our little camp here. I'm told Rainbow Dash is buddies with your unicorn there. Name's Anon.
  689. >You reach your hand out to give a good shanke.
  690. >The other human gives you an odd look, but returns with a nice firm hand shake.
  691. >"I too, am Anon. This here is Sea Breeze and Ling."
  692. I take it you already know Rainbow Dash... This is Incog, and Maud. We're just up here, enjoying the nice weather, and good company, while we still can.
  693. We got some vegetarian gumbo on the stove, gonna have some rice, beans, and sausage for those who want it. Also got plenty of beer in the growlers too.
  694. >The changeling perks up noticeably at the mention of sausage and beer.
  696. >Fuck.
  697. >That's gonna be one more eating sausage.
  698. >And you were gonna save some for dinner tomorrow.
  699. >Guess tomorrow might be a day to head back to town for additional provisions.
  700. >Perhaps we could all go white water rafting or rent a jeep for rock crawling.
  701. >You'll have to talk to the others later for those ideas.
  702. >Your guests move over to the beer supply, and all grab themselves a drink.
  703. >More beer will also probably be in order with three more mouths drinking.
  704. >Though, more people who shoot the shit with is always worth draining the food and drink supplies.
  705. >Incog looks to the pink unicorn with dark blue mane, cocks his head, then a look of immense surprise hits his face.
  706. >You take a closer look to her.
  707. >She is quite large for a pony... A little on the chunky side too.
  708. >You also look closer at the little bug pony.
  709. >Large eyes, solid blue.
  710. >Clear, almost wasp like wings.
  711. >A small horn, like a unicorn.
  712. >Holes in it's legs.
  713. >... blunted fangs?
  714. >Kind of a bizzare little creature.
  716. >"So, this is Ling."
  717. >Other Anon points to the changeling.
  718. >"And this is Sea Breeze."
  719. >He points to the large pink unicorn
  720. >Incog raises his eyebrow.
  721. Nice to meet the both of you.
  722. >The unicorn speaks to Maud.
  723. >"So, you are one of the Pinkie Pie's sisters, hmm?"
  724. >"Yes. Maud Pie. Good to meet you... Sea Breeze."
  725. >"Yes... Sea Breeze."
  726. >The unicorn's eyes dart about slightly as she takes a sip from her glass of beer.
  727. >That she is levitating with her... magic, you assume.
  728. >A pink glow on her horn matches the glow about her glass, atleast.
  729. >Interesting.
  730. >Someone else who is very leinient to their ponies.
  731. So, ya'll enjoying the nice late summer weather up here in the La Sals?
  732. >"Yes, quite. It's also good to see another pony I know, and a sister of a pony I know."
  733. >Sea Breeze...
  734. >Something in her voice gives you quite a... pleasant feeling.
  735. >You don't quite know how to explain it.
  737. >The changeling looks at you, and Incog, inquisitively.
  738. >After a few moments, she turns, and speaks with the ponies, as they move into their own conversations.
  739. >Where ponies they know are, the kinds of things they've been up to, stuff like that.
  740. >Leaving yourself, Incog, and other Anon to your own conversation.
  741. >At this point, dinner just needs to simmer for a bit, so you are free to take your seat at the campfire.
  742. Yep.
  743. >"Mmmm, yep."
  744. >"Mmmhmmm."
  745. >Each of you take a swig from your drink.
  746. So, what do you do, Anon?
  747. >"IT."
  748. Yeah, thats a good line a' work. I work for the USGS. I look at rocks.
  749. >Incog looks slightly nervous.
  750. >"I uhhh... do stuff. Internet stuff. Yeah."
  751. >He takes a deep sip of his drink, as he shoots a nervous gaze at Sea Breeze.
  752. >Ling moves away from the pony conversation, and walks to stand in front of Incog.
  753. >"You know who she is, don't you."
  754. >Incog's eyes dart back and forth.
  755. >He then sighs.
  756. >"I guess I can't hide it from someone who can feel and taste emotions. Yes, I know that pony."
  757. >The pink unicorn and other Anon suddenly look really nervous.
  758. >"But, I won't tell anyone. You seem to be putting a lot of effor into being... Incognito."
  760. >Suddenly, everyone in the camp looks significantly more relieved.
  761. >But you... You are just kinda confused.
  762. I... Feel like I am missing something here. Like everyone else knows some shit I don't.
  763. >Maud speaks up.
  764. >"I suppose someone should tell him. I think he's trustworthy to know something like this"
  765. >"I guess... It'll let me be more comfortable of I don't have to wear this..."
  766. >The pink unicorn takes off a large pink piece of fuzzy cloth that was covering her midriff.
  767. >And beneath it shows a pair of large pegasus wings.
  768. >wut?
  769. >Incog speaks.
  770. >"Thats Princess Cadence, soverign of the Crystal Empire. One of the Alicorn Princesses of Equestria."
  771. >Incog bows
  772. >"It is a pleasure to meet you."
  773. >Fuckin Incog and his oddly broad knowledge of ponies and their world...
  774. Huh... I guess that explains the unicorn and pegasus thing going on at the same time. Well, nice to meet you then, Cadence.
  775. >Other Anon speaks up.
  776. >"So, thats it?"
  777. What? I figure you were being secretive not wanting to bring attention to such a... unique pony while you are on vacation or something.
  778. >"Yeah. Sure, that works."
  779. >Maud then questions Cadence.
  780. >"So, that big flash earlier, was that something you did?"
  781. >"Yes... I was practicing a spell."
  782. Musta been a hell of a spell to make such a big flash that was visible from down here while the sun was still sorta up.
  783. >You take a deep swig of your beer.
  785. >"I suppose you could say that."
  786. >They seem... evasive about the topic.
  787. >Perhaps its best to point the conversation elsewhere.
