Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Clumsy, Happy Trails

You would think since I'm sort of a clumsy chic, that I would avoid activities where the likelihood of injury is high, but as soon as the weather got cooler, all I could think about was hiking. What's even more strange about that is, historically speaking, I'm hardly athletic. I was ALWAYS picked last in gym class and I'm not even an iota resentful about it; I wouldn't have picked me either. I'm terrified of the ball and I hate running so much I hold my breath. Plus, all my brain seems to do in situations where I'm supposed to perform athletically is freak out and panic. I have the coordination of a drunken monkey and no depth perception. Don't get me wrong, I love the outdoors and do enjoy a leisurely hike, but lately my desire has been for something on the physically challenging end of the spectrum. 

I considered just going solo and taking my trusty companion, Mackie the Wonder Dog, to keep me company. Then I wouldn't have to worry about people laughing and pointing, "look at chubby go!", and I could set the pace. However, since I am a klutz and the only thing he does on command is shake, I figured that plan would net me a night alone in the wilderness huddled with my dog, a broken ankle, and a lot of whimpering - me and him. Besides his lack of opposable thumbs and knowledge of first aid, he's a wuss. Frankly, so am I. Anyway, my fantasies of braving the wilderness with my favorite pooch were quickly dashed, so I did the slightly more sane thing and found a group of strangers on the internet to go with. 

The destination was Mina Sauk Falls at Taum Sauk mountain. I've been there a couple times before and hiked the trail once several years ago. I remembered it being pretty rocky and a somewhat challenging hike, but nothing super hard. The thing is, apparently, my memory isn't the greatest. I read the description of the hike and when I stumbled across the part that said it was strenuous and challenging I assumed they were being a little overly dramatic. You know, liability and such. 

I'm sure it's not a stretch to believe that I was wrong . Like, really wrong. Not only did I over-estimate my level of fitness, what I did not remember is that somehow the trail manages to be mostly uphill. I mean, at first, we went downhill. Kinda fast, really. I was trying to keep up with someone who was significantly taller (and longer legged) than me, which proved to be a mistake. I expended most of my energy early, so for the last 1/2 mile of the hike the only thing propelling me forward was pride. I briefly considered throwing myself on the path for a nice winded-hissy fit, but then I got scared that if I laid down, I might not be able to get back up. Cue the laughing and pointing. Then came the visions of being dragged out by my hair by tired and cranky hikers who hate me with the fire of a thousand suns. So, I hiked on. In fact, I not only kept going, I didn't die, and nobody had to carry me out!

Pardon the crappy cell phone pics, but this will give you an idea of the terrain. Note: It's uphill.

I'm not saying I emerged fresh-faced and glowing by any means. By the time I got off the trail, I had sweat through my t-shirt and my sweatshirt and my hair looked like rats had been galavanting around on top of my head all afternoon. Both my big toes are bruised from getting jammed inside my boots, I'm pretty sure one of my nails is going to fall off, and my right knee is pretty unhappy with me right now, but it's okay. I'll be right as rain in a day or two. This is going to sound kinda odd, but I actually had fun. There's something really satisfying about meeting a challenge, even if it's done without even an ounce of grace. Plus, the people were super nice and nobody laughed at me once. I liked it so much, I'm going again this Friday to a different trail.

In the summer, there's water in this part. Some of the hikers climbed down the rocks to explore. 
This is me taking a break. I made this my FB profile pic briefly, but everyone kept telling me I looked angry.  I wasn't angry, just a wee bit pooped!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You are awesome! And I love the way you described your adventure. I can't wait to hear about the next one. :)