“You’re doing what?!” my mom screamed through the telephone.
“I am going backpacking on my own, with B-dawk in the Adirondacks,” I reiterated, pausing because I knew what was coming next out of her mouth, a list of all the different things that could possibly go wrong.
“How will you get around? Do you know what you are doing? What if something happens to you? Do you know the kind of people that are out there? And what they are willing to do to a pretty girl like you?”
Silently, I thought of each answer. Walking. Kinda. Well, I guess I’m screwed. Hippies and adrenaline junkies. And no, what are they willing to do?
“Mom, I’ll be fine. Stop worrying.” a half-assed attempt at reassuring her, obviously to no avail. She continued on her tangent of worried thoughts, explaining that she has lived longer, has more experiences to pull from, and that I wouldn’t know how she felt until I became a mom.
I love my mother, but after a certain amount of time listening to her ramblings, her voice transforms into the teacher from Charlie Brown, incoherent utterances of something resembling words. My mind just blocks everything out until I hear a question or statement in which I need to respond.
“Hello, you there?” She questioned.
“Ah, um, can you repeat that?” Shit, she caught me.
“When will you be back?” Repeating her initial question.
“I’ll be coming home Monday. If you haven’t heard from me by Monday night, then you have something to worry about.”
My mother wasn’t the only one who thought I was crazy for embarking on this trip. My co-workers and friends all tried to talk me out of going, stating some of the same reasons.
I just have to do it, I thought to myself. I have something to prove to myself and to everyone else who thinks I can’t or shouldn’t do it. But the reservations of the people around me started to eat at my confidence. What if something DID happen? Would I be able to handle it? Questions about basic survival skills bounced around in my brain. By the time Friday came around, my nerves were working overtime. I had tripled checked the route in which I was taking, shared my route with a few key friends and family members, maniacally reviewed my supplies repeatedly until I was sure I hadn’t forgot anything.
I left for the Adirondacks after work, on a Friday evening, the sun setting, an eerie start, almost like foreshadowing, to the adventure. It took six hours to get up to the Chapel Pond Parking lot, where my dog and I were going to spend the night in the car. When we got there, it was one o’clock in the morning and I had barely kept my eyes open the past two hours of the trip. My phone had lost service an hour ago, but luckily my GPS had continued to work despite the loss. I pulled out the blankets and cozied up in the back seat. My dog, who by habit sleeps next to me in my bed, had trouble trying to find a spot that was close enough to me. He struggled to find a comfortable position as I had trouble with nodding off to sleep.
In the morning, I was startled by the sound of French Canadian hikers, readying their caravan to start the day’s trail. Now was a good a time as ever to start, I thought to myself, despite having had an unsettling night of sleep due to the constricting nature of my car and the cold temperature. I readied my things, double, triple and quadruple checking I had all of my gear and supplies for the trek. I grabbed my dog, asked the friendly Canadians for a quick picture, and we were off on foot.
For the first quarter to half mile, I was surprised to find that I was scrambling up rocks, definitely huffing and puffing, quickly realizing I need to get in better backpacking shape. This realization did not help my nerves. “Am I going to be able to make it all the way?” I scrutinized every detail of my experiences hiking, my present athletic condition and my current mood, as I climbed. Out of breath, I staggered up to the first vista. The first vista point was a nice place to re-energize, take some pictures and reflect. BDawk and I were able to look down and see Chapel Pond, the parking lot and the starting point to the trail.
“This is actually happening, I am doing this all on my own,” I thought. Although, I would have preferred some company, I wanted to do this hike all by myself. I just had to prove to myself that I can do it.
I heard the French Canadians getting closer, so I decided to continue on. At this point, I let BDawk off the leash.
After the first overlook, we came to a lake serenely sitting among the backdrop of trees on the mountains in the distance. The reflections of the fallen trees and debris caught my eye. After taking some pictures, we crossed a man-made bridge and continued to scramble up more rocks.
Although I was wheezing for air, things were going smoothly. I felt confident about the day, and the trip thus far.
Then BDawk and I arrived at the second overlook point on the trail…..