Monday, April 25, 2011

There and Back Again: A Norwegian's Tale

This weekend, Spousal Unit and I decided to climb Hermit's Peak and throw the ring into the fiery pit of the volcano at the summit. Er, wrong story. Let's try this again.

We've been meaning to climb it together since we've been out here. Spousal Unit made it to the top with a friend before I moved out here, and we tried it once about a year ago with no success - a thunderstorm made us abandon our efforts, lest we get crispified by a lightning bolt.

Our second attempt did not start off very well. For one thing, I was not terribly happy in the morning.

Yeah, like that. Spousal Unit wanted brie and a baguette to munch at the top, and I would have none of it. We had a bottle of wine and regular cheese would do just fine. But according to Spousal Unit, "If it's not brie, it's not cheese."

Considering where we live, he may be right.

Things seemed to look up for us when we ran into The Donkey.

He was a very friendly donkey, who told us his owners hadn't been giving us enough hay. "Yes," he said, "I'd love to go with you to Bremen and become a fine musician. We'll make an excellent team."

Sorry, wrong story again. All he really said was, "Watch out for that bird!"

I should have heeded him. Not long after we said goodbye to The Donkey, a beautiful greyish-brown and white bird with a couple of red markings ran out into the road. In front of my car. And just stood there.

Next thing I knew, I was pulled over bemoaning the fate of the bird, crying, "I'm a bird killer! I killed a bird!"

I made it through seven years in Wisconsin behind the wheel of a car, without hitting a deer, without hitting a fox, without running over anything beautiful at all. Then I moved out here, where you're lucky to encounter anything non-human (seriously, there aren't even any squirrels in town), and the bird chose my car for his kamikaze episode.

Spousal Unit tried to comfort me, saying, "Think of it as a serial killer bird who just finished off his wife and kids."

Right. That helps.

At that point, I really wanted to turn around, go home, and cry over a glass of that wine while watching X-Files or something equally realistic. But we pressed on.

After taking a left instead of a right and doubling back to take the right instead of the left (which we always do when we go to the peak), we arrived.

Okay, we were a little closer than this when we actually arrived.

By this point I'd managed to put on a happier face, or at least a stupider one.

We are terribly attractive people. Spousal Unit is looking at squirrels playing in a nearby tree. Lucky for them, I was no longer driving.

We began hiking the trail, Spousal Unit carrying the backpack of wine and munchies because he's been working out, while I've been sitting on my butt as a lazy writer does.

The trail was all kinds of pretty.

The trail was really steep at times, and the rocks often made it difficult to find purchase for our feet. I bruised the arch of my foot somehow. The top of the arch.

But we pressed on, managing to keep in pretty good humor. It helped to encounter some really weird stuff along the way. Like this random hat hanging in a tree.

It was shortly followed by a sweater lying over a fallen limb. I was very glad the trail of clothing didn't continue - I had no desire to find someone's underwear or skin dangling from a tree. Talk about awkward.

Sometimes it was hard to tell exactly how to follow the trail, or which branch of it to take.

I'm on one part of the trail, taking the picture. Spousal Unit is on the other part. Silly tree, getting in our way.

After several grueling hours and encountering other nice people/dogs on the trail, we finally made it to the top. It was totally worth it.

It hasn't rained or precipitated in any way out here since February, but of course it happened that there was cloud cover for the first day in weeks, or we would have had a much better view. It was still a really great view; I'm not complaining, just appreciating the irony.

We were very glad for our bottle of wine when we stopped at the top. It was very delicious - a wedding gift, along with the picnic backpack Spousal Unit carried, from my bosses. Yay awesome bosses! We didn't stay at the top too long, though - the breeze was absolutely frigid.

Going back down again only took about an hour, as opposed to the three getting up there. I managed to not kill anything on the way back, in case you were wondering. Other than my feet, but that was unavoidable. And we were tired when we reached the bottom, but still in fairly good humor.

When we reached home, it was a different story. I was totally zombified.A nice hot bath with lots of bubbles helped.

I'd definitely climb Hermit's Peak, or another mountain, again sometime. But I still think that one guy (you know the one) who wrote "Climb Every Mountain" in The Sound of Music never climbed even one.

I don't need to add another to my list quite yet.

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