I run, therefore I am a runner, plus I am a whole bunch of other things. Born under the sign of Gemini, sign of the twinís, means I have many personalities, all needing a variety of activities to keep them satisfied. I am also entering my mid-life crisis, not being able to afford a shiny red sports car, my attention has turned to outdoor adventures. This past weekend saw my first backpacking expedition. Not being afraid of any distance on foot, I eagerly accepted the challenge. My hiking mates for the weekend, Fred, Mike and Valerie, all experienced backpackers, welcomed me without hesitation, not having met me before, the fact I was a newbie at backpacking, was a little piece of information I carefully revealed well into the hike.
Our journey started at 5:00a.m. on Saturday morning, the cold rain may have dampened my $5.99 Value Village backpack, but not my enthusiasm. After a pit stop at Timís, our 2-hour drive to Keji flew by like it was matter of minutes. The 27k hike to Masonís Cabin in the heart of Keji began just before 8:00. With the heavy rain easing to a light mist we began what was to be an easy hike on a trail that is more or less a fire road. At the 12-kilometre mark, a little piece of information that Fred had given us a few days prior sunk in, the storm of Nov 13 had downed trees, to be more precise, there were over 500 trees obstructing the trail. My fellow hikers all agreed that 500 was an ultra conservative number and may have been the point where they stopped counting. The next 5 hours were spent ducking under, climbing over or just having to portage around tree after tree after tree. I accepted each tree as a challenge, but after 400 or so trees, my sense of humour had faded, on the outside, I was still the tough hiker babe, but a little voice inside was asking me what the hell was I doing in the woods in December?
After 7 and half hours with a 40-pound pack on my back, we arrived at the cabin. What a treat! With a lake on each side, there were no bad views, the cabin was cozy but supplied ample room. What a blissful evening, fire in the wood stove, candlelight, a hot meal and a much deserved bottle of wine, who could ask for anything more! Us ladies were even treated to a foot massage, compliments of Fred, but if truth were told, Mike was quite jealous that he was left out. The evening was spent with conversation, some serious, most silly and a lot of laughter, for me it was the perfect evening after a less than perfect hike.
In the morning a part of me was a bit apprehensive about the trek back to civilization. Always the optimist, I kept telling myself that the hardest part of the hike would be while we are still fresh. We spent a lazy morning over coffee, oatmeal and omelettes. Taking comfort that our packs were just a wee bit lighter since all spirits that were lugged in the previous day had been consumed. Another group photo at 11:00 marked the beginning of the hike back. The weathers gods were much more cooperative today than yesterday, Gray skies, cool temps, but dry. Fred and Valerie took solitude in their hike back, staying at a different pace. Mike and I stayed together for the tree hurdling back to his car. Not quite 1 and half hours into the hike back, the silence was broken with man made noise, the shrill of chainsaws could be heard, did this mean they were clearing the trees? Yessirre, as the sweet symphony of chainsaws became louder we could see a group of about 8 strapping young lads clearing the path for us. The group had cleared about 10k of trail since we entered the woods and Mike and I couldnít be happier, Fred expressed a bit disappointed at not having the challenge, at least that was his story and he was sticking to it.
The last 45 minutes of the hike back was in the dark, a new experience for me, but not unpleasant. Mike and I were the first back, Fred was on our heels and Valerie showed up shortly after. All of us quite happy to be finished, my hiking mates trying to outdo each other with whose feet hurt the most, I was the lucky one, being inexperienced was actually a good thing for me, I wore lightweight trail runners and not heavy hiking boots leaving my feet tired but pain free, an influx of vitamin I and I was good as new. Remembering a little treat my friend Nancy had at the end of the Remembrance Day Keji Jaunt with our Gonzo friends, I left a little stash in the car, one beer and a bag of Miss Vickieís Lime and Black Pepper Chips, a treat that will be a permanent end-of-hike tradition. A quick change of clothes and a makeshift shower with a washcloth and we were ready to head home, via the Turkey Burger, another permanent ritual for my fellow hikers.
With another check mark on my list of things I want to do while still on this earth, I sit here on Monday morning, my body a bit slow, but my spirits soaring high with anticipation of my next adventure, whatever that my be.
The Web Wench.