Sunday, August 22, 2010


I maintain that my eyes make this picture EVEN MORE awesome
GUYS: I DID NOT DIE.  You can probably fathom the triumph I am feeling, but I cannot.  If you're one of those people who runs marathons or other great feats of physical (and/or mental) demand, you understand.  If you're not, well, then you probably still understand.  I am feeling REALLY, REALLY victorious.  Look at this thing!  As explained by my friend and yours, Wikipedia:

The Billy Goat Trail (also written as Billygoat Trail) is a 4.7-mile (7.6 km) hiking trail that follows a path between the C&O Canal and the Potomac River within the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park near Great Falls in Montgomery County, Maryland. The trail has three sections: Section A, the northernmost, is 1.7 miles (2.7 km); Section B is 1.4 miles (2.3 km); and Section C, the southernmost, is 1.6 miles (2.6 km).

Section A of the trail, by far the most popular, is on Bear Island and traverses rough and rocky terrain, including a steep climb along a cliff face along the Potomac River's Mather Gorge. At another point MOST POINTS in the trail, hikers are required to scramble over and around huge boulders. [edit mine]
So I alluded in posts past about how unwilling -- nay, terrified -- I was of this.  It was a lot like going on my first roller coaster: Dave my junior year physics partner "made" me go on -- and front row of the Superman, at that -- and I informed him the whole 45-minute wait that I very much did not want to do this, I couldn't believe I was still in line, and I was going to murder him when we got off.  Not only did I survive, but I was instantaneously obsessed with roller coasters and demanded to know where they had been my whole life.  Sorry, Dave.

me, trying to keep up with Chuck Norris
Much the same with this trail.  I was so averse, partly because I knew in advance that this was for Highly Skilled Hikers, partly because hiking can sometimes be just a really annoying, steep walk filled with branches in your way and bugs in your face (rendering this an annoying and dangerous steep walk filled with branches in your way bugs in your face), and partly because I didn't want to not look awesome in front of John and Kathryne.  Kathryne spent several emails reassuring me, and I accepted the fact and even got myself psyched up for it.  The morning came, I filled 4 water bottles ranging from normal to huge, packed a bag of pretzels and an apple just in case, and off we went.

I'm not sure how or when, but somewhere along the line, I decided to dominate.  I mean, own the trail.  At least compared to my previous, silently-whiny self from pre-hike.  There were boulders 94% of the way, and I hopped all over them.  I climbed and crawled and was light on the balls of my feet and didn't overthink it.  And it really is a metaphor for a lot of things - once you start thinking about it, you freak yourself out.  And then a bunch 10-year-olds scamper past you, hardly looking where they're going, much less agonizing over every step, and you wonder what their secret is.  Oh, yeah.  Don't think about it, trust your body.  Kids do that innately, adults learn too much and forget it.  I did things I never in a million years would have thought I could handle.
Kathryne and me showing some rocks who's boss

If someone had come up to me pre-hike and said, "Pam, your limit is somewhere above you hurtling yourself over enormous boulders and to the edge of rocky cliffs hundreds of feet raging rivers with nothing to stop you from plummeting to your doom save your own self," I would have said, "What are you smoking, my limit is definitely like fifteen miles below that."  But it turns out that person, had that person said that, would have been right.  We saw awesome sights and lots of friendly people and also a choking lady whom John saved.  I also totally lost my footing at some point past halfway and sent my shin and forearm straight into rock-edges, which unfortunately messed with my head way more than it messed with my limbs.  I stepped way more conservatively after that and cursed myself for realizing all those awesome things and then losing them to this mental block because of my fall.  But, as Chuck Norris said, it's not a hike if you don't fall.  But even so, even so!  Those lessons stay with me, and my triumph has stayed with me even more strongly than my bruise.  How inspiring, energizing and motivating to start the school year!  Let it inspire, energize, and motivate you too.  Go out and do that thing you do.

you can't tell, but we're REALLY high up in this picture

1 comment:

Amanda said...

Pam, you crack me up! And it's so good to see Kathryn in your pictures! You two are amazing!