I KNOW! 2 IN A ROW!!?? RIGHT!? (Suck it naysayer dude.)
So- I’ve been obsessed with hiking lately. If you knew me- at all- you would re-read that sentence twice then check outside your window for the horsemen of the Apocalypse… I have openly and repeatedly expounded on the BANALITY and uselessness of hiking. As well as the irritating nature of those who participate in it… Well, I still feel that way, for the most part but… I’ve been known to be mildly misinformed upon occasion. (I also used to proclaim I only ran if someone was chasing me. Track back to marathon entry and all it’s glory.) Anyway- I’ve been obsessed because of my kids. I started reading about all these sections of L.A. with waterfalls and swimming holes and streams and got obsessed with hiking them all with the littles and having this very uncharacteristic, woodsy experience with them. So, I attempted one last week only to be beaten out by the neighbors pool and a playdate. So, today- after bootcamp, Max, Scout & I set out for Eaton Canyon and it’s waterfall. I researched the shortest route (thank God) and we went about it. First off- the trail was difficult- more so with Scout and her little, spazzy feet. Lots of stream bed crossings and slippery rocks which I ended up carrying her over. I noticed right away, A) That she’s a lot heavier than she looks and B) the true appeal that rock climbers zone in on. Nothing forces you to be as totally “in the moment” as searching for the next rock in a stream while holding a squirming 3 year old. It was actually Zen in a way. I got it. I also got wet feet, real early on. We made our way to a big outlet where the shade was nice and water calm & not too deep. Max took off his shirt and explored, Scout proceeded to pick up & throw every rock she could lift and I sat on a rock and joyously soaked them both in. This was it. The peace. The respite from $ problems, scheduling, work, Mom, minutia of life that I had been seeking. I had triumphed. I was RIGHT about THIS. WE DID IT. Nirvana.
It lasted about 23 minutes.
First decline; I left the lunches I had meticulously packed sitting in my fridge so we were forced to fight over an old bag of chips, scraping for chewy, stale crumbs at the bottom. Then we renewed our “quest for the big falls” over even trickier climbs & stream beds. At this point I’m pretty sure Scout was TRYING to land us ass up in the water. We trudged on for about 20 minutes then I hear the sound of the waterfall get drowned out. “What is that sound?” I stupidly asked Max. (Who offered, “Earthquake.” Calmly and instantly.) I look up and see a HUGE helicopter in the canyon above, slowly making it’s way closer.
‘Sweet Baby Jesus, don’t let them be coming for us’, I thought as I mentally reviewed the passing hikers who paused a little too long as I crossed each stream bed, cursing and flailing with Scout. Did they call in the feds on me, those granola fuckers. ‘Okay, look competant.’ Was my next thought. I stood straighter and held the kids hands and trudged a little faster. “See? We’re cool here. Nothing spastic or flailing or child endangering to see here.” Anyway, they get closer and I think, ‘Wow, that’s a big f-er. Wow, it’s pretty low. They are really LOOKING for something/one.’ I looked at Max who was staring up and raised my eyebrows, indicating “Pretty cool, huh?”. He nodded uncertainly.
Then it passed, thank God. Annnnddd…
You know, in old M.A.S.H. openings where they duck as they run out to the waiting chopper? And in your jaded little mind you think., “That’s for dramatic effect. It’s not gonna behead anyone. They’re ducking unnecessarily, by God”. (Your jaded inner voice sounds like a character in the Clue Game, BTW.) Anyway- I NOW understand the dramatic ducking. It’s not the propellers.
It’s the FUCKING WIND.
So this beast clears us and no sooner can I exhale my relief when the DUSTCLOUD OF STONES, DIRT, SAND AND TINY, SKIN-TORTURING NEEDLES hits us. Holy Crap. I grabbed both the kids and pulled their faces to my chest and tried my best to wrap myself around them. I could hear Scout yelling (probably in outrage) and Max shaking as I tried to make myself bigger somehow. It seemed like 5 minutes, was probably 10 seconds but CRAP it stung! “Well, JESUS, now I actually DO want an airlift, you rescuing a-holes. Thanks.” Anyway- I checked the kids. Shaken, wide eyed, stung a bit but otherwise okay. Max then proceeded to go into a recap of what just happened as Scout checked her band aid to see if the wind had disturbed it. As this goes on, some more hikers approach from the bend that would have led us to the falls. “Everything okay?” I ask in my best- “I’m one of you now!” voices. “No”, they reply. “Some guy fell about 30 feet and they’re trying to get him out now. You probably don’t want to go there.” Then he looks pointedly at the kids. I look at him and raise my eyebrows, indicating “Dead?”. “He’s okay- just not really… pretty.”
