first hike and lived to tell the tale

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Why would they nail this word to a tree?

This morning I drove to a park in the forestry for my very first hike. You know, the six to seven mile hike that I signed up for a couple of days ago.

It was pouring rain. Since I was nervous about this hike, I naturally thought, “Oh good. Maybe they’ll cancel.”

No such luck. Twelve die-hard hiking enthusiasts showed up, in various degrees of water repellent clothing. I was wearing a very long, very blue, flowing plastic poncho that I had once saved from the Maid of the Mist at Niagara Falls. I know this because it said “Maid of the Mist” right on it.

I knew these people were die-hard hikers, because a) they didn’t even acknowledge the rain, and b) almost all of them had hiking poles.

Now that is something that I hadn’t thought about. Hiking poles? Really? Why would anyone need hiking poles for a walk in the woods? Oh, naiveté.

We started out down a road into the park, and very quickly veered into the woods. Straight up the side of a very large, tree covered hill. The rain had made the trail very slippery and muddy. It mattered not. Like leaping mountain goats, everyone flew up the vertical incline. I was in the back of the pack, sliding in the mud, trying to keep up.

I just need to mention that this hiking club has some of the nicest people that I’ve ever met. Seeing me do my third triple axle down a mud covered trail, someone offered me one of their hiking poles. Oh. What a difference. This magic pole and I quickly became very good friends, and I stopped sliding like Bambi on the ice.

Our six to seven mile hike actually was a seven to eight mile hike, and I kept up until the very end. After three hours of up and down and crossing that creek, my left knee seized up and left me in crippling pain. This is a knee that has never complained in it’s life. My left knee is the “good knee”. Possibly the only working, pain-free joint in my body. And yet, “ping…” it went out on me and I could no longer trip over one more tree root.

We had just come to the road leading back to the cars, and I had kept up all the way. I was just congratulating myself, when the entire group decided to dive back into the woods in search of a “really neat backwoods way” to the parking lot, I had to politely decline this new off road adventure. This was above and beyond what my knee could do, so I elected to take the sissy walk back to the cars on the road.

Two of the women walked with me to keep me company, and to make sure I could make it back. Did I mention how nice everyone was on this hike?

Sitting in my car never felt so good. I had walked eight miles in three hours at a pretty fast pace, and only hurt one knee. I’m pretty proud of myself right now.

So, as I write this tonight, my muscles have seized up like an old Buick, and I am limping around like a one hundred year old woman. But it will pass. I can’t wait to go on the next hike. I just have to get a pair of those fancy hiking poles first.

Photo by DLM

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