  788. So, ya'll paid a visit to any of the big parks down below here near town?
  789. >Ling speaks up.
  790. >"We stopped a little bit along the roads coming here to look at some of the sights!"
  791. >She pauses for a moment.
  792. >"But, we couldn't get out and look too much. We needed to find a place to camp."
  793. You seem awfully excited, Ling.
  794. >"The canyons and stuff around here kinda remind me of... home."
  795. >Shit.
  796. >Bringing up uncomfortable topics with ponies again.
  797. >Cadence speaks.
  798. >"Yeah, there is quite a bit of similarity between the Equestrian Badlands and some of the stuff we drove through today... It does have a beauty all it's own."
  799. >"I quite like it. Make's it easier to look at the rocks."
  800. I agree, Maud... Sure as hell beats trying to figure out the geology on the east coast... Too many god damn plants and too much fuckin' soil.
  801. >Other Anon speaks.
  802. >"I do think we all want to go pay a visit to atleast a few of the parks near here, though."
  803. Yeah, they are good parks. Lots of places to go offroading 'round here as well. Though I'd be careful with your vehicle on some of the more intense shit.
  804. Ya kinda need a well equipped jeep for the best stuff... Can't have too long of a wheel base. Or too heavy a chasis.
  806. >"My truck can handle itself pretty well, man."
  807. Whatever. Just don't get stuck if you do go off into the desert. Think of it as a fair warning that some of the shit out here is crazy for offroading.
  808. >While waiting for dinner to finish, you sit back and let everyone else talk, while you listen in a little bit.
  809. >Maud waxes lyrical about the San Rafael project, and her own smaller projects at home.
  810. >Rainbow Dash talks about her retail work experiences.
  811. >Ling and Cadence talk about traveling across the US, visiting all kinds of interesting places, though they seem a little dodgy over why they are out on such a long trip.
  812. >Ling also gives commentary on being a changeling...
  813. >Something about a hive mind
  814. >After a while, you stand up, and take a look at the stove.
  815. >The gubmo is looking good, the rice is done, and all you need to do is warm up the sausage.
  816. >You take the big pile of sausage you cut up earlier, and toss it onto the waiting frying pan.
  817. Alright folks, dinner is almost ready. If'n ya don't want the sausage, you can get your rice and gubmo now.
  818. >Maud, Rainbow Dash, and Cadence all get up, and serve themselves rice and gumbo.
  819. It'll only take a few minutes for the sausage to be ready, then the rest of us can eat.
  820. >You turn to Incog.
  821. What would you think about going rafting tomorrow? I'm a certified guide, so all we'd need to do is rent equipment and maybe a van to drop us off up stream.
  822. >"I dunno, I've never gone rafting before."
  823. Eh, the stretch of the Colorado above Moab is pretty easy going. I could run a 6 person raft solo if I had to. You'd most be along for the ride.
  824. >"How much would it cost?"
  825. >You think for a moment.
  826. >You could easily cover the raft and equipment for yourself and Maud.
  827. >Especially because you know a guy who rents them, and he'll cut you a deal.
  829. Probably $20 for you to rent a life vest and helmet for the day... Not entirely sure how much pony fitted rafting equipment runs to rent, however.
  830. >You pause for a moment before adding.
  831. Not sure if you'd need something special for Rainbow, considering she is a pegasus. Spaces for wings, n'at.
  832. >Incog nods and thinks for a moment.
  833. >"I've never been... Sounds like it could be fun."
  834. Shit man... You live next to a pretty popular place to go rafting.
  835. Put in up in Dotsero, and ride through Gleenwood Canyon, and end up right in downtown Gleenwood Springs.
  836. Maybe go a little further if you are more adventurous.
  837. >"Aww man, that sounds awesome! I've seen the rafts and littler boats go down the river behind the Kum & Go. I've always wanted to try!"
  838. Heh... If you enjoyed the rafting enough, Rainbow, You could go all the way from right behind where you work, to Moab by raft.
  839. Probably take a few days, but would probably be pretty easy going, and fun.
  840. >The other anon breaks in.
  841. >"Rafting, you say? Might we be able to come along?"
  842. >You think.
  843. >Getting an 8 person raft wouldn't be too much work, and you could still handle it putting in upstream from Moab and heading back to town.
  844. Yeah, if ya'll want. I could get an 8 person raft. Could take my truck up to Dewey Bridge, and put in there.
  845. Leave your truck down in Moab by the river and when we are done, you could drive us back to my truck while everyone else putzes around by the river.
  846. >"Yeah, that could work."
  847. >"Maybe I could go fishing while we wait. Would be fun!"
  848. >You chuckle at Incog's suggestion.
  849. You could try, but you ain't gonna catch anything in the Colorado near Moab. Too much uranium.
  850. >Incog gulps.
  851. >Maud interjects.
  852. >"Is it from all the mining in the area?"
  853. Somewhat. A lot of it is from the river cutting through the uranium bearing rocks. The rest is atributed to the old uranium mine near the river there.
  855. We'd be stopping upstream of the old mine and its tailings pile though. Shit's kind of a mess.
  856. >Incog looks slightly less nervous after finding that out.
  857. Though, if you are ever here without me, I wouldn't go playing around on that big sand dune across from the Arches entrance.
  858. >You take a sip from your beer.
  859. Shit's right upwind from the superfund site. It's pretty damn hot.
  860. >Rainbow Dash speaks up.
  861. >"Hot?"
  862. Radioactive. Dust from the mine getting in with the sand. Try though they might, they couldn't stop it all while they were shipping it up the railroad for disposal.
  863. >"... Radioactive?"
  864. >Fuck. Ponies and their lack of understanding of simple physics...
  865. >Maud steps in to explain.
  866. >"Its like... bad magical energy that can make you really sick if you hang around it too much."
  867. Yeah, something like that. Uranium, something that gives it off, is all over the place in this part of the Colrado Plateau.
