After a breath-taking gondola ride up, I managed a few pictures during our three-hour trek down 4,241 foot Mount Killington in Vermont because I wanted to get something, anything, from this physically and emotionally painful experience. I keep trying to think of some kind of metaphoric meaning to this ill-conceived afternoon. I cannot. Can you? At this point, standing up is my personal challenge.
My pride and my ignorance led me to suggest my family hike down Vermont's second largest mountain and the highest point on the Appalachian Trail in Vermont. (Did not know those two facts until after the hike.) After grabbing lunch at the Peak Lodge, we trekked the Flume Trail to the top of the mountain.
Then, the boys waited behind while Greg and I began our descent down the E trail, which is described as an "easier" hike.
I figured: how hard could it be to stroll down a mountain? I regularly walk/jog five miles a day. I use the rowing machine and the elliptical at the gym. Then again, I am, as a Vermonter cousin told us on this family vacation, a "flatlander." I'm 51 and haven't hiked a mountain - up or down - in at least two decades. I have plenty of extra weight on me, too.
Our teen boys finished up a full hour before we did; they ran past us.
My husband waited and waited and waited for me as I whined and cried my way down. My tears and my sweat mixed together on my face. See him waiting? He never complained, never criticized, never mentioned the fact this outing had been my proposal.
I felt as if I were hiking in stiletto heels. Most of the hike felt as it if were at least at a 45 degree angle. By the time I realized I had bitten off a lot more mountain than I could chew, it was too late to climb back up all that fabulous steep "wildlands" of stones and tangled tree roots. Yes, there were some open fields a la Maria in the Sound of Music to hike down but most of our trek was through thick forest with steep trails covered with stones and roots and mud.
I began imagining how lovely it would be to call for emergency crews to carry me down in a stretcher. Or maybe I could climb up those ladders and into a ski lift or gondola?
I have a weak left knee so every time it landed on something other than flat ground, it hurt and I would cry out. When I told my husband I was afraid we would run into bears, he told me I had scared any bears away with my noisy hiking.
I tried to distract myself my singing songs, by praying (well, demanding: God let this hike be over already!) by trying to focus on the beauty around me, the vistas put in front of me because we had undertaken this journey.
We had taken the "E" trail down. The resort's brochure described it as 2.2 miles and "easier." The E reassured me at first: it must stand for EASY. Eventually, however, I became convinced that E is for EXCRUCIATING and there was a darned good reason we never encounteredd a hiker along this trail. And my fitbit clocked 5.5 miles of steps during this hike.
I consoled myself my telling myself I would never ever hike down Mount Killington again. At the base of the mountain I told Lucas, 14, that I saw no purpose whatsoever to this painful experience.
"Well Mom, " he said as he handed me another bottle of water. "You can write a blog post about it."