The mountains in Washington are steep in a way that I think might be illegal in California, because I’ve never climbed anything in California that’s as steep for as long as everything I’ve climbed in Washington. Our first hike in Washington was supposed to be an easy one. It was less than 10 miles long, right near the freeway, and The Witch said that lots of people go there. Since most people are big wusses (Mom decided), that must mean that it would be an easy climb. Mom is wrong a lot…
The Witch led our pre-hike planning meeting in the front seat while Mom drank her poop juice. “First, you’re going to climb almost 4,000 ft in a little over 3 miles,” The Witch said, showing us a lopsided pyramid that was supposed to represent the mountain.
“Wait, that sounds steep,” Mom said poking the graph so The Witch would show her the steepnesses. A 45 means that a hill is half floor and half wall, and The Witch was showing us numbers in the 50’s and 60’s. I asked Mom about it, and both of those numbers are bigger than a 45 which means that the trail was more wall than it was floor. “That’s got to be a GPS error…” Mom concluded.
“Right, people are stupid,” The Witch agreed. “That’s why I said it was going to be 3 miles when I meant 5.5. But I don’t want to ruin ALL the surprises,” she added with a silent moo-ha-ha.
After we’d hiked about half a mile up a slow, wide trail, Mom said, “This isn’t so bad!” Then we turned into the forest and slammed into the mountain that was more wall than floor. The forest crowded in so close around us that it was hard to see the trail, but it was the good thing the trees were so close because without their roots to make stairs, then the trail would have been one long dirt slide into the valley. The trail climbed so steeply that I had to climb it in big, two-legged leaps. I soared far ahead of Mom with my back paws exploding under me in an impressive kerplow! that impressed every wilting hiker who saw me. Behind me, Mom climbed in big, ground-swallowing steps, bringing her knee almost to her chest and grabbing tree trunks when she could to hoist herself to the next step.
The trail was so narrow that whenever we met other hikers, someone had to cling to a tree when they stepped off the trail so they wouldn’t fall. I liked it best when it was the other people who stopped, because then I would join them under the tree and where they had no choice but to scratch my tight little booty with their free hand until Mom caught up, and then I would inspire them by using that booty to explode away again. They were all very impressed.
By the time we came out of the trees and into the sun near the top, Mom was stinky and slimy, and her shirt and shorts were raining. I was drooling a little bit, but in an attractive, glisteny way. From here, the mountain was too steep or too rocky to hold on to trees, so we continued to climb through the bare rocks and wildflowers while the sun shone in my fur. With my jacked muscles rippling under my lustrous fur, I made even more fans as we climbed up the rocky side of the mountain. “What a great athlete!” they said. “What a hunk!” they swooned. “You have the best hiking partner!” the ladies said.
“Sun’s out, guns out, ladies!” I panted, letting anyone who wanted to run their fingers through my fur. “I’ll be here all week!”
The mountain hadn’t seemed like much when I was standing at its toes, where the trees blocked my view of the highness and the steepness and the rockiness. But now that I was near the top, I was surrounded by mountains sticking into the sky like fangs. In the background behind them glowed lobbed-off white cone of Mt. Rainier-Than-What?. Or, that’s what I would have seen if my eyes were in my tail, but climbing as I was the only thing at the end of my nose was dirt.
The mountain wouldn’t end. I could see more and more of Mt. Rainier-Than-What? as the mountains around us turned into mountains below us. On the slippery dirt and rocks there was nothing for my fans to hang onto when I stopped to inspire them, so they leaned over cautiously and patted me, but lost their balance when I leaned against their shins for a hug. And then, finally, we came to the top where a bunch of hikers were sitting around like a strike of knocked-over bowling pins. Standing triumphantly in the middle of the scattered hikers was… a mailbox. It looked kind of like the pictures I’ve seen of the summit of Mt. Everest, except instead of little flags, it was covered in bumper stickers, and instead of loving photographs and special gifts, it was surrounded by empty drink cans and lost flip flops. “Mom, what’s the symbolism here?” I asked.
“I have no idea,” Mom said, reading something that someone had written on the rock with a marker.
“What does it say?”
“It says f— … . It says duck.”
We had to wait our turn to get back on the trail. While we were waiting, a group of triumphant would-be Oscar fans climbed the last few steps to the top. “You did it! You did it!” they cheered, hugging and calling out each other’s names. Some of them started to cry. They looked as excited to see each other as I am when Mom comes home after a long an errand. They were happy when they reached the top, but their happiness didn’t bubble over until they shared the achievement with their friends. I saw how happy they were, and how much happier they were together, and I hatched a plan. Every person I saw on the way down, I would greet them with a great big smile and cheer, “You did it! You did it!”
Mom may have gotten used to life with the boogeyvirus, hiking with her mask hanging around one ear and pulling it onto her sweaty face every time someone came near, but I’m more social than Mom is. I had missed having a team of subjects to manage. Finally, on this trail full of dog lovers that was too steep for Mom to hold a leash, and where everyone had to stop to let me pass, I found my meaning again. I made strangers into Friends and snuggled up to sweaty people who needed a little encouragement. You should have heard all the nice things people said about me! I can’t list them all, but you should take a guess at all the wonderful things people said to me below in the comments.
Oscar the Inspiration