Thursday, October 23, 2008

Fun on the Trail



This is an addendum to my previous post for anyone who might have thought that, because we abandoned the Appalachian Trail early, we didn't have a blast. Is there any possible way to travel with three girlfriends and not have fun? I don't think so. First, there is the leaving behind of children and spouses. You could just sit in the car for three days and have more fun than you would at home.
Okay, but we didn't do that. We did sit in the car for eight hours as we sped south to North Carolina. And we talked constantly, except for Najah who kept falling asleep in the middle of the conversation because she hadn't slept the night before.
So, why is it hilarious when the two car-sick people ride in the front seat and don't notice that we are almost out of gas in the Tennessee mountains. Or because I look down to program a number into my phone we miss our turn and drive miles out of the way. Hey, am I the only one paying attention here?
We laughed when Najah decided that our trail call "Hooty Hoo!" should be replaced by "Hey Laaadies!" in a Jerry Lewis voice. We found that call didn't carry quite as far. And no one went for my suggestions that we yell a hearty, "My friends!" in honor of the election season.
My husband claimed that a ball of, basically, kite string, was strong enough to hoist our bear bags over a branch. We ended up splitting our food into two separate bags and pulling it over a branch. The string was so skinny it cut into our palms so we had to work together to pull it. The branch was the right size and location, out away from the trunk of the tree so a bear couldn't get it, but it did happen to be right next to another tree trunk where a bear could have shimmied up and grabbed our food, like convenient take out. It wasn't until we left that trail that we saw the sign warning about bear activity on the trail and a bear that had been stealing packs. Ooops. Noreen had been so proud that she kept her pack in the vestibule of her tent so it was handy the next morning and didn't get soaked by the rain overnight. That bear warning deflated her pride a little.
After our night in the tent, we all swore we hadn't slept. Yet, I thought Pam didn't move all night while I turned over every 15 minutes. She said the same. And Naj claimed to have called our names all night long.
The next day had its miserable moments, I must admit. But we were so proud of filtering our own water and filling those empty bottles. Noreen sang "This is the trail that never ends" as we walked along. And when I became too tired to go on, I simply sat down. Najah was on a positive swing and was in the middle of a motivational speech about how we could accomplish our goals, we could go the distance, we could... She turned around and saw me at the bottom of the trail, staring into the multi-colored leaves that covered the trees. "Hey!"
And I decided that was it for me. My hiking days were over.
In the end, we're typical Americans. Although the hike wasn't what we imagined, we were already plotting a way to make it better the next time. Boots and a pack that fit. Naj claimed she would only carry five granola bars and a water bottle. I thought sherpas might solve the problem.
When I walked out of work on Monday, and the air had that sweet tinge of fall while the sun made me blink, I texted Naj: "I'm ready to go again."
"Me too!" she replied.

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