Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Mt. Adams, The Three Stooges, and the Mystery Tuna

Hikes that start off with this kind of warning do not scare Julie and me.

Because we are, obviously, in top physical condition, as you can easily see in this completely real, totally authentic photo of us as we set off on our hike up Mount Adams.

Our daring ascent of Mt. Adams began, as so many of the better hikes, do; in the parking lot of Lowe's Superstore.

No doubt, you are familiar with Lowe's Superstore. On the off chance that you are unfamiliar with this ubiquitous shopping center, here is a picture:

Lowe's squats at the side of the road, offering a wide variety of items essential to any serious hiker.

Who would even consider setting out on a hike without first making sure that he was properly outfitted with a 3 piece, hand-made Three Stooges birdhouse collection?

Don't even get me started on the ancient collection of "snacks" for sale in the dusty, darkened recesses of the store's interior. Julie insisted on buying "a surprise treat" at the store and I spent the remainder of the hike in mortal fear of whatever might slither out of her bag each time we stopped to get a drink or a snack or to check on Moe, Larry, and Curly.

We made our way past the series of signs trying to scare us off the mountain and soon found ourselves at a very nice shelter that had obviously been built by some very advanced beavers, because, seriously, how could humans haul all this stuff out into the middle of the woods?

I suggested that we stop in for lunch and then head home, but Julie has this thing about actually reaching the summits of the mountains she hikes.

We did spend a few delightful minutes looking through the shelter's log books and reading some of the enlightened thoughts people have while wandering through the wilderness in search of inner peace and cosmic awareness. Here are some of the deepest and most profound:

I declined to add my own personal message to the book, as whatever I wrote would look profane and ignorant alongside such enlightened writings.

On the plus side, Julie found some money hidden away in a corner of the shelter.

On the minus side, it was 10 Euros. Julie graciously offered to split the treasure with me. I discovered later in the day that teenagers working at ice cream stands in Lincoln, NH are reluctant to accept Euros in lieu of US currency in exchange for ice cream.

We wandered along, dejected that neither of us had been struck by the brilliant insights that had come to others in these majestic woods. We ascended this lovely tree-lined avenue, hoping for some sort of sign that would point us toward enlightenment.

And then we were given a sign.

The Hiker-English Translation of the sign is this:

"Dear Idiot who didn't read all the other scary signs along the way,

You are about to go from a lovely, lush, green landscape like this:

To a barren, rocky, post-apocalyptic landscape like this:

And if the sun goes behind a cloud for even a second, you're going to die a very awful death.

Have fun!

Your Friends at the US Forest Service."

Naturally, as I am in top physical condition, it made it difficult for Julie to drag me up the path after her. Eventually, she bribed me with the remaining 5 Euros and I reluctantly followed her toward the summit.

The summit of Mt. Adams is what Julie refers to as a "Shy Summit" which, again, translated from Hiker to English means, "One that you never reach, no matter how long you walk."

We trudged along landscape like this:

See that big lump in the far off distance that looks like the summit?

It's not.

When we crested the next hill, we saw the real summit.

See? Waaaaay off there in the distance?

Then, when we eventually reached that far distant peak, we realized that that wasn't the summit, either.
We were, however, finally afforded a view of the actual summit way the heck over there.

After I was done crying and sobbing, we clawed our way to the real, actual summit of Mt. Adams.
The views were spectacular.

Here is a view of Mt. Washington. You can still see the patches of snow in the ravine in June.

Here is a view of another mountain that I can't identify because, let's be honest, they all look the same.

Here is a view Julie, texting from the mountaintop.

But we won't judge her too harshly for texting while hiking because we had lunch and Julie finally revealed that her surprise was a bag of Salt & Vinegar chips!


We were a bit disappointed to find that the "Best Before" Date was May 3, 1967, but we ate them anyway. They were extra tangy. And after we ate them, we could see sounds in 5 dimensions.

At the summit, we were treated to a running monologue from "Annoying Hiking Guy" who was soliloquizing to his small, captive hiking party audience about all the other, better hiking he had done in every other state.

Annoying Hiking Guy: Oh, yeah. This is nothing compared to the 16,000 foot peaks I did in Colorado.

Person Near Him: Yeah, but don't you start those hikes at, like, 14,000 feet?

Annoying Hiking Guy: Well, ummm, that one, yeah. But when I was in Nepal...

We ate our chips and finally decided to head down the mountain toward this pond so we could drown ourselves and thus, be free from Annoying Hiking Guy.

The descent was treacherous and slow and upon arriving at the pond, several months later, we discovered that it wasn't as big as it had appeared.

With the faint echoes of Annoying Hiking Guy following us on the wind, Julie still attempted to drown herself, but only succeeded in bumping her head a little.

We continued down the 90 degree slope and were intrigued by the views. They were official, state-sanctioned views, so we decided to check them out.

On a small side trip, we also discovered a rustic cabin built by even more advanced beavers than the shelter we had seen before.

Since nobody was there, we went in, looking for porridge or a chair or a bed that was just right.

There was no porridge, but some kind, slightly misguided soul had left this on the counter.

As tempting as that dented, bulging can of tuna was, we opted to leave it for a less fortunate, more suicidal hiker. One who, perhaps, had a can opener with him.

Maybe somebody would feed the tuna to Annoying Hiking Guy just to watch him die.

We rummaged through the cabin, looking for more Euros, but finding none, we left the cabin and the tuna.

We might have gotten lost and had to resort to eating that tuna were it not for the helpful signs pointing the way to the path.

A few million hours later, we emerged from the wilderness, back to the parking lot of Lowe's Superstore, where, hikers can park, as long as they pay at the office.

Just FYI, they do not accept Euros.