There are usually points during long steep hikes when your legs stop without asking just for a second to let the brain know this exercise better be worth it. After-all, legs don’t get any reward. They just literally do all the work so the eyes can look at something to which the brain will attach adjectives. It’s a little unfair, but that’s the deal.
Enduring steep hikes is usually worth it in the end. There is an opening, or if you’re above the tree line, an expanse of earth which will never be the same no matter how many times you see it. Alpine flower blooms, vegetation, the angle of the sun and of course wildlife never conspire to make the picture twice.
And sometimes you hike up with all this imagery in your head, but the weather stinks. Fog is mixed with rain clouds making a soupy mess.
The whole idea of getting to a high place is essentially ruined because the view will be of nothing but white clouds and thick fog. Of course, that doesn’t always stop us. Sometimes you wake up and the goal is to just to get out and get after it. It’s not about the views, it’s about the work.
I had one of those weeks – not stressful or bad, just full. It was one of those units of time in which you feel every hour even when you are in a rhythm. What made it difficult was that I didn’t have the time for any physical outlet. Monday and Tuesday were perfect for hiking weather-wise, but I had obligations until well into the evening. Then the weather came and I was still busy. I am hopefully just days away from a gym membership which will be crucial since the gym of the outdoors is less becoming less conducive to gentle, enjoyable workouts.
Anyway, without any rigorous physical activity, by the time the end of the week came, I was ready. Sometimes it’s nice to sit on the couch and ingest college football while eating processed meats and cheese, but that isn’t usually very refreshing.
After a long week of work inside, it’s not a physical break that’s needed. It’s a mental one. And great mental breaks usually come at the end of exercise. At least for me.
So I ambled up the Deer Mountain trail, careful to avoid water at first, then realizing that I was delaying the inevitable. Once the feet were soaked, I could just concentrate on speed. I don’t know why I felt the need to go fast, which isn’t really fast except when compared to the recommended time allotments posted at the trailhead. Maybe it was because thanks to the fog there was nothing to see at any of the lookouts or I was just really in the mood to sweat out the week. Maybe a little bit of both.
But up I went one earbud in, playing the soundtrack to my college days, splashing through the puddles like I was a 5-year old.
Visibility on the ridge was maybe 30 yards. The trail is cut deep into the ground which was important because had it not been, I wouldn’t have been wandering around up there in the fog. There’s a difference between adventurous and stupid. Though the trail was wet, there was no rain so I stopped for a bit to watch the river of wispy fog tumble down the slope until it met with the thicker, more ominous clouds below.
There was no view, but I knew that from the start. This was about attacking the weekend, about putting in work once I was done with work. It felt good.
I got home, showered and grabbed some lunch. Not an hour later, it was sunny and the top of the peak visible.