  868. >The ponies continue chomping down on their portion of the gumbo.
  869. >Soon enough, the meat is ready.
  870. Aight ya'll, get yer gumbo, get yer rice, and get yer sausage, dinner is served for the rest of us.
  871. >Everyone grabs their food, and sits down, and once more a pleasing silence falls across the campsite.
  872. >Seems that all present are quite enjoying their dinners.
  873. >Another evening victory where your food is good enough to keep everyone quiet while they eat.
  875. >After everyone eats, and the dishes get done, everyone settles around the campfire, and a glorious evening of hanging out occurs.
  876. >Stories of things seen, places traveled, stupid and/or entertaining shit done...
  877. >Eventually, once your guests are more comfortable, the topic moves towards things that were uncomfortably skipped over earlier.
  878. >The other anon gives you details about what they are up to, after Ling went and whispered some things in his ear.
  879. >"We are working, to try to take abused ponies away from their situations..."
  880. >"Also, looking into research on humans trying to figure out magic with unicorn horns."
  881. >You pause to think about any odd research you've heard from some of your colleagues.
  882. >Actually, a friend of yours DID mention something that might be related to that.
  883. I have a buddy who was hired out at some secret lab. Couldn't tell me where it was.
  884. Said he was doing work with X-ray Diffraction and Scanning Electron Microscopes looking at some pony related materials, he said.
  885. >"... Hear anything else?"
  886. Can't say that I have. I do think he had a flight out to Las Vegas to get picked up for the job, though.
  887. >Other anon nods at this new piece of information.
  888. Sorry I can't help you more.
  889. I am at least pushing on getting ponies more recognized in academia and research circles.
  890. Maud here is the first pony, far as I can tell, to have their name published in a scientific journal.
  891. >You wave your hand across, as though you are presenting Maud.
  892. She helped with a big project of mine, and I was able to talk my boss into having her name published.
  893. "A 1;12000 Scale Map of the San Rafael Swell. A. Ymous and M. Pie".
  894. >You further wave your hands about to show some kind of excitement over the fairly plain title of your published work.
  896. >"I still don't know if I quite get the big deal over the name on the paper."
  897. I'm telling you, Maud. It's a big deal. It means that you are recognized as a legitimate scientist having your name on a paper.
  898. And you more than deserve it, with all the help you gave me on that project. And your name will be on my next project too.
  899. >You aren't quite going as extreme as the other Anon, but damn it, you are working to make things better for the ponies in your own way.
  900. ~~~~
  901. >The night continues.
  902. >Discussion, drinking, and snacking fills the night.
  903. >Eventually, your guests decide to call their night.
  904. >"Yeah, I think it's time to head back to our camp. I'll call your tomorrow, and coordinate for that nice rafting trip."
  905. >Other Anon sighs.
  906. >"Lord knows we could use a nice distraction like that."
  907. >Everyone gives their goodbyes as the changeling, the alicorn, and the other anon pile into their vehicle, and begin their intoxicated trip back to their own camp site.
  908. >Don't matter up here...
  909. >No police in the wilderness, and at this hour, the forest rangers ain't out and about harassing people.
  910. Alright, the rest of ya'll ready to hit the sack?
  911. >A small choir of voices nod to the affirmative.
  912. >Grabbing a water jug, you pour some water into the camp fire, killing it for the night, before you join everyone else filing into the pop up camper, preparing for sleep.
  913. >Just as the previous night, everyone climbed into their spot, and soon enough the trailer, with windows open, was filled with the sound of happily sleeping ponies and people.
  915. >Another morning comes, and you awake before everyone else in the trailer in the gray twilight before the sun rises over the high peaks to the east.
  916. >Handling your booze like a fuckin' champ.
  917. >The trailer is filled with the magically large snores of people who were rather intoxicated the previous evening.
  918. >Hopefully everyone is ready for a day down in the lower elevations.
  919. >Rafting some of the Colorado should be pretty fun with 3 humans and 4 ponies.
  920. >You carefully crawl out from your side of the camper, over Maud, and outside.
  921. >After you get some shorts and a t-shirt on, of course.
  922. >Once you free yourself from the confines of the trailer, you move to the stove, and set up the coffee pot.
  923. >Sweet sweet caffiene shall be yours soon.
  924. >Personally, you find this pre-dawn hour to be one of the most pleasing things in the world.
  925. >The cool chill to the air from the approaching autumn
  926. >The dim light of the coming sun, reflected over the mountains.
  927. >The quiet hiss of the propane stove heating up the coffee.
  928. >The occasional bird flying around, giving its cry.
  929. >It's all just fucking perfect for making you relax.
  930. >Everyone else seems to be taking a little longer to get up today than yesterday.
  932. >Hopefully all those fuckers can get up and function, so we can get a nice day of cool shit in.
  933. >...
  934. >You are kinda angry before you get your caffiene in your system.
  935. >Soon enough, the intoxicating aroma of coffee fills the still air of the camp site.
  936. >Once you get your magical go go juice in you, you determine this is gonna be an oatmeal kind of morning.
  937. >And you got the good shit.
  938. >Steel cut oats.
  939. >Plus a nice selection of dried fruit to mix in, along with cinnamon, sugar, and maple syrup.
  940. >Just as the previous morning, the smell of coffee on the air has caused your compatriots to begin to stir.
  941. >Unlike the previous morning, they look slightly more bright eyed and bushy tailed.
  942. >And a hell of a lot less hung over.
  943. >Today, the first to join you, suprisingly, was Rainbow Dash.
  944. Mornin' Rainbow. I hope you like coffee. And oatmeal.
  945. >"Both sound pretty awesome."
  946. Oatmeal is still cooking, but coffee is good to go already.
  947. >"How long on the oatmeal?"
  948. Eh... Probably another 15 minutes or so. Steel cut oats take a little while to cook.
  950. >Rainbow cocks her head to the side.
