Hiking is something we love.
One of our first hikes was in Charlottesville to Humpback Rocks. Matt warned me it was an easy stroll, not even a hike and I would be fine in my flip flops and jean skirt. We got a bottle of wine, a sandwich from his favorite restaurant which was located in a BP, and were going to hike to the top to watch the sunset. Before we left, I changed into jeans despite the assurances that it was easy and I would be okay. Of course I didn’t change out of flip flops because all I had were flip flops (my preferred shoe). I bet you can guess that this hike didn’t go as planned! The leisurely stroll was a short but very vertical trail which does not agree with flip flops. I was slipping left and right. And we made it to the top for the sunset which was beautiful, but he didn’t mention that the top was very very rocky and cliff like with lots of places to tumble to your death. Oh, I have a small fear of heights. And, of course, we got to the top and realized we had no flashlight or fancy phones with flashlights (this was BEFORE the smartphone!!) so we didn’t enjoy our bottle of wine and gas station sandwich because we needed to get back down before it was too dark. When we got back to our car, we pulled out the tailgating chairs and had the picnic, not quite the same view!!
And you wonder, why do we love hiking??
While living in San Diego, we hiked a lot. We went every Saturday, sometimes just the three of us, once without the dog (ONLY once and it was because Torrey Pines doesn’t allow dogs-seriously??), and often with friends. We did long hikes, short hikes, short hikes that ended up being long hikes, easy hikes, hard hikes, all kinds. And we have lots of stories from the hikes. One hike, we went with another couple and we were going for a 2-3 mile hike at Mission Valley. We actually got a map of the trail (very rare) which Marion and I thought was a good thing with my navigator husband and her pilot husband. They must know how to read a map! Well, this quick little hike became 7 miles, ended in the dark, and at one point the dog was carried across the river. Another hike, we didn’t realize that the ground was so hot it was burning the puppy’s paws. She actually laid in the stream because her feet was so hot and we didn’t even realize it, poor puppy.
Through all of our blood (usually mine), sweat, tears (again usually mine), and vomit (again mine but this was because I was pregnant), we have learned something from each hike. We got the appropriate footwear for me (we tried hiking boots for the dog but she was not having it!), hiking pants for both of us, poles for me when I am not being too stubborn, Camelbaks for both of us and a water bottle for the dog, first aid kits, snacks (especially when pregnant or nursing!), sunscreen, and cameras. We are perfecting the art of hiking.
I still offer this warning: Hike with us at your own risk!
Ever since we got to Napoli, we have been talking about hiking and trying to find hikes. As you might have guessed, hikes are not quite as organized as in America. The trails aren’t labeled with well maintained paths and parking lots. There are not good hiking books (at least that I have been able to locate) with detailed descriptions of the hikes discussing the difficulty, the altitude change, the terrain, whether or not it is pet friendly. It is a bit more word of mouth and general ideas. Which makes me nervous.
We had a hike planned with a guy Matt works with which I thought would be a good way to start because he knew what he was doing and where the trail was located. It also seemed like a bad idea because I am the world’s slowest hiker when I am not 7 months out of practice and Matt’s friend is like crazy athletic and fit. I was actually getting excited about this hike but it was scheduled during the ridiculous monsoon type rain we had for a week. I told Matt that as responsible parents, we can’t take our baby hiking on a slippery trail with predicted rain. So we missed this hike.
Now, Matt could think of nothing else he wanted to do in Europe except hike. The next weekend it was perfect hiking weather! We got up around 9 on Saturday morning with intentions to go hiking. Somehow, it took us 3 hours to get to the actual hike. And I know you will say, oh you have a baby now, but this is pretty standard for us. I don’t really understand how or why but it takes FOREVER to get ready for a hike. Even though everything is together and we know what we need.