“Okay, kids, time to go.”
During our LLLOONNNGG hike back- (now we’re all like walking dirt cookies because we were wet when the chopper crop dusted us.) Max works himself into a “state”. This is where he’ll let his little mind whirl to “The Worst Case Scenario”, and then flip out. He starts crying and I have to sit him down and explain that “Everything Is Okay.” (We’ve done this before.) He was worried Scout & I would blow away. He was worried HE would blow away/choke/get sucked up. He’s freaked out about the “Guy that fell 30 stories” and so on. I manage to talk him down by reviewing realities. Accident. Help. Boo boo. Doctors. We’re fine- see? and “It was kind of exciting, huh?” He didn’t get on board with that one but DID calm down. Then- as we make our way back- more rocks, more spazzy, more wet and NOW Scout is decidedly “OVER IT”, Max decides it’s his personal duty to regale EVERY. PASSING. HIKER. with stories of the dangers that lie ahead. “Some guy fell 87 stories…”, “A man jumped 600 feet…” “This helicopter is trying to find a dead guy…” Annnd, my personal fave; “This guy fell off the waterfall. I think he’s exploded.” All with me in the background, still trudging, carrying the mewling Scout, muttering “Keep walking Max.” and “Don’t mind him…” Etc. Some rescuers walked past and were friendly and not panicked and this seemed to quell the Town Crier in him. Anyway- we made it back to the car- but not before I discovered I had dropped my camera somewhere – probably in a stream bed- with some AMAZING shots on it. EXCELLENT. The last 1/2 mile Scout was on my back and Max was sweating his little head off. We made it though and breathed a collective sigh of relief. I changed everyone into dry clothes, dispersed the last of the chewy chip crumbs and waited for the 8 firetrucks, ambulances and rescue vehicles to leave and unblock us. (The guy WAS okay, just banged up but distinctly unexploded.)
As I waited and the kids asked if we could hit McDonalds (“YES.”- zip it hippies- nothing distracts from near trauma better than a cow-face burger.) I checked my Blackberry that, in my “Hiking Zen” state, I had refused to look at. There were about 13 messages re; boot camp, (Not ONE of which were from Mr. Moneyguy who wants to franchise us worldwide.) 3 messages re; Mom, (She’s done with surgery, doing well but “confused”- no shit Sherlock- she thinks she’s a Cobb Salad- what’d you expect fresh out of anestesia???), they’re moving her to a rehab tomorrow and can I consent and the grand finale: a voicemail from my Oncologist, the Amazing Dr. Fischer:
“Hey Brooke, Sean Fischer here, hope you’re doing well. When you got a minute, give me a call. Just want to go over something from your labs, nothing serious, just wanna talk to you about it. Okay, talk to ya soon- bye.”
Of course, by now it was 5:30 and no one is in the office.
“Nothing serious”, isn’t really comforting when you’ve had Cancer. Nor is a McFlurry. Even the M&M one.
So- now I blog. Turns out Doug had his own drama filled day and neither of us were able to process until we got to talk to the other. We’re weird that way. I am trying not to think of it. I have fantasies that the “something from my labs” is a new, previously undiscovered – late blooming “Really Tall And Skinny” gene that’s just coming to surface… Could happen. In the end it was, actually, an awesome day. I will, in fact, hike again and the kids did have fun as it turns out- what’s better than a BIG STORY to a 7 year old and a chauffered “Mommy Ridee” through the mountains to a 3 year old?
As for tomorrow & what it brings- we’ll see. I’m hoping the fact that it’s Friday will work in my favor. (Here’s where I request a moment of “Good ju-ju” sent out on me & my lab’s behalf. Thanks.)