We went on a hike once with friends. It became the hike from hell. 357
magnums firing into the sky from fellow hikers to break apart their
pitbulls. Then, a brush with honest to god quicksand. Followed by a narrow
trail down a thirty story high mountain with grapefruit-sized boulders along
the trail to help you stumble and twist your ankle. All this as the heat
bore down and dehydrated everyone.
The group was so exhausted that when we finally got to the valley floor,
everyone just rolled their bedrolls out and slept in the open. The whole
reason we took the hike was to get to this idyllic series of hot tub pools.
Someone had dragged bags of concrete down to the river to capture the
steaming water and mix with the freezing river water to make pools of
varying degrees. Only my daughter and I dragged ourselves over there to
enjoy the hot pools after a long, long hike.
And the bad news continued. One of the survivors came over and said that
everybody should be ready to move out at 630 a.m.. No sleeping in. Why?
Well we had to get out of the valley before high noon, when the sun would
again beat down on us. We wanted to be up the thirty story mountain trail
and into the shade before noon.
So, we happily set out the next morning. No one talked. The out of shape
straggled behind. Those who were in shape pushed ahead, tired of trying to
cajole, cheerlead, Dale Carnegie them from quitting every five minutes.
I was soft-hearted. I stayed with the last one, trying to get her somewhat
motivated. But she was tough. She would say things like, “Just leave me.”
“Don’t worry about me. I don’t want to live.”
“I’m not taking another step. Send a helicopter for me when you get back.”
Well, I thought she’d run out of quips eventually and decide it was easier
to walk out than listen to me. Also, I couldn’t let my daughter leave
another human to die. So I stuck it out.
In one especially long “rest stop”, what turned out to be the last time
she’d stopped, she turned around completely. She stood up, took a deep
breath and said,
“My mother said you can get used to anything but hanging.”
And with that we walked out. Five hours later we were laughing at Sizzler,
ordering steaks rare and some nice Bordeaux.
Her mom was right.