Her Side’s First Contest!

29 01 2010

I’ve been thinking a lot about what’s missing from this blog, and I’ve decided that what’s missing is good, old-fashioned competition.  Yep, that’s right.  Now introducing…

Her Side of the Mountain’s very first CONTEST!

I want to hear your stories about hiking and camping.  They don’t even have to be stories about hiking and camping solo.  For this first contest, I specifically want to hear about the most incredible moment you’ve experienced while hiking or camping.

The winner will receive — aside from extreme bragging rights — a 5×7 photo, taken by me while solo hiking!  You can put it in your office and dream of being outside.  (That’s what I do.)  You’ll even get your choice, from one of these three photos:

Dark Hollow Falls, Shenandoah National Park, VA

Zion National Park, UT

Morning Glory Pool, Yellowstone National Park, WY

Pretty cool, right?  So, here are the rules:

  • Tell me, either by posting in the comments or emailing hermountain at gmail.com, the story of the most incredible moment you experienced while hiking or camping.  It doesn’t have to be a solo experience.  It can be about hiking or camping, it doesn’t have to be about both.  I’m looking for something that scared you, or inspired you, or an encounter with wildlife, or a triumph, or a failure, or a moment of revelation, or whatever you want.  Be creative.  (But not lewd, please!) 
  • If you need an example, look here for a post I wrote last week about a moment of revelation in the Smokies.  But you don’t have to send a photo.
  • Keep it short.  I’m not looking for a treatise, so keep your story to 300 words or less.  Preferably less.
  • You don’t have to be a writer.  I mean, make sure that the grammar and punctuation and spelling make the thing readable so I can understand it, but don’t worry if you don’t think of yourself as a wordsmith.  Just pretend you’re writing me an email.
  • Make sure I know how to contact you if you win by giving me your email.
  • I’m going to set a minimum here — I need to receive at least ten entries in order to give out the prize.  Otherwise, we’ll try it again.  This is your chance to get in while the getting it good!  As (hopefully) readership grows, your chances will be slimmer…
  • The deadline is next Friday, February 5, 2010.
  • In order to keep things fair, I’ll give the entries, without attribution, to a disinterested third party who will narrow the choices down to three, and then I’ll choose from there.

Any questions?  If not, then bring it on…

© Her Side of the Mountain 2010.



7 responses

29 01 2010
Jennifer Floyd

You’ll be able to tell by this I am So Not a Writer, but I said I would participate. 🙂

My father is a talkative man, and yet, I have never once heard him raise his voice (save that time when one of our burly neighbors set a boat motor on his toe and snapped it in two) , nor have I ever heard him swear.
He and I were on a 9-day canoeing and portaging trip in the Boundary Waters. It was a Boy Scout trip, and I had to go through Boy Scout Leader training to qualify. I also, according to my father and brother, had to get to an advanced enough age that I would be deemed too “elderly” to be of “interest” to the young scouts on our side(apparently that age is “23”, if the scouts are 14. If the scouts are 16, only sending them to another country is safe.)
I was not an athlete of any kind. I had not even the upper body strength of an average 14-year-old boy, so the canoeing part of the trip was trying for me, at times. One of those times was on our last run, our longest run, in a bit of rain, and in a lot of wind. My father, sweet and encouraging, was paddling for all he was worth and shouting just over the wind “Come on, Bear (a childhood nickname from Pooh Bear footies)! You can do it, Bear! Come on, Bear!”
I, paddling for all I was worth, plus a lot more, was in so much pain I was crying. So much pain! So much pain that after the tenth encouraging shout from the back of the canoe, I turned around, brandishing my paddle threateningly and swore. At my father. For the very first, and only, time in our lives.
He sat in shocked silence for a split second only. I turned back to continue the painful and seemingly fruitless battle with wind and water and heard behind me “Come on, Bear! You can do it, Bear! Come on, Bear!”

1 02 2010

“The Food Chain in Action”

A few years ago I was hiking along the Clarion River in the Allegheny National Forrest, lamenting that it was too cold to put my kayak in the water for a nice paddle down river. The forrest had been full of great sights, sounds, and beautiful discoveries and ending the day by the river (albeit closer to humaity than i would like) was a perfect end to a day away from Coporate America.

