In A Hurry on the Osceolas
Submitted by Nancy
Mountains: Mts. Osceola (4,340) and East Osceola (4,156)
Date: October 3, 2009
Time: 5.5 hours
Miles: 8.4 miles
Elevation Gain: 2,950
Trails: Osceola Trail out and back
Dejah: 39 and 40 of 48
"Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished."
"I'm in a hurry to get things done
Oh I rush and rush until life's no fun"
Alabama, "I'm in a Hurry"
"There is more to life than increasing its speed."
Here is the short version in case you are in a hurry. I would rather savor than swallow whole. There you go...
Just in case you want to savor the message...here's the texture, feelings and story behind the revelation...
I've done both...savoring and swallowing whole...in life and in the mountains.
- I savored having my children sit in my lap, sucking their thumbs, while I read, "The Little Mouse, The Red Ripe Strawberry and the BIG HUNGRY BEAR."
- I savored announcing the number of jack-o'-lanterns at the 1994 Pumpkin Festival to the cheering multitude. The auditor passed a sealed envelope to my youngest daughter, Jess, who opened it. She passed it to my older daughter, Kelly, who took out the piece of paper and saw the number first, and then she passed it to me, and I announced that we had more than doubled our goal with 10,540 pumpkins. The crowd roared. It was magic.
- I savored the bowl of Italian Wedding soup we had on top of Mt. Washington in the middle of our Presidential Traverse, after miles of hiking above tree line. That first hot taste, "ahhhhhhh!" I hummed in between every slurp of the steaming hot soup.
- I savored the moment Kelly, standing next to Justin, her new husband, lifted her bridal bouquet to the sky in a sign of celebration for their life together to come.
My mother was always yelling at me not to swallow my supper whole. I'm not sure I learned the lesson. I know there were many times as a young adult and a young mother that I swallowed life whole, gulping it down without taking time to notice the experience. I was in too much of a hurry to get all of life in. I can't give you specific examples because I don't remember them. When you swallow life whole, it seems our brains store those memories in a different place than the savored memories. The savored ones are more easily retrieved. The times I swallowed whole feel lost forever.
Sometimes, though, swallowing life whole is the only way to go.
Pat and I beat Book Time climbing the Osceolas last Saturday. We NEVER even come close to Book Time. (Book Time is the AMC's approximation of the time a hike will take.) Book Time for hiking the Osceolas on the Osceola Trail is 5:40. It took us 5 hours and 50 minutes, but that included pee breaks, food stops, clothing adjustments and taking pictures - easily 15 minutes of extra stuff.
So we swallow whole our Osceola hike. We don't usually hike like that, but these are unusual circumstances. We are working on getting Dejah her patch for climbing the 48 mountains in New Hampshire over 4,000 feet high. We would like to do it before the snow flies because once winter arrives, we can't really be sure we are going to reach the summit, ever. It's always a wait-and-see-what-the-weather-is-and-how-we-are-doing game.
We arrive at the Osceola trailhead at 8:30 AM in the rain. But we are prepared for it, physically and mentally. I have my zip-off pants on, and am wearing two light tech-wick shirts and my rain jacket. It is raining on and off the entire hike. I am feeling strong and we motor up the mountain.
Now, when I say motor up the mountain, I mean it. Before long I am soaked inside and out. I am wet on the outside from the rain and the trees. Every time I use a tree trunk or branch to help me up the trail, it thanks me by dumping a load of water on me. The water runs through my hair, plastering it to my face, around my neck and then down my back in between my shoulder blades, forming a running rivulet down the middle of my back. Oh so comfortable. And my sweat has soaked through my clothes.
Once wet, there is really only one thing I can do to keep warm. Keep moving. At a good pace. We stop for a bathroom break, but I jump up and down on the trail as I wait for Pat. As we near the summit, I am getting cold so we stop so I can wade through my pack to find my gloves and later, hand-warmers. They are last year's hand warmers. OK - guess what? Hand warmers must run out of poop after a while. These got a tiny bit warm for maybe an hour, and then died.
By 10:30 AM we are on top of Mt. Osceola, which is enveloped in rain clouds, and there is no view at all. I take a picture of Dejah on her 39th peak sitting on one of the pylons. She clearly thinks the whole thing is stupid.
We head off down the steeps in between the two mountains. I remember the chimney part…but it isn't too bad. We are down and on our way up East Osceola, arriving at 11:18, Dejah's 40th peak. I take some pictures and turn around and we're back on top of Osceola in no time. The temps have dropped and there are gusts of wind that are literally going right through me. We are both soaked and cold.
I know I should stop and change into dry clothes, but I am so cold that I feel like the only thing I can do for myself is move as fast as I can and not stop. We get down out of the wind and get our sandwiches out, but then I eat mine as I am hiking down the mountain. I just can't stop. I finally give in to take a bathroom break…which, when you are that wet and that cold is no fun. I can barely get my underwear off, much less back up. Too much information?
The second I get myself back on the trail, I am moving down the mountain as quickly as I can, trying to build up some body heat. I am OK, but I can't stop. Pat and Dejah are right behind me and I just keep going. I am focusing on putting my feet on a solid rock, or between the boulders and avoiding the downward facing roots, staying balanced, moving literally as fast as I safely can.
We arrive back at the car at 2:20 PM and immediately change into dry warm clothes, then sit in the car with the heater on full blast until we warm up. Ahhhhh...
There is nothing on this hike that I savor. Writing this Hike Report, I realize that this hike is like life. We convince ourselves that we have to do something, when we really don't. And then we do it as quickly as possible, in order to get it done, so we can hurry onto the next thing, or the next mountain, so we can check that off and move onto the next. Swallowing life whole.
The moments we savor turn into blessings in our life, to be remembered and re-remembered over and over with joy. The moments we swallow whole disappear into an abyss of missed opportunities, moments lost forever.
In hindsight, I'd rather hike slower, in decent weather, enjoying the hike, instead of rushing down the mountain to stay warm. I'd rather get less done and have more moments with meaning, have a longer "To Do" list and more blessings in my life, less mission and more kindness, fewer patches and more moments to savor.