I won't lie: I was nervous about a hike that I couldn't do in a dress and flip-flops. Visions of being stranded on a mountain haunted me for days. The possibility of being assaulted by the elements was not appealing. And what about wild animals? I love all animals, wild or domestic, but the thought of getting up close and personal with a bear*? Sorry, that's not my cup of green tea. But, I love MP who's Canadian and, therefore, loves hiking and communing with nature and needs to reacquaint himself with both before he heads off for three weeks in Nepal.
And, so, this past weekend, the two of us went hiking. It was a crisp, bright fall day and the world was awash in a breathtaking palette of reds, golds, browns, oranges, and yellows. In spite of my nerves, I managed to show up in a downright cute, sporty number. MP wore the beginnings of a beard, explaining that there was no better place for facial hair than in the mountains. He looked adorable, which may not have been the look he was going for. With map in hand, compass in MP's pocket, and cap on my head (I know! I never wear caps! It was a rather fetching look, if I say so myself), we headed towards our trail.
And I fell in love.
Oh, kittens, it was lovely. Being immersed in nature was surreal: I was the center of the universe as well as a mere speck on an immense topographical map. My feet were planted firmly on rugged terrain but my heart felt enormous and afloat in the world around me. Sweating, struggling to get over especially steep rock faces, trying to keep my footing in running shoes, I felt numinous; I am human but a part of myself was reflected divine that day as I walked upward, towards the peak, towards the sky.
I won't lie, though: the downhill was fuckin' treacherous. I thought I was going to injure myself horribly during the entire descent, which lasted about three years. I was trying hard to maintain a good and positive attitude as I sat on my ass and slid down the numerous and steep rockfaces on the mountain, attempting not to, you know, die, but those bastard rocks just didn't want to end. Can we get some more uphills here, I asked no one in particular, as MP led the way, showing me exactly where to put my feet in order to avoid spills. Finally, after years and years of going downhill, we arrived at a clearing and my heart leapt with joy. MP assured me that we weren't very far from the bottom of the mountain. I wanted nothing more to do away with this joint, jump on the bus, and go home. I led the way, nearly running towards safer ground.
Oh, but wouldn't you know it. The terrain had briefly fooled us, readers, and, there, stretched before us were even more rocks.
This is getting old, I declared at this point. I'm so sick and tired of these fuckin' rocks. I hate this. I HATE THIS!
I sat on rocks, in tears and defeat.
MP took a picture of me. Look how far we've come, he said pointing up at the trail behind me. I'm a seasoned hiker, he told me, and this has to be one of the more difficult trails I've experienced. I'm so proud of you. You're a natural.
Finding firm ground on MP's words, I stood up and continued down the trail silently; he continued to encourage me. Before I knew it, we were at the foot of the mountain albeit on the opposite side of where we were supposed to catch our bus. I ran in a fruitless attempt to make it to the bus before it departed without us but it was too late. MP and I were trapped in the loveliness of Bear Mountain Park's Octoberfest for another two hours, with nothing to do but eat farm fresh pears, straight from the kettle kettle corn and sample delicious fudge.
Dears, you'll be surprised to know that I've decided I love hiking. MP's 1-year anniversary (it was on Sunday!) gift for me: a lovely dinner at Bouley and hiking boots!
*a friend tells me that Bear Mountain is a misnomer, that there actually aren't any bears on the mountain.