Suzanne Olsen's Humor Blog - I don't offend some of the people most of the time

Category: Exercise Page 1 of 2

Superstitions and Ornery Boys on the Ski Slopes

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My superstitious traditions didn’t protect me when I went skiing with my brother last week. I know, I know, superstitions are ridiculous. I’ve stepped on a lot of cracks and never broke my mother’s back. But still…

On Thursday my brother and I headed to the mountain. I like skiing with him because he’s as bad a skier as I am. On the hour and a half ride to get to Timberline, there are two things we always do because, I don’t know about him but for me, I think if I don’t do them something unfortunate might happen on the slopes.

If you’ve never skied, let me assure you, it’s dangerous. You’re going way too fast on snow and ice with your feet strapped to two boards that could turn on you at any minute. One board could go into a track left by a previous skier and follow that line, or you can “catch an edge,” while the other board keeps going straight. You’ve probably seen it happen in cartoons. Usually you can force the wayward ski to behave, but if it won’t, you fall. Which can hurt, but mostly it’s just a LOT of work. Picture a walrus in the Arctic trying to get up on an ice floe, grunting and swaying and bellowing. That’s like one of us struggling back up from a fall, covered in snow like a powdered donut – well, not really, because a walrus is more graceful. Also you can get hit by a beginning snowboarder who’s going too fast and hasn’t learned how to stop yet except to ram into you and flatten you like a steamroller.

That’s the reason traditions/superstitions come into play. We want all the help we can get. The first thing we do, on the way up to the mountain just past the town of Sandy, is salute a metal sculpture. My son started that one when he was just a toddler. On a road trip going toward Mt. Hood he spotted a metal sculpture of a skeleton riding a Harley in someone’s side yard. He shouted, “Skelekos Rider!” because that’s the best he could do at such a tender age. So every time we go on Hwy. 26 and we pass that sculpture, we raise one fist in the air like the man on the Harley and say, “Skelekos Rider!”

This sculpture of a skeleton riding a Harley with his hand raise up is cool in itself, but I liked the old car and tow truck in the background, too. Not to mention the "Harley" sign.
This sculpture of a skeleton riding a Harley with his hand raised up is cool in itself, but when we pulled over to snap this picture, I liked the old car and tow truck in the background, too. Not to mention the “Harley” sign.

Regrets – not today

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You might be saying to yourself, “I wish I’d learned how to play the piano as a kid – I’ve always wanted to play – but it’s too late, I’m old and it’s foolish to start now with these arthritic fingers and the joints all knobby and covered in warts.” Or you’re saying, “I’ve never exercised in my life and now I’ve got pain in my knees and heart troubles and my doctor says I ought to exercise – it would make my life so much better – but I’d look like an idiot walking around the block all by myself and Harold won’t go with me, he never goes anywhere except to the Mr. Suds Bar and Grill for a few cold ones, the lazy bum.”

Or maybe, when you finally go for that walk, it feels great, and the birds chirp and squirrels frolic and the sky is blue and the grass is green and you get angry with yourself, and the whole world at large, and Harold in particular, because you didn’t do it sooner. “Why didn’t I do this years ago, before I got so stoved up I can’t even hoist myself out of my recliner and have to scooch up to the end of the chair and rest there for a minute and then start rocking back and forth until I get enough momentum, and then I lean way forward and put both hands down and push with all my might and if I don’t get it all perfectly in sync so that I’m propelled straight up onto my feet, if I wobble even a little and fall back into the recliner, I’ll wet myself because I really, really, really need to go. Why didn’t I start exercising sooner? Why?”

I’ll tell you why. You weren’t ready. You were a mess, and maybe you didn’t even know it. A lot of us do (or don’t do) things because we have some dumb fear that keeps us in the same wacko patterns that have made us afraid we’d be less happy if we did things different, even when common sense and our gut feelings tell us we need to change.

