Wednesday, September 24, 2008

A Visit from Hickory

Here's a picture of me, Hickory and my mom Friday night (9-12) camping on the Ice Age Trail. So many laughs were had while sharing stories from the hike... and a few Newcastles... which we were just fine carrying in and out of the woods!! :)

A quick recap -- when my mom and I hiked into Indiana on "Our Hike" across America on the American Discovery Trail in 2006, we met Hickory. He heard about us walking through his area from his wife, who was working at the local radio station at the time. Our story of walking from Ohio into Indiana is one of my very favorite stories from the hike... I'll have to get into that more some other time!

So Hickory got a ride out looking for us, and when he found us, he got dropped off and hiked with us that whole day. We immediately found that our sense of humor was similar... lots of pootin', tootin' and pooin' talk with many laughs to follow. :) As we parted ways that day, Hickory said, "I'll be seeing you ladies again! Maybe the mountains..." We thought, "Sure... we'll see!"

Well, when we started getting closer to Denver, Hickory called and said he was flying out to meet us near Georgetown, CO!! He had 2 weeks. We were very excited to have some company, and honestly, a bit of a distraction after a very mentally challenging Kansas and E. CO (although we LOVED it!!). We looked forward to hooking back up with him. Hickory has also section-hiked the Appalachian Trail, so we knew that there were going to be tons of fun stories for us all to share.

This is another fun story to share... so many stories from when Hickory hiked with us those 2 weeks! It was hard to say good-bye to him, but he was a great person to have. It was perfect timing for both mom and I. I was always pushing to stay on schedule, and mom was having a hard time acclimating. Hickory got me to relax somehow. I think one day he said something like, "Look around. You're in the Rocky Mountains. Slow down a little and enjoy it." I thought about that for a little bit and decided he was right. We did what we could each day, but tried not to rush (although I think I still did from time to time - hard habit to break!). He also helped my mom. When we hiked up steep mountain trails, he taught her to just go very slow and steady, even if it was nearly a crawl. And when she got really frustrated and tired, to cuss out as many cuss words as she could tie together in one sentence. And so my mom would hike up mountains shouting swearwords as she went that nobody could hear because we were in the middle of nowhere in the mountains! How wonderful a feeling that was!! And we all made it through the Rockies with smiles.

Hickory's Visit to Wisconsin
I picked up Hickory from the Appleton Airport on Tuesday. He was hoping to hook up with another hiking buddy and camp for a few days, but it wasn't able to work out for him. So while I worked through Thursday, he walked the streets of Oshkosh and checked the place out. I felt bad, wishing I could've taken some extra vacation time to attempt at keeping him entertained! But he didn't seem to have much of a problem keeping himself busy. He met up with his friend one day -- Little Engine -- a friend of his from the AT. It was super cool that he was able to visit with her and her family for a little bit.

On Thursday night we went to Oblio's with some of my friends from work. Oblio's is our usual meeting place for Friday night Happy Hour. Since Hickory and I had plans to head to Phillips to hook up with my mom and dad for the weekend, we had to make Thursday a Friday... :)

Friday morning we got up and were very lazy getting going, but eventually got packed up and hit the road towards Phillips. I don't think I've ever thrown my backpack together so quickly! I was still recovering from the fundraiser weekend before, so I didn't really have a lot of time to work out the details of Hickory's visit like I wished I would have. So I forgot my hiking boots! Just another thing to work around, I guess...

We got to my parent's house in Phillips where mom was anxiously waiting on the porch for us to arrive. Hickory and mom had a welcome hug, and we started to pack our stuff up for a short backpacking trek on the Ice Age Trail. We drove into town and introduced Hickory to my dad and had lunch... well, appetizers and a beer... close enough, right!? Then we head towards our trailhead. We hiked in kind of late. It was JUST getting dark when we arrived at our primitive campsite for the night. We set up tents, got out some Newcastle beers we carried in with us, started a fire, and began the reminiscing and stupid-talk.

Snippets of conversations Friday night at camp:
"Poopmud" -- a term we created related to "going" in the woods after digging a cathole with a trowel. We thought it was genius and extremely funny! Every time anyone mentioned it, we all busted a gut.

"Kangabar" -- mom's attempt at saying "candy bar" after a couple of drinks. I still laugh when I say it to myself.

"Bears don't like mustard." -- What was said when we realized we didn't hang the mustard with the rest of the food. I think this phrase is said every backpacking trip by someone... after the food is hung, you realize you forgot to put something in there... you just say, "Bears don't like [insert item here]." And that makes it safe. :)

"Red for Sasquatch" -- My mom went on a Sasquatch scouting trip last year... she's not a Bigfoot hunter, but was invited to camp in the woods and night hike with headlamps and decided it would be an unforgettable experience... and it sounds like it was! They didn't see Bigfoot, though... Anyway, they night hiked with red headlamps because Sasquatch runs away from the white light or something. So whenever she turned on her headlamp, the first setting was a red light, and she repeatedly said, "Red for Sasquatch," and we'd all crack up.

"Weeree" -- It means "reread" when words just aren't coming out right.

"Yuki un ai" -- I have no idea what this means. Mom said it to me after we crawled in the tent. I think we were so distracted laughing at the phrase after she said it, that she forgot what she meant to say. Hmm, is it Japanese for something??

"Crap your pants, change later." -- A phrase to replace, "Don't worry, be happy" in hiker terms. Just a note -- none of us had to worry about that... at least not that I know of!! :)

"Cereal?" -- When we got into the woods, I looked at my mom and said, "I'm having a moment. Gimme a hug -- it's so good to be in the woods with you again." She looked up at me and said in a very serious tone, "cereal?" Meaning to say, "Serious?" or "For real?" It was a special moment, and this made it just that more special. We had so many of these moments on the hike when we said something and it came out wrong. I'm a little jealous that I didn't have really any that stuck out this weekend... :( Oh well, she had some really good ones that made up my lack of new terms.


Saturday we hiked the IAT to the Modeaux Recreation Area, which is a little lodge on the Mondeaux Flowage. The weather was really nice for hiking. I think it was in the mid-60's, maybe the very low 70's... breezy, not a lot of bugs. We found plums and enjoyed the terrain. There were bear hunters everywhere, too. At one point we came out on a road crossing and there were probably 15 trucks parked up and down the road! But the hunters were very friendly talking to.

A few hours in, I had already turned my ankles a couple of times and slipped in a few spots -- remember that I forgot my hiking boots? Well I was trying to hike in my OLD worn out running shoes. I was thinking to myself, "I wonder if it would be any better barefoot?" I had always wanted to try it, so I did. I took my shoes off and hiked the last 2 hours barefoot. It was okay except for where there were sharp, little pebbles. Other than that, I really enjoyed it... I plan to try that again!

We got to the lodge where we waited for my dad to pick us up and bring us back to the other car. We ate, had a couple of drinks, relaxed for a few hours, I had ice cream (of course!) and we headed back to Phillips. Once there, we visited with Grandma and some family that was in town to help her and my Aunt Rita move. Then we went out. We stopped at Lost Vega's and visited for a long time.

Sunday morning we got up and sadly said good-byes again. Hickory and I head back to Oshkosh. He hung out until I brought him to the airport again on Wednesday morning. He was on his way to Vermont to hike the Long Trail for 3 weeks and meet up with some friends from that area.

Story of the weekend
Mom's morning dig - caught in the act!

So mom was off doing her "morning business" as she does, and Hickory and I sat around camp drinking coffee discussing all the dogs barking off in the distance... all the bear hunters... then we heard a dog barking that seemed kinda close. I always think, "wonder if he's chasing a bear," after the last IAT hike I was on when a bear was being chased right by our camp by a bunch of dogs. Then I laughed and said to Hickory, "Wouldn't it be funny it that dog found my mom and ran up to her as she was poo'ing and started sniffing around?"

Maybe 5 minutes later, mom comes walking back into camp with rosy cheeks, a huge grin and while giggling, she says, "You're never going to guess what happened!"

Yes. It did. As she was cleaning herself up, shirt hanging in a tree branch, a dog comes over and starts sniffing around her. Then she turns around and sees a hunter standing there!! All she could muster up to say was, "We're camping..." The hunter replied calmly, "Sorry," turned around and walked away!!!

Poor mom... she ends up in some of the most compromising situations!! These couple of days were like an 8-1/2-month ADT hike all wrapped up in one small package... only I didn't have an apple to chuck...

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