But no longer. On this, our first hike of the season, she was pointing out things that I should take pictures of to include in my blog. Naturally, I assumed that she had finally overcome her fear of my poisoned pen and was embracing that fact that there was absolutely nothing she could do about what I write.
I realize, as I write this, that I may have interpreted Julie's motives incorrectly.
None of the things that she suggested I photograph were her.
As proof, I offer these pictures, suggested by Julie:
|This is not Julie.|
|This is not Julie, either.|
So now I'm thinking that Julie was merely redirecting my attention so she will not appear in my writing or pictures in any compromising way.
It did not work. Because here is a picture of her, helplessly lost and about to be consumed by Beaverzilla:
|Nice try, Julie.|
And, in fairness, it is not entirely true that we were helplessly lost. Merely re-checking our coordinates carefully because none of the surroundings looked even remotely familiar and we had no idea where we were.
But the looming threat of Beaverzilla was very real.
Our first hike of the season was a leisurely stroll to the summit of Mt. Passaconaway, conveniently located far, far, far away from wherever you happen to be.
|A tantalizing view of the summit, which never seemed to get any closer, no matter how much we walked.|
Julie chose this as the destination of the day because its height (4,043') makes it one of the lowest of the 4,000 footers that she is determined to conquer. She thought we should start the year off easily and work our way up to higher, more challenging peaks.
Like Mt. Everest.
And the hike did start off easily, a mere stroll through the woods for several miles, which, in retrospect, should have set off more alarm bells in my head. The thing about a hike is, you have to get to the top of the mountain. That's the whole point. And if the first 4 miles of your 5 mile ascent are flat and level, then it should be obvious that the last mile will be nearly vertical and extremely painful.
And it was.
But before we got to the vertical part, we had to slog through Beaverzilla's territory.
And here, I am forced to admit that I do not have a picture to include, in spite of the fact that Julie specifically suggested that I take one. Our path to the summit ran along the ridge of a very well constructed beaver dam. Imagine (since there is no photograph) a bucolic, idyllic little pond, bordered on one side by hundreds and hundreds of baseball bat-sized sticks, all sharpened to deadly, razor-sharp points and laid in place by the slavering, rabid teeth of a beaver.
Now, imagine the pain, infection, and lingering death you would suffer if you slipped and punctured your foot on one of those sharpened sticks, glistening with foaming globs of bacteria-laden beaver drool.
So that's why I don't have a picture to show you, okay? I was way too concerned with not catching a deadly case of Beaver Fever.
After we traversed the deadly dam of doom and despair, we continued along our merry way, blissfully unaware of the fact that were likely being stalked by the hideous creature of the woods, Beaverzilla. We never actually saw Beaverzilla and, frankly had never even considered the existence of Beaverzilla before seeing the tree it had evidently chewed down.
|Sign of the Beaverzilla.|
While there is nothing in the picture to give you a sense of scale, I can personally assure you that I took this picture from atop a high hill, from about a half mile away. The tree is roughly 750,000 feet in diameter. I'm estimating, of course, because when we saw that, we raced wildly away through the woods to escape Beaverzilla.
We ran the nearly vertical last mile to the top of the mountain so we could stop and have lunch on one of the two scenic vistas available for hikers' lunching pleasure. When I took off my pack, Julie screamed a horrible scream and fell back a few paces, pointing in wide-eyed horror at the mark of the beast that had appeared on my back.
|Mark of the Sweat Bunny.|
The dreaded Sweat Bunny of the Whites had marked me as its own and I was powerless to resist. To further enhance the frightening atmosphere, nature provided some frightening atmosphere. As soon as my Sweat Bunny was revealed, a bank of ominous Zombie Fog™ rolled in to make everything look spooky and completely obscure our view.
|Here comes the Zombie Fog™.|
|There goes the view.|
We decided to take one last picture of ourselves before the fog transformed us into hideous, twisted creatures of the forest.
Julie was the first to breathe in the steamy Zombie Fog™ and was instantly transformed into a moose.
|Julie is transformed into a Zombie Moose.|
Sadly, she transformed into Julie With A Giant Tree Poking Out Of Her Chest. But it was better than a moose.
The trip back down the mountain was quite a bit faster than the way up. Our usual incentive for a speedy descent is a huge ice cream cone at the end of the hike. Generally, that is enough for me. On this hike, however, nature saw fit to test our speed and resolve by sending along a few rumbles of thunder to hurry us along.
Julie has a pathological fear of thunderstorms that occur when she is perched precariously atop a mountain. She spent the hike down devising many ingenious methods of emergency descent, most of which involved killing me and using my lifeless corpse as some sort of ghoulish, Jeffrey Dahmer-esque bob-sled. I explained that if I was dead, I would not be buying her ice cream. She explained that when she killed me, she would take my wallet and buy her own ice cream.
I had no good counter-argument for that, but her plans were cut short by the thudding roar of a helicopter flying low overhead. It passed over us several times and I tried to convince Julie that it was a team of body-guards I had hired to protect me from her during our hikes. I'm not sure that she believed me, but at least she didn't try to use me as a bob-sled.
We managed to get down off the mountain without incident and without any actual Beaverzilla sightings.
Now if I could just get this Mark of the Sweat Bunny stain out of my shirt.