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Friday, February 22, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Sports >  Outdoors

Ammi Midstokke: When napping is better than hiking, or not

Ammi Midstokke is a columnist for The Spokesman-Review writing about off-the-grid living. (The Spokesman-Review)
Ammi Midstokke is a columnist for The Spokesman-Review writing about off-the-grid living. (The Spokesman-Review)

I rather assumed that being fickle was just part of my female constitution.

My motivation and intention to do things one moment might be entirely erased by the immediate desire to take a nap, shove a burrito in my face or immerse myself in a book. This is why I write most of my appointments in pencil, not to mention my retirement plans.

I woke up one morning this weekend, checked my color-coded planner, and excitedly noted I had drawn a large pink bubble indicating that a snow shoe adventure was planned. This was delayed by some other key tasks: grocery shopping, dropping kid off somewhere, a lazy cup of brew at the coffee house. By the time I got back home to my snow shoes, it was gray, soggy and cold, and I wanted a sandwich and a siesta.

I made a passionate argument to my bearded companion. It was logical and persuasive and clearly laid out. The superior, reasonable action of the day would be inaction. There were some great bits in there about “knowing when your body needs rest,” about having the quiet house to ourselves, about not having enough daylight left, about all the legitimate work I would be missing if I went out. Also, I really needed to practice the banjo.

Nearly five hours later, on a moonless night, the fog settling over the heavy snow, I was still trudging through the trees and confused about how I had ended up there.

I think it started with lunch. Celebrating my debate victory, I had happily set to making a conciliatory meal of particular deliciousness. Unaware of the impact that a solid meal would have on me, I was jerked out of my lethargy and a wisp of former adventure intent blew past my nostrils. Or maybe it was mayonnaise.

“We should at least go get some fresh air,” someone said. It was probably me.

This is a silly thing to say. In the history of my entire life, I have approximately zero recollection of anything ending with just a little fresh air. I probably started a few outings that way, but I doubt I have finished one with the same sentiment.

The problem seems to be the top of things. I might be OK with the idea of a mild snowshoe through the Narnian trees until I break through and get a view. Inevitably, the top of something is “nearby.” Also, my lack of depth perception proves to be a real problem here. Everything looks attainable, even peaks that are potentially north of the Canadian border.

“I packed a Larabar. Let’s trek to Alberta!” (That actually has happened on at least one occasion. The friend has not asked me to go hiking since.)

There are actually three tops behind my house and the only reason I don’t get suckered into summiting them more regularly is because they are all steep and far. I forget this sometimes. Like I did this weekend when we put on our snowshoes in the worst snowshoeing conditions and schlepped ourselves upward.

I try not to be a condition-oriented outdoors person, but there is a particular kind of snow that is not optimal for snowshoeing. It’s the kind that sticks heavy to the bottoms and tops of your snowshoes, until you have the ballast of approximately one overfed and overdressed Latvian baby dangling from each ankle. It’s the same kind of snow that does not support your weight despite the wonky, wide shoes. Step-sink-hoist.

It was arguably miserable from the beginning, though this did not seem to deter us from the possibility of going to the top of something. Hours later, out of breath and well aware that the descent would be no easier, we summitted and celebrated with some sort of pounded-dates in a square shape.

It’s amazing what tastes delightful when you’re cold and hungry. I’ve had more than a few delicious, soggy, indeterminable peanut butter sandwiches in the great outdoors. Often, I just eat the bag, too.

As we descended from the mountain, the sun set behind the tops of other things. It lit the sky on fire in an explosion of purples and pinks that faded slowly over the next several miles. Headlamps were turned on. The conversation was limited by the swish-slog of snowshoes. It didn’t matter, we were thinking the same thing.

A little fresh air always does one good.

Ammi Midstokke can be contacted at ammimarie@gmail.com

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