One time Kim was shopping in Ponte Vedra and a friend of ours came up to her and said, “So I hear Marilyn is really an incredible skier. How do you feel about going to Beaver Creek with her?” A few couples had planned a trip and this would be the first time we had all skied together.
Kim said, “Fine I guess. How did you hear she was such a good skier?”
The friend said, “Well actually, Marilyn told me.”
That’s it in a nutshell. I am a great self promoter. Or maybe I’m delusional. I seem to make inflated proclamations about my physical prowess. I am a good skier, but I wouldn’t give Lindsey Vonn much competition in a race. And Sunday for example – I drove up north, after bullying my friend Ross into taking me for a long, rigorous hike – insisting it begin along the lake, and have “varied terrain.” I emphasized that I wanted many miles to be traversed and many hillocks climbed… as if I were preparing for Everest and anything less strenuous was a waste of my training time.
I am being truthful now. I am a good, solid 5 mile walker. On flat ground. Seriously, I’ve shown you photographs of myself after climbing what I call a mountain and they call a hill in Puerto Rico: flat on my back with no attempt at faking a smile or (as the rest of Kim’s family do when they reach the top) leaping in triumph for the camera.
Well… Ross took me at my word (something people who know me better tend not to do) and arranged a hike that started on the beach at Wilderness State Park and wound into the woods for 8 miles or so. I started out chirpy and fleet footed, like some modern day Sacajawea – identifying woodland plants and taking the lead in the expedition.
I think of fording a stream ( I am good at that) as skipping over the dry creek beds in New Mexico, or mossy trickles in Scotland. Not Ross. We forded an actual river twice, by crouching through impenetrable brush to the bank and teetering across fallen birch trees like Phillippe Petit. The eight miles was probably more like 12 because the trail (marked with blue swatches on pine bark) looped back on itself over and over again like a maze. As for the requested “varied terrain,” there was snow and ice, dead leaves, standing mud, tangled tree roots and many (many) rises.
When we finally emerged from the forest, it was as if my hip joints had fused. I could only lift my shoes about a half inch, so I was tripping and stumbling over every one of the (God damned) redundant tree roots. Then we hit the beach and the wind had shifted and the full force of God’s breath was in our faces. There was a point where I stopped trying to be conversational…
We got to the car and I looked at Ross and said, “I would like a glass of red wine. Now.”
He got this horrified, yet somehow determined look on his face (as if he was not going to be responsible for me going all gaga on his watch) and said, “I don’t think you should do that.”
I was kidding. And it is amazing how quickly I recover. I’m really good at that. We had a delicious dinner at Terry’s in Charlevoix and I drove the three hours back home and it was the best day ever. I’m ready to do it again.
Ross is bad ass.