You know when older people talk about how tough their early school days were and they reminisce about walking miles and miles to and from school *uphill* both ways? No lie – that’s what it’s like to walk in Pittsburg.
That rise that was in front of us?
That ain’t no rise, that’s my mountain.
A few days before my walk, I had met a New Hampshire worker at one of the welcome centers where I was picking up some tourist information about each region we would be visiting. I explained to him what Griffin and I were going to do and he was helpful in getting me the information I needed.
“You probably don’t want to read the book “The Long Walk”, but you should before you go. Your walk reminds me of the story.” He told me as he placed my many, many brochures in a bag. “It’s by Stephen King but was written when he was Richard Bachman.”
I’m one of those people who when someone recommends a book, I’m going to check it out. And besides, even though it was written by Stephen King (as Bachman) how scary could he make a long walk? (mistake #10)
The Long Walk is set in a dystopian society where 100 boys start on a walk beginning in Maine and the walk ends with the last boy standing.
Here are the rules, you have to keep to at least 4 miles per hour and you can’t stop at any time for more than 30 seconds. If you stop for more than 30 seconds you get a warning. 3 warnings in one hour gets you a ticket.
A ticket equates to a bullet to your head. You lose.
Seriously, Stephen King figured out a way to make a walk crazy scary – even scarier than running into a bear. (just for reading that book – mistake #11)
I want to personally thank that young Welcome Center worker for giving me just a touch of Literary-PTSD throughout our entire walk.
But I have to admit that the book gave me some good walking tips. First of all, I figured that if a bunch of fictitious 16 year old boys could walk non-stop for a few days and nights, I could certainly walk 15 miles.
Another tip was that when faced with a steep hill (in our case mountain) focus on your feet and don’t worry about how far you’ve come or, more importantly, how far you’ve got to go. Just put one foot in front of the other.
About a third of the way up the incline, I was huffing. I didn’t want to stop because I didn’t want a ticket (no mistake here, I’m going to blame oxygen deprivation on that one.) All talking stopped as it took too much air and energy. I had thought I was in shape but apparently I wasn’t when pitted against the mountains of Pittsburg.
And still the road continued up.
I had plans of staying off the road during the hottest hours of the day. 11 – 2. I had visions of sitting in a cooled dark restaurant, sipping on lemoned ice tea and resting our tired feet. The problem with that little fantasy is that you need to actually have a restaurant in order to do it.
The first roughly 12 miles of Pittsburg have nothing. No houses, no stories, we rarely even saw a car on the road. All that’s there is wild, untamed, gorgeous land that still (now literally on this mountain) took our breath away.
We had also made plans to stop every four miles for a rest. On the way up we had made note of a lake with a dam where we thought we’d sit and have our first break.
After the first 4 miles, it wasn’t there. Instead of stopping and resting our feet, we kept going, convinced that it was “just around the river bend.” (mistake #12)
It was not.
After climbing the mountain for days we finally reached the other side and started to walk down a decline that was as steep as the incline (imagine that.)
“Hmm,” I thought to myself, even though I was using walking poles the decline hurt my right knee, considered by most medical experts as my “good knee” – a relative term meaning that my right knee had had only 2 surgical operations on it compared to my left which had had 14.)
We didn’t stop for a full rest and when we did take a quick break we chugged as much water as we could. Experienced hikers will tell you that it is far better to take frequent small sips of water instead of chugging a lot at any one time. Why? Because when you introduce small amounts your body actually uses the water up. When you take large amounts much of it is wasted and goes directly to your bladder.
Combine that with a poorly fit waist belt (which at that point in our walk was really more of a bladder belt – the whole water thing is mistake #13) and you end up with a situation where you have to pee.
“Again?!” asked Griffin as I unbuckled my pack. “Seriously?”
“I blame 6 kids,” I said throwing the guilt back onto him knowing that it would buy me some silence as he tried to figure that one out.
Something I finally did right during this whole journey? I packed biodegradable toilet paper (Pro tip #1) And trust me, I ended up taking full advantage of it from the tip of New Hampshire until we reached the land of public toilets. (Sorry New Hampshire)
We had made it to the other side of the mountain but that (damn) dam was still nowhere in sight.
(Here’s some information on why we took this trip.)
Wendy Thomas writes about the lessons learned while raising children and chickens in New Hampshire. Contact her at Wendy@SimpleThrift.com
Also, join me on Facebook to find out more about the flock (children and chickens) and see some pretty funny chicken jokes, photos of tiny houses, and even a recipe or two.
Like what you read here? Consider subscribing to this blog so that you’ll never miss a post. And feel free to share with those who may need a little chicken love.