This is an old Facebook post of mine from 2017, but it was a fun write then, and it’s a fun read now. Enjoy!
With previous posts such as these I’ve busted out a wicked awesome quote, but with this one I thought I’d treat you to The Tale of What Actually Happened in Jerry’s Head When He Decided to Hike 30 Kilometres Up and Down a Mountain. There will quite possibly – actually quite likely – be some NSFW language up ahead. (Ok there most definitely is, around KM 28).
Kilometres 1-3: “I’m one of the only people out here. In the parlance of the great LL Cool J, “I’m gonna take this itty bitty world by storm, and I’m just getting warm!” Mental state very good at 8 in the morning, very optimistic.
KMS 3-5: Encountering more people now. It’s smiles and “good mornings”, all around. I note some people on this trek today have likely showered in the last 48 hours, as detected by the pleasant scents of laundry detergent or other niceties in the air as they pass. I am not one of those people.
KMS 6-7: After walking through what I learned was an actual rain forest, the furthest one east from the west coast, reached the most beautiful lake I’ve ever seen in real life, Kinney Lake. A greenish hue, and the mountains reflecting off the glasslike surface. Mental state is fantastic; I’m talking all kinds of smack in my head about how most peeps apparently turn back at this point (my guide book had said this), and how I could just probably go on forever. FOR-EVER.
KM 11: At a junction of sorts called Whitehorn. Much more beautiful than the LRT station in NE Calgary, after which I’m sure it’s named. There had been a bit of elevation to this point. Little did I know, this was where some of the discomfort was about to begin. But my mind is strong, I’m no Small Hike Hack. Still talking all kinds of smack within the confines of my grey matter.
KM 12: “White Falls”. As opposed to waterfalls of a dark or magenta nature. Very impressive. This was only 1 kilometre from Whitehorn, but the elevation was enough to take a bit of a round out of me. Nonetheless, I’m quite certain I am indestructible, and will press on.
KM 13: “Falls of the Pool”. I don’t know who was in charge of naming things around here, but I would welcome a discussion. At all rates/names, it is beautiful however. Passed a couple of winded gentlemen between the last falls and these ones, and in an effort to empathize, conceded that I too was getting a little tired. (But in my head still an absolute champion, see).
KM 14.5 – maybe?: I can see the Grail, “Emperor Falls” – which if nothing else had a much more satisfactory name, and beckoned my footfalls toward it. But I can also still see a hell of a lot of winding trail and further inclines before it, and I have no idea whether I’m 10 minutes away, or another hour. It’s 1 p.m. and I’ve been walking for 5 hours, so I do the math and think I better turn around so that I’m back before 7. Jesus.
KM 14.4: I’ve backtracked a bit, and run into him. Not Jesus, per se, but “Kurt”, as he identifies himself. Sure, Kurt, whatever you say. He asks if I went right up to the falls, and I dejectedly say no, because I had no idea how far away I was and figured I needed to turn around. K-Hova tells me I’m close – less than 10 minutes – and to keep going, it’ll be worth it. Boy was that little bald saviour correct.
KM 15: “Emperor Falls”. Huge. Magnificent. Definitely worth the trek. I snap some photos, coming perilously close to obliterating my device with the spray coming off the falls. I eat two chocolate covered granola bars, drink some of my water, and steel myself for the journey back. I’m pretty taxed at this point, but reveling in the transitory euphoria of nature, and the temporary flow of endorphins as my body recovers for a few minutes. So basically, I feel invincible again. I tell myself it’s going to be easier, because it’s downhill. That was a lovely sentiment.
KMS 16-“23” (19): I would say this was around where the Tragic Comedy started playing out between my two ears. Less smack talk, but still a lot of positive motivation going on. The euphoria/endorphins have worn off, and the “easy downhill”, while not leaving me short of breath, is kicking my arse a little bit. My arse, which has apparently shrunk on the hike up from minor dehydration/caloric deficits, because I keep having to pull my pants up every 75 seconds or so. Between that, and the backpack, and the incline on the way up, I have repeatedly wedgied myself innumerable times over the past several hours. But I maintain optimism – “Hey, when you get back to the backcountry campground, that means there’s only 7 kilometres left, which means you’ll be over ¾ of the way done!” (not realizing that along with a hydration and caloric deficit, I am currently running a math deficit as well, forgetting I need to pass through two, not one campgrounds before I’m at the 7-K-left mark).
KM 19: Oh Sweet Lordy of Sweetness. I misjudged things a bit. The sign tells no lies, there remains a full 11 kilometres, and my legs and feet have officially turned to mush. I stop for a quick bite and water, while families skip stones in the lake and a young man with slicked coiffure and very precise facial hair takes selfies. I wish I shared his optimism. I was young on this walk once, too.