I’m in that pattern right now with eating. I’m a healthy eater – plant-based, lots of fruits and vegetables – a pillar of respectability when it comes to diet EXCEPT at Christmas time, when all the homemade goodies get exchanged. People feel compelled to open a can of sweetened condensed milk and mix chocolate chips in there and heat it up and cool it down and call it fudge and put it in a pretty tin decked out with Santas and holly and give it to me in December, often with a side of butter cookies in the shape of Christmas trees with green sprinkles. Who can resist? Not me. I gain 10 pounds from sugar every holiday season. Then the whole months of January, February and March (and sometimes April and May) are spent chastising myself for doing it because (every dieter knows this formula):

1 pound gained in 24 hours of binging = + or – 3 pounds lost in one month of strenuous dieting

Usually it takes longer, because once the sweets addiction takes hold, you spend at least the first half of January eating every piece of concentrated sugar you can find, even down to those round disks of white hard candy with red streaks radiating out of the middle that taste like peppermint – I think they’re called Starlight mints. They always have them in at restaurant cash registers where the management is cheap and happy not to have to  keep re-filling the bowl because no one eats them. Sometimes my husband grabs a couple and hands me one and, so as not to hurt his feelings, I put it in a coat pocket and it stays there all summer and the next winter I put my hand in the pocket and the candy has drawn in a little moisture from the humidity and gotten itself gummed up and turned pink all over and leached out of the wrapper and stuck to the inside of the pocket and I tug it out with my fingers that get all sticky and there’s nowhere to wash them off. You know the ones I’m talking about. In January, when I’ve gone through all the existing sweets and exercised enough willpower not to buy anymore, I’ll resort to eating one of those things because there’s always at least one somewhere in the house. Then, like a drunk in a mud puddle in the rain in a movie who’s reached rock bottom, I know I have to stop. No more sweets. No more McDonald’s fries between meals. No more eating chocolate chips right out of the bag just before bedtime so I can’t go to sleep because of the caffeine buzz. I’ve hit bottom, and I’m overcome with regret.

But consider this. Whenever you come to the point that you want to change for the better, whether you’re 18 or 89 – that’s the best time to do it. Before that, you weren’t ready. You weren’t even capable of doing it. It was not possible. You were too scared, too tired, too busy, too lonely, too afraid. And now you’re not.

 Maybe you realize you can’t blame Harold anymore, the no-account bum. You don’t need him to help make you better – you only need you. Right now.

I’ve taken up a couple of hobbies, and that voice in my head is telling me I’m stupid because I didn’t do them when I was younger – when my body and mind were nimble. “You’re an idiot, you know that, don’t you? You should have done this instead of having your girlfriends come over and calling up boys and saying, ‘Who do you like,’ for hours and hours when you could have been using that time learning to play the banjo.”

For some reason, right at this point in my life, I’ve gotten brave enough to do a couple of things I’ve always wanted to do, and I’ve resolved to do them with the zeal of youth, and appreciate my progress, no matter how slow. Even once around the block – that little accomplishment – is better than sitting and feeling the life flow out of me like a receding tide.

Up now, UP! Let’s rise up and do something extraordinary – you and me. Let’s stretch our bodies and minds and be the best we can be today. Let’s take piano lessons, learn to sing or dance, take an online class to become a rocket scientist.

And if Harold, the no-good bum, or the voice in our head makes fun of us, let’s not listen. Just for today.

Election 2020

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Election 2020 has put an extra five pounds on me. On Tuesday, as I watched the returns coming in, my appetite for salty, crunchy foods hit new highs. We made tacos for dinner, and I ate extra beans and onions and chips and cheese and guacamole, and vigorously shook out way too many drops of Tabasco sauce on everything. I was wound up.  

Record-breaking quantities of food passed through my mouth at dinnertime. With every new red or blue state on the map, I headed for the kitchen. I devoured 80 percent of the crunchy food group before moving on to chocolate. 

It was fear eating. Like when I’m at the cinema watching a scary movie in wide-eyed horror, barely breathing, putting fistful after fistful of faux-butter popcorn in my mouth with one hand, clutching the armrest with the other, not even aware I’m eating until my greasy fingers scratch the bottom of the bucket.

No Wonder We’re Fat – We Eat Like Livestock

“Oink Oink!”

