The Chocolate Mud Ice Queen Lady
by Marijo Phelps
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We’d just finished a Saturday breakfast of pancakes, scrambled eggs and ham when my Tour Guide husband asked “what kind of a hike are you up for today?”
My blood pressure had been acting up the past few days so I told him “a long one but flat”. We typically go 4-6 miles on Saturday, take a picnic and make a day of it but I didn’t want a whole lot of mountainous stress this weekend. Since we live in Colorado and even our “hills” are mountains to the rest of the country, I should have known better.
We packed up and were off for the drive which would take us to the hike Mr. Tour Guide had all punched in to his GPS.
The day was beautiful, no snow forecast, yes, May in Colorado can equal the white stuff, incredible blue, blue skies with puffy white clouds. We saw several herds of antelope on the way dotting the open fields at the 10,000 foot elevation but no babies yet.
We parked and soon realized it was a bit windier than the weather prognosticators had thought and that wind had a definite bite to it. It felt more like winter that it had for the past 3 weeks. We put on layers of fleece, wind breakers, gloves, sun glasses and grabbed the trusty push broom handles turned into hiking sticks and took off.
“Ah, there is just one up and down hill and then we’ll get to a flat, open space. We need to walk around a marshy area and then, see those trees? We can walk along that tree line for a long ways.”
Mr. Tour Guide has this psychology for me. I would rather not be getting exercise at all but know it is “good for me”, walking works. He has been known to say we’re almost there even when we have more than a mile to go. Sometimes this is encouraging, other times it is flat out maddening.
Today I was encouraged that there was only one “up and down”. The wind was biting into my windward cheek so I used that hand to shield my face. I was huffing and puffing up that mountain, right, Mick said it was a “hill”.
Distraction worked. I began looking at the tall spruce in the distance some pointing their piney fingers over 50 feet towards the heavens. I thought of our tiny spruce in the front of our house, they were all of 18 inches tall after about 4 years of trying and they’d been a foot tall to begin with. Lord, that means you have had these trees here for longer than I have been alive? My eyes traveled to a gorgeous peak cloaked in shining snow not too far away. I was once again impressed with His handiwork and beauty.
“OK this is where we cross the creek, just put your stick in the middle of this stream, oh, it is deeper than I thought. Use your stick to push off and jump over, you can do that, can’t you?” Mr. Tour Guide, did I mention mountain goat is his middle name, leaped over and was on the other side. Once he saw me with my hiking stick in the middle and getting ready to jump he moved forward.
No, he doesn’t treat me like a “girl” in the woods. He treats me like the capable outdoors woman that I am. We have crossed many streams and creeks without a hitch.
“Help!” I hollered as my left foot slipped on the muddy other side allowing my trailing leg to go into the creek. I was sinking! I had visions of my waterproof boot being filled with muck and mud. Did I mention this was snow melt and the creek had ice on it earlier that morning?
Mick flew around and he slipped falling to his knees and grabbing my flailing arm.
By this time my right leg was wet up to mid thigh. I felt that mud oozing and squishing in my right boot as my Tour Guide dragged me across and up on the grassy/muddy bank where he was.
“Are you OK? Do you need to go back to the truck?”
“You know, if I can sit and pour the water, mud and frogs out of my boot I think I will be fine.”
About that time I heard him say something. He has told me I am cute. He has told me I am intelligent. He has given me much encouragement over the years. I thought I heard him say “you are a trooper” and really wanted to make sure because that is one of the best compliments this outdoors guy has even given me. “Ah, what did you say?”
“You are a trooper.”
“Hey, thanks, I think if I can sit down I can get this figured out.”
I found a bank of dirt to sit on, got the boot off, no frogs, whew.
“Here let me have your boot to dry, in this wind it might take all of 10 minutes.” He took the offending sock and wrung it out twice with enough water and mud to make an interesting pot of tea. Darn we forgot the pot. “Do you want me to make a fire?”
I have no doubt he would have built a fire too. With the wind like it was that was all we needed so I smiled and told him I was fine, really.
Picture me balanced on a dirt bump trying to get the wet leg on top of the hiking stick so it wouldn’t get muddier and might dry a little. I knew it was going to take more than ten minutes. Boy it was bitterly windy and cold, in the 30s rather than the 40 the weather prognosticators had said. They were wrong 55% of the time so what did I expect?
“I am going to walk around here and look for rocks while you have a chance to dry. Did you bring your book?”
“Nah, that would have been too organized.”
About 15 minutes later the Tour Guide came back and went over to the bush he had strung my sock out on. “Jo, look, your sock is frozen solid.”
“Why don’t you let me put it back on, I think when I am back in that boot with its Thinsulate my foot will be fine, really.”
Looking down at my still wet jeans, covered with chocolate mud I figured it was time to get moving.
I made a pretty good “chocolate mud ice queen lady” but knew moving would be best at this point.
All in all we were there almost 4 hours. I realized that my old, worn jeans had taken on a brand new stature, starched even and then realized they had frozen too.
“OK, I’m done hiking. Time to head back.” This was after an encounter with long horns that were far enough off so we couldn’t tell if they were bulls. No babies around either and those horns were longer than my arm spread.
Thankfully they didn’t come closer. I was getting colder and about to begin shivering.
“Hey, don’t be whining” I am wondering what happened to his trooper? He took a rain jacket out and wrapped me in that saying we would head back.
About that time I began thinking that on the way home one store had chocolate Mississippi mud pies which were ice cream sandwiches. That was my answer, I would give back my “chocolate mud ice queen lady” crown and trade it in to become the “chocolate ice cream lady”!
“I still can’t see the truck”
“Oh, it is just a little farther along that fence line.”
I am writing this piece so you do know that we made it back.
(C) Marijo Phelps all rights reserved. Use with proper credits.
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