It's not that I have been less active, simply that I have not shared my dozens of thrilling adventures with the world at large. If anything, I have been more active than normal, traipsing through the woods after my good friend Julie who insists upon dragging me up towering mountains in her wake.
I suspect that she enjoys my sparkling company and ready wit. I took the liberty of recording this recent exchange we had at the summit of Mount Monroe:
Julie: Isn't this an amazing view?
Me: Huhhhhhh... wheeeeeezzzzzzze... phnuuuuuuufffffff...
You can see why dragging me along would do much to lift anyone's spirits. She was right, of course. The view was stupendous. At least the view that wasn't obscured by wavy, heat-generated haze.
This summer's intense heat and 200% humidity added to the festive atmosphere of our hike, giving it a feel reminiscent of the Bataan Death March. It made reaching the summit seem like even more of an achievement.
The view was also obscured by me celebrating the fact that I had not sweat to death on the hike. Yet.
If this were one of those new, fancy scratch-n-sniff blogs, you could truly savor the full experience of my sweaty machismo.
Our trip up the mountain followed a beautiful waterfall that beckoned to us, promising cool refreshment, salvation from the heat, and soul-shattering headaches from the frigid waters. Julie was actually tough enough to dive into one of these arctic pools during our descent. I was banned, under penalty of a protracted and unpleasant death from photographing her daring aquatic exploits. I will, instead, show you a picture of Julie sweating and a picture of the beautiful waterfall and allow you to mentally combine the two.
She was brave and tough and completely numb from head to toe after a few seconds in its heart-stoppingly cold depths. I had failed to bring a change of clothes and saw no joy slogging down the mountain in soggy, steamy cotton.
I steadfastly refuse to give into the ridiculous concept of hiking in any of those fancy sweat-wicking, high-tech clothes.
I prefer my clothes to be sweat-enhancing and low-tech
One of the high points about hiking in The White Mountains, especially along the grueling trails that Julie seems to favor, is that relatively few people are willing to spend their precious time on the earth hauling themselves up a hill like this. Thus, the hikes are generally full of solitude and quiet, allowing you to view wildlife in its natural habitat, uninfluenced by man.
On this hike, for example, we spotted the rare and elusive High Mountain Bean Squirrel.
We were first alerted to its presence by its haunting, fart-like call. We tracked it to its lair, a completely natural den that the High Mountain Bean Squirrel makes from locally mined steel and a secret blend of herbs and spices.
Julie has other hikes planned already. Since this coming Friday is predicted to be 4,000 degrees, she has decided that it will be a good day to do an even longer hike.
This time, I'm bringing my bathing suit.