Refresh mode isn’t so refreshing.
The great thing about my Honda Fit is that the seats can fold so many ways. And the driver’s seat can fold flat. It’s called “Refresh Mode.” I’d never used it and had to google how to get the seat into refresh mode in the dark of the campsite. I thought naively, it wouldn’t be so bad for sleeping. It was so bad. The seat isn’t actually flat because the shape of the seat isn’t flat to begin with. So I tried to fill the gaps with the half foam rollers I drag to classes that clients put their feet on. I’d never been so happy to have a clown car of inflated balls and half foam rollers, though neither really seemed to help much. After four hours of restless sleep I was up and ready to hike over twelve miles to cover two peaks, Passaconaway and Whiteface.
Once I got hiking I didn’t see another person for three hours. I found myself altering between cursing myself for this silly idea of hiking alone and then being very pleased to be alone with my own thoughts and pace. The hike wasn’t very hard which was disappointed. I presumed I was about to pay for the ease I’d been experiencing so far. I was. Two hours in I’d barely ascended. It all came at the end, what felt like 2,000 feet in the last half mile. Which led me to alternate between cursing and singing, “What goes up, must come down.” Just that one line over and over. I was alone though, so it was okay.
The biggest fear with hiking alone should be injury. And while I was worried about that I figured if I got hurt, I’d just have to wait for someone to hike by me for help. What I was more afraid of was irrational—the idea that some mountain man was waiting to assault me in the woods. Not that this can’t happen, but it’s pretty unlikely. Still, sometimes I’d hear a leaf fall or my water slosh in my pack and be certain someone was about to murder me. I think that is in part why I needed to hike alone. I’ve come to realize lately that there are many small things that as a woman I just don’t do under the guise that it’s not safe for a woman to do them alone. Sometimes I catch myself limiting myself for the fear of what could happen. Hiking alone or running on a community path alone does not mean that if something ever happens to me I was asking for it or being foolish. Hiking alone felt empowering by refusing to be afraid.
After reaching the first peak I came across more hikers. They gave me advice along the way, more than I normally get from other hikers and I couldn’t help but wonder if it was because I was alone. Is there some unconscious hiker’s code that you prep lone hikers more?