I’m not normally one to make New Year’s resolutions, but I feel inclined to impose one on myself this year. It’s for my own safety, you see.
But before I introduce my 2017 resolution, there’s something you should know. I’m a clumsy bastard. Been that way since I was a wee lad. So even in broad daylight on a dirt trail, there’s a high possibility you’ll see my ass rolling down a hill like a tumbleweed.
Now that that’s off my chest, let’s get right to it.
I need a flashlight from this moment on.
We’ve all been there. Lying under a canopy of stars, listening to the wind tickle the trees above. Then you’re overcome with the need to pee. Yep. You’ve got about 30 seconds to find a flashlight within arm’s reach or you can kiss your dry sleeping bag goodbye.
But there’s a third option. Go pee in the dark.
Being the clumsy bastard that I am, these situations never bode well for me. Yeah, I normally end up with a wet pant leg at the very least because I couldn’t find my damn headlamp in time.
But enough about pee. The real reason I made this resolution is because of times like New Year’s Eve. You see, my wife and dog, Diesel, and I decided to do a quick day hike up Mineral Ridge. Easy enough, right? Not quite.
We left the parking lot at 3 p.m. and started up the 2.5-mile trail. It was pretty dang cold that day, and the trail was frozen stiff. It took all my willpower not to fall on my ass.
As we zigzagged our way up the icy ridge line, we passed a nice young family. The mom, dad and two daughters said “hello” and asked if we were familiar with this particular hike. We told them how long it was, then continued up the ridge.
Less than an hour after we left the parking lot, we reached the top of the ridge. A beautiful view of Lake Coeur d’Alene greeted our frosty faces. After eating a celebratory peanut butter granola bar, we started back down the ridge.
In the midst of falling on my ass, I noticed the sun dip behind a nearby mountain. Shitcicles. We weren’t even a quarter of the way down, and darkness was sweeping through the trees at a scary pace. Balls.
Like the good prepared boy scout that I am, we had no flashlight, phone or headlamp. Many obscenities were uttered on the way down Mineral Ridge that night. To avoid the long, icy main zigzag trail, we cut straight down the face of the ridge towards the parking lot instead . Although the snow was deeper off trail, it saved us a lot of time.
Once we stumbled onto the deserted parking lot, Trisha, Diesel and I all shared a moment of contentment.
But then it hit us. The family we saw on the way up was surely still somewhere up there. This story just turned into a family of shitcicles. After brief deliberation, Trisha decided it would be best for her and Diesel to stay in the nice, warm car while I hiked back up to check on the family. Well, that’s not totally fair. If you must know, Trisha stayed with the car to keep the headlights on to help guide the family back down.
So my clumsy ass was tasked with scrambling back up the windswept ice ridge—still with no flashlight. I climbed up the incline, feeling around on ground like an old man who dropped his glasses.
Off in the distance, I saw two flickering lights.
“Hello! Do you guys need help? I’m the guy you saw earlier with the wife and dog,” I hollered from a distance.
“Um, no… I think we’re good,” the mom yelled back.
“Yes! Yes, we need help!” said the little girl.
So funny. The parents played it cool, and the little girl wanted to GTFO. Within minutes, we reached each other halfway up the ridge. The dad was carrying the smallest girl, probably 3-years-old, and the mom was tending to the older daughter (probably 5). After a quick introduction, we headed down the ridge at a baby’s pace.
To save on time, we took the same route Trisha and I did early – straight down. Their flashlights made it easier this time. Handy little things, eh?
Once we reached the parking lot, the eldest daughter proceeded to kiss their car as if she’d been stranded on a ship that just reached the shore.
So now that that’s all said and done, this is why I feel the need to pack a flashlight or headlamp wherever I go. That’s my promise, and I’m sticking to it.