July 03, 2009

In the mountains

Famous landscape

My husband and I spent several days of our vacation hiking in national parks – or natural areas just outside national parks. He had looked up hiking trails ahead of time, choosing obscure trails that wouldn’t be crowded. They certainly weren’t crowded. Usually, we’d be the only car at the trailhead, and I wasn’t always sure the path we'd found was a trailhead. I’m used to the mountains in my state, where the trailheads have brown signs and places to register before you start on the hike.

I kept leaving notes on the dashboard of our car, noting the time we’d left, the number in our party (2), and our destination. My husband thought that was a little paranoid. On the other hand, he was a bit paranoid about the wildlife.

Him: Ew. What’s that?
Me: Bear scat.
Him: But it looks … new.
Me: Yeah.
Him: What if we run into a bear? Shouldn’t we know what to do?
Me: Some bears, you’re supposed to stay quiet, some you make noise.
Me: I don’t know.
Him: We should have a plan. In case this bear comes back.
Me: Well, you could drop the backpack. It’s got food in it.
Him: What? I’m like … walking bear bait?
Me: I think for rattlesnakes, you stay still.
Him: Rattlesnakes?
Me: They can only strike as far as half the length of their bodies.
Him: Great. I’ll just measure the coils.
Me: It’s humbling, isn’t it? Nice not be the top predator in the woods.
Him: I’m going to write that on your tombstone.

We disagreed about what constitutes a hike. I call pretty much any walk in the woods a hike, especially if we are moving up the side of a mountain. My husband doesn’t think a walk qualifies as a hike unless you’re drenched in sweat, about to drop from heat exhaustion, and ready to kill yourself if you see yet another set of switchbacks.

Of course, no matter how strenuous the hike was, it was always great to make it to the summit, to sit on a rock and just gaze out at the view. Sometimes we’d hang out long enough to see a few other hikers straggle onto the rocks. These other hikers were always more prepared then us. Here we’d be, in the middle of nowhere, hours from the nearest road, and they’d pull out sandwiches and drinks and potato chips that somehow had remained uncrushed on the hike. My husband and I would watch enviously, as we sat on our rock with water and trail mix, and vow next time that we’d be more prepared. Then we’d start down the trail so that the other hikers wouldn’t notice us salivating.

And more mountains


RageyOne said...

My husband doesn’t think a walk qualifies as a hike unless you’re drenched in sweat...

What is about men and thinking that sweat is the measure of exertion? My guy thinks the same thing about exercise. You haven't done anything unless you've worked up a good sweat! Well, I don't sweat so much, but I know I've done a good workout.

Mary Stebbins Taitt said...

Gorgeous scenery and hilarious reading! :-D LOL!

Rana said...

I think you should encourage your husband to wear heavy sweaters when hiking!

Sarah Sometimes said...

gorgeous pics!

dance said...

I think your notes were an excellent idea, not paranoid at all, and there are parks in the west where they fine you for NOT leaving that information (okay, I saw it required *once* in the SD Badlands).

Sounds like a great trip.

liz said...

SO smart to leave that information! If you've got a cellphone with you, you could leave the phone number too.

Wayfarer Scientista said...

LOL! Judging by your pictures they were the kind of bears you have to be loud around :) And it was a good idea to leave you info ... helpful in case you weren't prepared for bears or with food and someone needed to find you. Hope you had a blast!

Danny Bradfield said...

I've hiked the mountains in your pictures, and have encountered bears there, too. I was always afraid of bears, until I saw one. The bears in these mountains aren't usually ferocious, and we always scared them off with loud noises.

Leslie F. Miller said...

Something about depth. That's what makes a hike. I am in between the two of you. A walk in the woods is only a hike if it's five miles. :-)