Uphill is Different

In the summer of 2001, Pure Luck had been back from his AT thru-hike for six months and was eager to indoctrinate me in the ways of hiking. It was a time in my life when I was reasonably fit, after two pretty consistent years of exercise, and also a time I was losing weight, mostly due to being so in love that food held no allure. If I was ever going to climb a mountain, perhaps the time had come.

We set out for what he described as an “easy hike.” We had probably walked uphill about 100 yards when I felt my lungs were going to explode!! I wanted to quit and run back to the car (I’m sometimes prone to hysterics), but I worried that my relationship with a thru-hiker would probably be over if I quit after the first five minutes. So I kept going. He told me that going slow was better than stopping to rest, but that wasn’t any more true for me than the notion that this was an easy hike! I thought I wasn’t in bad shape, and I took it pretty hard that I was apparently so bad at hiking.

Eventually he admitted that uphill is different.

Later that year, after many hikes, I injured my ankle getting into bed. No, really. And that was the end of going to the gym, much less hiking, for quite a while. Then we got a puppy, and Pure Luck hiked the next summer while I went to the coffee shop with Puppy Molly or drove the kids to summer camp. That fall I hiked twice, once for our wedding and once the next weekend. By the next summer we had two dogs, and hiking took a back seat. And by last summer I was so out of shape that even a walk felt like a challenge.

Pure Luck is getting ready to hike half the AT again starting in about a month, and he reports doing an hour on the elliptical or the stair machine at the gym in New York. I’ve been upping my workout on our delightful new elliptical machine, just because I hate the thought of not becoming a little more fit while he is exercising so much, even more so when he will be hiking 1000+ miles this summer.

He reminds me that this is not a competition. I forget that daily. He reminds me that I can never catch up anyway. That I remember. I’ve set a goal of being able to climb our wedding mountain again on our anniversary in September. I guess there will need to be some hikes in the interim, because–say it with me, boys and girls!–“Uphill is different.”