Ever been in a restaurant that serves fresh bread, and you eat it all and ask for more? When your belly starts pooching out, do you unbutton your pants, and when your food comes, are you still hungry enough to eat it all, and do you really really want to lick the plate? Do you unzip your pants all the way down and then feel in the mood for a little something sweet? When your dessert comes, do you hold your fork up to stab any hand that comes in for a sample before you eat every crumb all by yourself? Do you say, multiple times, “I’m stuffed” then, if there’s any bread left, reach for it saying, “I really shouldn’t eat this, but…” After you ask the waiter for more butter, do you finish off every piece of bread, even if it’s several slices? 

My chicken fat thighs

We are going on vacation soon, and our family loves to snorkel, which means I’ll have to wear a swimsuit (groan). The long sleeve rash guard I always wear will hide my sagging crepe chicken fat skin from the waist up, but it leaves the lower half of me exposed to the world – big as life and twice as ugly.  

The first thing when I crawled out of the warm bed this morning, I said, “Hey Google! How do I get rid of old lady cottage cheese on my thighs?” And you already know what Google said. Google came up with some exercise videos so I can watch young lithe girls contort their bodies in impossible exercises, and I know good and well that they don’t have even one lump of chicken fat on their thighs, much less being covered with it like peanuts on a Payday candy bar.

Sample video of the torture we must endure to get rid of cottage cheese thighs

Why is it that every solution to every appearance woe goes right back to changing what you eat and outrageous exercise? I’m lucky that I was brought up at a time when people ate healthy food. A meal was a small portion of meat, one starch (like a potato) a salad, some sliced tomatoes and/or cucumbers, and maybe another side vegetable, usually green beans because my brother loved them and insisted on them practically every meal.

My point is that I’m not fat or skinny, I’m about average, right in the middle of the body mass index for my height.  I don’t have as much cottage cheese as a lot of people, but it’s still there even though I walk a couple miles every day. So I have to ask myself right now. Do I want to give up some of the food I eat to be skinny enough for a tropical vacation? And do I want to contort myself with heartless exercises? 

Of course I do! The question is, WILL I? You know what? I think I will. I think I’ll do it. I think I can. Maybe. I’ll try. We’ll see. It’s a strong, a very strong, possibility. I know one thing, though. I’m getting tired and hungry just thinking about it. I think I’ll ponder it on my La-Z-Boy, and my oh my a nice bowl of buttery popcorn would sure hit the spot right now. Maybe I’ll think about the vacation tomorrow….

On the Blogging Homestretch

I have written 326 blogs. My goal was 365, and I have been slacking lately because I’ve been busy and tired. But I’m jumping back on the horse and I’m going to make it to the finish line. And by that I mean, I’m going to get up right this minute and get myself a fistful of chocolate chips because I’ll need strength to proceed with this 327th blog tonight.

I went with my husband on a 9 mile hike today. I am give out, as they say in the south. Worn to a frazzle. I feel like I’ve been rode hard and put away wet. I’ve been dragged under something – I can’t remember what but there’s a saying that would definitely describe the throbbing in my thighs and the burning in my feet.

The hike was lovely, we just didn’t realize it was going to be so long. We thought it would be 4.5 miles total, which was doable. Turned out this was double. We also didn’t realize that it would be a steady incline without a break all the way to Ramona Falls. My husband was grunting and moaning like a constipated bear. He is not inclined toward inclines.

I’ve rewarded myself just now with chocolate chips, and boy are they good, but typing about them has caused a major annoyance with my Word for Mac program. Oh, and BTW, I got a new MacBook Pro. I really like it except there isn’t a delete button. There is, but it only deletes backwards. There’s no way to delete forwards, which comes in handy, and my deletion method of choice. Other than that I really like this laptop.

But the Word thing is annoying because sometimes when I start typing a word, some person’s name comes up. Tonight the name is an irritating individual that I served on a committee with years ago who I’d rather forget. When I typed about the chocolate chips, “Chip ______” popped up. This person was universally despised by the high school snowboard team I was in charge of because he was a power junkie who made flippant decisions in the “because I said so” vein that grated on me like someone coughing all through a movie. Even though it has been four years since I’ve had to deal with this individual, thinking about him makes me want to pass gas.

