Silver Lining: worst.hike.ever.

June 3, 2015


It didn't start out as the worst Memorial Day ever. In fact, it started out as a pretty darn good one.

We were staying with my little siblings for the long weekend. We woke up late (even baby Claire got the message and slept in for an hour!), we made delicious pancakes for breakfast, we lounged around. And then we had this idea to go to Tibble Fork Reservoir. It was a beautiful day. We could lay around and wade in the water. Maybe do a little walk around the perimeter of the lake.

"Shouldn't we bring water bottles and granola bars and stuff?" asked Emma, my little sister and the Future Best Mother of America.

"Psh. We're not going to need them," I said. "We're not hiking. I'm not even bringing my hiking boots, just my regular tennis shoes."

In the end, we drove to the reservoir with six water bottles and three granola bars, because Emma really is the Future Best Mother of America, and because I've been trying to do this thing lately called Act Like An Adult: Figure Out Stuff Adults Do and Do It. It seemed like an adultish thing to have water bottles and granola bars on hand, just in case.

It was a beautiful morning. The sun was shining as we meandered around the edge of the lake. Claire was dutifully smiling at anyone who walked past. The grass was as green as the algae-infested smelly reservoir.
 "The pathway goes up here," my brother Covey said. "Just up a bit and around, and then back down to finish walking around the lake."

And that right there was our mistake.

You see, Covey is used to hiking a lot. He's also used to hiking without a baby who has a very firm 2:00pm nap time OR ELSE. He's also used to hiking without one certain family member, who shall remain nameless on this blog, who HATES hiking. Like, if we were all stuck in a freezing cold abandoned cabin in Antarctica, this certain family member could keep us warm all night just with his burning hatred of hiking.

The trail jagged uphill, and our joking banter became interspersed with a few other comments. It's really getting steep here. Looks like some clouds are coming in. Wish I had a walking stick. Wish I brought the right kind of shoes. I think Claire's getting a little bit fussy.
^^See how happy she was at the beginning of the hike?

And then the trail got muddy. At first it was just enough mud to coat the bottom of our tennis shoes. And then it was just enough to cover the sides of our shoes and make them heavy. And then it was just enough to make your foot sink in and throw you off-balance every step. And then it got to the point where each step was a heart-stopping leap of faith, as you land in the muck and frantically grab onto branches so you don't plummet off the hill to your death.

And that was almost every step. FOR THREE AND A HALF HOURS.

The thing about hiking is that when you're in the middle of a trail, and you realize it's not "just up a bit and around," you can't exactly give up. There is no exit strategy for the middle of a hike. You're never sure when you've hit the halfway mark; whether it's faster to stick it out and finish the trail, or whether it's faster to turn around and go back down. But surely the rest of the trail can't be as muddy as the first half, right? So it's probably better to just keep going, right? (The second half was, in fact, just as muddy as the first half.)

And so it went. The trail got steeper. The clouds got thicker. It got, impossibly enough, even more muddy. It rained a little. 2:00 came and went with no nap. Claire got suspiciously quiet, like when all the birds stop chirping right before a tornado. All our obnoxious choruses of, "Climbbbb every mountainnnnnn!" died down, and then turned into complaints.

And then Claire started crying, and that's when we lost it.

"WAHHHHHHH!" said the baby.
"JUST LEAVE ME HERE TO DIE!" shouted that one certain sibling. "I HATE EVERYTHING!"
"We're almost there!" said Covey.
"Surely we brought a pacificer, Sam??? Check the bag one more time. We just have to have a pacifier!" I said.
"There's no pacifier, okay? We'll just have to keep going!" said Sam.
"WAHHHHHHH!" said the baby.
"And.... it officially just started to rain," said Emma.
"I'm hungry," said Jason. "Can I have another granola bar?"
"NO! We have to ration our food! Who knows if we'll ever make it down alive!"
"My shoe is officially stuck in the mud. Great. Those were new shoes."
"Can't we just call life flight and have them get us out of here?"
"No way. Don't be wimps. We're almost there."

And that was our family, basically every step of the way, for the entire three and a half hours that we were on that blasted mountain. After a while of listening to the baby screaming, you start to question everything about your life. What even is the point of this mountain? What's the point of anything? Does anything matter in this life? What am I doing here? Will I die up here?!?

Occasionally we would see other families on the trail. They'd all have on matching camelback water packs, no fussy babies, and cute little walking sticks. It was basically the cover of the REI catalog floating past us. I swear they didn't even have mud on their (perfectly appropriate for hiking) shoes. They had all these smiles on that said, "Isn't it fun to commune with nature?"

And then I'd look at us, sweaty and sticky and with scratches on our arms and legs from the branches. And I'd just start laughing. No, perfect hiking family. No. It's not always fun to commune with nature. Now get me off this mountain!!!

Basically the only thing that boosted morale (read: stopped everyone from killing Covey for taking us on this hike) was my fitness tracker. "Hey guys, I've already done all my steps for the day! Wahoo!"

And then, later on, "Another 10,000 steps! Wahoo! Go us!"

And then, later, "Wow, yet another 10,000 steps.... Wahoo?"

But in all seriousness, I got this Jawbone UP MOVE fitness tracker for a blog collaboration, and honestly, I've really loved it. I wear the thing every single day (can you see it in this set of pictures? I forgot to take it off until the middle of the shoot) and I'm kind of obsessed with checking how many steps I've taken. I live for the little celebratory light show it displays when I reach my goal for steps taken and hours of sleep each night.

Finally, death threat by death threat, muddy slosh by muddy slosh, we finally made it down alive!

The final tally when we reached our cars: one baby who had screamed herself hoarse, eight pairs of shoes that never fully recovered (even after extensive scrubbing and washing), three eagerly devoured granola bars, a little bit of blood, a moderate amount of sweat, an excessive amount of tears, and one bouquet of wildflowers made by poor Ellie, who was probably wondering what sort of wimpy family she had married into.

The sad thing was it really was a beautiful hike, as you can see by the pictures. I'm actually really glad Covey took us on it (and he carried the baby the whole time - bonus!). Unfortunately, I don't have any pictures of the most beautiful parts of the hike, because... Maslow's hierarchy. Ain't nobody worried about documenting the views when you're worried you'll die a muddy death. Although actually, I really wish we had been more prepared, because then this would have been the best hike we'd been on in a long while!

See how pretty it is?
 ^^Avoid the mud! Avoid the mud!

Moral of the story: Don't go on hikes without knowing what you're getting into! But if you have to go on a beautiful hike on Memorial Day, bring along a motivating fitness tracker, and at the very least, a pacifier for your baby.

Thank you to Collectively and Jawbone UP MOVE for sponsoring this post.

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