  951. >"Steel cut oats?"
  952. Take a look. They are kinda bigger chunks of the oats, rather than the flat rolled oats. Taste better, and have a nicer texture, at that.
  953. >"Looking forward to it, then."
  954. >Rainbow Dash lets out a big yawn, as she gets herself a cup of coffee.
  955. >Soon after, you are joined by Incog and Maud.
  956. >Luckily, no hung over people today.
  957. >And soon enough, breakfast is served.
  958. >You elect to go with cinnamon, raisins, and dried dates in your oatmeal.
  959. >Maud goes with maple and brown sugar.
  960. >Rainbow Dash goes with a shitload of sugar and cinnamon.
  961. >Incog simply goes with plain oatmeal.
  962. >As you are finishing up your meal, and getting the dishes cleaned, you get a text on your phone.
  963. >From the fellow you met last night.
  964. >"Slowly getting out of bed. Ling is excited about rafting. Meet up when/where?"
  965. >You reply.
  966. >"Finishing breakfast. Gonna get day bags ready, and load up into the car and head down to town. Meet at Gearheads in 90 minutes?"
  967. >You soon recieve a reply.
  968. >"What should we pack?"
  969. >You think about what you would need for a rafting day trip.
  970. >"snacks if you have them. Water/gatorade. Clothes to get wet in. Drybags if you have them."
  972. >"Sounds good. 90 minutes down in Moab at gearheads."
  973. >You nod.
  974. >Maud and the others have finished cleaning up breakfest, so you direct everyone get the right stuff packed.
  975. >Snacks, stuff to drink, clothes that can get wet.
  976. >You keep a dry bag handy, so you won't have to rent one.
  977. >Everyone seems to have a decent selection of clothes for rafting.
  978. >Incog has a bathing suit and t-shirt.
  979. >Not ideal shoes, but riding barefoot isn't the end of the world.
  980. >Maud has one of her quick dry field work smocks
  981. >Rainbow Dash... Only thing you've ever seen her wear is a vest with her name tag on it at the Kum & Go.
  982. >You are gonna sport a nice set of quick-dry shorts and long sleeve shirt, a nice broad brimmed hat, along with your trusty Tevas.
  983. >So your whole party looks good to go, clothing wise.
  984. Alright Ya'll. If you got anything you don't want to get wet while we go rafting, it goes in this bag.
  985. >You hold up your drybag to your comrades.
  986. Wallets, phones, n'at. It'll keep stuff dry, and it floats if it falls overboard.
  987. We can keep snacks and drinks in a grocery bag. Other than that, we should be good for a day of high adventure.
  988. >You pause for a moment.
  989. Or, something like that.
  990. >You toss a few granola bars, baggies of GORP, and a few bottles of gatorade into the grocery bags.
  992. >You leave camp a little early, so that you might be able to shop a little bit at the shop you are meeting at.
  993. >There's always more stuff to buy to upgrade your outdoor equipment.
  994. >Plus, this is one of the few places you've found that sells decent pony fitted outdoor clothing.
  995. So, Maud, you gonna need any more clothes or anything from the store while we are waiting from the others?
  996. >"Maybe get another smock. One in another color might be nice."
  997. How about you, Rainbow? This is probably the best place to get pony fitted hats and shirts and stuff that isn't complete crap. Atleast for outdooring.
  998. >Incog interjects.
  999. >"So, is this where you got that nice set of saddlebags for Maud, with the camelbak thingy in it?"
  1000. Indeed. Much better price than the online stores I've seen, too. They have stuff like Maud has, but fitted for pegasus flight too.
  1001. >"Think you want anything, Rainbow?"
  1002. >"I dunno... Carrying saddlebags, I won't be able to go so fast. But, that water drinky thing does look pretty handy."
  1003. Well, you can check out what they got. They have all manner of good quality outdooring equipment.
  1004. >Slowly, you snake down the switchbacks that lead from the soaring heights of Geyser Pass, down to the arid heat of Spanish Valley.
  1005. >Over a mile of vertical travel between camp and Moab.
  1006. >It takes about an hour to reach town due to how slowly you have to take the descent.
  1007. >You think on the way back, you might have to 'rally' your way up.
  1008. >See how well everyone else can handle drifting up gravel hairpins.
  1009. >Last time you did that, with a van full of people, some of 'em nearly shat their pants.
  1011. >Eventually, you reach the appointed meeting location: Gearheads.
  1012. >You take this opportunity to refill your water jugs while everyone else heads in and browses the store.
  1013. >Gotta love the free filtered water here.
  1014. >As you carry some of the jugs into the store, the hippy running the cash register gives your an affirmative nod.
  1015. >"Welcome to the store, man."
  1016. >You nod back.
  1017. Thanks. Just need to refill the water stocks while we are in town.
  1018. >"Go for it, dude."
  1019. >You refill the two jugs you've emptied so far on this trip.
  1020. >After returning the full jugs to the truck, you head back in, and find Maud looking at the human frame backpacks.
  1021. >"Anon, what's up with these backpacks? They way bigger than the pack you have, and some have these big metal frames."
  1022. Those are for what we call 'backpacking'. Long distance hiking, where you carry all your equipment, rather than staying in a vehicle.
  1023. >"Interesting."
  1024. I have a pretty nice external frame pack at home. I don't go backpacking as much as I'd like, though. Takes more time to prep than camping out of a truck.
  1025. >"We should go some time. It sounds fun."
  1026. If you want to do that, you'd need a bigger pack yourself. I think these ones down here, with all the extra strappy bits that go over your back, are the pony equivalent.
  1027. >You pick up a large set of saddlebags, with an aluminium frame that looks like it would be suspended over a pony's back by some netting.