Because of the way Word makes his name come up when I type chocolate chip (there it went again), I have to either stop talking about chocolate chips so I don’t remember him, or else go around passing gas like a bulldog. If you know how to turn those little pop-up name things off, please, PLEASE let me know.

What’s that I hear. My bed is calling me. “I’M COMING, JUST A SECOND.” I guess I’d better go now.


A Naturally Happy Day

Yesterday I had a naturally happy day. By natural I mean a day that was happy on its own merit and not one I have to cajole myself into believing was happy.

I’ll give you an example. When it’s raining and cold and I’m freezing to my bones I can say, “At least I’m cozy inside and not out in a leaky tent with no bathroom.”

Or I can say, “I’ve got a sore tooth but I at least I have teeth, unlike my cousin in Tennessee who drank Coca-Cola out of a baby bottle.”

These things are designed to make me feel better. If I imagine myself in more pitiful circumstances, then I’ll feel better and can even give my situation a “silver-lining” up a couple of notches on the happiness scale.

This method of happiness works, but every now and then things go so well I’m not forced to look at the miserable side of life to get pumped up, and yesterday was one of those.

First, I found a swimsuit that doesn’t make me look fatter than I am, and it was ON SALE! Next, I found a couple of tops that don’t make me look fatter than I am, and they were ON SALE too!

This in itself would have been enough to make for a pretty stellar day, but I also went hiking in a wilderness area at the base of Three Finger Jack, a central Oregon mountain with jagged peaks that look way more like a bunch of jagged peaks than three fingers. I’ve seen that mountain from every angle and still can’t find the fingers, but this did not make me unhappy because it was gorgeous up there, with snow-fed streams and wildflowers blooming in every direction. We hiked for four hours, which wore me out and therefore must have burned a lot of calories. Lucky for me because I had a bag of chocolate cherry trail mix that geniuses invented. They stuck some peanuts in there to make it an “official” trail mix food, but for the most part it was chocolate and more chocolate. Could a wilderness hike be any better?

Then I dozed all the way home while my husband drove which was great because I was unconscious as he passed extra-long RV’s on curves, and risked our lives in other creative ways that usually give me a heart attack.

But the real happiness came when I got home and read my emails. Not only did I have several new site members (thanks and welcome!), but also the book I helped to write about global warming got an endorsement from James E. Hansen, the world’s foremost authority on global warming. HOW EXCITING!

Hansen is a NASA scientist who has written a couple of books about global warming as well as teaching at Columbia University and being called to testify before Congress. He is no slouch. So having his endorsement is such a wonderful thing even though you, personally, have never heard of him.

You can see the endorsement on the website and/or order the book on

Riding on the high of all this, my daughter’s boyfriend had left the movie, “Big Fish” at our house and I watched it. What a delight! Tim Burton is a very interesting director, and I was sucked into that movie like a lollipop into my toothless cousin’s mouth. By the time I went to bed I was feeling bubbly. A wonderful day never hurt anyone.

Ripped by Preparation H

In my last blog I talked about causes and cures for the bags under my eyes. In doing thorough internet research on this very important subject, I came across an article by ABC news about men rubbing Preparation H on their arms and chests to make them appear “ripped.”

I can probably figure out what ripped means, but what the heck, I might as well look it up. I’m back already, and, just as I suspected, it means torn. It also means rubbing it in that someone was an idiot to spend a lot of money, as in, “Oh man, you paid $600 for a dog? You got ripped, man. My neighbor’s got a whole bunch of those same puppies. I coulda got you one for free.”

Like so many words in this language you’re reading, there are several meanings for the same word. Thus “ripped” also means having ripples of muscles,  sometimes called a six-pack. In this case six pack does not mean beer, but those highly defined muscle groups in the stomachs of lean men who have nothing better to do than push heavy weights toward the sky and make commercials explaining how easy it is for everyone else to get “six-pack abs.”

