How NOT to Hike Blackhead Mountain

4:13 a.m.: get up and pick your way to the bathroom stepping on or over at least 3 dogs. Take the maximum allowable dose of antacids for the GERD flareup you are experiencing. Pray that you’re having a GERD flare-up because if you swallowed a blowtorch and can’t remember doing so, you’ll need some Alzheimer’s medications too.

6:07 a.m.: get out of bed and get dressed to take the dogs out. Note that the thermometer reads negative 6 degrees. Select a jacket for the walk but don’t bother with mittens or a hat.

8:05 a.m.: Answer the phone. It’s your hiking buddy. Discuss plans for the day. Get directions to his house. Confirm that it’s over the hairiest mountain pass in the entire local area. Shrug that news off. Determine that you need to leave at 9:30 a.m.   9:00 a.m. Discover small yellow puddle on the bedroom floor. Decide it isn’t relevant to today’s events and try to ignore it. Get dressed.

9:05 a.m. Discover second small yellow puddle on kitchen floor. Allow reality to sink in: Iske (the 13 year old dog with post-spay incontinence issues) is leaking again.

9:15 a.m. Take all 5 dogs out, ostensibly to empty them so that they are comfortable in your absence (re: the 2 that are staying behind) or comfortable in your truck (re: the 3 that are hiking with you). None relieve themselves.   Decide to take the exterior door out of the bed of the truck as it is obstructing visibility, and it’s heavy and will impact gas mileage on the hour plus ride to the trailhead. Driveway is covered in inches-thick ice. Carefully flop the door you discover you are unable to lift out of the bed of the truck. Start dragging door across driveway. Fall over backwards, slowly. Protect the window in the door from breaking by allowing the door to bash your knee. Yelp loudly. Comfort the terrified dogs from under the door as you wiggle out sideways. Confirm that the stuff right next to your face is indeed frozen dog poop. Don’t look in the mirror for fear of discovering additional dog poop in your hair. Begin fantasizing about the beer you’re going to drink at the end of this day.

9:20 a.m. Begin loading the truck with backpack, snowshoes, dog coats, wallet. Start making tea to bring. Start making a snack to eat before leaving. Limp a little because of your swollen and throbbing knee.

9:25 a.m.: Answer the phone. It’s your hiking buddy. There’s a fire in Stamford. He might be called for mutual aid. He says “Hang tight for ten minutes.”

9:28 a.m.: Phone rings. It’s your hiking buddy. He says the Stamford chief has got it under control and there won’t be a mutual aid call. He says, “Come quick before he changes his mind.”

9:30 a.m.: Attempt to start your truck. Be defeated by a dead battery. Run back inside and call your friend, letting him know that you will now be late. Hobble on your painful and grapefruit-sized knee.

9:33 a.m.: Assess your options from the icy driveway. The car is stuck behind a mountain of frozen snow and ice. The truck has a dead battery. You have a battery charger. The extension cord is stuck under several inches of ice and snow. Run upstairs and plug the extension cord in. Run downstairs and start GENTLY freeing it from the snow and ice.

9:35 a.m.: Admit defeat, as the ice is too thick, and you can’t break the cord free. Feed the cord through the ice and throw it over to the truck. Attempt to carry the battery charger to the truck. Discover that it weighs about 75 pounds and that you can hardly lift it, much less carry it through 3 foot deep snow drifts to get to the front of the truck. Carry it through the expletive deleted snowdrifts and lift it onto the truck’s engine block, cursing loudly. Connect it, without setting your hair on fire. Chastise yourself for considering cracking open that beer right about now.

9:36 a.m.: Turn the truck on.

9:40 a.m.: Load the dogs, give the dogs that are not coming on this adventure bones to chew, and stoke the fire.

9:47 a.m.: Commence the 13 point turn on a sheet of inches-thick ice necessary to get out of the driveway and begin the journey.

9:51: Drive away…

10:30: Arrive at hiker buddy’s house. Switch vehicles and drive to the trail head.

11:07: Miss the turn for the correct road to get to the trail head.

11:30: Somehow arrive safely at the trailhead, and hike the peak. Acknowledge that despite gaining several hundred feet of elevation in single digit temperatures on a bum knee while managing 3 dogs including an unruly 88 pound puppy’s first hike… that this is by far the easiest part of your day.

3:02 p.m.: Arrive back at the car. Hiker friend tells you about the weather forecast: “You know we really lucked out with the weather.” “Oh yeah?” you reply. “Yeah, 4-5 inches of snow per hour were forecast.” “WHAT?!?! !!! That’s crazy.” “Yeah but it’s only supposed to snow like that for 20 minutes or so.” “Oh.” You attempt to do the math and give up, thanking your lucky stars that you missed that squall.

3:12 p.m.: get in the car and decide that the sensation in your thumbs and forefingers is truly pathological and must be real honest to goodness frostnip. Congratulate yourself on getting something you’ve never experienced before. Whine softly from the agonizing pain.

4:30 pm: You pull into your friend’s driveway in the midst of the squall he described at 3:02 pm. Drive home over the aforementioned mountain pass in a total whiteout.

5:13 p.m.: Empty the car, rebuild the fire, mop the dog urine off the floor, listen to the answering machine messages and pour that beer.

5:14 p.m.: High five your dogs and drink your beer. Great day.

This entry was posted in Catskilliana, Hiking, writer's life and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to How NOT to Hike Blackhead Mountain

  1. Helene Weissman says:

    HHHHHAAAAaaaa Nice day for sure!

  2. Fond memories of the the pup’s first hike.

    • halia466 says:

      Yes indeed. Thank you so much for reading and commenting. And a truly heartfelt thank you to you for all you share on the 3500 Club’s yahoo group. Your insights are invaluable.

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