Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Grind

            I couldn’t get anything done, so finally I thought to myself, “Why am I staying cooped up here? I’m going hiking!”
            I started by showing Celia some pictures of us hiking in the past, so she could get excited and mentally prepare herself for it. Then, I opened a map and started brainstorming ideas for where to go. In the end, I decided on the Grouse Grind – a sheer uphill natural stairmaster – because we could ride the gondola down for only five bucks and I wouldn’t have to wreck my knees with Celia in the backpack.
            I popped upstairs to tell my sleeping wife I was heading out and she said, “What if I want to come too?”
            So, the trip was delayed while Michelle and Joshua got ready, and an hour later we piled into the car and drove to the base of the mountain.
            I felt like a bit of an item, what with Celia on my back and heading on a grueling hike like that one. A tv video guy was interviewing someone at the base, and he noticed me out of the corner of his eye and immediately filmed me walking in. I smiled. Everyone I saw had comments like, “Woah! That’s quite the load!” or, “Ambitious!”
            I smiled and said nice things back as we energetically made our way up. By the first quarter mark I’d sweat out all the water I’d brought, and Celia wanted to run around. We took a break and kept at it again. By the second mark, Celia was shouting, “Out! Walk!” till I had to stop. I sat exhausted on a log watching all the hikers streaming past us, wondering why on earth I thought we could do this crazy hike.
            Celia wanted to hike up on her own at that point, and I let her for a few minutes, but I was holding both her hands and it started to wear on my back as she walked up every step by putting all her weight on me. I shook my head. What am I, crazy?
            The last hour was a blur. I remember thinking to myself, “I can do this. I can do this. Just get to the top.” Celia was flipping out by the end. I kept telling her, “We’re going to see Mommy soon. Twenty more minutes.”
            The hike took me a total of two hours. I was shocked when I looked at the time, because the last time I’d hiked it I had taken only one hour. I arrived completely drenched in sweat, and needing to eat a massive amount of calories. When I calculate it, I suppose I was hiking up with about fifty more pounds than the last time I hiked it – ten around my waist, thirty on my daughter, and ten on the backpack, water, and gear. My right knee feels awful right now because of all the strain, and my legs are on fire.
            But the biggest shock came after I sat down. Michelle said, “Guess how much the gondola ticket cost me?”
            I’d figured it would be ten bucks, exactly twice of what it was going to cost me to ride down. “More than ten bucks?” I said with a grimace.
            Michelle smiled. I thought, “Uh oh.”
            “Fifteen?” I asked with my teeth gritted.
            Michelle shook her head.
            “Twenty?” I was still hopeful.
            “Forty-two!”
            “Oooh.” I felt like I was stabbed. So much for a simple outing with Celia. We suddenly had ourselves a previously unplanned expensive outing! I wonder if there’s a lesson in here somewhere? The view was awfully nice from the top, and we got to look a couple of grizzly bears behind a fence that I hadn’t known about, but we certainly hadn’t expected all the pain and cost. I always like to find life lessons out of things that turn out different than I expected.
            In this case, I'm not sure. What else sounds like a good idea, ends up costing a lot of money and being a big pain, but ends up with a great view and some unexpected grizzlies because of it?
            How about having a baby? Does that count?

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