The Assault on Mt. Britton

(This post will make more sense if you read it’s predecessor, “Getting to Wednesdays Hike.”)

Having established Judi was right about the trail’s beginning, we discuss the profundity of her rightness and my wrongness excessively, in my opinion. We decide it is time to hike. I must pause at this point to explain some of Judi’s research, upon which we based our preparation. Judi reads reviews by previous travelers and gains valuable insight to keep us out of trouble. Notable on this trail are two important “facts.” First: the trail is extremely steep and strenuous requiring you to scramble over rocks. Second: the trail is “more slippery than ice” because of the mud, wetness, and rain-forest foliage. These are serious consideration for two middle-aged hikers. OK. We would have to live to well over a hundred to be middle-aged, but it could happen.

In light of our knowledge, (of the treacherousness of the trail, not of the whole “Judi knows best” thing), we gear up for the assault. Gearing up includes a rain coat for each of us (worn, not carried), hats, hiking shoes, vinyl ziplock pouches for our phones (one each), snacks, my 40-ounce water bottle, a camera with three lenses (who knows what you will see), binoculars, two pocket knives (necessary gear for any environment). My backpack is stuffed with much of the above-mentioned gear and a number of other essentials (e.g., pens, paper, cleaning supplies for eye glasses and camera lenses, first aid kit, etc.). Feeling satisfied that we are equipped for any eventuality we may encounter, I hoist the 85-pound pack of essentials onto my back and realize my raincoat will no longer fit. The pack comes off, the coat goes on, the pack goes back on, and we are ready.

I am shocked to discover the path is paved, strangely, but paved. The path is approximately 18-inches wide and is loaded with little pebbles sticking up and an occasional large stone surfacing, creating great traction in any weather, except icy weather. The reviewer above stating the trail is more slippery than ice must live in a warm climate where they never needed to walk on ice.

Two people walking abreast on 18 inches of stone pavement while carrying a weeks supply on their back must have excellent balance to stay on the path, which, of course, we do. However, the path is also shared with all the people who parked their cars the first time they were told and are now on their way back down. They are clearly unprepared for the hike, (no doubt they did not check the reviews of previous hikers), as most have nothing more than the clothes they are wearing. A few have umbrellas. Ha! Everyone knows that umbrellas don’t belong on a hike. I see only one other backpack, if it can be called that; a prissy little thing probably sold next to the man-purses. If a hurricane hits now I will be the king of the mountain.

Because we pity the poor unprepared souls, we step off the path to let them pass. Stepping off the path involves finding a safe place in the mud to carefully place your foot so you don’t fall (the stuff is slicker than ice). Once they have passed us we step back onto the trail. This procedure is repeated every 18 steps. It was wise of us to drive around awhile before the hike so we weren’t going the same direction as all those tourists. We encounter very few moving in our direction. There is one European family going our way. The mom is wearing sandals, the dad has on boat shoes, and they blow by us like we are in a school zone and they are on the Auto Bahn. Yes, we had to step off in the mud for them as well.

It’s not long before Judi is bright red and in danger of collapsing a lung. The reviewer claiming the path is very steep did not lie. We press on…she’s insured. I see Judi take her jacket off and tie it around her waist. I say nothing. I understand why; it’s not just a rain forest, it’s tropical. My raincoat reminds me of the plastic suits I used to wear to lose weight for wrestling. An eighth of a mile into the trip I am certain I’ve lost two pounds of water weight. Judi sees me sweating and suggests I take mine off and tie it around my waist. No way! The whole coat-around-the-waist thing has to be the dumbest fashion idea ever. No, I’ll just keep my jacket and 85-pound pack on as we hike through the tropics – now that is the cool look. A few hundred more feet of elevation and Judi is distressed at my imitation of a raison. She insists I take off my jacket, so I do (remembering the parking situation). I complain I have no place to store my jacket so she tells me to tie it around my waist. Do you ever stop to consider the silly things we do to keep a spouse happy? I tie it around my waist. Looking like a couple of dweeb tourists we press on. In less than five minutes my thighs and knees are under attack by a knotted jacker. It doesn’t want to be around my waist any more than I want it there. I’m staggering, Judi is laughing and we both agree that possessing a butt, complete with hips would help me greatly. However, that is the one thing I did not put into the backpack.

to be continued…

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