Monday, August 17, 2009

Bugs, Sweat, & Tears

I just returned from a women's outdoor adventure weekend.

I know what you're thinking: LB, say it ain’t so! You HATE the outdoors! There are bugs, and it’s hot in the summertime, and that makes you crazy (not to mention everyone around you by extension)!

Well, despite your valid concerns, I thought it high time to exorcise my very old demons against outdoor exercise and get better acquainted with a few strategic large muscle groups in my body – bugs, sweat, and tears be damned! So I went.

When I signed up for the weekend, I did not understand the magnitude or implications of the big ‘W’ women’s, little ‘a’ adventure. As time to leave for the weekend drew nearer, I grew increasingly uncomfortable with the unfolding flavor of spiritual self-improvement and female bonding the weekend was to hold – not because those things are bad, but because neither of them really interests me as an organized activity. (I think I may be more like a man in that respect, but that exploration is for another time.) However, as one of the terrific co-organizers of the weekend so wisely said, “This is like a buffet. Take what you want and leave the rest.” I did, and thank you Kathryn and Christine, and the rest of my fun and fabulous Shapleigh bunkhouse roommates for a great weekend.

On to the particulars: Saturday’s hike was 4.3 miles and yielded two really nice waterfalls, Ripley Falls and Arethusa Falls (second highest and highest in the White Mountains, respectively), a ground nest of angry, angry bees (two in our party were stung – happily for all, I was not among them), and the reason hiking boots, as opposed to the thickly lugged summer trekkers, are important. Note to self: any good-soled footwear works on the way up, but the boots tend to better stop your toes from jamming into the front of your shoe on the way down.

I'd be lying if I said that the fact the AMC trail book classified this trail as “difficult” did not send my hand flying to my own back in self-congratulations. Of course, the slap caused tons of sweat magically pooled on that vertical surface to come flying off, so I stopped it immediately. Also, I am aware that the trail to Frankenstein Cliffs may be why it was classified as difficult and we didn’t take that extra 1.6 mile excursion, but that in no way detracts from my personal assessment of satisfaction and well-deserved, if self-sponsored, slap on the back.

Yesterday’s hike was much easier (moderate in the book) and shorter (3.2 miles round-trip), but the payoff was bigger.

This is the view of Crawford Notch from the top of the Mount Willard Trail (usually without me in my stylish fishing hat in the way, but so much more interesting with). Unfortunately it was a hazy day, but the view was nonetheless spectacular in person.

So I not only survived both hikes, but also thoroughly enjoyed the entire weekend. Looking back I’d have to say this is mostly due to a few happy incidentals. My friend, whom I shall refer to as “Jan the mad hiker” (but only here, and probably not ever again) – not because she is crazy, but because she’s like a hiking machine! – set the bar incredibly high. Competition is a very good thing for me; this only furthers my need to write that why can’t a woman be more like a man post someday. My friend, Donna, whose rock collection is the envy of all who know her, kept me laughing and helped me keep things in perspective. Another good thing for me, particularly under extremely humid conditions when I tend to lose my mind at the drop of a fishing hat. And my new friend, Cindy, whose love of early morning coffee, and late afternoon happy hour just about cemented our relationship. Last, but by no means least, there was an amazing and very much appreciated-in-the-moment lack of biting bugs!

I now consider myself to be avid indoorsman with some outdoor skills. In short, I have the best of both worlds (homage to Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus intended).

So, it's off to the therapeutic icy ocean waters of Maine and some new outdoor adventures with the little women for a few days.

Life is good.

À tout à l'heure.


Stephen Bourque said...

I'm glad you had a nice time. I liked your account, though I was hoping to hear about the bear!

LB said...

It was dark and too far away to get any real picture of it. But it was fun to watch it mosey along outside of our bunkhouse (while we were in the lodge). See?

Stephen Bourque said...

The bear is that little clump of black pixels in the center of the picture, right? It's looks very dangerous. (shudder)

LB said...

Your mocking of my near-death experience is merely a transparent cover for your palpable and unbecoming jealousy.