The air was humid. The sky was the kind of cloudy that signifies a passing or looming storm. The gray, heaviness of the hour didn’t appear to declare immediate action. It’s the mountains. There is a saying that goes, “If you don’t like the weather, give it 5 minutes.”
The grayness didn’t seem to be getting worse or have an immediate change, so we continued with the mid-afternoon hike. I guess I just knew, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that something was off. My older sister had given me some tips and things to consider when hiking that I had been applying in the last few hikes I had been on. I went through a mental checklist of everything I had (I always do a gear checklist before hitting any trail – short or long) while we walked and I came to the conclusion again that I had everything.
Late winter and early spring in the Adirondacks brings little evil creatures that swarm around you, attacking your sanity. Yes, I am referring to the black flies species. No matter what hike it is, especially in the Adirondacks, these little guys sure know the measures to take in annoying humanity. Quite soon you will forget your dignity and the limbs that God gave you become your shield of strength against these evil creatures. As you flail your arms in all directions, with hopes of rerouting their landing, you begin to contemplate why you started this adventure in the first place.
That was the mindset of my hiking companion: younger sister. She provided unintended humor as she admonished the little, evil creatures. At different points, she became determined to finish the hike and push through the heavy swarms of flies. As we ascended higher, either they truly went away or I began to notice them less.
My mind had still been on the itching feeling that something wasn’t right. I wasn’t sure if it was fear or if it was a true nagging feeling. About 15 minutes into the hike and we heard a distance clap of thunder. Every now and again we would hear another clap. I counted it to be further away each time.
This particular hike we were on was not any intense hike by any means. The first mile or so is quite flat and mostly muddy. There is a lake that the trail is known for that will be passed on the trek toward the cliff portion of the hike. My sister and I had never seen this lake and we were doing good on time, so off to the lake we went. We discovered a little campsite area where it appeared to have been occupied earlier that day and probably the whole weekend since it was Sunday.
We edged as close as we could to the lake between overgrowth and trees. I imagined on a sunny, blue sky day it would be a beautiful sight to see. On this day, it was still glorious with its natural sounds and untamed beauty. The sky was cloudy and gray. There was a heaviness to the air. The bugs were to still swarming, but taking in all of the beautiful nature around me distracted from the flies. I knew deep down that the clouds were distinct signs of a storm. I didn’t want to turn back, but I didn’t know what lay ahead either. We both agreed to continue on. Soon after, we hit the start of a .8 mile ascent to the top.
For me, I had been powering through the first mile to see how quickly we could get this done. My goal for the remainder of the hike was to do the same. I love taking in the sights and enjoying the beauty of nature, but I also like to push myself and test my physical self against the elements.
I guess that is something I have been thinking about. Do I prefer the competition or the view? I like putting myself in situations that require all physical efforts of me, yet I also know that I need to take the time to enjoy what I am seeing as I go along. I like the concept of completion. To know that I finished something or achieved something is where I tend to find the satisfaction. That is why I have learned to be careful of what I decide to finish or achieve because I want to enjoy the satisfaction of the job done, but I don’t want to wish I had spent more time on certain things. I have learned from previous circumstances how to balance the speed and quality.
My sister was feeling a little winded. My preliminary thoughts were that her fatigue was coming from feeling frustrated by the bugs and because I was pushing us at a hard pace.
I will continue this story in another post… this one is too long as it is 🙂