I have been climbing a lot of peaks lately. This is because my husband has decided to climb all of the 46 highest Adirondack peaks in one year. I am trying to keep up. It’s not easy. They are legendarily difficult peaks.
So when my husband hurt his knee last week (after two 15-mile hikes, a day of trail crew and a day of putting in a wood floor!) and had to rest for two weeks, I was not exactly crying in my orange juice. I went back to my relatively tame 4-miles a day with girlfriends. They only take an hour, I don’t get scratches, blisters or covered in mud. I can take time to look at wildflowers and catch up on what my friends are up to. It’s so much safer than those silly peaks. Usually…
Then last week, when we were about 2 miles from our cars, we got caught in a violent lightening storm. It just snuck up on us.
Most of the road was in the forest so we didn’t see it coming. After the first crack of thunder we started quickly back toward our cars. As we walked, the thunder booms got closer and closer to the lightening flashes. We debated whether aluminum umbrellas attracted electricity. I said no, though I still am not sure. I am a big believer in any comfort in moments of sheer terror, even if they are total lies. After one particularly violent crack we closed the umbrellas and let ourselves get drenched. No point in taking unnecessary chances! (It wasn’t until later that I realized my umbrella had a wooden handle anyway.)
Finally we got within a quarter mile of the cars, but we would have to leave the safety of the forest and cross an open expanse of field to get to them. The cracks of thunder were now simultaneous with the lightening. The storm was right on top of us. We didn’t dare go out in the open. We waded through poison ivy to get deeper into the forest and off the open road.
We stood there drenched and shivering while lightening pounded the hills around us. Finally I had had enough. After the next bolt lets run for the cars, I said. My girlfriend agreed. At least I think she did. It might have just been her teeth chattering. Anyway, the crack came and we ran. Never has a 1,000 feet seemed so far. We must have looked pretty funny, running full out, dripping wet, umbrellas flailing. God, I am glad no one got that on film.
Once in the car I took a moment to just breathe and feel relieved. Then it took a few minutes to clear up the steamed windows. I drove home slowly. Relishing the feeling of safety I felt in my little car in the face of one of the most powerful forces that nature can inflict in one pinpointed moment.
Gosh, I am looking forward to a nice, long, boring hike.