Unfortunately, everyone watching these commercials is, at that very instant, “putting away” a six-pack. This is another example of how confusing our language is, and probably explains why we don’t see many six-pack abs in real life. No one has explained to these chronic TV viewers that the six-pack goes ON the stomach, not IN it.

I’m always amused to what lengths men and women will go in order to attract each other. It seems like the more they try, the less success they have. And they go about it in such ass-backwards ways.

A Preparation H guy wants to get lucky with a temporary relationship that lasts no longer than a few hours. He’s trying to make himself sexually appealing.

Women are looking for Mr. Right so they can become Mrs. Right. They don’t want a one nighter – they want life with no parole. They’re looking for a guy who’s sharp and stable and sweet. They’re not looking for a guy who’s practically wearing a neon sign that says, “I’m a bee yo love slave tonight.”  Guys need to dress for success, not for sex.

On the other hand, women are looking for a guy who’s ready to go the long haul. So what do they do? They dress sexy and give guys the come-on because they think this will attract a prospective marriage partner. All they end up attracting is the guy who smells like Preparation H, and they’re going to avoid him because he’s so obviously just interested in a one-time sleepover.

The guy looking for a long-term relationship is going to avoid the woman who has overdone her makeup and revealed too much skin because she doesn’t look like the mother of his children.

Seems to me that this is a no-win situation all the way around. You might as well just stay home and work on that six-pack.

Climbing Mt. Hood, Part 2

After almost six hours of stair stepping, the final stragglers in the group (me, an 18 year old Japanese exchange student named Koz, a guy in his late 20’s, and the poor guide who had to stay behind for us slow pokes) arrived at the part of the mountain that made this an official “technical” climb – where being roped together would save our lives. It was a straight up sheer cliff of ice about 20 feet tall that we needed to plant our feet in the toe holes and hold on for our very lives. I was terrified. But I was roped to these guys and I had to go. It went fast because there was a line of people behind us, and the lead guy set the pace. This was Andrew, and he was as scared as I was. He wanted to get the heck done with it.

After we survived the Cliff of Terror, we had only a few steps to go before we reached the top. When we got there, we saw the other 20 people in our group, plus about 80 more crazy people. It was 8:30 in the morning. I was exhausted and just shy of the point of passing out and already dreading the climb back down, plus I had to pee. All that stopping for drinks of water caught up with me. I don’t mean to be indelicate here, but next time you look up at a snowcapped mountain, see if there’s a bush or a tree up there. There’s not a one. I was in a panic, because as miserable as every muscle and joint in my body were, my bladder was worse off. I had to go.   

In case you ever find yourself in this situation with a hundred people around and nowhere to hide, here’s what you do.  You move a little down slope of the crowd.  It’s about 15 degrees, but take your coat off anyway, lie on your back in the snow, arrange your coat discreetly over your midsection, wiggle out of the three layers of clothes that have not been enough to keep you warm (despite what the guides said) and relieve yourself for as long as it took Austin Powers when he was first awakened after being cryogenically frozen for 20 years. This may take a full ten minutes, depending on how many water/rest stops you’ve took. Breathe a huge sigh of relief, and then move a little sideways (remember, you’re still lying down on a fairly steep incline), struggle back into your clothes, put your coat back on, and pretend you don’t know a thing about the steaming yellow river cutting little snow valleys into the snow as it flowed down the mountain right beside you. I’m sure this information will come in handy for you someday.

After all the agony of getting to the summit, nobody stays at the top for long.  It’s freezing up there!  Plus, even though the view is breathtaking, you can only look out over the vast empty plains and mountain peaks for so long, and then it’s blasé.  Seriously. You look at Mt. Rainier and The Three Sisters and Mt. Bachelor for a few minutes; then you’ve seen it. I’ve noticed in movies that the people who reach the summit of Mt. Everest don’t linger around either, and I bet they can see more than we could.

