Mountain Jollies

Paul and I didn’t actually think we’d both be awake at a reasonable enough time Saturday morning to follow through on our plans to go to the mountains. I got in late after dinner and a spiritual session Friday, and then he called me as he was getting off work at 11:30. But somehow, we were both up by 9:30, so once I was ready to go, I drove out to his place and we were off.

We made some quick pit-stops–he needed minutes for his phone and I’m still looking for good, reliable hiking boots but still can’t find any. Everything I have found is either really expensive or ugly–either horrible bright colors or flowers and lace. This plays into a half-satirical essay series I’ve been toying with that deals with the sexist nature of some women’s clothing items, mainly the fact that even athletic shoes are made to be pretty when I just want damn plain boots, not this girly shit that’s just gonna get muddy anyway. Also, a combination of dress pockets and fake pockets on pants/jackets. Fuck that. I wan real pockets. I use them. They have a convenient purpose.

Anyway, after about an hour or so, we made it up the mountain despite slight cold and a very light but bearable rain. Had it been just a tad warmer and sunnier, the weather actually would’ve been perfect–the foliage was gorgeous and probably won’t be in another week or so. For being prime foliage time, the trails and things were pretty empty, which is nice because it means prime parking and freedom to fool around in the woods, until you see someone on the trail a bit away from you, get paranoid, and quit, not that I would know.

They’re doing tons of renovating at Ohiopyle. The parking lot and visitor center are both getting upgrades, and I’m not sure if that deters crowds, too, but it does complicate getting to see the falls somewhat. The rain also made people bail, too, I’m sure, but really, it was light enough that hoodies warded it off fine.

As usual with Paul in the woods, he was super excited because he loves it. His parents joked when we were leaving that he might not go home, and I believe it. He runs everywhere, and I generally don’t really try to keep up with him. (I do the same thing when he gets ahead of me walking. He’s a foot taller than me. Not gonna bother.) Plus he likes climbing things that look too steep to me and absolutely will not say, “Okay, you’re too little, I won’t go that way.” Nope. Either I follow–and he will help me–or I get left behind temporarily.

Turns out he does this on purpose, and probably not for the reasons you’d think.

I was teasing him about it, saying he’s tricking me into getting in shape, when he goes, “Do you really want to know why I make you do it?” Duh. Then he drops this gem: Obviously, the past year or so has left me insecure, so him not even stopping to listen to my protests over steep hills and large rocks and making me keep up with him is his way of trying to remedy that and boost my confidence by taking me to something I think I can’t do and showing me I actually can. Granted, these things are physically easier for him and he has no concept of what could land us both in an emergency room, plus a mountain hike is far different from taking an emotional beating, but the goal and sentiment were so sweet that I almost cried a little and did again when I told Terra the next day or so and again just now typing it.

It should also be said that part of the struggle was I got really thirsty before we got up there, had an iced tea from Starbucks, and was doing some of these things hauling this empty Starbucks cup around because I finished it partway into our hike and obviously didn’t want to just ditch it in the woods. I wasn’t thinking, either, and didn’t expect him to drag me as long and far as he did. But it led to me making a “Little Hipster, BIg Woods” joke, which we then thought could make a good web comic if either of us could draw. One of my favorite ideas for this was a strip of just forest selfies with a bear in the background creeping closer and closer.

We only stopped when we got hungry, so we stopped at the Stone House tavern up there for dinner. I devoured huge homemade gnocchi and then helped Paul out with some cake. Fantastic food if you’re ever in the Ohiopyle area.

I know Paul hasn’t gotten his mountain fill, and I know we would’ve gone farther and longer if we could’ve, so maybe I’ll try to sneak another trip up before it gets too cold…which may be soon. They’re calling for snow tonight.

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