We could see it from our condo. Those two bulbous peeks. Looming over us. Looking down our shirts at our cleavage, like two lecherous old men.
We were visiting Ouray, Colorado for the wedding of some Coloradans.
The bride and groom created a website with a list of things to do in the area. While we were there, Max and I made a point of doing every single thing on the list, so that we could be superior to all the other wedding guests, and intimidate them into being our friends.
Our schedule was pretty tight, so we had to go on our grandest hike the same day as the nuptials. We would hike to the Twin Peaks overlook, so as to feel that we had truly squeezed all the juices from the Colorado lemon.
I've devised a hiking guide based on my experience.
1. Let the scenic beauty fill you with the need to conquer
Ouray is nestled in the mountains. Waterfalls gush from the rocks, and the clouds and the sun weave a tapestry of light on the slopes, and you suddenly wish you could write moving descriptions of landscapes instead of trying to be funny all the time (fart noise). When the sun sets, you get to feast your eyes on a phenomenon called alpenglow, pictured below.
But don't get distracted. There is work to be done. Mountains are fat piles of "Nyah nyah, we got here first," and you must teach them that you are their master.
2. Figure out a timetable. ESPECIALLY if you have a wedding to get to later that afternoon.
Based on our calculations, we could do the hike in 4 or 5 hours, and be back in time for the ceremony at 4 p.m. We left as soon as we had eaten a sufficient number of omelettes.
We switch-backed across steep slopes with wildflowers and hopped over creeks with suspiciously clear water. Colorado's hiking paths are littered in tacky, sparkly rocks, due to the high levels of mountain minerals.
Every time I stopped to admire the view, the view bowled me over to the point that I nearly fell off the side of the mountain.
Every photograph was a near death experience.
This hike was also full of those classic, "Here we are at the summit! Oh wait. There's just a little bit more over this hill. Just a little more. Nevermind, here's a whole other hearty serving of mountain for me to fuck myself with."
2. Let the sublimity of nature release a flood of grim memories
I had many flashbacks to my dark, flabby past as an athletically challenged child.
I played over a conversation I had with my mother recently about why my parents had taken me out of school. "You were bright, but you were so slow, physically. You had the body of a three-year-old when you were in first grade."
My parents started a campaign of swim lessons once I had ballooned into a dopey moon child after taking a round of steroids to treat my asthma. I remembered crying in the bathroom at swim team practice. The other Flower Hill Dolphins had a reputation to uphold, and my lackluster freestlyle did not go unnoticed. Children can be so cruel.
On my way up the mountain I meditated on the fact that I am an exotic, 21st century-only edition of humans that should not exist, from an evolutionary standpoint. Somehow I squeaked in with just enough surplus food and medical advances that make it possible for the physically pathetic to eke out an existence.
Clearly I had gotten ahead of myself with this mountain garbage.
To be honest, I struggled to remain upbeat during the hike. Max pointed out that toward the top, my empowering mantra had become "I hate myself. I'm going to die."
3. Zoom in on reasons to live
On sweaty breaks, we pointed and grunted at cool shit.
This flower is called a mariposa lily. "If I was a bee, I'd fuck that flower," one of my hiking companions remarked (it is so difficult to find suitable hiking companions nowadays).
Max fixated on this rock that had decorated itself in horribly clashing colors. I like lichen as much as the next guy, but these shades of green and orange together finally prove that there is no God.
Toward the top, the bugs got bigger, and weirder. Near the summit there was some kind of buzzy creature that beat its wings so loudly I had to scream at it a couple of times.
5. Never give up.
I almost gave up. This made my eventual victory more dramatic, and more memorable for my boyfriend, who might have otherwise blithely skipped to the summit, without getting the chance to practice his motivational speeches. He has such nimble ankles!
This is the final stretch, where one final tantrum gave me the energy I needed to propel myself forward.
Then we reached the summit.
We feasted our eyes until our eyes felt bloated and fat. After we snacked on some dried buffalo meat and a granola bar, I began to feel incredibly gassy. Later I Googled "altitude farts" and I now know that I was suffering from High Altitude Flatus Expulsion (HAFE). Without reading anything, I'm going to say that the air pressure on top of a mountain is different than that at sea level, and the result is your body tries to restore its equilibrium by squeezing your farts out. And so I set out to crop-dust an entire mountain.
Most non-mountain people think mountain climbing is all about the ascent. But we mountain folk know the truth. During the descent is when you really reckon with what you've done, and accumulate butt bruises from countless whoops-a-daisies.
Once we had stumbled to the trailhead, we realized that we had only an hour before the ceremony began. Feeling broken, we shuffle-jogged the rest of the way. Although the stunning views persisted almost the entire way down the mountain, by the end I felt pretty oppressed by the verticalness of it all.
We got back to the condo with 30 minutes to spare.
I didn't really sit down until we arrived at the ceremony, still sweating slightly, and feeling altogether grumpy-wumpy.
Let's break this down into bite-sized pieces.
Me on top of a mountain, approximately 2:00 pm.
I don't have a profile on any dating sites, but if I did, this would definitely make the cut.
Me at the wedding, around 2 hours later.
Oozing competence like a competent slug. (I'm leaning because it was that or lie on the floor.)
Note how hideously flesh-colored my nails are. I forgot the number one rule of backpacking.
Rule No. 1: Bring nail polish with you, because you might not have time to paint your nails once you get to the bottom.
6. Get drunk at a wedding and order everyone to call you Molly MountainFucker.
(Alcohol effects you more strongly at higher altitudes. This notion is disputed, but not by me.)
PHOTO CREDITS: MAX HEINRICH LORENZEN :):):)