Currently Reading Into the Wild By Jon Krakauer
Yesterday was chock full of big times (as was today, for that matter). Dinah was over spending the night with Abby so we had extra bodies piled in the oven we affectionately know as our house. It's not too bad during the day, but it's awfully hard to sleep at night when it's hot and muggy.
Anyway, after being up half the night due to the heat or children walking around due to the heat, I was not in a frame of mind to walk. I did manage to get myself out the door and do it, though, and I was mightily proud of that. Especially since Friend Husband was making waffles for breakfast and I knew that, with 6 children and Friend Husband, there wouldn't be any left upon my return.
I had chosen to hike Far Ridge Trail this time, another trail that I'd been wanting to hike for a while. It's another one that is classified as "difficult", although it was about a mile shorter than Redwing. As I drove up to the entry kiosk, I noticed that they had a new program advertised. It was a "hike all the trails" deal where you recorded when you hiked a certain trail and when you finished all the trails, they'll give you a Camelbak water bottle. Cool beans! Since I was going to hike them all anyway, I figured I'd sign up and get something extra out of the deal.
Anyway, I wised up this time and actually brought walking shoes instead of Crocs. Good thing too, because even in walking shoes this trail just chewed me up and spit me out. I had taken some ibuprofen before I left home to help counteract the swelling and such and that worked well. I had absolutely no pain during, after or today. That rocked.
But, as I said, that trail was a bruiser. Part of the problem was the weather. It was hot and muggy Saturday (we finally got our first rain in 2 ½ months later on in the day) and that made it hard to breathe. The trail itself was something unreal, though. The walk out to it was easy enough, although I did get lost at one point and ended up on my nemesis, the wooden stairs that go ever ever on. Once I crossed over the stream to the actual trail, though, things got interesting.
I noted on the trail map that Far Ridge Trail is a big loop. The map mentioned a "steep climb to a shelter" overlooking the ravine or something. I figured I wouldn't be able to see much at the height of summer, even with all the trees dropping their leaves early this year. I got to the decision point, where I could either take the "gently sloping trail" up to the shelter, or the brute force stair climb up the side of the ridge. I was going to give myself a break and do the slope instead of the stairs until I looked at the stairs. They looked a lot like a ladder from the fork in the trail. I really dislike going down ladders or steep staircases facing outward. I also figured that that would probably give me a colossal case of shin splits so I opted for the sheer staircase up to the shelter.
To say that I was huffing and puffing when I got there would not be an exaggeration. That climb was quite a bit more difficult than the steep slopes in Redwing last week. I sat up at the shelter to regroup, but then moved on to yet more stairs up to the top of the ridge. Once atop the ridge, it was an easier hike. There are fewer trees up there and it was moderately sunny. The trail was wide and, except for massive numbers of spider webs, completely empty. I don't know how long it had been since someone was up on that particular trail, but if the spider webs were any indication, it had been a while. I didn't see a single person on any of the trails I was on yesterday, which is odd for Rowe Woods. It scared me a little bit when I thought that I could conceivably have a heart attack, heat stroke, or injure myself up there and no one would have a clue where to find me (nor would they be inclined to climb up that ridge to look). I did discover that, unlike on Redwing, there was excellent cell coverage up on top of the ridge. Dinah's mom called to tell me that they were coming to pick Dinah up and we chatted for a while before hanging up. I didn't tell her that I was nowhere near her daughter at the time and was, in fact, on top of a ridge somewhere out in the middle of Rowe Woods. People at church think I'm odd enough without adding to the mystique, if you know what I mean.
Anyway, I digress. The slope down the ridge was, for the most part, gentle and lovely to walk through. I didn't have the same epiphanies that I had last week but I was pleased that I'd gone out and walked despite the weather and my own lack of sleep the night before. I crossed the stream on rocks that would normally be submerged except for our astounding lack of rain this summer and I thought about all the times that Friend Husband, the Big Girls (then, the only girls), and our old dogs Ronald and Raymond would travel these trails and what fun we had.
I walked a couple of new trails back to the Visitor Center. I saw some funny things out there, like a climbing wall, attached to a couple of huge trees, and a primitive toilet housed in a turquoise blue wooden closet. They were definitely head-scratchers and comic relief in the midst of my wild desire to be back at the Center, in the air conditioning. I finally made it back and basked in the wonder that is chilled air before signing up for the trail walk.
I'm 1/5 of the way finished with the trails! If the weather is at all temperate (ie, not hot and humid) next week, I think I'll do the third of the difficult trails. If it's nasty, I'll cross off some of the easy trails and call it good. Sooner or later the weather will be such that exercise outside will be lovely again.
Enough boring blog for today? Not quite. I did want to wax poetic (or prosetic) about our lack of air conditioning this week. We've had the opportunity to experience some different stuff this week. I won't go into the obvious comparisons between our country and most other countries around the world. You can do that on your own. I did notice a few other things, though. One is that no one ever spends any time outside anymore. We sat outside most nights until the mosquitoes made things miserable because the house was unpleasantly hot. All of the houses in our neighborhood have some kind of porch and some of them are quite nice. But we were the only ones outside "enjoying" the summer evenings. I wondered what things were like back when these houses were built, in the late 40's. I've got to assume that a/c was not common back then. That also got me to wondering about why our house is not more conducive to picking up itinerant air currents. In other words, the air doesn't flow through and cool very well. It's weird, if you ask me.
We've also started eating strange things for meals. Except for Friday when we had the obligatory sleepover pizza party, I haven't used the oven and I've rarely used the stove. We've been eating a lot of sandwiches and leftovers from Crock-Pot cuisine. For lunch today, we all had strawberry-banana smoothies...mmmmmm! I do miss cooking, but I imagine it will be back soon enough. It's been nice to take a dip in the pool at night, rinse off, and go to bed, hoping to catch a stray cool breeze. It's been nice to sit out on the porch, knitting and talking to Friend Husband while the children play or read around us. When we first bought this house, I remember commenting in a letter to Friend Ann-Marie that I could see myself quilting on the front porch or reading on the deck out back. Except for early mornings, those things really haven't happened. Until this week.
Nevertheless, I can't hide that it will be nice to have cooling just so we can sleep at night. We're all getting pretty stupid from lack of sleep. Although we've done pretty well with holding our tempers, I don't imagine the angelic streak will last much longer. But it's been an interesting experience nonetheless. Sort of like camping with better toilets.
And this is finally the end of this long, rambling, and nonsensical blog.