I will begin by sharing one of my favorite meditations – repeat until you reach enlightenment:
Oh – wah … tah – fuh … lai – yahm
** Just realized I didn’t hit ‘publish’ on this entry from THREE (!) years ago – technology and I still need to work on our relationship …
Chapter One: Rain is your friend …
OMG. While walking through a bog? With currents eddying along what should be a trail? Are you kidding? Nope.
As good friends go, the rain would come second to knee high gaiters, but more on that later.
At the first sign of droplets from the sky, everyone stopped in their tracks. Thank goodness. Although I most often ‘hike sweep’ (read: always last in line) the opportunity to sidle up to the group gave the impression I was keeping up. Nonchalantly, I take a sip of water (fortified with electrolytes and sugar), as if sipping on a Starbucks at the corner. Watching, as they remove packs to retrieve rain jackets and ponchos and pack covers.
Remove packs?! Let’s review: it has been less than an hour or two since heaving a 40+ pound pack in a dead lift to one aching shoulder while trying not to let the momentum pull you to the ground on the follow through. Feet spaced to brace for impact. Followed by several small jumps to lift the burden above what should be your waistline so it can be cinched above your hips. This, so the shoulder straps no longer sit directly on your bruised collarbone.
Since I have recently joined the ranks with arthritic joint weakness (elbows, really?!), one of the 40-something gentlemen graciously assists me to cinch the last bit. Ah. Males. Display of strength. Luckily the tab that loosens the strap is easily accessed so I can again take a full breath.
Oh. Yes. Rain is your friend. Menopausal distraction. Sadly all of my best jokes fell on uncomprehending ears.
I do have some extensive hiking experience accumulated over recent years. As I am still subjecting myself to physical abuse it appears I have learned nothing.
Perhaps a few things like: Don’t take off your pack! It’s a trick. You just have to put in back on again. Much sooner than you would like. It will feel heavier. You will be reminded of every ache and pain the monotony of the trail has dulled. Again.
Wait. Wrong trail. Not monotonous. Ever.
Intense focus, concentration and poise is required: balance on one toe while pivoting gracefully around a tree to reach the next, tentative toe-hold, using your hiking pole to keep your butt elevated above the trail that runs two feet deep with muck and sludge waiting to suck the boot off your foot or pole from your hand.
This is on the flat part of the trail. Navigating the rise and fall of gullies carved by eons of rainfall searching for the ocean requires an entirely different set of skills and grace. More on that later.
Lean on a tree. Sit on a log. Bend over as if you are about to vomit. It will relieve your whinging hip, take the weight off your shoulders and require none of the gymnastics. While others fuss and bustle over rain gear, just rest. Breathe. Breathing is good. The over-priced, quick-dry clothing really does have a purpose. Hiking itself will keep you warm – another understatement – more on that later.
Even better – in a couple of hours the rain will stop. Repeat procedure.
A little rain? Ok. A lot of rain.
It was still the best unscheduled break on the trail.