KMS 20-23: The smack talk has completely ceased. Even my Inner Tony Robbins has gone a little quiet, just shrugging his shoulders when I look his way. “You still have 7 kilometres, bro. Don’t know what to tell ya”, I hear his gravelly voice saying. It’s time to dig deep, as they say. Though I am not feeling much love for any of “they”, right about now.
KMS 24-25: Either the Earth’s gravity has shifted to that of Jupiter’s, or my legs have each doubled in weight. My feet even more so, as lifting them has become a Herculean feat. I have stubbed my toes more times than I can recall.
KM 26: I am sticky. Particularly in the folds of my skin (i.e. my inner elbows) which I fail to entirely understand. I am quite certain my Level of Funk has reached a commendable level of toxicity; what I’m able to detect from myself is a raw combination of Deep Woods, Campfire, Dude, Chocolate Granola, A Hint of Lingering Deodorant Valiantly Trying to Live Up to the 48-Hour Fresh Claim, and Dirt. And that’s just what I’M able to smell. As Kurt Vonnegut once wrote, “My nose, thank god, had conked out by then. Noses are merciful that way. They will report that something smells awful. If the owner of a nose stays around anyway, the nose concludes that the smell isn’t so bad after all. It shuts itself off, deferring to superior wisdom.”
KM 27: I am walking either in the fashion of a supremely impaired wino, or a toddler on his first sprees unassisted. Getting out of the way of people coming from either direction takes a monumental surge of sensory dedication. Gone too are the pleasantries of “good mornings” or “good afternoons” or even “hi”. I am down to head-nods at this point.
KM 28: A Veritable Babe appears on the horizon, coming towards me. BUT OF COURSE SHE DOES. I have been walking all goddamned day, and how many Babes Without a Boyfriend In Tow have I seen at this point? Less than the number of showers I’ve taken in the last two days. Or equal to. Whatever; my ability to intellectualize took a rain-check several kilometres ago and promised to return only once I halted this madness. ANYWAY WHY WOULDN’T SHE FINALLY APPEAR WHEN I HAVE REGRESSED TO THE WALKING ABILITY OF A NEWBORN GIRAFFE, MY SCENT COULD PEEL PAINT FROM WALLS AND THE PEE THAT SEEMED TO BE IN MY BLADDER TWO HOURS AGO HAS SOMEHOW EVAPORATED BACK INTO MY BODY AND IS NOW LIKELY EMANATING FROM MY PORES. (Seriously, what the f**k is up with that? I definitely had to go a couple hours ago, but for want of adequate privacy along the trail. So where did it go?) But chin up, Jerry! Got to put your best foot forward. I try to straighten up my Cro-Magnon posture, make eye contact, and even feign a smile. And she’s having none of it. In fact I’m pretty sure she managed to look at every f*****g thing in the forest EXCEPT me. In that moment, I can’t say I entirely blame her.
KM 29: My Spectacular Abilities of Rational Thought at this moment tell me it Does Indeed Make More Sense to lay down, and barrel-roll down the hill the rest of the way. It further suggests that as long as I roll sideways, I will minimize head injury from the rocks along the way. MINIMIZE, it says, and part of me buys into this. There are people ahead of me downhill a few hundred yards. I am fully prepared to bowl those m***********s over. They don’t know what I know.
KM 29.3: “Hey, Jerry? Remember when you passed those guys at kilometre 13 and told them you were getting “a little tired”? THAT SURE WAS QUAINT, YOU DUMB DINK.”
KM 29.5: I am 100% sure that every bone in my foot has ground into a fine chalk, my shoulders have quite literally dislocated, my kneecaps inverted, my big toenails fallen off, and my balls impelled by gravity to my knees.
KM 29.9: I can’t feel my face. Seriously. It was starting to go numb at that point the way one’s feet do. I’m pretty sure I could make ethereal contact with my grandparents easier than reaching my car.
KM 30: It’s done. The Diet Pepsi I scored from my trunk, while probably not the best nutritional decision after this Physiological Armageddon, tastes greater than anything I have heretofore put in my mouth. I drive back to my campsite in a state of delirium, and sleep like I have rarely slept before, my dreams haunted by Never-Ending Elevation Gains, Dubiously-Named Waterfalls, a Land Without Masking Scents and Elusive Forest Babes.
But hey, I made it. The Dumb Dink made it. And as Vonnegut also once wrote, “Peculiar travel suggestions are dancing lessons from God.”
P.S. I know why the girl at KM 28 never gave me a second look – my odor and caveman gait aside – she must have known the love of my life was just a little further (a few weeks, anyway) down the path.