Today I joined Jason and our friend Rob on a relatively easy hike up Mount Kearsarge in New Hampshire. Well, Jason calls it easy, but it was challenging for me and my little, untrained legs. The trail was 1.8 miles to the top and only moderately steep. Nevertheless, I was exhausted within the first 1/4 mile, but then again Rob and I are very talkative folks so maybe that was my issue.
The day was hot and humid by the time we got there, so I was huffing, puffing and sweating through my socks pretty much from the start. Unlike the trail we did last week, there was a good chunk of trail above the tree line – I’m surprised that I’m not sunburned whatsoever (be prepared is a motto I try to instill). It was rocky and muddy – chunks of the trails were sheer rock at an angle, and never before had I been so glad to have the proper footwear. Some parts of the trail were just crisscross patterns on tree roots, sometimes helping us along but often impeding our progress.
As I just finished Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods, you can imagine that it was affecting my view on the world around me. In the book, Bryson laments over the lack of songbirds along the Appalachian Trail and other hiking trails in New England. I noticed with dismay that bird noises were pretty much non-existent. I can’t recall even seeing a squirrel along the trail. Sadly. Bugs though? There were a lot of bugs – including a flying ant that made its way down Jason’s shirt and tortured him briefly.
Still, the top of the summit was stunning. There were about 2 dozen people up there already, but the top is large enough that we were able to set ourselves apart and enjoy our sandwiches in peace. There was a three-story fire tower that we could have explored, but the idea of walking upwards made me groan.
After noshing on peanut butter & jelly sandwiches (or sammiches as Rob and I call them, because we are FIVE) we laid back and soaked in the view. At one point, a group of hikers ascended from another trail (there are three trails that meet at the top), and leading them a was a shirtless, very toned, muscular man, with long flowing hair and tattoos scattered about his upper body. The three of us were strangely transfixed by this adonis, and muttered back and forth about his glory as he made his way towards us. The rest of his group was clad appropriately, but we all agreed that if we looked like that, we’d be shirtless too.
The adonis walked by and said hello (as all hikers are apt to do – there is a wonderful etiquette that hikers follow that include saying hi to all other hikers, sharing food and water if needed, and letting other hikers pet your adorable dog). His greeting seemed to shake us from our trance, and we decided to start on the trek back down (that and the clouds had obscured the sun and we were chilly).
Of course, we ran into the adonis and his group on our way down, and took a picture for them. Man, they were nice.
Our hike down took less than half the time, and yet I managed to fall twice. The first time was quick and slightly painful (I might have pulled something during that fall, as the back of my knee is still killing me) but the second was comically controlled and slow. I was sandwiched between the two men, sort of hiking with spotters I realize now, and was scooting down a rather steep sheet of rock. I got to the bottom of the rock and stepped wrong – and lowered to the ground in such a way that Rob thought I was just sitting down slowly. It was hilarious and actually a little embarrassing and reminded me that I’m still an amateur at this. The remainder of the hike was relatively uneventful, so I won’t recap it here.
We rounded out our day by visiting the New Hampshire Liquor Store (aka tax free and cheap) and indulging in homemade pizza and ice cream.
So Operation Doing Stuff is off to a good start! In addition to today, (and actually yesterday – I was quite social yesterday) I have a movie date with friends planned for Tuesday, yoga on Wednesday, lunch with my former boss on Thursday, a BBQ in Rhode Island on Friday, trip to NYC for Saturday, and another hike on the calendar for two weeks from now. Plus, a tentative hike with friends, and a double date to plan before the month is out! This is in addition to everything else we had been planning (like our trip to England in December – more to come on that).
I feel good, and I’ll keep going until I don’t. Here’s to a great couple months.
UPDATED: After reading this, Jason assures me that there were birds making a lot of noise. Maybe I was just distracted by my conversation with Rob. This is good news! THERE ARE STILL BIRDS.