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Hiker Geek

HAPPY MEMORIAL DAY! Three cheers for our country’s heroes. Let’s take a minute to reflect on this country of ours and thank the men and women who helped it become what it is. You may say it is  flawed  and I would agree, but it is still a great country and we are lucky to live here. We’d be even luckier if we all had access to health care and jobs, but still.

This post was written on Friday, May 27, 2011. I’m only mentioning it because I think it matters. That sounds kind of weird but I don’t mean it to.

***

Today we got all our vaccines. This was, so far, the most expensive part of our trip. We have been saving up for this trip for a whole year, so it wasn’t a big deal, but still. I hate spending money in large doses.

The good news is we are now vaccinated against yellow fever, diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus*, hepatitis A, and after we take the live virus pills in our refrigerator, typhoid fever. Isn’t that reassuring?

I was really nervous about the shots because I hate needles, but I kept it together. I kept it together so well that Michael treated me to lunch afterwards. It was awesome. Then we went shopping!

Only not for seedlings or pots at the Garden Center. Instead we went to R.E.I. for their gigantor anniversary sale and we bought the most expensive clothing I have ever owned in my entire life. Not because we were trying to be fancy, but because everything is meant for the utmost comfort while carrying gear amounting to a third of your bodyweight in a backpack on your back while walking uphill for ten hours a day. I let Mike pick everything out and you guys, he picked the cutest stuff. I mean, it’s as cute as convertible hiking pants, merino wool under layers, and fleece hoodies can be, but it’s super cute. He picked colors that look great on me and every.thing.was.on.sale. Also? It’s all really high quality clothing that will keep me comfortable on the trail, and that’s really what counts. I was going to do a little fashion show and post pictures of all my new outfits and everything, but you’re going to be seeing a lot of these clothes for the next couple of months, so I decided against it. But you guys? I am totally hiker chic.

This Sunday we will hike Mount Wilson. I don’t even know what Mount Wilson is, but Mike had me read a yelp review about it (read the fourth one down – it’s hysterical) and it sounds pretty serious. It’s six miles and will take between five and six hours. And it is almost entirely uphill. This is going to be a six hour walk, friends. Six hours, uphill, in the California heat. But I have a brand new, really cute and unbelievably comfortable outfit to wear (I am so excited about these clothes it is ridiculous) and we’ll be hiking a real trail in a real national park, instead of just the empty lots behind fancy houses we’ve been hiking.

It’s funny that I had that complete melt down last weekend, and now I’m so excited to hike this weekend. It’s just that I finally remembered why I decided to go on this trip. I didn’t want to miss sharing this with my husband. The John Muir Trail was such a hugely positive experience for him and I was really sorry I chose not to go. I didn’t want to miss another one. Besides, I’d rather be miserable in a field of stickery thorny waist-high weeds with him, then miserable in the comfort of our apartment without him.

And now a photo of a hairy wiener:

needsSLR

Mama needs an SLR

*Have you had your tetanus booster? Because it’s really important to. Apparenty you don’t only get tetanus from a rusty nail. Tetanus lives in the soil everywhere in the world, including where you live, and tetanus is a terrible way to die. GET YOUR TETANUS BOOSTER.

(Not) The Garden Center, 2

Picking up from where I left off yesterday…

We turned around and started trekking back through the waist-high thorny weeds towards home. And then I started crying. Really quietly, because I didn’t want him to know I was crying. After all, what kind of wimp starts crying because of some thorny weeds? This kind of wimp, apparently.

I trekked along, quietly crying, a litany of reasons why I’m horrible and hiking is horrible and all of this is horribly running on a loop through my head when suddenly the stickers poking into my socks, tag-alongs (care of the weeds) I’d been collecting for the last hour, became intolerable. I stopped, trekking poles tucked under one arm, right foot propped on left knee yoga-style, lost my balance. Squatted slightly and started picking at the stickers that stabbed at my ankles. But they were horrible things, twisted and curled through the sock, through the silk sock-liner, scratching into my bare skin. And then I noticed that the tongue of my boot formed a cup against my foot and that cup was brimming with weedy stickery things so I tried to pick them out but then I thought, what if there is a bug in there? Or a spider? Or a tick? WHAT IF THERE IS A TICK?

And then I really started crying. By now Mike was a few hundred feet away (I have no idea how many feet. Maybe it was forty, I have no concept of distance) and so I had to call attention to my plight by shouting, “I need to stop! I have to take my shoes off!” Mike stopped and turned, stunned I was so far behind him. I stared at the ground, tears dripping off the end of my nose while I grit my teeth and tried to stop f***ing crying.

