I bet you guessed I didn’t really climb Mount Everest today, but it sure felt like it. Dance class was cancelled, so I strapped on my backpack and headed out to the desert despite the strong wind alert. The alert was right — those were very strong winds. Very cold strong winds. But I persevered. If I were on a real backpacking trip, I would have to deal with whatever weather comes my way, and today it was the wind that came.
Once I got to the desert, I did my usual loop, which takes me up a hill and back down and around, and the winds made that hill feel like a very steep mountain. I had to stop several times to catch my breath on the way up, but by the time I crested the hill and felt the full force of those winds, I was sure I’d done something as magnificent as climbing Mount Everest.
Oddly, although sometimes I feel very foolish for thinking about a long trek in the wilderness —after all, I am in no way athletic or outdoorsy — these preparatory hikes never feel foolish. They just are.
And anyway, what is wrong with foolish thinking? The more I contemplate a backpacking trip, the more reasonable it seems. Women’s hips are built for carrying weight. Women’s bodies (mine anyway) are built for storing up fat to prepare for extraordinary times. Odd to think that despite this, men hikers seem to outnumber women.
Although I have a few things going for me (woman’s physiology, determination, desire), my level of unfitness might be against me, but then, that’s what all this tramping around with a backpack is for. Either I will be better prepared to attempt a long hike, or I will have abandoned the whole idea long before I have to hike up a hill even steeper than the one I faced today.
Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Unfinished, Madame ZeeZee’s Nightmare, Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.