Saturday, December 5, 2009

Slow-Hiking the AT Section 1 Part 1: Hubris

“If you can’t be confident, be arrogant!” my math professor said. It was excellent advice. Yet I never managed to walk up to the chalkboard and write a proof with anything but dread and terror in my eyes and on my sleeve. It was, I believe, most unbecoming. Alas, at the time it was the best I could do. Though I do not posses the talent of summoning hubris on demand, I do parade around a fair bit of unfounded arrogance at odd times.

Unfortunately, I did so while packing for my first overnight hiking trip (AT in MA - Lee to Tyringham). “I won’t need this wussy camping pad,” I thought and tossed aside the heavily duct-taped blue foam. It is not surprising that my macho instinct kicked in. I have a long history of toughness-proving activities: riding red motorcycles, hitchhiking, eating roast guinea pig, wearing fishnets. All of these character building experiences bolstered my all important self-image as a badass (yet deceptively innocent looking) girrrl. I never regretted any such activities, until I left the camping pad at home. It was a mistake most ardently regretted. My hips ached, my butt was cold. I did not sleep. As it turns out I am now old and wussy. Ergo, new packing rule number 1 – bring a camping pad. If you don’t have a camping pad, bring your mattress.

Perhaps it was the lack of sleep, but on day two I began to amuse myself at the expense of others. Tut, tut, I should have known better. Really though, you should have seen these ridiculous people carrying around fandangled kaleidoscoping ski pole thingies. The terrain was so tame, even I thought it was easy to manage. My hiking buddy and I laughed and congratulated ourselves on our frugality and common sense. That’s when we came to the log bridge. To keep it short, I landed thigh high in beaver flooded goodness. And we discovered why the people had those ridiculous pole thingies.

So, when you hike, be meek. Don’t make declarations to yourself or anyone else about your superiority, no matter how true they may seem at the time. I’m warning you, you’ll eat your words or land in them or something.

[Photo: Alas, I did not take this picture (or even see the beaver that flooded the trail). Thank you to the photographer who allowed the use of it as per the terms set on stock.xchg where I found it.]

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