Over the holidays, the temperature at the North Pole rose to above freezing for the first time in recorded history. Massive floods swept through Missouri putting 9 million lives at risk. I smoked about 6 packs of cigarettes, drank a lot of beer, and dreamed every night about the end of the world (my nightly apocalypse is the flood kind with salt water washing everything away, how about you?).
I also watched A Walk in the Woods while very drunk on Keystone Light with my in-laws. Somewhere between my third beer (I am such a lightweight) and the umpteenth panoramic mountain vista, I decided that, before it's razed to ash or falls into the Atlantic, I'm going to hike the Appalachian Trail.
This deeply emotional, existential grand plan has some pretty obvious and immediate impediments including, but not limited to, the following:
1) I am grievously out of shape — embarrassingly, shamefully, I-get-out-of-breath-on-three-flights-of-stairs out of shape.
2) I do not have what you'd call "extensive hiking experience."
3) My feet are worthless. I get blisters really easily (ingrown toenails too – cringe-worthy TMI, I KNOW, but still I need a record of this shit.)
4) Robert Redford and Nick Nolte didn't even finish it.
AND YET — there are a few things that work in my favor. I will be clinging to them in the coming months while I gnash my teeth (goodbye nicotine, hello lung capacity) and try to keep up with Dan and Jane at the gym:
1) I am outdoorsy and a poet and incredibly stubborn.
2) In my super long ago youth, I spent 7 months at a residential treatment center in Maine and, during that time, went on a 45 mile hike with backpacks and poop shovels and everything.
3) I am really, really serious about this.
4) Spondee is SO CUTE on hikes and, while he can't do the whole thing with me, I like to imagine his dad would bring him to various points along the way and let me wander about with me. Here he is at Dibbles Quarry in the Catskills, sitting on a throne because the bean deserves a throne.
I’m going to do it. You all get to do the fun part which is tuning in while I do dreadfully mundane things like quit smoking, start endurance training, become overwhelmed at REI while arguing with rugged and well-meaning hiking enthusiasts/employees, and read about bear attacks. (Oh, and actually read "A Walk in the Woods.")
Before I can ask Jane to sign off on the columns and beg Jane and Dan to let me tag along on their various class pass adventures, I need to have an actual game plan. So, if you've embarked on an extended outdoorsy — or, honestly, even outdoors-ish —excursion, share your stories, selfies, and *insert another hiking alliterative thing here* down in the comments.
If you hate bugs, walking, and leaving no trace, you are also welcome to join the commenting free-for-all and tell me that I am foolhardy or lament the for sure fast-approaching apocalypse or — this one is important — tell me if you know anyone who HAS PUNCHED A BEAR IN THE FACE.