Let's revisit thirteen (!!) years ago, when I climbed all over a bunch of rocks up in the sky like some kind of idiot. We do remember this day fondly, but I suspect that if Josiah and I were to find ourselves at the bottom of that same pile of rocks today (or on a day when it isn't covered in ice), I probably would not want anything to do with seeing the very top.
(Note: It seems I learned everything I know about grammar sometime after I finished my formal education. Copy-editing this one was really a bear and I apologize for any glaring errors I may have missed. The whole damned thing was in lowercase, just for starters.)
My favorite part is probably that I am using ownership of footwear to illustrate readiness for the adventure at hand.
mary climbs a mountain
April 8, 2001
Today I went to the mountains with Josiah. It was a beautiful day... sunny, shorts and sandals weather. Living 40 miles from a national forest (and the Red River Gorge), it only seemed appropriate that we mark the first beautiful day of the year by heading out into the mountains to hike.
I am not a hard core hiker. Not by any stretch. I am more of a person who likes to walk in the woods. My only "hiking" apparel consists of a pair of boots first owned by my mother in 1975, but I think the mountains rock (pun intended)... and in the national forest, there are plenty of yuppy trails with markers and very little risk of serious exertion.
Josiah on the other hand, is a hard core outdoors person. He owns multiple pairs of shoes for a variety of outdoor activities. He climbs stuff and likes to explore that which is not the trail.
So, we set out for the gorge. We drove around a bit, Josiah was looking for something to climb on and I was just loving the scenery. Finally, we stopped at this nice valley with a little creek and stuff.
We wandered around a bit. Then we saw a sign. a bright yellow sign. Up the mountainside in the woods. We're both big on reading and very curious. Needless to say, we had to read the sign. We climbed up the mountainside.
It was a marker marking the official edge of the Daniel Boone National Forest. Well, that prompted us to decide to climb the mountain. What I thought when we started climbing the mountain was that we were going to traipse up the side of it until it turned into rocks.
We walked up the mountain... and up and up and up. We really started at the very bottom. Then we reached the point at which I thought the mountain was no longer navigable, you know, where the top turns into crazy boulders and you stop hiking and call it the top: when you consider the mountain as climbed as it can be without sophisticated equipment and healthy lungs. I suggested we pause so i could smoke a cigarette. I was wrong.
At this point, I think I should clue you in to as to how ill prepared I was to rock climb.
One, my outfit consisted of:
- a very small t shirt stating that I am a Cincinnati Opera Lover. no bra.
- A pair of boys shorts which managed to cover my legs all the way to the knee and have enough pockets not to need a purse.
- and sandals. procured from Payless for ten dollars last summer. okay for walking, not really for climbing.
- oh, and a bandana to hold my mess of tangly curls out of the way. Not even a ponytail.
Three, as previously stated, I have no lung capacity. I don't exert myself much. I am horribly out of shape. I am not strong. This does not bother me.
Yeah so, I climbed a mountain. Seriously, I climbed up the side of a mountain all the way to the top, despite the seriously foreboding mostly vertical rock face near the top.
When I say that I climbed a mountain, I should probably say that Josiah yanked my sorry ass up a bunch of rocks.
Mostly, that's what happened. My climbing consisted mostly of Josiah scampering with ease up about five feet and then anchoring himself so I could use his leg or hand or something to pull myself up, or, in the more difficult parts, so he could grab my hand and pull me up while I tried really hard to contribute more than color commentary involving my fear of death.
We made it to the top. The very top. We were really seriously looking out at the other mountaintops over the giant canyon of the gorge. Regardless as to how much help it took, no one tied a rope around my waist and yanked me up there, I really did climb a mountain. And then I finally got to smoke a cigarette (I carried out my butts)...
Oh shit, you mean I have to go down the way I came up? Yes, Mary, that's how we get back to the car. I am pleased to say that in the getting back down, I was much more capable of helping myself (sliding on my ass and screaming in terror). Twice josiah had to stop me from sliding to my death.
Okay, and at the end, he was kind enough to position himself between two rocks so I could use him (stepping on his feet, sliding off his legs, holding his hands) to assist my coming down. The hike down the hillside after that did not seem nearly as horrible as coming up it had been...
Today I went all the way up a mountain (with assistance). It was neat. My wrists and ankles will never be the same, my arms and legs are cut and bruised to shit. I did not break a single nail though (and my polish came out virtually unharmed).
And I feel like I accomplished something. I climbed a mountain in sandals. And I did not die.
(Not only do I still have that shirt, I actually wore it the other day. Not when I went up a mountain though.)