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Scaling the Heights
by Kay Brown
06/29/04
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Scaling the Heights
By Kay Brown

Sometimes I scare myself. Last week I agreed to go on a hike. Now, this was not just a casual stroll - I live in the mountains and this particular six-mile trek would begin at 11,000 feet and would ascend several thousand more. Not having have done anything even remotely strenuous since giving birth to my last child seven years ago, I am not in very good shape. As I said, sometimes I scare myself.

The girlfriend that invited my children and me on this harmless little hike is actually a professional forest ranger. I am not kidding. Have you ever been on a hike with a professional forest ranger? It is an interesting experience. For a few hours, I think her voice actually lowered in pitch an octave. I tried to listen to her instructions carefully as we climbed the mountain. Listening was much easier than talking (or breathing for that matter).

I had no idea there were so many rules governing one’s behavior in a federally designated wilderness area. Over 100 were explained to me and I had the definite impression that she was taking it easy on me. I am easily overwhelmed, especially when climbing mountains.

Apparently, it is critical that the forest is left lovely for others, so we were not to take anything from it, nor leave anything unlovely behind. I understand the principle, but when my little girl pulled at my sleeve, I had to help her leave something unlovely not far from the edge of the trail. It was disgusting.

I was raised in the city. There are malls, discount houses and convenience stores in cities. For absolute emergencies, there are gas stations. Feminine supplies and toilet paper are readily available at any of these locations. Unfortunately, a federally designated wilderness area has no shopping opportunities. It is very sad.

My six children tried to act as if they were bored. They had planned to spend the day weaseling out of chores and indulging in electronic games and videos. Until we came upon an invigoratingly icy stream magically bubbling out of the ground, a vast boulder field, a very spooky cave, awesome avalanche sites and breathtaking waterfalls, they almost had me fooled. Other than the bouncing pony tails and war-whoops ahead far ahead of me, I hardly knew they were there.

Perhaps it is just as well that they were spared the vision of their mother wheezing and grimacing her way up the trail. It was not pretty. I asked my friend if she knew that if she had not been with me, I would have given up. She did. When the day was over and I was feeling triumphant about the experience, I told her I actually enjoyed it. She replied, “You know, I did, too. I’ve never sauntered up that trail before! It was fun.”

Sauntered?

I almost broke my neck and have sore places I did not even know existed! If you look closely, I can show you two bruises, chapped lips, a blister and sunburn. I am grateful that I lived to tell about it. “Sauntered?”

Sometimes she scares me.


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Gerry Alderink 22 Jul 2004
Your article just may challenge some adventurous folks to try that same mountain. Others, who have tried before and vowed never to do so again, may have discovered how you find humor in everything, and might try to put some in their next 'sauntering' climb!
Frederick Kwesi Great Agboletey 29 Jun 2004
A lively piece "sauntering" away from the city and its superficial impositions. Well written.




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