Aug 17, 2011

Hiking Alone.

I can not believe that I have not yet told you about my hike last Saturday. Remember Alander Mountain? Remember me hiking it alone? Yes, all by myself :) Well it finally happened. I set out to accomplish it a few times and glitches kept happening so this time I was determined. I had spent the day before I went reading all sorts of things about this hike. Alander Mountain is not very straightforward there are several trails to the top. Some are marked well and some are not. Some are easy and some are not. I read ever so carefully every opinion I could find. That is how I do everything in my life I gather and gather and gather information and then I sort through it all and then....maybe, then I decide :) As with everything in my life I wanted to go one way but was afraid because the way was not as clear to me as I wanted it to I chose the easy well marked way.

All of my family had things going on all Saturday morning so the earliest I could leave was 1:45. I arrived at the hike at 3:00 pm. I grabbed my backpack which I had very thoughtfully and carefully filled with my awesome flashlight which could definitely substitute as a weapon :), lifesavers, some pages with information and directions, a few cliff bars, water, a jacket, my clipboard with paper, a pen, some chex mix, okay, and I will sheepishly admit that some of my seminary papers may have been in the backpack too :) I wondered as I was packing if you pack differently if you know you are hiking alone but I did not think about it too hard.

They had a spot to sign in for the hike so I signed my name and paused as I wrote the number one in the square where they asked how many were in my one a party? Well I was sure going to find out. I headed out with confidence but true to my nature I asked the first group of people I came upon all sorts of questions...... a little validation and reassurance fix :)

For the most part I was the only one on the trail. I thought about all the different people that were on the mountain all hiking to the same goal I was but all from different starting points and on different trails that they had deemed the best way to the top. My hike seemed strangely like life. We all have a common end goal (hopefully a view :), we meet different people along the way, we ask them about what they have seen or learned on their way, or we ignore them, we may just smile at them, or we may attempt to seriously connect with them, no matter how many people are around us we really are alone, we all reach the top at different times, some of us like to go off of the trail for awhile some of us don't, some of us are prepared, some of us aren't, we all notice different things as we are walking along. Yeah, the list could most definitely go on :) So much symbolism I can hardly bear it :)

I discovered things I never knew before since I usually hike with huge groups. I learned that even full water bottles make a sloshing sound when you walk. I listened to birds. I admit I said a few Snow White type words to some little brown scurrying mice but they paid me no attention and did not seem to know anything about a prince. The hike was well shaded most of the way and the trail was wide and very well marked with blue blazes and some signs. I passed a primitive campground and also a primitive cabin as I neared the top. I stopped at the cabin and read all the things people had written on it and wondered very briefly about the pair of personal effects someone had nailed on the outside.

As I headed up the last very steep part a group was coming down and they warned me about three rattle snakes up ahead sitting on the trail. Strangely it did not bother me and I never did end up seeing them. When I got to the top at 4:18 pm I felt very empowered. I admired the amazing view from every spot I could. I sat and ate some of my food. I did some writing on my trusty clipboard which has now been to the beach and the top of a mountain. I stayed on the top until 5:30 pm and then I decided it was time to head down because of the impending nightfall. Hiking alone in the dark did not appeal to me in anyway......okay, it scared me. I lingered as long as I dared and then slowly headed down.

On the way down I thought about getting to the top and expectations and how I felt. On the way down I met people who asked me questions just like I had asked questions of the people coming down earlier. We always want to know from someone who has already been don't we?

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