  1028. >Looks like on top, it has plenty of space to lash down tents, sleeping bags, and other bulky equipment, and the bags on the side are much larger than the day pack Maud has now, stretching most of the length of the ponies body.
  1029. >"That's an awfully big bag."
  1030. For you. Though, for a longer trip it might be ideal. Remember, you might have to be carrying several days worth of food, water, clothing, and equipment.
  1032. >You set the particularly large frame saddlebag back on the rack, and grab a smaller one.
  1033. If you want to give a shorter trip a try, this might work better.
  1034. >It has a similar design to the previous, but not quite so long or heavy.
  1035. We live pretty close to a lot of good places for backpacking. The front range has lots of nice remote valleys to go get away from it all in for a few days.
  1036. >"Sounds good."
  1037. >You set the smaller pack on Maud's back, and see how well it fits.
  1038. >It has some straps that wrap around her body, to keep it in place and stable, and the netting keeps the bulk lifted away from her body enough to keep cool air flowing.
  1039. What do you think? Comfortable enough to wear? Just remember that it'll have a decent amount of weight in it for actual use.
  1040. >She hops around slightly, and tests the fit of the pack.
  1041. >"I think this will work out pretty well. Next time you get a long weekend, we should go backpacking."'
  1042. Sounds good to me.
  1043. >You take the pack off and look at the price tag.
  1044. >Your heart jumps slightly.
  1045. >God damn you love this store, but some shit can be really pricey.
  1046. >Though, considering how few ponies must go backpacking with their masters, there probably isn't a huge market for manufacturing high quality pony frame packs.
  1047. >You move around the shop to find Rainbow Dash and Incog looking at stuff for Rainbow Dash to possibly wear.
  1048. >Shopping for her is a little more challenging you suppose...
  1049. >Loose, light clothing is nice for earth ponies, but is less than ideal for a flying pegasus.
  1050. >She seems to like the idea of the light, quick drying cloth, but can't seem to find one that fits her just right.
  1052. >You take a look at the time on your watch.
  1053. >Other Anon ought to be showing up soon.
  1054. >Once everyone gets what they want here, you can head on over to the outfitter to rent your equipment
  1055. >Maud continues looking over the few pony fitted frame backpacks, and she decided upon a neon pink and cyan colored pack.
  1056. >Looks like something straight out of the 1980s.
  1057. >Though, bright color schemes are nice in the wilderness.
  1058. >If you get hurt and become unable to move, bright ass colors like that might be good for attracting attention.
  1059. >It's one reason you go for the gaudiest, ugliest, brightest colors when you get skiing equipment.
  1060. >"I like the colors on this one. It kinda reminds me..."
  1061. >Maud suddenly gets a twinge of sadness upon her face.
  1062. >"Well, I like this one."
  1063. >You take it from her, and head up to the check out, and purchase the pack.
  1064. >It looks as though Rainbow Dash and Incog have found what they want to buy.
  1065. >They found a proper fitting shirt for Rainbow, and a nice pair of water shoes for Incog.
  1066. >As you finish checking out, the other Anon, and his motley crew walk into the shop...
  1067. >Though the changeling has been replaced by a large, lithe, white unicorn.
  1068. >Motherfucking changeling magic, how does it work?
  1070. >You give a nod of recognition, as they move about the store, looking at all the various equipment.
  1071. >After you take your purchases out, and Incog follows with his, you take a look back inside the store.
  1072. >The other Anon has gotten a few items for himself, and his compatriots.
  1073. >Matching pastel shirts for himself and who you assume is Ling.
  1074. >How cute.
  1075. >Soon enough, everyone meets up in front of the store.
  1076. So, ya'll ready?
  1077. >Everyone nods in the affirmative.
  1078. Alright. So, from here, we will need to head over to an outfitters. Ya'll will need to rent equipment.
  1079. Life vests at the very least, preferrably helmets. This is a tame stretch of river, but still.
  1080. >You look around at everyone.
  1081. >Some don't look the happiest about it, but they'll have to deal.
  1082. I'll cover the rental for the actual raft, and I am a certified guide, so this'll be a fairly cheap raft trip.
  1083. >Incog speaks up.
  1084. >"Thank's anon, we appreciate it."
  1085. >Others nod in affirmative.
  1086. Like I was discussing... Anon, you are gonna have to leave your truck at at the Colrado River here in Moab.
  1087. We can all stuff into my truck to drive upstream and put in the river.
  1088. Then, when we are done, us Anon's can take a trip back upstream in his truck to grab my truck.
  1089. >You wave your hands in the air, as though you were presenting something.
  1090. Voiala. No need to get a service to drop us off upstream, and we can enjoy a nice trip down the Colorado.
  1092. >Maud speaks up.
  1093. >"What are we gonna do when we are done?"
  1094. >You pause to think for a moment.
  1095. Whelp, we can always pay a visit to the brewery for some food, and to refill our now empty growlers...
  1096. And eventually we'll have to get back to camp.
  1097. >Cadence speaks up.
  1098. >"What exactly is at the brewery?"
  1099. >Maud responds.
  1100. >"They make beer there, and its a restaurant. The stuff we drank last night from the jugs was made there."
  1101. >"Mmm... That libation was quite pleasant."
  1102. >Ling jumps in
  1103. >"Mmm, more of the same from last night? Me likey!"
  1104. Well then, at the very least we can refill the beer. There's other good places to eat.
  1105. >You pause to think for a moment.
  1106. We could also get some fresh stuff to cook back at camp here in town as well. Up to ya'll.
  1107. >Incog adds in.
  1108. >"We have all afternoon to decide."
  1109. >Maud agrees.
  1110. >"Indeed. We have many options."
  1111. Alright then. Anon, Ya'll follow me over to the outfitters, and we can get all our rental stuff together.
  1112. >With that, everyon heads to their respective vehicles, and you lead the way down the main road to the outfitter you got a good discount at.
