My husband insists that he didn't con me into anything, and that I wanted to do it just as much as he did. In his defense, he's telling the truth. In my defense, I really didn't know how far 20 miles is. See, I am NOT an experienced hiker. He is; I'm not. So he should have known better. Thus far my side of the story.
The conversation went something like this: (after a 5-mile hike with the Methodist Home girls) "Hey, this park has a full day hiking trail! Wanna do it?" "Sounds fun! We can train for the Appalachian Trail, whenever we have the chance to do it!" Right.
We wanted to be on the trail at 7 am so we could finish by 7 pm. The park people said it took 12 hours to do the trail. Honeybunch said it wouldn't take that long. Of course, he wasn't taking into account, you know, stopping and eating. The park people also said it was an 18 mile trail, but our iPhone GPSes beg to differ. THEY say we hiked 20 miles in 12 1/2 hours. Take that, park people.
So my inexperienced hiker self dragged my butt out of bed at 5:30 Monday morning so we could be done before dark. Life with a baby is never as efficient as we plan, so we didn't make it to the trailhead until 8 am, and I blame it all on her. She's babbling to me right now and maintaining her innocence, but don't believe her. She's devious behind those sweet blue eyes.
8 am: Loading out of the car, signing in at the trailhead, wrapping up with the homemade Moby, realizing that it's a lot chillier than I'd expected, slipping on the traffic-crossing-guard-yellow pants that Honey was prescient enough to sneak into my pack.
Ready to go!
He started herbing. The red and blackness that's off the path and probably getting poison ivy? Him.
One of the plant photos he captured. I continue to be amazed at the picture quality of the iPhone.
Stopped for a snack. I brought the bonnet that I'd forgotten during our Saturday 5-mile hike, and would you know it? It was cloudy all day Monday.
11 am: this sign said "Mary's Cove" once upon a time. Now it says Mar V." At this point we could have turned and taken the shorter loop, if we had been smarter.
After the point of no return, when we had to do the full loop or turn around and backtrack, the path got significantly harder to follow. At first we joked that we were more adventurous than most people, since hardly anyone had been on the path to trample it down. Then the blazes got hard to see and carelessly painted, and we started joking about the obscenities the blazers must have muttered as they blazed the trail way the heck out there. Then the blazes turned orange and we joked about how they'd run out of blue paint. Then it became clear that we weren't more adventurous than most and the blazers weren't silly; we were just dumb for coming this far.
7 miles in, according to the sign, but it was closer to 8 1/2 miles in. Feeling good! That smile is still genuine. Baby's asleep. My clothes are hideous but warm.
Ryan was already feeling better than me at this point. This trend continued for the rest of the hike.
Then began a period of misery from about mile nominally-9 but really-10 1/2 until the end, when I realized that we should have taken the short loop and been back already. It was my decision to do the long loop (aided by the fact that I knew Ryan would be disappointed if we didn't), but that didn't make life any better when I reached the halfway point and realized I was exhausted. Lessons from my dad began trickling back into my mind: "Stop before you're tired because you're going to have to walk all the way back," etc. Well, I was tired, and "all the way back" was a good 10 miles. My ankles were tired from trying not to trip and stumble over rocks, and my knees were killing me, and I was praying to God that the loop back would be on easier terrain.
Buuuuut the terrain got more difficult. The side we came up on hugged the lake, and while there were some slopes and rocks to navigate, the incline was not too far from level. The side that took us back wound up into the hills around the lake, and after climbing to the crest of hills and looking over cliffs we found ourselves plunging into valleys, with the path sometimes consisting of more tree roots holding the soil together than actual soil, and crossing mossy rivulets before we started the process over again.
And I was crying. Do it yourself before you judge me. Rather, try having a baby six months ago and avoiding all physical exercise from the time you got pregnant until, oh, now. And then try it. Oh, and make sure to strap said whiny baby onto your front and take her along. And then judge me for crying.
Also, the baby? was SO OVER the Moby Wrap at this point, and I can't say I blame her. She'd had to sit cuddled up to my sweatyness all morning, and she was going to have to do it all afternoon too, and nobody had even let her get out and walk because, well, she couldn't.
Some of the rock formations were very impressive. This piece of granite(?) jutted up from the ground all alone in a field. Ryan's smile is still genuine.
My smile, the one you're too far away to see, is NOT genuine.
Ryan: Photo op! Do you want a picture too? Me: NO. I want to go HOME.
Mile 15 (16): and then we got to this sign.
After the caution sign, the path decided that zig-zagging down hills was overrated, and that trees growing out of the cliff face were sufficient to get you down safely. Ok, that's an exaggeration. But not much of one. I definitely could not have gotten down an incline that steep if I hadn't had trees to hang on to every step of the way. Naturally, we didn't take pictures to prove it.
But then this was at the bottom. Ryan kept saying that it was all worth it. I kept contradicting him. But looking at the pictures today, they definitely look a lot prettier. As you can see, we're seriously racing the sun at this point.
7 pm: we reached the swinging bridge, which the park people claim is 15 miles in and 3 miles from the head, but which we calculated to be 16 3/4 miles in and 3 1/4 miles from the head.
9 pm: we reached the trailhead. It's a good thing you can't see my face in this picture, because I look like death warmed over. The baby is already in her carseat, rejoicing that she's not strapped to me anymore.
Ryan's smile is STILL genuine. He's almost as glad as I am to be done, though.
Today I know that the only way I'll be able to walk in time to go back on duty is to do some major yoga for the rest of our time off. Mountain Pose is my goal for the day.
Ryan wants to take the girls on the shorter loop this Saturday. I think I'll let him deal with the mutiny.