Getting down, for the most part, was more fun than going up. Having a baby and getting a root canal at the same time without drugs is more fun than going up. Going down, you get to slide part of the way. It’s got a technical name, glaceeing, but it’s basically taking out the plastic garbage bag you put in your backpack and sitting on it. Gravity does the lion’s share of the work, but there’s danger in this simple act, too. I saw Kos go sliding at 250 mph straight toward a smoking, belching, stinking sulfur pit that probably went straight to the core of the earth. Luckily our guides had gone over “self arrest” where you roll over and dig your ice pick into the snow to stop sliding. Kos frantically did this repeatedly before he stopped on the edge of the foul pit, and then he had to climb all the way back up to the Hogsback, the narrow ridge we were on.  

The guide who herded us slower ones to the top kept telling us we needed to hurry. We ignored him as we were trudging upward, but I found out why he was so insistent as we made our descent. When the sun beats down on the snow, even when it’s cold, the surface starts to soften and get slushy. Gravity and the slush duke it out, but the slush wins and you are no longer able to slide. Plus the snow gets so soft that you sink to your knees with every step. I can’t tell you how difficult it is to walk like this, but it takes forever to pull a heavy foot out of a deep hole and then pull the next one out. This went on for about two days or the last half hour, it was impossible to tell the difference. Everyone else in our group was already at the bottom, and had been there for an hour or more. Even Kos and Andrew were there. Just the guide and I straggled back at noon.

Let me tell you this. I hated climbing Mt. Hood more than anything I’ve ever done. But having survived it, I have to admit I’m proud to be able to say I did it, especially when I’m around a bunch of jogging, weight-lifting, buffed-up people. It’s nice to ask casually, “Have you ever climbed Mt. Hood?” Like it’s something I do for fun on weekends.

But I wouldn’t advise anyone else to climb it, ever. If you’re too foolhardy to listen to me and insist on going anyway, I have one parting thing to say. Don’t drink too much water.

Climbing Mt. Hood, Part 1

When it’s a beautiful day, and Mt. Hood is silhouetted against a royal blue sky, I’ll hear people say, “Wouldn’t it be fun to climb to the top of that mountain?”  Let me answer that question from my own experience. ARE YOU CRAZY??

It is not fun. I know, because my brother, the salesman, talked me into attempting the climb. He paid $25 dollars at an auction for the services of two guides to take a group to the summit of Mt. Hood. He invited thirty people to his home, served lots of wine, and then let the guides convince us that it would be “fun” to be part of their expedition.

Both these guides were tanned, taut, and toned. They ENJOYED rock climbing and snow camping. I had absolutely and positively nothing in common with them. They said our climb date would be in May because there’s LESS CHANCE of avalanche (how encouraging). We’d need to rent boots, crampons, and ice axes, and we’d be roped together for the last leg of the climb. Everyone got all excited when they started in with this technical jargon, but I heard the word Crampon which made me think of something bloody awful, and Ice Axes, which made me think of axe murderers, which did not bode well.

I had no desire to climb Mt. Hood. Anybody in their right mind would know that this wouldn’t be fun. Our guides said that we could get in shape by finding a bunch of stairs and running up and down them. Does that sound like fun to you? Also, our group had to be roped together like a string of sausages. Why roped together? In theory, if one person falls the rest would catch him. I wasn’t afraid I’d fall, I was terrified that one of the big sausages would slip and drag us to our deaths in some bottomless precipice. But group mentality and peer pressure overcame our better senses, and all of us signed up to go.

The guides were well worth the $25 investment. They took us on two hikes in the Columbia Gorge, and they took everyone else to the top of Mt. St. Helens. I wasn’t invited to that one, probably because I complained so much during the hikes in the Gorge. For crying out loud, they forced us to practically jog up steep trails in the winter, with snow on the ground. My response was to repeat, “I’m tired. Can’t we slow down? It’s freezing!” I was freezing because I guess I didn’t read the instructions that said not to wear cotton next to my skin (it gets wet from the exertion then makes you cold or some other scientific mumbo jumbo) so one guide had to give me his polypropolenesuperthinbutsuperwarmthermal shirt. That, and the fact that I’m not one to keep my complaints bottled up were probably the reason the guides must have waited until I was in the bathroom to tell the others about the Mt. St. Helens hike. Or it might have been on the instruction sheet that I neglected to read.

