I’m An Impressive Hiker

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Ryan, Brock and Tyler unpacking the color van with our gear.

After lunch we went back to the studio and picked up the other three guys.  No other females on this first trip, no problem.  We drove about 13 miles up the mountain to Wardswarth Trail.   Everyone got their easels and backpacks out of the color mobile.  I wasn’t sure what to bring so I brought a lot of stuff.  Before we left Ryan helped me pare it down a little.  Unfortunately, I felt I could not part with a number of items that Ryan softly suggested I ditch.  I kept some and ditched others.  My backpack probably weighed close to 50 pounds.  No one else was carrying remotely this much stuff.  I was thinking, “it’s fine, I can carry it; it’s not that hard.”

When I say we started hiking, I don’t mean hiking in the woods on somewhat hilly, but not flat ground, the way I first thought.  This was by no means flat;   Not to mention the trail was very narrow.  I took about 60 steps and I was tired.  I was shocked!  I was in great shape, why would this be happening?  I didn’t dare let myself look like I was tired.  I was new to the group and the only female.  So I sucked it up and just kept going.  Did I mention there was horse poop and other strange animal poop all along the incredibly narrow trail?  Did I mention I really hate poop?!  I had on my Frankenstein winter boots, which go above the ankle and are tie ups with hooks.  I felt like Frankenstein in them, completely clumsy.  I needed to be super agile on this mountain.  And I had not even considered the altitude when planning this trip, with my bravado attitude of, “no problem I can hike a mountain.”  Fortunately, I had packed a large water bottle for the hike.  I was going to try and drink as little as possible on that first day, but that was not going to happen if I intended to hike back down the mountain alive, I needed a drink!  I needed a lot of drinks!

Tyler and Ryan setting up

Finally, after what seemed like 13 hours (probably less than an hour) we got to the first site and there was a bridge over a stream made out of fallen logs.  They were not secured to anything and were rotted.  I watched as the guys went across one by one with no problem.  Even though the logs seemed to move a lot when they were negotiating them,  I had this 50 pound backpack sitting very high on my back.  I was listing coming up the trail.  I was never going to make it across!  The guys were soooo nice, offering to help me constantly.  I just said, “no, thanks” mostly and tried to act like everything was cool and this was no big deal.  At least that is what I hoped my body language was saying.  Anyway, I did cross the stream and I did not fall in.  It was, however, nothing short of terrifying for me. On the other side, everyone spread out to find a place to paint.  Ryan helped me find a place.  It was a shaded spot next to the stream.

The view from my easel to Ryan and his easel.

After setting me up, Ryan said, “Don’t worry if you see a bear, I am right around the corner and I have a gun.”Me internally: HOLY #%*!$!   Me out loud: “Are you kidding me?  “Ryan: “No.”  So I asked if I could be closer to him, so I could see him and have him within ear shot. Needless to say, this was not the kind of hike I had imagined on the phone with Ryan.

Ryan Brown

Shelli Alford is an artist and author, who enjoys learning from master oil painters from around the world and reviewing their classes, workshops and demonstrations.

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