  1114. >You pull in, with the other Anon just behind.
  1115. >Before you is a large garage, surrounded by vans with roof racks, large rubber rafts, bicycles, and other various outdoor equipment.
  1116. >After parking, you step out, and head inside, and are greeted by a familiar face.
  1117. Ay, Jim my man.
  1118. >The fellow working the desk looks up, and smiles at your approach.
  1119. >"Sup, Anon, how's it going? What brings you into town?"
  1120. Oh, just a little vacation while the weather is still pleasant. Looking to rent an 8 man raft.
  1121. >Jim nods
  1122. >"What are you planning?"
  1123. Eh, gonna take a few folks and ponies down the Colorado.
  1124. Put in up near Dewey Bridge or Hittle Bottom, and have a nice relaxing trip down the river.
  1125. >"Sounds good, bro. You gonna need equipment too, I assume?"
  1126. Yeah, gonna need three sets of gear for humans, and four pony fitted sets.
  1127. >"Huh... Didn't see you as one to be dealing with the ponies so much."
  1128. >You suppose you didnt...
  1129. >But, you really needed someone to work with in the field, and it all turned out well in the end...
  1130. Yeah, I hadn't planned much on it, but I got a pony who works as my field work partner.
  1131. >"That's cool mang, I don't judge."
  1132. >As you are talking to Jim, the others enter, looking at the wide variety of stuff surrounding them.
  1133. Here comes all the folks who are gonna be rafting with me.
  1135. >"Cool dude. Shouldn't be too hard. The only pony life vests we have for rent are like, one size fits all bro."
  1136. >You nod.
  1137. >There is a small section you assume is filled with the pony live vests.
  1138. >Bright orange bits that follow along the back like a high riding saddlebag, with straps to wrap around and keep it on place.
  1139. >Simple and effectie you suppose.
  1140. >Doesn't look too nice for ponies with wings, though.
  1141. Yeah, that makes it easy enough. What about helmets?
  1142. >"Sorry, no pony helmets. Got all the human fitted ones, dude."
  1143. >Bleh.
  1144. >Helmets are important...
  1145. >But, this stretch of the river is pretty damn tame, so it shouldn't be too much of an issue.
  1146. I guess that'll work. I want a good type III vest for me atleast. Everyone else... Incog, and Anon here, can choose for themselves.
  1147. >"Heyyy, another Anon in the world. Neat. I'm Jim, what kinda vest do you want today? The type II's are cheaper to rent, but the type III's are waaay more comfortable."
  1148. >"Yeah... Gonna go with the cheap one."
  1149. >"Alright bro, that one's safer anyway. How about you, Incog, was it?"
  1150. >"Yeah, gonna also go with the cheap one as well."
  1151. >Jim nods, as he goes to grab four pony vests, two of the cheaper, but safer life vests, and a nice comfortable one for you.
  1152. >"So, how about helmets?"
  1153. Well... Since this stretch ain't too bad, and we don't got 'em for the ponies... Fuck it, vests only today, I guess.
  1154. >"Yeah, bro. Nothing above class II. Easy peasy, man."
  1155. So uh... the pony life vests. Just kinda strap on?
  1156. >"Yeah, pretty simple. Keeps the pony floating even in rough water, with their head held upwards."
  1158. >Soon, everyone gets their vest, you load an 8 person raft onto the roof of your truck.
  1159. So, Anon, your truck is gonna be left at the bottom of the trip, we all stuff into mine, and ride up to the top.
  1160. >Only five seat belts... But, technicolor ponies are kinda small.
  1161. >Plus, there's totally room in the back.
  1162. >"I guess that works."
  1163. I'll lead you to where we can get out of the river, then we can all jump over to this truck.
  1164. >As before, everyone jumps into their vehicle, and you lead the way to where your rafting trip will end.
  1165. >It takes you to the far north side of Moab, and across the Colorado River.
  1166. >Just across the highway bridge, you turn to the right, and down a nicely paved road, with a broad pedestrian path running alongside.
  1167. >After passing the pedestrian bridge across the Colorado, you come upon a large, muddy area with a ramp coming up from the river.
  1168. >The closest place to Moab to easily put in and out of the Colrado.
  1169. >And compared to your youth, super easily accessable with the new pedestrian bridge.
  1170. >Nice trails that run up and down the river, and up along the highway north of town to Arches and Moab Canyon.
  1171. >Perhaps Incog and the ponies can find something entertaining to do while yourself and Anon retrieve your truck...
  1172. >You pull up, and pick a spot along the nearby cliff wall to park, and the other Anon pulls his truck up next to yours.
  1174. >You get out, and stretch a little bit.
  1175. >Time to stuff everyone into your truck.
  1176. Right, time to figure out how we ride up the river to where we put in. You're allowed to ride in the bed of the truck here in Utah. So, who wants where?
  1177. >Incog speaks first.
  1178. >"Shotgun!"
  1179. Alright then, you're up front.
  1180. >Next is Cadence.
  1181. >"I think I'd rather be in the cab."
  1182. Sounds good.
  1183. >Then, Ling.
  1184. >"Oooh, bed of the truck! That sounds different. Me and Anon want to ride in the back, right Anon?"
  1185. >The other anon shrugs.
  1186. >"Whatever you want, bugbutt."
  1187. >Rainbow Dash follows.
  1188. >"Yeah, I think the back sounds pretty awesome."
  1189. ALright then, Maud, you gonna ride in the cab then, I take it?
  1190. >"I guess so. It's what I'm used to."
  1191. >With that worked out, everyone piles into your truck, and once everyone is comfortably in place, you head back across the river, onto the little state highway that runs along the mighty Colorado.
  1193. >The two lane road runs parallel to the river, which itself runs down a fairly narrow, high sided canyon.
  1194. >Nothing as impressive as the Grand Canyon, but it still makes for a nice scenic drive.