Very often when in the forrest you come across a deer, or a chipmunk, or even an occasional bear sighting – all very exciting, especially when you feel like you are evesdropping in on their quiet forrest lives. It is a rare treat to participate in forrest life with the animals. What happened next is, at least to me, and even more rare life experience.

As I stood along the bank of the river a deer jutted out from the forrest, across the river from me, running at full tilt. It was amazing to see the animal move with such speed and to actually hear her hooves pounding into the ground. It also begged the question, “wonder why she is hauling ass up the river bank?”

Here is where the “food chain in action” comes in – a two coyotes came storming out of the same woods in hot pursuit of the deer. The deer had about 200 feet on the coyotes but they were clearly not ready to give up hope. I watched (along with my friend) as the deer made a hard left back into the woods and then the coyotes soon followed her – never knowing what the end game would be. Amazing to witness such a pure and unadulterated state of nature.

1 02 2010

Rattle Snake Meets Rabbit. That pretty much sums it up. When I was hiking the AT for several weeks after graduating from college, we stumbled into the shelter area after a day of hiking. It must have been a short day (I honestly can’t remember), because we got to the camp site earlier in the day than usual. We decided to set up a tent, rather than use the shelter. We found the perfect tent site, and I was about to drop my pack and set up camp when I stopped in my tracks. Right in front of me was a rattle snake, with the back half of a rabbit still sticking out of it’s mouth. And he was none to happy to have his meal interrupted. As soon as we showed up, he started rattling his warning to get away. The rattle snake itself (sans rabbit) was larger than my upper arm. And it was lying there, jaw unhinged, slowly sucking the rabbit down. Every 10-15 seconds, another inch or so of the rabbit disappeared down the snakes throat. I did the only thing I could think of to to: snapped a picture, then got as far away from it as I could. While logic told me that the snake was certainly not about to spit out its meal just so it could come after me, the instinct to RUN AWAY from an animal that could kill me in a split second took over. I can try to find the photo and send it to you if you’d like.

I’ve had many incredible hiking moments, but that one definitely takes the cake.

4 02 2010

I had hiked while camping in years past but never really ‘caught the bug’ till last year. My co-worker heard that I was gearing up for a challenge hike of my first summit near Rocky Mtn National Park in Colorado. Its only 1 hr from home and makes a perfect weekend destination. We ended up making that a girls hike and with encouragement I made it to the top. Understand I am not by any means a skinny girl and at 46 yrs old and with asthma its a challenge.

When we finished that ‘hill’ we decided that another challenge was in order. a 9 mile trek with almost 3000 ft elevation gain. I was nervous but really wanted to at least try. This time we invited the hubby’s to go along (maybe to carry me back down) It took over 4 hrs but persistent slogging and chatter got us to the top of the mountain. Standing by the sign, taking photos with our muscle man arms was fantastic. Seeing the lightning striking behind us was not. But on the run back down to treeline I was warm inside knowing it was possible. And planning many more for next year!

4 02 2010

Always be prepared! The Boy Scout motto was echoing through my head as I heaved my sopping body out of the frigid stream. What was I thinking? Trying to photograph the waterfall from the slippery (ice-covered) rocks in the middle of the stream. At least I’m wearing layers of capilene and have spare wool socks in my pack.

I quickly changed socks, squeezed the water out of my fleece, tied it to my pack and re-joined my friends. We are only three hours into our two day winter backpacking trip in Appalachia and I had a sinking feeling as my core body temperature dropped. Good thing the frigid cold in the Northeast is rare in this region.

That evening as the temperature plummeted into the single digits I greedily huddled as close to the fire as possible. We told stories about vacations gone wrong to take our minds off the cold that was seeping into our bodies. I reluctantly retired to my twenty degree bag for the night with my water bottle to keep it from freezing. That night I was colder than I have ever been. Shivering through much of the night my friends and I slept huddled in the center of the tent. In the morning I tried to rinse the dryness from my mouth, but the water bottle was frozen.

