Thursday, September 5, 2013

Kate Miller 40: The First Hike

How could they forget the camera?! What if this was Kate's only opportunity for mountain pictures? 

40. The First Hike (July, 2013)
            It took some serious effort, but Kate managed to tie her own shoes. Mister had been decisive. They were going hiking. They were going somewhere new. And they were going today. This was what Kate had wanted—one of her main goals for their stay in Alaska! Why then, was she feeling so nervous about it? Perhaps it was the fact that standing up from a sitting position often caused severe pain. Perhaps it was the awkwardness of general movement—displayed all too obviously by her difficulty getting her hiking shoes on. Perhaps it was the suspicion that she would desperately have to use the bathroom five minutes after they passed the last outhouse. (As it turned out, she did—which made tying her shoes look as easy as spitting.) But she shoved her fears aside and strode (waddled?) out to the car. After all, this is what she had wanted!
            The drive out to the trailhead was uneventful, and it turned out that they had many options for trails. It was a whole connected system of trails between several different mountains. Some skirted the sides, some plunged into the valleys and followed the river, and others climbed to the peaks. Too bad it was difficult to tell which were which… They decided to just start up and see what the trails looked like as they came to them.
            “We should get out the camera!” Kate said, eager to document this new hike.
            “I don’t think we have it.” Mister replied.
            Kate stopped and stared at him. “How can we not have the camera?” Her voice went up almost to a whine. “I looked around for it and didn’t see it. I thought you must have grabbed it.”
            Mister shook his head, only slightly moved by his wife’s violent reaction. Kate turned and walked next to him in silence toward the trailhead.
“I can’t believe we didn’t bring the camera!” she muttered with slight variation every few minutes as they started up the trail.
She looked straight ahead of her, biting back tears that she couldn’t explain. But she was undeniably in ‘the depths of despair’, as Anne of Green Gables would put it. When she really pressed herself, she didn’t just want to go hiking. She wanted to get out on top. She wanted to document it. She wanted to have pictures on top of a mountain looking her full seven months pregnant. Pride, she sighed deeply as she stalked along. I might have known it would be something horrible and ridiculous. She pressed her lips together to hold back more tears, but of a different sort.  
            Mister looked at her cautiously. “Does that ruin the entire hike?”
            Kate smiled and took his hand. “No. Of course not. It’s just a disappointed expectation. I’m still glad to be here, and I will still enjoy it. I’m sorry for making such a fuss.”
As it turned out, the hike was not worth bringing a camera. Kate and Mister never made it to the top. The views, while lovely, were not spectacular. It was just a nice climb up and down in the mountains, with lots of conversation beginning, “next time, we’ll…” It was a good first hike though, not being particularly steep or muddy, and it was a good amount of exercise, and (most importantly of all) it proved to Kate that she really could get out and go hiking. Until this point, in spite of all her desire to hike, she hadn’t been convinced of her ability. This, she realized, was another reason why she had been so distraught at leaving the camera behind.
            She was slow, yes. And often out of breath. And sometimes needed extra help going down when it was difficult to see the steepness of the rocks around her large belly. But the capability and stamina was definitely there. She expressed her relief to Mister back at the car.
            “I really thought this might be the only hike I got to do; that we’d get back and I’d be totally incapacitated, and wouldn’t be able to climb anything. But I actually feel pretty good!”
            Mister just smiled. “No, you did great. How about going to Hatcher Pass tomorrow?"
            Kate gulped, but nodded, “And let’s be sure to get the camera, shall we?” 

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