  1195. Alright, everyone, spoiler alert. To the left of us is the stretch of river we are gonna be going down.
  1196. >Incog looks across the front of the truck, towards, the river, and in the rear view mirror, you can see Cadence and Maud trying to get a look too.
  1197. Like I said before, it's gonna mostly be a pretty easy ride down the river. None of the rapids are terribly harsh.
  1198. >You continue driving up the river, following the entrenched meanders.
  1199. Oh yeah... Generally, the only places you are gonna find the rapids is where another stream enters into the main river.
  1200. All those extra boulders and shit getting dumped in is what makes the water rough.
  1201. >Incog speaks.
  1202. >"Neat."
  1203. >Everyone else continues to look out the window at the barren red canyon.
  1204. >In the rear view mirror, you can see Rainbow Dash, Ling, and the other Anon seemingly engaged in active conversation.
  1205. So, uhh, having fun traveling around, Cadence?
  1206. >"It's far better than what I had been doing before, and I feel like I'm doing good in the world now with Anon."
  1207. >She pauses for a moment.
  1208. >"Even if he is a bit strange."
  1209. >You nod.
  1210. >As you drive, Maud and Cadence begin a little more small talk.
  1211. >You don't pay much attention to it, as the terrain and twisting road require it.
  1213. >After about half an hour, you reach one of the places where you can easily put in upstream.
  1214. >Hittle Bottom.
  1215. >Turning off the main road onto a dusty gravel road that shortly opens up into a parking lot, you arrive to see not many other's parked here yet.
  1216. >From here you should be able to get back to town at a reasonable hour, and you won't miss much by not going all the way up to Dewey Bridge.
  1217. >After stopping the truck near to the beach for putting in rafts, you shift the truck into park, and speak.
  1218. Alright, ya'll. Let's get out, and get ready for a day of fun in the sun, on the river.
  1219. >Everyone else jumps out of the truck, and begins to unload all the heavy equipment for the day.
  1220. >The raft, the safety equipment, the food, the drinks...
  1221. >All of it is unloaded.
  1222. >Everyone in your motley party seems to be getting along, making small talk, and having a genuinely good time.
  1223. >Soon enough, all the necessary stuff for the day is out of the truck, and on the raft, which is ready to be pushed into the river.
  1224. >After moving the truck into a more long term parking position, you return to everyone, and the raft.
  1225. >Maud speaks up.
  1226. >"I think everyone is ready to go, Anon."
  1227. >Cadence chimes in as well.
  1228. >"Yeah, all our stuff is in the raft, everyone has their life vest."
  1229. >Everyone seems quite excited to get going.
  1230. 'Kay then. Lets get the raft pushed a little more into the water.
  1232. >Following your direction, more of the raft is pushed into the mighty Colrado River.
  1233. >Once most of it is pushed in, and enough that you can finish it by yourself is left, you command the rest of your party.
  1234. Aight, ya'll get in, and I'll do the last shove. Then we can get going.
  1235. >The ponies and other humans jump in, and you do the last shove, moving the raft completely into the water, getting wet up to your knees before you jump into the back of the raft.
  1236. >Once in place, you grab your oar, and take your place, steering the raft into the current running down the middle of the channel.
  1237. >Everyone else looks rather excited, enjoying the sensation of the boat moving under the power of the river, as you being your journey of the day.
  1238. >Rainbow Dash speaks up.
  1239. >"Can we get out of the boat? This river looks pretty awesome."
  1240. If you want, you can get out and swim near the raft if ya'll want to. I'll let you know before we get to anything rough, and you'll want to get back on the raft.
  1241. >With that, Rainbow Dash leaps into the air on her wings, before dropping into the water from a decent height and letting out a mighty battlecry.
  1242. >"Cannonball!"
  1243. >Maud stands up, looking over the edge of the raft before jumping in herself.
  1244. >The sun is making it a little bit warm down here in the valley, compared to the chilly heights of the nearby mountains.
  1245. >Cadence also takes a look over the edge, before also deciding to enter the river.
  1246. >Incog is just laying down, hands behind his head, relaxing as the boat gently rocks.
  1247. >Ling is looking at the other Anon, worriedly.
  1248. >The other ponies already in the water, swim around, giggling happily, enjoying the cool water of the Colorado.
  1250. >Ling and the other Anon discuss a few silly things...
  1251. >Aperantly, she is afraid of the river here.
  1252. >You lean back at the very rear of the raft, taking everything in as you keep the small vessel near the center of the channel, and keep an eye out for any possible hazards.
  1253. >There are a few, large puffy, pillow like clouds sitting in an intensely blue sky, high over the desert.
  1254. >The sun shines brightly upon the rust and chocolate colored cliffs to your side.
  1255. >Ahead, you see the first set of rapids that you can't dodge.
  1256. Alright, everyone. Time to get back into the raft. We got some rapids coming up.
  1257. >Everyone in the water groans as you interrupt their silly water games.
  1258. >"Aww, Anon do we have to?"
  1259. >Rainbow Dash questions the need.
  1260. Yeah, Rainbow. The water gets more shallow, and there's gonna be boulders you wont easily be able to see. Don't want no one to get hurt out here.
  1261. >With a sigh, all the ponies in the water make their way back onto the boat.
  1262. >You grab your own helmet and put it on, and when the other see you doing it, they do the same.
  1263. Alright, everyone. Grab your oars and try to split yourselves evenly between the sides so we can have better control over the boat.
  1264. >With some mumbling, your cohorts organize themselves.
  1265. >On the left side, the other Anon, Cadence, and Ling.
  1266. >On the right, Incog, Maud, and Rainbow Dash.
  1267. Alright. When call out 'odd', Anon, Cadence and Ling row harder. When I call 'even' Incog, Maud, and Rainbow, you row harder.
