If you’ve read my musings for over a year, you may recall that Dave last year was the ‘weakest link’ on one hike in Costa Rica. The humidity and soaring temperatures in the rainforest created this weak- in-the knees person that I have never experienced before. On the first hike of our trip last week, I reclaimed my title as 2013’s weakest link. I will tell you the facts that led up to me winning the title.
We have loved the Rocky mountains all of our lives together. We have spent just about every year visiting for 37 years now. We have back- packed, car camped, camper camped and this year condo camped (that means at night we came back to a room with a bed a shower and WiFi). It is still kind of hard for me to admit that we didn’t sleep out near a small stream or cooked on the Coleman stove., but this year we flew to Denver, rented a car and got up to the mountains…fast!
The second day I wanted to go back to Maroon Bells, a mountain chain that we had spent time at when our kids were small. The access back then was a small curvy road making its way through the national forest to the Bells. This small campground was near Maroon Creek and located outside of Aspen. I loved the quiet, the out house bathrooms of the forest back then. It was so different from the wealthy town of Aspen where movie stars walk the streets. No one was even in the small campground with us. It was like our own personal mountain resort, and I loved it.
So last week we woke up early in Avon and make our way down south to Maroon Bells. My first shock was the traffic jam heading into the Bells. For about 5 miles we were sitting in bumper to bumper traffic. Finally, on the west side of Aspen we saw Maroon Creek Road. We head north on a two lane road, I expect it to be bumpy , it wasn’t. It was smooth as molasses and there were at least 4 cars ahead of us and 4 cars behind.
About 2 miles in to the left of us I gaze at this gorgeous-three -block long, log cabin. It was an immense structure. I knew it wasn’t a national forest head quarters, that’s for sure. It was this a 5 star resort with ski stores, bike stores, many restaurants and busses standing in wait in front of it. A sign told us that we needed to take a bus up for the mountain view. We were told, after purchasing of round trip tickets that cars were ruining the mountain flora, so now there is a shuttle system. We joined a happy bus load up to the mountain. I wasn’t really that happy. What happened to my pristine memory? It had aged, just…like…me.
We went up and then were told that we could take two hikes. One sounded like a granny hike, which I should have taken, because I am a granny and then the other hike went up to another lake for a different, closer view of the mountain. Dave, loving the mountain air and crisp temperatures started walking quickly to the ‘moderate’ hike. My husband really hates crowds and was really determined that we could maybe take the less traveled hike. Well, that wasn’t exactly the case…we passed many people coming down as we made the steady up climb. Many a teenaged hiker passed us on the left hysterically laughing at the ease of the hike. I even noticed one wearing flip-flops over the rocky terrain.
“I hope he falls…right on his face; it would serve him right,” I muttered to myself.
During the up of the hike, Dave moved steadily and would stop every so often to allow me to catch up a bit. He definitely didn’t wait for and I was glad that he was doing okay with the altitude change. I was not. I cannot breathe through my nose because of my deviated septum and knew I sounded like I was hyper-ventilating. One kind gentleman told us that we only had about ten minutes more…need I say it…the hardest ten minutes of the last year, were those ten minutes.
We finally got to the pristine lake littered with exhausted bodies around it. Dave, of course, has to get out from all the bodies, so we end up hiking about another thirty minutes to be alone. We relaxed, I started breathing right, ate some jerky and then started back. Dave has short legs, I have long. He is like a mountain goat on the down hill-side. He is sure-footed and very fast. My knees hurt and I don’t have a great center of gravity. In other words, I’m clumsy. It is not good to be clumsy on the down. The end is in sight. There are two paths near the end of the hike that fork….a lower by the lake and an upper looking down. We take the upper, because again….less people. The upper finally links to the lower by a small path which Dave takes.
It is less rocky, so smooth I decide to jog it. Big mistake. I feel my legs going faster than my upper body.
I skid, I say to myself….”I’m going down, literally down.”
I spy some grass, determined to land there instead of smack dab in front of the other hikers to the right of me on the other path.
I land on the grass okay, but after all, they don’t call it the ‘Rocky Mountains’ for no reason.
I fall, not face first, but chest first.
I do a back bend with my arms up, my legs up and my right chest down. I have never had the wind knocked out of me this way before.
Dave comes back.
I look at him and breathlessly say, “weakest link.”
“What hurts?” he inquires.
“Pride,” I think. I say, “I landed on Hermie (code for right boob).”
He didn’t say anything to that, but I know that he was thinking, now that’s some nice padding!
PS There were no more big hikes on our trip because I felt like I was run over by a truck. However, one week later I am breathing easy in the flat lands again…so I guess the moral of this story is don’t run down a steep path in order to catch up with a husband that always is going to be the fastest….or you too will become the ‘weakest link’.
PSS Next week a pic of the never changing Maroon Bells, I promise.