Saturday, July 27, 2013

My Fourth of July Epiphany

On the 4th of July, I had an epiphany.  It's taken me this long to post about it because I'm not entirely happy with this epiphany.  Denial, usually my most trusted consort, has become an elusive little minx as of late, and failed me completely.  Let me start at the beginning.

Last year, Erik and I started a hike in one of the canyons that leads up to a lake.  It was a beautiful little hike.  Shaded by trees with a lovely little stream running along beside the trail.  We didn't have time to complete the hike, or even make it halfway. 

Since I had the 4th off, and knowing what a freak Erik can be when caged up for too long, I suggested we complete the pretty little hike up to Lake Blanche.  He readily agreed and immediately started filling up the camelbak and packing snacks.  Which I thought was ridiculously unnecessary.  After all, it's not like we were going to be gone long.  It's only 3 miles each way.  I can do that on the treadmill in 30 minutes so I figured it would take about an hour.  Hour and a half if we take our time. 

I can't find my light-weight capris so put on my heavier pair with a tank top, hiking shoes and off we go.  The sun is shining, the birds are chirping, the flowers are in bloom and it's a glorious hike.  I mention to Erik how nice it feels up in the canyon.  It was 87 degrees but I said it felt much nicer than that.  Especially with the delicious breeze.  We pass the point where we had to turn back last year.

And that's when it stopped being glorious.

This hike has an elevation gain of 2,700 feet which I failed to read at the trail-head.

We start climbing.  I start sweating.  Profusely.  Erik the human mountain goat is naturally foraging ahead and not even breathing heavily.  I wanted to push him down.  But that would have required being able to catch up to him.

Of course, we have to pass every person we come across.  Even with me stopping for breathing breaks every 10 minutes, we still managed to pass about 20 people.  Doesn't he realize there's something WRONG with that?

I feel a couple of rain splatters hit my arm.  I look up at the sky in surprise but not a cloud to be seen.  Just the blazing sun beating down on me.  It's then I realize it's my own sweat dripping all over me. 

We've been hiking now for an hour.  I stop for another break.  While panting for air I notice all 10 of my fingers have swollen up.  My palms looks like they have 10 little Vienna sausages glued to them.  

He asks, "You ready?".

"When I start moving, THAT'S when you'll know I'm ready.  It's 5,000 degrees.  I'm melting to death and I can't breathe".

"That's why you wear shorts in the summer ".

"Shut.  Up."

I start trudging again and can't believe I'd said earlier how nice the weather was.  If it were humanly possible, I'd travel back in time, and punch myself in the face for saying something so stupid.

I stop again and hunch over with my hands on my knees trying to catch my breath.  That's when Erik points off in the distance and says, See that peak?  Sticking up in the sky?  That's where we're going.  Not too much further.

I look up.

"You mean that peak touching the cloud that's probably 4 days journey away?"

"Yeah, that one.  Let's go".


 We keep moving and he starts waxing poetic about some avalanche that created the canyon and isn't that just amazing and look at the different colors of these flowers and nature is just phenomenal, don't you think?

If I hadn't been concentrating so hard on making sure I was inhaling enough life sustaining oxygen to keep from passing out, I would have let him know how few of shits I gave about the effing avalanche and that it was probably time I let him know that I HATE nature.


 I pause to pretend I care about taking this picture when I really just needed another break before scrambling over this.  My legs are pretty tired and I'm drenched in sweat.  A couple of guys coming down and noticing my state of dejection, encouragingly let me know once you're over this hill it's just another 20 minutes. 

Seriously?  I'm thinking.  Another 20 minutes?  I'm never going to make it.

"Hey Erik.  Where is the helicopter gonna land?  The terrain is too rugged and there's not enough space.  How are they gonna life-flight me out?"

"It can't.  You'll just die."

"Oh.  Will you leave me the tuna snack?"

"No.  You can have a granola bar.  The one with no flavor."

Those granola bars suck and I don't want it so I decide to keep moving and not get dead.

About 20 minutes later we pass a couple coming down.  I wheeze "Excuse me" as I squeeze past them on the trail. 

The woman looks at me and says, "You need a break.  It's okay, I did too" as she turns to glare at Erik up ahead of me. And then, "It's only about another 20 minutes". 

I stare at her in disbelief for a second before the anger kicks in.  I had the sudden, totally rational urge to run down the trail to catch those lying bastards who 20 minutes ago, told me it was only another 20 minutes.  But I didn't.  Because let's be honest.  On the off-chance I DID catch up to them, I wouldn't have had enough energy to do anything more than breathe heavily on them and maybe flip some salty sweat into their eye holes. 

We eventually make it and Erik is feeling triumphant.

He asks if I want to go explore.  I answer him with a glare.  He takes off and I lay down on the rock to work on my tan skin cancer while pondering the precise moment when I suggested we do this hike.  I again consider the possibility of a time machine.  Rather than travel back to the time I made that asinine comment about how nice the temperature was, I'd head back even further to the moment I asked to venture out on this hike.  THAT'S when I would punch myself in the face.  Only I'd keep punching until there were no teeth left to even form the words that would create the question of hiking.  

Going back down wasn't much better.  The steepness of the trail shoved my toes into my shoes with every step and since I'm an idiot and didn't wear thick enough socks, acquired blisters on both feet.

My lower back, left knee and right hip were aching and we still had about 45 minutes to go.  It was then that I had my epiphany.  All the hikes throughout all the years of my life that I've been on and it's taken me this long to realize it.  Now that denial wasn't around to cloud my normally sharp and lucid thinking, I finally, FINALLY came to the realization.

Hiking is stupid.

And I don't like it.