  1268. >Cadence pipes up with a question, as she lifts her paddle with her unicorn magic.
  1269. >"What all are you going to do back there, Anon?"
  1270. Good question, since all of ya'll are kinda new to this. I'm gonna use my oar to steer the boat like a rudder, and also switch between sides to help us when necessary.
  1272. Any other questions before we hit this first set of rapids?
  1273. >Maud speaks up.
  1274. >"How much control are we going to really need for these rapids?"
  1275. Honestly, not too much. Shouldn't be anything day ruining to hit while we are all in the raft.
  1276. >You give a light chuckle.
  1277. We could easily just let the raft roll through it with me ruddering, but hey. We gotta have the proper experience for ya'll.
  1278. >With that, the start of the rapids is upon the raft.
  1279. >It's just a little bit rough and you are through.
  1280. >A few hoots and hollers of joy erupt with the light shaking of the raft.
  1281. >Off to the one side you can now see another spot where folks are putting in the river.
  1282. >Ling speaks up.
  1283. >"Was that it? Just a little bit of shaking?"
  1284. Nah, that was just a warm up.
  1285. >You point your finger further downstream, where around a corner some more stuff is coming into sight.
  1286. Up there is the first more proper rapids. So, once we pass those, we'll have more swimming and chilling time.
  1287. >There's more small talk amongst your party as you steer the raft a few hundred yards downstream, towards the next rapids.
  1289. >A few more boats have joined in the drifting down the river, though none are super close.
  1290. >None of the others have ponies in them, either.
  1291. >I suppose with most ponies being used for work, they don't get to do liesure stuff like going rafting.
  1292. >Everyone else it he boat is a little distracted, chatting, and looking around, especially at the other rafts.
  1293. >You notice you can now see, off to your left, the lofty peaks where your camp is set up, from all the way down here on the river.
  1294. >Soon enough, you closely approach the start of a proper good set of rapids: The Onion Creek Rapids.
  1295. Alright, hang onto your butts. Here it comes, everyone.
  1296. >You get fairly close before the first bigs of white water come really into sight, and the raft begins to shake pretty roughly compared to before.
  1297. >Rainbow Dash lets out a whoop of joy.
  1298. >"This is more like it!"
  1299. >Incog, looking a little more worried than his pony, speaks up.
  1300. >"Having fun, huh Dash?"
  1301. >"Just imagine how much fun those ones behind the Kum & Go are! They are much bigger than this!"
  1302. >Maud is...
  1303. >Acting like Maud.
  1304. >Cadence looks to be having a good time.
  1305. >Ling looks a little worried and uptight.
  1306. >The other Anon looks pretty pumped for the whole thing.
  1307. >Looks like this was a good choice for an event for the day.
  1308. >After a morning with a few more cycles of people messing around in the water, and riding the raft across some rapids, the time comes to find a nice beach to stop and eat lunch.
  1309. >You are getting close to where the river enters a particularly narrow section of canyon, and the bottom end of Castle Valley.
  1310. >Across the river from the Red Clifs Lodge, you spot a nice little sand bar you could pull the boat up on to.
  1311. Alright folks, lets get back into the boat real quick, so we can push over to that sand bar over there. It's lunch time!
  1312. >With a little more practice, the boat is once again fully loaded up, and everyone in their spot.
  1314. Ok, everyone, row, row row so we can pull off the river.
  1315. >Everyone on the boat, puts forth the effort to push the boat cleanly onto the sandy shore.
  1316. >You jump out into the knee deep water that the rear of the boat is still in, and run ashore.
  1317. >Moving to the very front of the boat, you grab on, and heave more of it onto the beach, to be sure it won't be moving while everyone's eating lunch.
  1318. >With a clap of your hands, you speak to your party.
  1319. Lunch time!
  1320. >With various sounds of joy, everyone begins to grab the stuff they brought for lunch off the raft, onto the sand bar.
  1321. >You pull out your granola bars and bags of trail mix, set some aside for yourself, and hand some off to Maud.
  1322. >Incog and Rainbow pull out similar snacks of their own.
  1323. >The other anon's party pull out sandwiches from their food bags.
  1324. >The other anon himself...
  1325. >He pulls out an MRE.
  1326. >A man of taste.
  1327. >Of some kind...
  1329. >You begin to snack on your lunch.
  1330. >After starting to dig in, you lean back and space out just a bit.
  1331. >You are broken out from your stupor by Maud suddenly licking your face.
  1332. >...
  1333. >Wat?
  1334. >"You can have him."
  1335. >Maud monotonely states as she looks at the others sitting on the sand bar.
  1336. Rude...
  1337. >And kind of random.
  1338. >You must have missed something.
  1339. >Oh well, time to finish up your lunch.
  1340. >The rest of the lunch break continues without much interest and soon enough, everyone is loaded back on to the raft.
  1341. >And onward down the river the trip continues.
  1343. >Now, you are entering a fairly narrow, high sided canyon.
  1344. Alright, ya'll. We are gonna have more rapids coming up.
  1345. >You point ahead to where a small stream enters the Colorado River.
  1346. Keep an eye out for where streams are dumping into the river. That's where we get the rapids.
  1347. ...
  1348. >The rest of the trip down the river has a few fun rapid runs, and as the later afternoon yellow glow begins to light the canyon walls, you arrive back where the other Anon's truck is parked.
  1349. >As was the plan, you load the raft and other equipment into the other Anon's truck.
  1350. >Incog and the ponies head across the bridge into town, while you and other Anon ride back up the river to recover your own truck.
  1351. >For the most part, the trip is uneventful.
  1352. >A manly silence, punctuated with nods fills the trip.
  1353. >After half an hour, you reach your truck, and move the equipment into it.
  1354. >"ALright man, I'll see you back in town."
  1355. >Other anon pulls out of the dirt parking lot, and you jump into your truck, and begin the trip back into town.
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