My Deep Six Journey, May 2007

Posted: August 24, 2011 in Offbeat Seattle-Related Music Stories

A little background…  Deep Six, a compilation released on Chris Hanzsek’s C/Z Records in early 1986, represents grunge’s opening salvo.  The comp contains early recordings by Green River, Malfunkshun, the Melvins, Skin Yard, and Soundgarden, as well as a contribution from the legendary U-Men.  Chris recorded all six bands, along with help from project financer Tina Casale.  According to Tina, a copy of the Deep Six LP resides in the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame. 

I met Chris for the first time back in May of 2007.  I owned a copy of Deep Six on CD prior to our meeting, interviewed him back in 2006, and then contacted him before a planned trip to Seattle the following spring.  Since I was coming from Philadelphia, Chris offered up a city tour.  Aware that my host was an active mountain climber, I suggested we go on a hike instead.  Don’t ask me what possessed an inexperienced outdoorsman from Philly to make that request.

I met Chris at his home, and we drove together to the trailhead at Mount Index.  We arrived at our destination at about 10 am.  Chris and I began walking along a gravel road with a slight upgrade.  He brought everything we might need in his considerable backpack, while I got to roam pretty much unfettered, save for my well-worn Eagles cap.  As we walked, I thought I might give out right away, but the male testosterone thing kept me quiet.

After about two miles, we came to a juncture at the foot of the mountain.  Chris said we could take one of two routes from there.  We could venture up another two miles along a rather tame, circuitous path.  Or, we could go three-quarters of a mile straight up the side of the hill, grabbing tree branches and roots to pull ourselves towards our goal.  I of course chose the latter option…again, the testosterone thing.

So, we ventured upwards, with Chris carrying our supplies on his back.  He led the way, and we eventually came to a clearing by a waterfall, and continued on over relatively flat terrain.  Just ahead, a fallen tree trunk obstructed our path.  This was no oak.  This tree trunk was as wide as my car, standing several feet high.  The spray from the waterfall soaked the bark.  (Memo to anyone who is considering trying this: do not try to step on a large, wet log.)  So yeah, okay, I stepped on a large, wet log.  Naturally, I slipped, heading chin-first into the bark.  As my chin smacked the trunk, the force of the impact dislodged my glasses and Eagles cap.

And so, once again, I did the typical male thing.  First, I made sure my head was still attached.  Next, I quickly found my glasses.  Step three: did Chris see?  Nope. He was too far ahead, and missed the whole thing.  Cool.  A bit dazed, and a little scratched up, I brushed myself off, walked around the log and ventured onward.  Alas, my Eagles cap was nowhere to be found.

About an hour or so later, we reached our final destination: a plateau with a beautiful lake still partially covered in ice.  Chris and I relaxed, drank a lot of water, and then took the easy path back down.

We arrived back at his house around 4 in the afternoon.  His wife greeted us, checking to see that I was still in one piece.  Chris then asked me to follow him into his garage.  He said, “Here’s your door prize for completing the hike,” as he reached into a box, extracting a mint-condition copy of Deep Six on vinyl.  The trade: an old football cap, plus some bumps and bruises in exchange for a piece of history. I think I made out.

Update: I got to enjoy another hike with Chris in July of 2011.  We headed into the Monte Cristo peaks (is that right, Chris?) for a more leisurely hike this time.  No climbing up the sides of hills or anything like that…but it was ten miles in length.  Made me think of the difference between how Easterners and Westerners define a hike. For Easterners, a hike consists of a leisurely stroll around the suburban office complex.  For Westerners, a hike means scaling Mount Rainer, in the snow…without ropes.


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