The first time was Heritage Point. It was not a super challenging hike but by the time we got back to the hotel, we were clearly hooked and stoked to find a new trail to conquer. The State Park Ranger, Ken, told us about another hike that takes to you a remote Patrol Cabin at the top of the mountain behind our hotel. “Very strenuous, very steep,” says Ken. We’re all in. Ken gave us a pretty stern warning. “It’s a tricky hike, not well traveled. Take your time. Be careful.”
Careful Shmareful. We were young and strong and good looking. We could climb Everest if we could afford a Sherpa. I had a cute matching outfit on that I bought especially for my honeymoon, matching socks and little white sneakers too. Tom was rocking a pair of cut offs. We were so ready.
The beginning of the hike takes you on a trail that parallels the BlueRiver. Beautiful swift water over the billions of grey-blue rocks. Cool, breezy, fragrant. We are loving this. Then we make a hard left and begin what I will call the “assent.” This stretch is not so beautiful. It’s a rugged, ugly, and neglected road bed. There is evidence that this was a popular place to leave your trash back in the 70’s. It is riddled with fresh mountain spring water. This is a romantic phrase for mud. My adorable sneakers are no longer white. My socks now match the car door from the brown Maverick abandoned beside the “trail.” But the promise of a Patrol Cabin at the top of a sunny mountain beckons us “come!” Make it to the top! Be a part of the mountain!
We continue upward. The sun comes out. We march even higher into the steaming humid mountain air. My honeymoon outfit is soaked with sweat. (Tom wasn’t supposed to see me sweat until after the first full year of marriage.) There are black flies the size of tator tots. There are swarms of gnats that have an unmistakable affinity for eyeballs. Mosquitoes pour out of the “mountain springs.”
Did Tom and Amy bring any water for the trip? A map? Bug spray? Sunglasses? A cell phone? A camera? No way, we are two crazy kids punch drunk with love…in the 80s! We don’t need no stinking bug spray!
A few clouds form and block the sun. We notice the sudden drop in temperature. It must be only 117 degrees now. There’s a bit of wind too. We hike ever onward. The Patrol Cabin awaits. It’s windier now and getting dark. My mascara has made it down to my chin. I’m sore, thirsty and miserable. Tom is swatting flies like a 5 year old with a piñata but staying ever positive. We can make it!
But we don’t.
Ranger Ken was right. A few items in a backpack would have eased the journey. A map would have told us that we had only a short walk ahead of us that leveled off to meadow at the base of the Patrol Cabin. But only years of experience reveal this kind of wisdom. Marriage is a long hot journey. But there is a map. There are perils, irritations, and trash piles. Prepare well. Don’t quit too soon. Keep climbing. You want to finish at the top.