When he got to me I was a snotty, sweaty, blubbering mess. You think you know ugly crying? You have never seen ugly crying.

“I f***ing hate this! I f***ing hate this! This is horrible! Why do people do this?!?”
“Ok, can I help you take your shoes off? There you go. I’ll pick the stickers out of your shoe while you do your sock.”
(Sniffling) “Thank you. This is horrible. I hate this. You married the wrong girl if you wanted someone you could do this with.”
“That’s ridiculous. Just stop.”
We were both quiet for a minute. We picked the stickers out of my footwear.
“What do you hate?” he asked.
“This! It’s horrible! The weeds and the foliage in my face and bugs smacking into my head. It’s horrible!”
“This has sucked. This is not what Bolivia is going to be like.”
“YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHAT BOLIVIA IS GOING TO BE LIKE. YOU’VE NEVER BEEN TO BOLIVIA.”
“We’re going to the highlands. This is not the highlands. This is the valley.”
He looked at me. I swiped at my tears and sniffled. “You don’t know.”
“We’re going to be hiking Inca roads, not fields of weeds.”
“But I don’t want to spend every weekend for the next two months doing this.”
“We don’t have to.”
“But we have to train!”
“We have to train, but we don’t have to do this ever again. This was a bad hike.”
“But I hate it!”
He heaved a sigh, but even I was getting tired.
“If you hate it next weekend, you don’t have to go. Ok? Honestly. I thought you would enjoy this but if you really don’t enjoy it you have a free pass to stay home. No hard feelings.”
“Really?”
“Of course! There’s no point in forcing yourself to do something that makes you miserable. You wouldn’t be doing anyone any favors. But, I don’t think you’ll hate it. I just think this was a bad hike. How are your feet?”
“Good. Thanks for helping me pick the stickers out.”
“Anytime.”

I don’t know why on earth he puts up with me, but I’m super glad he does. It helps that he has magical skillz when it comes to talking me off ledges. It is one of the reasons I married him. That and he’s really handsome. But I digress.

But wait! There’s more! (For tomorrow…)

(Not) The Garden Center

apricot

Taken Sunday, May 15, at the Garden Center.
(You guys. It’s a baby apricot!)

We love the Garden Center. It’s our favorite place to spend a Sunday afternoon. We love it so much we spent the morning of our fifth wedding anniversary at the Garden Center, then we spent the afternoon planting our treasures and tending our little balcony garden. It was the happiest day of the year.

We try to spend at least an hour together, every Sunday, working in the garden. This often involves a trip to the Garden Center for a bag of soil or something and it’s wonderful because it’s garden + shopping = love, you know? But this Sunday we didn’t get to go to the Garden Center. We didn’t even get to work on the balcony. No, no. Instead we spent four hours stomping around in waist-high grasses carrying twenty-five pound packs on our backs.

It’s not that the backpack was heavy. Because actually, my backpack felt great. The weight is evenly distributed across my hips so that I’m literally lifting with my legs. Last weekend I had burns and pale bruises from the hip straps after only two hours, but this weekend, after four hours, my hips were fine. Plus, I am totally working out butt muscles I didn’t even know I had, which is awesome.

And it’s not that my feet hurt, because my feet felt fantastic. Mike had a couple of hotspots, but he didn’t get any blisters, and I didn’t even have hotspots. My hiking boots are like giant blocks of oddly comfortable wood. They are awkward as anything in day-to-day life but on the trail they are the best thing I have going for me.

I didn’t even mind when we were hiking uphill for fifteen minutes through a field of wildflowers so full of bees the air was vibrating. (I am horribly, awfully, terribly, very, very badly phobic of bees.) But I wasn’t thinking about the bees because I was distracted by the sweat pouring down my face, into my contact lenses, rendering me nearly blind. (I think it was the polyester shirt that made me sweat, because Mike wasn’t sweating at all in the sixty-five degree breezes.)

The part that did it for me was the part where we were hiking through knee-high stickery weeds for thirty minutes, followed by waist-high thorny weeds for another ten, until we came to the over-Mike’s-head stickery thorny bushes. That was when Mike finally stopped and said, “This sucks. We’re turning around.” Up until then he’d been stopping every ten minutes or so to say something like, “Look at that view!” Or “Do you think that’s a rabbit den?” To which I would roll my eyes and grumble, “Hmph.” Or “Whatever,” like a moody teen.

Why did I have to act like that? Because if one more branch of Goldfish-knows-what whacked me in the face I was going to f***ing kill someone. That’s why I acted like that. Not that it’s a good excuse, but still.

I’ll tell you the rest tomorrow…