Thursday, November 18, 2010

Chain Lakes Part 2

I’m sure most people reading this did not grow up with digital cameras.  (you’re all stinkin’ old like me!  Have you ever had your kids ask you if TV’s were around when you were young?  Or even better—cars?  I really think my youngest thinks I got around in a covered wagon or something, because afterall…I didn’t even had a cell phone! )  So I’m sure you remember how we used to take pictures discriminately, because we only had 24 or possibly 36 frames, and then we were out of film.  What a difference digital combined with gigabytes of storage has made.  As Mel and I hiked Ptarmigan Ridge, we probably stopped every five minutes to take a picture.  “Oh, look how pretty this flower is…take my picture with it.  Take a picture of me on this rock—now with muscles…”
not exactly what you would call an aerobic workout.  Needless to say, Mel starts to feel like we are not working hard enough and proclaims, “Ok, it’s time to get serious” (what is not serious about a photo shoot?  Does she not watch Top Model?) and quickens her pace…which immediately makes her foot slip so she falls smack on her “asking for it”.  Debbie, if your reading this, I’m sure you can guess what a compassionate response this elicited from me.  (for those of you who know Debbie Snow, ask her about our letterboxing experience) 

But in my defense, you have to understand I’ve watched every episode of America’s Funniest Home Video’s for the last 20 years…how can I help but be programmed to laugh at someone’s pain?  Falling, getting smacked in the head, getting something stuck in your eye—this all translates to ‘hysterical’ in my messed up brain.  But I’m grateful my friends all have a sense of humor, and usually don’t get too angry with me for laughing at their misfortune.  (my kids on the other hand…well, I’m saving up for their therapy) 

Thankfully Mel wasn’t really hurt or upset, and we eventually made it back to our packs and headed to find a place to pitch our tent.  The Chain Lakes…how to describe them?  Breathtaking—literally, Mel gasped when she came over a ridge and saw Iceberg Lake; I seriously thought she had twisted her ankle.
(I was 20 feet behind her, like usual)  It felt like we were in some wonderland where fairies would come out to play at any moment.    Mel was a little like Snow White; she actually had birds eating out of her hand at one point. 

Then we came to another fork in the road—and even though it had a sign saying “campsites this way, chain lakes trail that way”, my extreme navigational powers were able to transpose them.   So essentially we were headed in the opposite direction we wanted to go.  After about 20 minutes (straight up of course) Mel says,  “umm…this doesn’t seem right, does it?”  Baffled, we decided to go back to the sign.

Once I figured out how stupid I was to not even read a sign correctly, I figured it was time to sit down and have a compass reading lesson.  I pulled out our official “Green Trails Map” and three pages of instructions I printed out on how to use a compass with it…and then pretended it all made perfect sense—no worries, now we know what to do if we get lost.
(I’m a pretty good actor, huh Melissa? :)
 Now that we were going in the right direction, we finally make our way to the most remote campsite available.  (passing up two inferior sites…we had a feeling the last one would be the best, and we were right)  But it looks like I’m going to have to stretch this yet again to a whole nother post…amazing how much blabbering I can do about a single 24-hour period; imagine what 50 days is going to produce! 

Monday, November 15, 2010

Chain Lakes Loop Part 1

When Mel and I arrived at Artist Point, my stomach was in knots.  I’m not really used to doing things on my own—I was married at 18, so I’ve never really known anything about self-reliance.  But here I was…not exactly the lone ranger, but not with someone I expected to take care of things either. I don’t think Mel would be insulted by me saying that…clearly, neither of us knew what the heck we were doing; but that was kind of the beauty of it.  There was such a wonderful feeling of mutual uncertainty / excitement / misgiving…but a desire to prove ourselves as well.  Not one leading the other, but both of us wanting this experience as equals; that’s what I appreciated the most.  But when we stepped out of that car and it was frickin’ freezing, I was really wondering if we had made a serious mistake.  We looked at each other with the same thought on our faces—“This is a lot colder than I expected”.  We put on every extra item of clothing that was in the car. (thank you Jamie for forgetting your coat the week prior)

I was trying so hard to be ‘prepared’… I thought it would be a good idea to hide an extra key with the car—just in case.  As we set it on the front bumper, it fell down into who knows where—oblivion apparently, because we never found it.  (So typical…and not exactly something to instill confidence)  But we headed out with much apprehension anyway. 

We discussed gear for a while…her gear that is, because everything I was using belonged to her family.  To my benefit, her husband had not learned hiking lesson #2, which is:  go ahead and buy the more expensive piece of equipment you really want, because you will only be ending up buying it later anyway.  This will be a lesson I’ll be sure to fail, because I’m as cheap as they come. (as everyone who knows me will attest)  But thankfully Rick (Mel’s husband) is slow to learn it as well…and that means they have a lot of extra equipment to loan out.  (thank you Rick!)

Eventually me and Mel got to the fork in the road where we were going to hide our packs and do part of another trail (Ptarmigan Ridge, for anyone who cares) when we bumped into another pair of hikers who were speaking, of all things, Dutch.  Being a proud person of Scandinavian decent, Mel seized the opportunity to strike up a conversation. (in English, thankfully) We asked questions, they asked questions, and ultimately we ended up getting a couple of great pieces of advice; one of them being to cheat on the last 2 miles of our hike and hitch a ride back to our car.  I love him for planting that seed in Mel’s head…because her ‘you have to do it the hardest way’ brain would have never accepted this idea otherwise; and we never would have make it home in time to pick up the kids from school if we hadn’t. 

This little interaction with the Dutch couple is what I call ‘the community of hikers’, and it’s what I most look forward to when/if I do the Appalachian Trail.  When I read people’s stories (here is a great journaling website of people who are hiking: …the “Canadian Geese” are thus far my favorite; what an adorable couple) this is what they say they love most about their experience—meeting people.  What a beautiful thing.  I’ll finish up our hike next blog…I’m going to drag this thing out like nobody’s business.  (I have all winter with nothing else to talk about, remember?)