When we got to Carney Park, I asked Matt if he actually knew where the trail was and he said, “Yeah, you go left and then you go right.” Ummm. My anxiety started about this point. I HATE not knowing where I am going. So, we leave the park and go left and then we go left again. Yes, I know you are thinking “he said go left and then right.” Matt wasn’t sure if the left out of the parking lot was the first left or if the left was on the road. So we are hiking up this steep road and I am thinking “this is really vertical.” Of course we aren’t even to the trail yet, just wandering on this road. Matt says that we should just take a right at any of the little turnoffs that look like trails. Just pick one and see!! This does not seem like a good idea but we pick one. And it seems like it might be the right thing because it is a trail that is pretty good. We take the dog off the leash and she is super happy! As we are hiking along, I am getting slightly nervous because it is pretty steep and parts of the trail are right on the edge of the cliff. I have thoughts of slipping (which I do on almost every hike) and falling down the side of the crater. Then I have thoughts of Matt slipping and falling down the side of the crater with our baby. The anxiety makes me quiet.
Eventually we get off the edge (thank goodness) but we end up in shrubs with a very overgrown trail. So the three of us are just pushing our way through shrubbery. This doesn’t bother Matt because he has on the proper hiking pants. I do not. I know I mentioned that I have proper hiking pants but they do not agree with my post partum body (yet!). So I am wearing my workout capris and my legs are getting scratched beyond belief. Lucy is doing better than me although some of the growth is so thick, that she needs help finding an opening. During this part of the hike, I am quiet and sending mean thoughts towards Matt for taking on us this hike. I am wondering why I think I like hiking. At one point, I cried. There is nothing you can do in this situation but push ahead. Turning back would be harder than going forward.
Eventually we get out of the dense growth and we end up on a road. The road hiking seems easy, right? Except for all the trees that are blocking the path. So we are climbing over trees (which was kind of fun) and trucking through mud (the dog liked that part) but it still didn’t seem like we were on the right path. During this part, we saw a rusted out car…weird I know.
I finally got over myself and my silent moments of hatred and Matt and I started laughing and joking. Even though we were going the wrong way. Through our conversation, Matt again mentioned that we should just pick one of the paths on the left and just go that way. Of course, I am not excited about random paths but we are not going the right way and going up seems to be the only choice. So we start a series of very vertical paths. And I start putting myself down because it is hard and I feel fat and out of shape. But I go slow and steady and eventually we get towards the top. The cycle continues: everything seems right (we actually pass the monastery which is part of the trail), then we are in completely overgrown shrubbery and my legs are getting ripped apart, then we find some ridiculous vertical paths. We find a very nice lookout and stop for a snack (the baby), a photo shoot (Matt and the dog), and a little rest. We laugh and enjoy the beautiful view. Unfortunately, this is about half way through the actually trail but it took us like 2.5 hours to get here. I am thinking that it will take us another 2.5 hours to get back. Luckily I am wrong!!
We start back on the journey and we are now on a downward slope. I bet you are thinking that I am happy now, but you are wrong! I realize that I have ingrown toenails during this part of the hike and how bad they hurt when you are going down and your toes are crammed in the front of your shoes. Again, there is nothing you can do about the pain but to keep going and hope it doesn’t get too much worse. (Hiking is AWESOME!!)
During this stretch, we actually see other people and they are American. They tell us that the path is too steep for us to go down it with the baby. I quietly sent them evil thoughts thinking, I am not back tracking through the past three hours. They also tell us of a little lookout that has a great view. The lookout was great and there were two more Americans there who took our picture. One of the guys was from Mount Airy and reminded me of Ziggy’s (bar/music venue in Winston Salem). After talking to them for a while, we continue on our downward journey. It was steep but just as steep as the other way. So Matt and the baby are moving quickly, the dog is running around and loving life, and me and my toes are going step by step. I am determined to make it out of one hike without falling!
So we are finally on the trail and close to the end, we hear rugby. This makes my husband both happy and sad. I can tell he wants to be on the field playing. When we finally finish the hike, we went to watch the rugby game.
I am sure you are asking why I love hiking. We have stories like this from lots of hikes. During the hike I am thinking about how pathetic I am because I am out of breath. I fall and my toes hurt. Silent Angry Lizzie sends mean thoughts to her husband during the hikes. But during every hike, I laugh. We have some amazing view and sit for a few minutes just looking at the beautiful surroundings. It is just us. Hiking burns lots of calories and is hard but it still doesn’t really feel like exercise. And when you finish a hike, there is a sense of accomplishment. And it is something that I can share with my husband. We have hiked in Virginia, California, Hawaii, Costa Rica, and now Italy. I still can’t believe I live in Italy!
|Awesome Hiking Backpack from my sister|