If you’re going for a day hike be sure you make it happen on a beautiful day. I did. I’d spent the past week talking with my friend and planning this hike. It was to be the hike of all hikes. Mount Major was calling my name! Now this is one serious hike, all 1,800 feet. It takes a grand total of 2 1/2 hours to hike up and down this “mountain”. But we were going a little crazy and decided to drag the hike out by taking a slightly longer trail up and to chill at the summit where we would enjoy a true “backpacker” lunch.
This was a truly momentous hike for me. It would be the first time, since ACL surgery 10 months ago, that I would actually be doing any amount of vertical walking. I geared myself out making sure I had all the proper provisions. I had my very serious football player knee brace on, good footwear, and my trekking poles. I was determined. We loaded up our dogs with their own stash of water and strapped on our packs. The heaviest part of my pack was the 2L of water and my camera with multiple lenses. We were ready for the mountain.
**This was also a very important hike for Star! She has been running hard in an attempt to raise funds for a local school, The Birchtree Center, for youth with autism. She knows how much I adore one of the students (I work at home with them) and wants to make sure these kids get as many opportunities as possible. She’d love to have any support in meeting her goal!
Check out her page at http://birchtreecenter.dojiggy.com/ng/index.cfm/a522f7a/regPages/pledge/STARSADVENTURE/
Now back to our regularly scheduled program!!!**
Not a mile into the hike and I was questioning myself. Was I really ready for this? Was I pushing to do this a little too soon? Questions I took in stride, literally. My knee was doing great, just the occasional reminder that I didn’t have all the meniscus I’d been born with. So what was my downfall? It was the permanent divot in the couch which fit the curves of my ass perfectly. After almost a year of kicking back and taking it easy while I slowly built the muscle back up in my leg and moved past the worst of the pain I had no cardio endurance. Yup, that 50 foot rise we just climbed completely winded me. I felt like a fish out of water. I tried to be casual about the lack of air making it into my lungs. I’m sure my breathless banter and attempt at laughing didn’t help and even if my friend hadn’t picked up on the open mouth gasping I’m sure my cherry red face gave it away.
Multiple breaks along the way made it possible to move forward slowly and steadily. We bumped into a number of other hikers and enjoyed brief conversations with them. Talking about our furry hiking companions, the trail or their music. Please feel free to judge me for my next comment. KEEP YOUR MUSIC TO YOURSELF! I don’t mind music. I don’t mind Maroon 5. I do mind the lack of courtesy. When in the woods, hiking, bring earbuds or something of the sort. Blaring it from your iPod with static filled speakers on a busy trail is a no go. Listen to your music but don’t force it on others. Had I been thinking fast enough, and had air to spare, I would have busted out at the top of my lungs, singing off key (it’s the only way I can sing) “This is the song that never ends”. Instead we hiked faster to put distance between us and the noise pollution. Upon reaching the summit we caught up with some other hikers who were enjoying the view. And then it happened. Music. Blaring in my right ear. The guy had stopped directly next to me, joining into the conversation. I turned to him and with as much courtesy as I could muster yelled over the music ” can you please turn it down?” I don’t think I’ve offended someone so badly in quite some time. Guess I was destined to be The Ass of the Mountain.
Having summited we made our way over to an edge and settled down to enjoy our meal. Out came the GORP, apples and cheese. For a day hike these are staples, don’t leave home without them. We enjoyed the beauty spread before us. We looked out over Alton Bay, allowed the cool breeze to dry the sweat from our brows, and munched our food contentedly. The dogs meandered around checking out all the smells and finding wondrous things to eat. My dog, Star, has never had an issue with eating. Just about anything food-like is welcomed into her system. Last year she’d gorged herself on corn cobs she found on this summit and then spent the next day expelling them from her body. I kept a close eye on her this time, I wasn’t game for a repeat performance.
We wrapped up our lunch and set about doing photo shoots with the pups, because that’s what we do. Star and Tamarak did their best to look adorable and photo bomb each other at any and all opportunities. Then it was time to head down. The hike to the base was a bit of a workout as we’d decided to take the steep route down. My good leg got the workout of its life. Gentle step-downs full of control so I could place my other leg carefully. I must say I felt like Popeye on one side, muscles popping and defined as I clambered down the rocks.
We had almost made it to the end of the trail when nature called (guys you may opt out of this paragraph if you want but than again there could be some good info for lady friends of yours). It wasn’t anything serious, just the inkling that I had to pee. I could of held out until we hit up a gas station. BUT there was no way I was going to pass up on my first backwoods opportunity to use my pStyle! Ladies peeing in the woods isn’t something I detest but I’m sure you can understand the annoyance of having to prepare for it. The removal of your pack so you don’t fall over backwards, finding something to duck behind so you don’t provide a full moon midday, making sure you have your pants and undergarments out of the way so you don’t pee on them, and keeping the splash from coating your shoes. Needless to say it’s a process and one I don’t look forward to. Today was different. Giggling like a school girl I cut off trail, I only went about 15 feet. With my back to the trail I pulled my pStyle out of the side pocket of my pack, which was still on my back. I unzipped my pants and used my handy dandy “pee funnel” to stand there and empty my bladder. Now I had read about the joy and ease of using these in the woods but I was still a little apprehensive about just how convenient it would be. Well, NEVER AGAIN will I bare my ass to the cold air or pricker bushes. I finished up, zipped up and rinsed it off before putting it back in its bag and off we went.
We had a wonderful day out and I completed my first hike of the year! Having had such a great time testing out my new ACL we made plans for another “killer” hike and ventured out less then a week later. We hiked up Blue Job, a whopping 1,300 feet, and made another afternoon of food and photos.