Sunday, August 10, 2008
Wouldn't It Just Be Easier to be Fat?!
For our annual two week beach vacation to Outer Banks, NC my girlfriend and I vowed to be more active. We were going to rent bikes, take walks, and run on the beach. This vow would challenge our notion that drinking a six pack of beer while putting on sunscreen does indeed qualify as cardio. This year we were not going to sit on the beach and get fat(ter)!
So when she suggested we go hiking at the Nags Head Woods Preserve, our first week there, I was game. We got to the preserve bright and early Saturday morning and was as prepared as you think you need to be when hiking at the beach: shorts, sunscreen, water, and a cute hat. The minute we got out of the car we were attacked by mosquitoes the size of newborns. So we did what any city girl would do; we got back in the car and headed off to Walgreens for an economy size of Deep Woods Off!
Dripping in Off, and like Bill Murray in Ground Hog Day, we returned to the scene of the crime to start over. Our first trail was an easy quarter mile stoll that we completed in five minutes. I was feeling proud of myself and ready to celebrate with some steaming pancakes at Stack'em High. But then some body started feeling like Ms. Adventure.
What you need to know about my traveling companion. She reports that she is part Native American. Specifically, the Lumbee Tribe. I'll wait while you go look it up. I didn't believe they existed either. You're back? You learn something new every day, right?
Anyway, Sacajawea, who considers herself a natural when it comes to directions, suggested that we take the Sweet Gum Trail, a half mile loop that would take you "deeper into the forest." As I adjusted my cute hat, I couldn’t help but think was I going to see anything different in the “deeper” part than I did in the nice easy part. Woods can’t be that dramatically different, can they? But I decided not to be a killjoy and go along with the program. Just because I couldn't find my way to the grocery store without activating the GPS, wasn't a reflection on her skills. Sweet Gum Trail it was.
What you need to know about me. If it doesn’t involve my computer, journal, or having cocktails with friends, I am scared of everything. So believe me, going along on this little vision quest, was me being a brave girl.
The first five minutes of the hike was relatively uneventful. Then we arrived at the first fork in the road and our first disagreement of the trip. I, the GPS dependent one, wanted to go straight(ish) while Pocahontas wanted to go left. We went left. I will save the cliff hanger for another story and let you know now that she was absolutely wrong!
For the next ten minutes we crawled up some steep embankment. Waded through a sea of spider webs. Got hit upside the head by a bunch of branches (from the famed sweet gum trees, I assume), and ended up in a leafy clearing that looked ripe for a bunch of crazy-ass militia people to come storming out of and killing us. Then the path just ended. I tried not to panic. Nothing just ends. Not even bad relationships. So we rooted around looking for where the path might pick back up. Now for all of you sitting there looking perplexed and wondering out loud why we didn’t just turn around and walk back out the way we came in, how do you think scary movies are made? You have to ignore the obvious answer or the story would be over in ten minutes.
After a couple half joking “where do we go from here, Pocahontas?” we saw the sandy trail on the other side of the trees. Surely we would be back at the visitor’s center in no time. As we trudged along, a thought, that I had been trying to suppress, broke free: We are lost! When I shared this little tidbit with my Indian Scout she immediately shot me down. According to Little Know It All Feather, “you can’t really get lost in a preserve.” It seems that because the Nature Conservancy oversees the woods that we were trudging around in this shielded us from getting lost in the over 420 acre maritime forest (one of three in the world).
Anyone want to guess what she got on the logic portion of the GRE?
I took a big breath and kept walking. After about ten more minutes we came upon a trail marker. The markers are used as sign post to let hikers know where they are on the trail and provide some fascinating fact about the spot that they are standing on. Sweet Gum Trail allegedly has 8 markers. The fascinating and concerning fact about this marker was that it had a number one on it. This should be impossible since we had been walking long enough that we should have seen at least five of these markers already. But not to be deterred or convinced we were lost - Ms. Adventure continued on. By the time we got to marker five I was convince we weren’t even on the Sweet Gum Trail anymore and started to envision what the evening news was going to say about us. Two Washington, DC black girls went missing at 8:30am at Nags Head Woods Preserve. One is believed to be wearing a cute hat. By the time CNN picked up the story, Wolf Blitzer and Anderson Cooper would be rattling off the previous years statistics of the number of people who got lost in nature preserves, and questioning the authenticity of the Lumbee tribe.
At marker eight we saw a set of man-made steps that seemed to come out of nowhere. They were anachronistic to say the least, but we climbed them. Convinced that the visitor’s center would be at the top. It wasn’t. What was at the top was a sandy trail. The SAME sandy trail that we saw back at marker one. I had to resist the urge not to push Ms. Adventure back down the stairs. To her credit, she never caved in to me whining that we were lost. This of course annoyed me more.
By the time we got to another fork in the road, and I was sweating like a lost pig, I had had enough. I was not taking another step until she could guarantee that around the bend was the parking lot and our air condition equipped car. With a straight face she suggested that she could leave me there and hopefully come back when she found the visitor's center. The Jedi Mind Trick worked. I kept walking.
A couple of minutes later, like an oasis in the desert, the visitor’s center appeared through the tree line. I damn near ran over Ms. Adventure to get to the car. I ignored the sound of her laughter as I plopped down in the front seat and jacked up the air. She laughed even harder when she realized I was not talking to her.
What was supposed to be a twenty minute hike turned into 70 plus minutes of sheer terror! Okay, I might be overstating just a tad, but she better count herself lucky that I don't believe in violence.