How to Not Die When Hiking


foodcomaYou know when you wake up before your stomach isn’t fully done digesting the entire box of macaroons junk food you ruthlessly shoved down your gullet the night before? You feel like a mix of the Michelin Man and seven-year-old you the morning after Halloween — that’s me any morning I wake up before ten.

Yesterday, as a means to rid myself of this feeling, and the entire container of almond and dark chocolate chip cookies I heroically consumed in a day’s time, (without having t0 resort to a suppository), I did a brave thing: I went on a hike. Normally, throw some coffee in my volcano stomach and bing, eruption results (As my mom would say, in the middle of the checkout line at the grocery store, “aww Al, I gotta go poops,” because she’s apparently a five-year-old boy) but my innards are vindictive — they hold my feasts against me. (FINE, I guess I did also eat the entire container of macaroons but Matti had some too…. okay, okay, he only had two.)

new yorker

Aww, New Yorker, you’re so clever!

I felt excited about the idea of going on a hike, I felt like Caesar Milan would really appreciate my pack-leader sensibility and the last time Matti and I went on this trail it barely felt like exercise (except for maybe at the end when I was huddled over a sharp rock holding back vomit). But hiking has a way of hiding its misery better than other forms of exercise like say, running on a treadmill; I feel like the same people that invented hamster wheels also invented treadmills. I did used to run on them when I worked as a swim instructor at Boston Sports Club, but that was because the gym membership was free, and you know what, hiking in the woods is always free! (Unless it costs money!)

My experience hiking can be summed up by my choice of foot wear: my powder blue Chuck Taylor’s from 7th grade that are a mysterious size 6 yet still fit. (Because my aim is to look like a hiker who doesn’t give a fuck.) Fast forward an hour to me attempting to sprint in an empty riverbed, dodging rocks and baby plants as Tengo chases me, then crookedly stepping on a stone and almost breaking myself due to the Chuck’s lack of ankle support — I imagine I looked like one of those models on the runway with toothpick legs and 20 inch heels that looses her balance and looks like a baby deer trying to get up and walk for the first time — ugh, so painfully delightful to watch.

Halfway down the trail is when I realized, however, this could be where I die. I clearly had not thought out this whole hiking thing: I never go anywhere by myself I could likely be killed. Don’t get me wrong, Tengo’s a good protector, but he takes after me — throw him something edible and he’s all are you my mommy now? I mean, I get scared just lying in my own bed at night, fearing tiny dangerous people will pop out of the AC unit, so how did I not properly anticipate the danger before positioning myself as serial killer bait deep, deep in the wooded trail behind my apartment. Matti even texted me “Be safe!” (More about my irrational fear of serial killers).

This is not me but it is the best depiction of the type of area I would've been killed in.

This is not me but it is the best depiction of the type of area I would’ve been killed in.

There was also the fact that I had some misplaced confidence from the first half of the hike, which was the going down part. I used all my energy prancing and maneuvering around wooded obstacles that I forgot I wasn’t sixteen and in shape. You would’ve thought I was trying to invent my own brand of woodland Parkour (key word: trying). Looking around, I thought, yeah well, this would be an awfully good place to murder someone: a skinny trail leading to an empty riverbed in the middle of the woods to which I have no alternative way to get out besides the mountainous way I came. But that’s when I realized, Aly, you’re way to ordinary to get killed by a lurking serial killer in the woods behind your apartment — this is the logic that usually helps me to calm down in unfoundedly fearful situations. Also, if you predict something awful is going to happen, it’s less likely to occur, because then we’d all be psychic — it’s just science.

Matti and I on the same trail a few weeks ago, notice my side forehead sweat

Matti and I on the same trail a few weeks ago, notice my side forehead sweat

So Tengo and I ventured back up where we came from, and needless to say, we didn’t get murdered, which leads me to believe my previous assertion about tragedies is correct. Also, I believe I sweat out all of the leftover cookie fat from the previous nights, because that’s possible. I wish I had pictures to show you of my cranberry sauce colored face on the way up but I was too fearful that showing I was distracted by taking a picture would entice the hiding killer.

I did learn some lessons from my hike: Don’t assume you will want or be able to carry anything on your way back from the hike. Yes, this includes water. Get a damn fanny pack or some shit. Better yet, strap it to your dog’s back — he’ll appreciate the workout (I say he because all dogs are boys). There’s always going to be something that looks like a snake hole that you must jump over. Don’t waste your energy on the way down, you idiot. And finally, find an alternate route of evacuation incase of serial killers. Happy hiking!

What have you done lately that scared you?
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4 responses to “How to Not Die When Hiking

  1. I feel your pain, I really do. This reminds me of a time when I was in Townsville, Australia, and after woofing down a McDonalds with my friend, decided it was a good idea to climb Castle Hill, a massive rock in the centre of the town (because there’s really nothing else to do in Townsville). Lets just say, my friend wasn’t impressed when we both ended up wheezing, and holding our sides, due to the stitches that an earlier Big Mac meal had given us, and yet we were still determined to keep going. Amazing views once at the top, although we were on the verge of collapsing from exhaustion by the time we got there. Good times.

    • Man, do I want a Big Mac now. This definitely sounds like something I would do though, completely disregarding my own level of in-shape-ness out of boredom and then almost dying. Perfect.

  2. Your post is maddeningly wonderful and hilarious. My sister and I had it out before I went to visit her in California this summer. The fight? No hiking! I cried when I reached the top of her “small” mountain hike. I love the idea of it. It’s gorgeous. And, when I come back as someone who can walk on a flat surface without falling, I will gladly hike away.

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