Note: I added a new section to my Life List, of things we want to do and see while we're living in Virginia. Check it out! Anything I should add that's a must-see or do or eat? :)
This weekend, we went hiking. I'd been looking forward to trying to hike McAfee Knob on Catawba Mountain, which is a really popular hiking spot around here, and Matt had a friend from grad school that was going to be in town with a church group, so we decided to meet at the base of the mountain and spend the afternoon walking up it together. I was informed that it was a relatively easy hike, about three miles each way, and I thought that it would be okay since I was fine on the four-mile-round-trip hike up the Cascades last summer.
I had a goal: to finally break 10,000 steps. Because I've been wearing this pedometer for two months and still only maxed out around 6,000 steps on a good day. I figured six miles would put me around 12,000 steps or so, and that seemed good. I was excited to start.
We started walking. It was a beautiful day, if not a little muddy from all the rain we'd gotten the week before, but the trail was well-kept and it was quite nice. I was only moderately out of breath.
And we walked and walked and walked, and I thought that surely we should have reached the top by now. Things were getting steeper, and we'd been hiking for a very long time. And then we saw a sign that said "McAfee Knob - 1.9 miles" — which, by the way, was the first trail marker we'd seen other than the ones for shelters and campsites.
That's about the time I realized that this a) was not an easy-for-novices hike, and b) it was not the advertised three miles. It was about four and a half miles each way, which I know because a) my pedometer was tracking the distance, and b) I broke 11,000 steps on the way to the top. And I was in pain. I am not a great hiker. This was my third-ever time hiking. I started asking the people walking down how much further as we passed them. And they'd say, still a ways to go, or you're so close! At one point, someone said that it was only about four minutes to the top.
Now, I have to interject a quick story from earlier in the week here. About a week ago, I went to the doctor because my allergies were driving me crazy. I wasn't allergic to anything in Texas, but apparently I am allergic to all the plants in Virginia. The doctor told me to take an over-the-counter non-D allergy pill, and told me to call her in two weeks if they weren't working. Well, they worked great and I could breathe fine, but they were keeping me awake at night. So after a week of only getting two hours of sleep per night, I ended up sobbing on Matt about something entirely stupid, and he was like, maybe you shouldn't take those anymore. So the night before this hike was the first decent night of sleep I'd gotten in a week, because I'd chosen to skip the allergy pill.
So we're "four minutes" from the top, and at that point I was breathing hard and my sinuses were driving me nuts, and I was tired and way behind the rest of the group, and I didn't believe we were actually near the top because I had been LIED TO about many things on this trip, so I started crying and I sat down on a rock while the gnats tried to eat my face until Matt said he could literally see the crest from the place he was standing 50 feet away from me.
So I dragged myself up the last fifty feet, and then sat in the shade and refused to talk to Matt.
These people look happy.
After I was done crying, and done wishing I could pitch myself off the cliff instead of walking down, and done debating whether I should eat my banana or throw it at Matt, we wandered around the top of the rock face for a bit. The views were spectacular; I could see why it was so popular. If only I had been prepared for how long and difficult it actually was!
We took an "easier" route on the way down, aka the fire-escape route, but it was still a long way back to the parking lot. By the time we got to the truck, I had gotten to 23,000 steps, but my legs and knees and ankles and the arches of my feet were in so much pain that I wasn't even excited to have broken my record so spectacularly.
And I told Matt — again — that I never want to go hiking again. I think I've given it a legitimate chance, but I think hiking just isn't for me. There are plenty of other kinds of exercise I enjoy, and I'd rather spend my time on those. (I mean, I love walking! How can hiking be so terrible?!)
Do you enjoy hiking? Have you found yourself utterly unprepared for anything lately?