Friday afternoon, Pam, my very best friend of FIFTY YEARS and I - yes, I said FIFTY - jumped in the car and headed up to New Hampshire to climb Mount Washington.
The below photo is us, half way up. You can see Mount Washington behind us.
She had climbed Mount Washington before. I, on the other hand, had run marathons and triathlons and even walked for 19 hours straight at a Relay For Life event - but NEVER had climbed such a high mountain. I mean - I've done my share of hiking but this is definitely in a category all it's own.
I got it in my brain earlier this summer that I wanted to do it when I saw Pam's daughter's pix from her trek up there earlier this summer. I was very interested in doing this. But alas, we never set a date and the idea kind of just dropped into a black hole.
Around the 3rd week of August, it dawned on me that if I didn't want to wait until next year, I needed to climb that sucker SOON! Mid to late Fall is NOT the time to climb a mountain that:
At 6,288 feet, is only one third the size of Mount McKinley, North America's highest peak. But Mount Washington sticks up like a big toe at a point where storms from the north, south and west collide. As a result, it has some of the most ferocious weather on earth, with snow and ice even in the summer.
Ummmm - had I been aware of that little fact or for that matter known how quickly weather can turn on a dime up there (above the tree line especially!), I'm pretty sure I would not have been the innocent, excited and determined little mountain climber that started out Saturday morning ready to take on the highest peak in the northeast!
At any rate - we briefly talked about Labor Day Sat. and everything slowly but surely fell into place.
Now - when you have been a "sister" for 50 years, you know each other pretty darn well. The problem with knowing someone that long is that you are at least FIFTY years old
But Thelma and Louise together for 6 hours in a car? Priceless!!!
It was a non-stop blab session, brain dump that made it a totally JOY filled ride. Seriously? Who else do I tell about my middle child's new under arm hair? Or that my baby girl is flat as a board and her best friend is NOT FLAT AS A BOARD anymore...oy!!!
The thing with "us" is, we move like a smoothly oiled machine. Let's take a ride and check out the base lodge. Let's eat dinner here. Yes - lets go there for breakfast. Let's get to the base by 7am. It just flows.
So, we set out shortly after 7am on Saturday and reached the tree line in about 2 hours with 3 to go.
This is a photo of the woods ending and the "above the tree line" hike beginning.
It was an exhilarating climb - exactly the kind of "workout" I love. Using my body, the heart is pounding for hours on end, I'm breathing reallllyyyy heavy the whole climb, very few breaks
The weather was amazing. We actually talked to someone who has climbed this mountain every Labor Day weekend for the last 10 years and had only had one other weather day this good. Really???? What the hell were the other 8 years like? Ummmmm - am I really thinking I will climb this again???
Anyway - the climb was uneventful but it was such a JOY to be doing it with my dearest friend at my side.
And then we started our descent. EEEKKKK! Who knew?
Let's just say that the JOY ballon was a bit deflated 5 hours later!
OMGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGG!!!!!! I mean - the first 2-3 descending hours were fine. Perfect. No problem. JOYFUL still.
It went down hill fast - NO PUN INTENDED!!!!!
Long story short? I STILL can barely walk because my quads (that would be the front of your thighs, for those not in the know) are soooooo sore. I can't even TOUCH them - and it's day 3 out from Saturday!!!!
(I have to say - alcohol helps...yea, seriously. Thanks Sandra, Mark, Glenn and Chumpy...)
But in retrospect - I was living in the moment, in a cocoon of JOY for almost that whole day. Would I have changed a few things? Yes. I would have trained my body a bit better for that descent - for ONE thing!!!! I would have planned a 2nd night after the climb rather than drive the 6 plus hours home.
But the JOY? It was worth every frustrated tear during that last 2 hours down.
Oh and did I mention the barbecue JOY we chowed down on the way home...
Yea - that big ole pig brought us some JOY!!!