Saturday, November 5, 2011

wing ridge

For whatever reason, the outings my husband picks end up with one of the following:

1. Terror (me)
2. Whining (me)
3. Out of water (both of us)
4. Heinous uphill climbs
5. Brief periods of being unsure of where we are.

But I go with him anyway for the following reasons:

1. He always picks something adventurous, a place I wouldn't go on my own
2. Since I married a village, I don't get to see him all that much with all his community obligations
3. He knows all the names of the plants
4. He puts up with my whining
5. I kind of like him.

Today was not really an exception. We would start out on the old stock driveway and head up towards Wing Ridge and come down somewhere (this said with a vagueness that should have alerted me to trouble).

It's the transition time that neither of us has a sport for. Too snowy to bike, a little too much snow for hiking, not enough snow for skiing. We headed uphill with a slippery mix of powder snow, rocks and grass under our feet. The old trail wound to a saddle with a breathtaking view of the wilderness.

I hiked here all summer but it looks completely different. September seems like a long time ago.

"Well, we could backtrack," J suggested, knowing that I hate to backtrack. "Or we could go up there and come down that ridge."

With a minor feeling of foreboding, I agreed. After all, I usually am a summit chaser, and from the distance, it didn't look too bad. We climbed and climbed through scattered trees and drifted snow. Evil-looking clouds poured up the valley below us, but the sun stayed firmly on the ridge.

The summit was wind-swept and remote. I could have stayed up there a long time, drinking it all in, but it was late afternoon and we were sandwiched in between two snow storms.

It was two thousand feet down, the terrain a dangerous mix of rolling rock and snow. I was the only one having a problem, but it was a big one.  My Sorels, chosen to keep my feet dry, slipped and slid. "I can't go down this way," I wailed.

"Okay, we can go back," J said. He never tries to make me do anything that I think is scary.

But then I heard myself. Ugh! A whiny princess. Hate her. "I think I can make it through these rocks," I said, tiptoeing over to a better line. It was marginally better. J went and found me a stick for balance and we sidestepped down the mountain. "You didn't whine THAT much," he said as we gained better ground.

The thing about me is this: I'm generally not all that fearful. But my husband is not afraid of gravity. I never used to be until a fall on green slime in Alaska stretched out my PCL and forever ended marathon dreams. I can still run less than double digits without it bothering me, and I can hike as much as I want. But I know: one fall can change your life.

So I kept going, one slow step at a time, envying my husband and the dogs their sure-footed grace. I got down the mountain, though, and that is all that counts. And to tell the truth, I like our crazy, let's-just-try-it adventures. I like that I finally found a man who will take me places that make me a little afraid. I like that he will go with me when I pick the outings. I like looking up at the mountain from the road and thinking: You know what? I was just up there.


  1. I want one of those too, please.

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  3. Wonderful: Photos, wilderness, descrption of hike, self and J. You put us Right There. Pretty good man there!

  4. I am pretty fearful but still go on hikes that make me wonder what I was thinking.


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