Whatever, in early May we were to meet at the appointed time, which was 2:00 a.m. (another reason I did NOT want to do this climb), at Timberline Lodge – so named because it’s so freaking cold at 6,000 ft. even the hardiest mountain trees cannot survive any higher. Our guides told us to go to bed early in the afternoon and get plenty of sleep. You can climb in a bed anytime you want, but if your thinking about being a sausage-on-a- string in an avalanche, sleep will not come to drown your fears. 

I met the guides at midnight to hitch a ride almost two-hours to the mountain. I asked as many dumb questions as crossed my mind, mostly about what to do if someone was pulling me into a crevice (pronounced like your snooty aunt would say “vase” as in “crevaass.” They were patient at first but finally told me that if I knew what was good for me I’d lie down and get some sleep.

When we got there, the parking lot was full of climbers. What a bunch of idiots. Our group was doing this because we’d paid a guide, albeit only about two cents an hour by the time you factored in all the training hikes, but these nincompoops were doing it because they wanted to. Crazy. We all signed in so they’d be able to notify the families when we didn’t come back, another reassurance that this was not a good idea. Then we put on our heavy boots and stuck our food, water, crampons, extra clothes, garbage bags, and our trusty ice axes into our backpacks and hoisted them on. I didn’t weigh in, but it seemed like I was 200 lbs heavier than in my birthday suit, maybe 300.

I took the first step and almost buckled under the weight. Those boots weighed a ton, and even though I’d walked in them for a couple of days to condition myself, it was just too much with the backpack. I felt I couldn’t go on. Everyone chided me into continuing, which I did against my better judgment. You are probably wondering why I kept listening to these people. Me too. I guess I just didn’t want to be the only sissy in the group. Perhaps I felt that if I did enough complaining they’d kick me out and I wouldn’t have to feel like a pansy. You’d think they would have said, “It’s obvious you don’t want to do this, maybe you should not go.” But no one ever said that, au contraire! They did the exact opposite – the more I complained, the more they encouraged. Since I couldn’t give up, I just had to try harder to get booted out.

Want to know what mountain climbing is like? I couldn’t tell you. But getting to the top of Mt. Hood from Timberline Lodge, except for about twenty feet, is like this: Remember that movie, “Ace Ventura, When Nature Calls?” There’s a scene in which Ace climbs to the top of an infinite stairway leading to a Tibetan monastery. He puts a Slinky on the top step and gives it a little push. It starts going down the steps, one by one as the camera zooms out like the scene is being filmed from an airplane so that it can get all nine million stairs in. When the Slinky FINALLY gets almost to the bottom, it stops at the next to the last step. Ace raises his hands in frustration because now he’ll have to climb all the way back to the top and start over. THAT’s what climbing Mt. Hood is like. Each time you lift your leg, you are raising it like you are going up another stair. There is never even one step where you just walk. You are climbing the stairway to Heaven, or just shy of it. Plus you’re on snow and ice. Thank goodness for the crampons which keep you from slipping and sliding like you’re walking on a grease slick, though it’s not much consolation.

At about Silcox hut, not too far from Timberline, I sat down in the snow with my head in my hands and said I couldn’t go any further. “You can’t give up now,” the guides said. “It’s a beautiful day; you’ll never get a better opportunity; just keep putting one foot in front of the other.” I know they soon regretted prodding me along – wailing gets on people’s nerves.

The guides told us to drink plenty of water because it helps prevent leg cramps. My legs hurt so much I wouldn’t have even KNOWN if I had a cramp, but I drank water constantly. It was an excuse to stop and rest. By the time I was two-thirds of the way up, I rewarded myself with a drink after every ten steps. Did I mention the air is thinner and you get more out of breath with every step as you go up? That’s about the same time my pleas to go back turned into wails and near tears.

Tomorrow I’ll tell about the rest of the adventure.

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Copyright © 2021 by Suzanne Olsen