5 02 2010

I am a brooklyn girl born-and-raised.
Living in the haze of new york street lights, I knew about stars from looking at pictures in books and some trips to hayden planetarium. I knew a few constellations, such as the big dipper, which points to the north star. On “clear” nights I could actually make the shape that ends with that “brightest star in the sky.” Mostly though, constellations were things that fairy-tales were made of, told by people who lived waaaaay before television and needed to look into the sky for entertainment. (Damn, they must have been seriously bored.)

Then came my 7th-grade class trip: 3 days and 3 nights spent together at a summer camp that hosted school retreats during its off-season. We stayed in cabins with bunk beds and electricity, so it was a luxury camping experience. But the one rustic detail was that we had to walk outside and down the road a bit to reach the toilets and bath house.

Sure enough, my 2nd night there I was wide-awake at 3am with the need to pee. I rolled over to my friend Arlene awake in the neighboring bunk. Scared to head out alone in the boogeyman-infested woods, we grabbed our flashlights, and stepped outside expecting the cold and dark woods to greet us.

What a surprise!

The sky was illuminated like a christmas tree illuminating a dark livingroom. Bright shining lights showered upon us. They were so bright, I could see different colors and sizes and distances from earth. Our flashlights were useless since the road was as visible as any sidewalk in brooklyn at night. Arlene and I stared in awe, forgot our mission, and turned to look in every direction.

“I’ve never seen stars like this.”
“I understand how people can create constellations from these. I could just stare at them for hours.”
“yeah! do you know any?”
“well, the big dipper.”
“oh yeah, we can see that in new york, what else is there?”

We traced the sky in search of patterns and formations we only knew from our science books. I suddenly wished I had studied those books harder. I picked out a few patterns suggesting horses, or bears, or beautiful ladies, in hopes of being right, but we were only guessing. Then, there it was. The pattern we didn’t think about until we saw it: three stars very close together in a row.

“oh, oh, 3 stars in a row! thats something…”
“yeah… some dude’s belt.”
“…Orion? THAT’S Orion’s belt!!!”

Joy flowed through us as we discovered our first constellation that wasn’t the big dipper. This vast twinkling sky had just provided one of the most magical experiences of my twelve-year-old life, something with which no television show could ever compete. Arlene and I finished the mission and scurried back to bed, thrilled by our experience that was our and ours alone.

I don’t remember much else from that camping trip over 22 years ago, but I never expected the magic of camping would shine upon two little city girls while running to pee in the middle of the night.

15 02 2010
Andra MacKnight

Extending Boundaries

I notice your contest deadline has passed. Sorry I missed it, but I’ll share my story anyway.

January 23, 2010 was an Everest day for me! I was scared! I got inspired! I triumphed! I had a revelation! I have been trying to build my confidence with elevation, scrambling, slippery slopes and exposure. I see amazing photos of where others have gone and I want to go there but my confidence is lacking at times. With encouragement from a friend, I came along on the trek to North Kent Outlier.

When I looked up at our destination, I got scared but thought, just take it one step at a time. The snowshoe part was steep but easy through the trees. I thought if I slip and fall the trees would catch me. Once we got above the tree line we replaced our snowshoes with icers, because it was very steep with a thin layer of snow over top loose rock slabs. To give you an idea of the steepness it was 2431 feet of elevation over 1.9 miles. If I slip here there is nowhere to go but straight down. I only looked up and slowly and gingerly made each foot placement. I was feeling inspired as I was going because I was making progress mentally too. My heart was pounding in my chest and my legs felt wobbly but this time there was no proclaiming out loud “I’m scared” or “help”!

I then followed the ridge along side the most beautiful cornice upwards to the summit. I was finally at one of those places where others had been and I wanted to go. I had a 360-degree view of snow-covered peaks. I felt like I was on top of the world! I felt triumphant!

I had a revelation while on top of North Kent Outlier. I just succeeded in pushing my boundary to a whole new level. I realized I should not second guess my confidence level. I am quite capable! So! Now! What is next?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: