August 13, 2008

Vertical Deathmarch, Part 2, Son of Deathmarch

When we last left Karen and me in Dahlonega, we had planned to get up at 5 am and hike the Appalachian Trail. BUT… we ended up going out to dinner with a bunch of lit festy folks, including the super talented Steve Berry and his delightful wife, Liz, at a winery where we accidentally tasted about 50 different wines (and we are NOT “spit into the bucket” type wine tasters, Oh my Best Beloveds), and then we sat up WAY past midnight cackling like loons with the also super talented Patti Callahan Henry.

Five AM came earlier than it had ever come before in the history of 5 AMs. It came so early that 4 AM lodged an official complaint with the SUN about 5 being so dern overeager and pushy. STILL, we dragged our sorry carcasses out of bed and drove out to the trail.

THINGS YOUR HISTORY BOOK FORGOT TO MENTION ABOUT THE APPALACHAIN TRAIL (or if my history book DID mention these things, I was passing notes and missed it.)

1) It is TOTALLY vertical. We hadn’t gone half a mile before my heart felt like it was going to BURST. I mean I could actually feel my heart, that nerveless organ, swelling up and foundering and flopping about in my chest cavity like a panicky trout. I am not used to this…I may not LOOK like an Olympian, but under my coat of lady shaped padding, I am in good cardio-vascular shape. Not, apparently, good enough to allow me to leap straight up the sides of mountains like an adolescent goat, but still, pretty good. Karen, who is younger and lithe-r, didn’t have that much trouble with up, but she has a VERY bad knee. She borked it badly doing cheerleading acrobatics, so badly her orthopedic surgeon had to put CADAVER PARTS in it to make it go at all. (!!!)

Digression: At dinner parties, I like to tell people different stories about her knee. Like I will say, "And then she did all this research and found out the knee once belonged to... A FAMOUS RUSSIAN BALLET DANCER Who committed suicide right AFTER dancing a perfect Giselle!" or ..."A FEMALE MASS MURDERER who was actually the third WOMAN to ever be executed in Texas!" or ..."An international financier who fell face first off a a nineteen story building, and he was an ORGAN DONOR, but he was SO smashed up that only his KNEES were donatable!" Then I wait for whoever I am saying this to to say, "Really?" and then I say, "No." ANYWAY...The higher we spiraled, the more worried she became about getting back DOWN without rappelling ropes.

2) It is NARROW. So very narrow. We had to single file with SPIDER WEBS flossing our teeth for us and ferns brushing our hair and we hadn’t gone a mile before Karen said, “I have 50 ticks,” in such RESIGNED yet ANGRY and FACTUAL tones, as if she REALLY had 50 ticks and was phlegmatically irked about it. I got tickled and we had to stop walking entirely for two minutes because I was giggling so hard that I thought I would wet my pants.

3) It is WIND-AROUNDY and FORKY And CAVE-Y and, not to be …what’s the word? Species-ist? No. Landscapist? A Naturalist? Whatever – my point is, all leafy green-coated narrow tick-infested trails look alike. SO of course we got hopelessly lost. I said, “Do you think we should go ahead and leap off THIS sheer cliff and plummet into THIS patch of tick-filled greenery to our deaths? Or should we wait a few minutes and leap off the NEXT sheer cliff and plummet into THAT patch of tick-filled greenery to our deaths?” She just shrugged and death marched on. And on. And on. We never could tell the cliffs apart enough to choose the best one.

At one random point, I noticed a wooden sign lurking in some fernage by a fork. It said “Gooch Gap.” Karen had her head down ad her arms pumping, forging ahead, so she had not seen the sign.
I called to her, “Hey! Do you know what this particular piece of the path is called?”
And she said, without breaking stride, “Two Dead White Girls Trail?”

At any rate, we DID eventually find our back and RUSHED to the opening breakfast looking feral and wild-eyed and smelling like Huns. I am POSITIVE we are getting invited back to the lit-fest next year! *grin*

MEANWHILE do not forget to SIGN UP FOR THE MAILING LIST AGAIN AND BE ENTERED IN A DRAWING FOR COOL PRIZES month. All you have to do is Send an EMAIL to “Mailing List at Joshilyn Jackson dot com” by clicking this link. Prizes include Dead White Girl #1’s first book, Sin in the Second City I am out of time but I will list another prize tomorrow!

Posted by joshilyn at August 13, 2008 5:56 AM

Ah, I've occasionally shown up at my daughter's preschool to pick her up after a woods-walk, looking and smelling all feral. I'm sure they love me there. But you know, when you "stop walking entirely" for several minutes, that's when the MOST ticks home in on your body heat and find you.

Posted by: Brigitte at August 13, 2008 7:25 AM

I like how "lit festy folks" can have 2 meanings. I can mean persons associatied with a literature festival, or people who are drunk and festive... or both, I reckon.

Glad you escaped a tick-infested greenery death.

Posted by: Jill W. at August 13, 2008 9:23 AM

But Jill, there isn't a difference -- every lit festy person I know has been both :-)

You're a hardier soul than I. After that night of carousing, there wouldn't have been ANY way you'd be getting me out of bed at 5am.

Posted by: Beth at August 13, 2008 9:32 AM

Oh dear. I guess you never read Bill Bryson's "A Walk in the Woods." (As always, a book solution for every issue.)
Couldn't you just have a really active game of tag instead? Suppose that might not be the best after drinking until 5AM though.
Maybe, instead, you should stand at the entrance to the trail and just walk in place very vigorously. Just think of the entertainment value for passers by.

Posted by: Elizabeth at August 13, 2008 10:51 AM

LOL - thanks, I needed a good from-the-gut-laugh today!

Posted by: Becky at August 13, 2008 12:52 PM

Oh, so THAT's why Karen was scratching her scalp at lunch. You are TOO funny. And equally adorable. If it had not been Sunday, we could have had a shot in the name of Gooch.
( hey, that sounds like a new Joss cocktail )

Posted by: lindasands at August 13, 2008 3:33 PM

I have this firm rule, never hike before I wake up, and I am usually firmly asleep at 5am.

Joss and Karen fans are ever so happy that the rumors of your pathy demise is decades premature.

Posted by: Cele at August 13, 2008 10:25 PM

hehehe, that is totally the title for your next book, Joss! "Two Dead White Girls Trail"!

Posted by: Elena at August 14, 2008 8:51 PM

You crack me up.

I want to sign up for your email list, but I do NOT heart new servers (thank you, lightning), and I don't know how to set up my Outlook account so that I can send you the email the way the link wants me to. Maybe Mr. Husband knows what I mean?

I wanna sign up and can't do it the way the link is set up.

There. Maybe that was clearer. :)

Posted by: Molly at August 16, 2008 2:57 PM