Last year, GJB told us we’d never ever visit Christmas Mountain in the summer.
But why have rules if not to break them?
And after all of my recent encounters (with rattlesnakes, specifically…like, why not a few innocent black snakes here and there…why only death rattlers…?), this seems like the best time to break that rule.
He “found” a new “route” to the top.
A “trail,” if you will.
(I hope you’re able to use your fingers for air quotes while reading this.)
And because he knows a group of folks whose need for adventure farrrrr outweighs their intelligence, he scheduled it.
As we learned from our resident herpetologist, OT, snakes don’t sleep. Ever. So start time was irrelevant.
We opted for 6:08pm. In hopes of pressuring Rogue back into physical activity. After she finished up her 9 hour shift at the resort.
(Just so we’re clear, a herpetologist is a snake expert. Not a herpes expert. I’m pretty sure…)
We were pretty excited.
Because Rogue has this thing where she thinks she’s gonna start making better choices.
Like, you know how every really disastrous story starts with “Remember that time we…?”
She thinks we’re gonna change the narrative and turn that phrase into “Remember that time we made really good choices and nothing bad at all happened?”
Yeah. This wasn’t gonna be that day.
There was some debate at the start about RVTR flags. GJB and Rogue have both of them right now. And we considered taking a picture with both. But GJB thinks that y’all think there’s only one flag. Even though it has regularly been pictured in different states at the same exact time. And he didn’t want to ruin the “magic.”
So we just took the one.
I’m not trying to kill your belief in magic.
Just these particular flags aren’t magical.
Only the folks holding them are.
But so we’re clear, there are two flags.
I don’t know about the others, but when GJB mentioned this new “route” (again, finger quotes) to the top of Christmas Mountain, I had visions of a casual stroll that wrapped around the mountain in such a way that we could just chat and drink and merrymake on our way up. And back down.
The normal “route” (use your fingers) for those that haven’t read every single one of my posts (and why haven’t you? I’m freakin delightful.) is a half-assed, but walkable trail to the base of the mountain…and then straight the hell-nose touching ground-claw your way through the leaves-climb up. And then a dear God please don’t let me break anything no holds barred descent back down.
Surely this new “route” (fingers) would be better than that.
So we set off, excited for our Sunday Stroll.
And then about 50 feet in, GJB stops to “talk” to his neighbor…
While the rest of us just stand there.
Is he getting directions? Does he not know the “route?” Should we be writing this down?
Turns out that maybe we should have been.
Because we were struggling right from the start. On the section of the “route” that we normally take.
There was a lot of barbed wire.
OT almost lost his manhood.
But I’m not sure why the chick with the central tremor was the one securing the fencing for him…
He was fine. Totally fine.
Random neighbor dude had used phrases like “you could” and “but probably best” a lot. That’s…not really a “route.” We understand that, right? And he also kept saying “after the second ridge” a lot.
How are we defining “ridge?”
Because the only “ridge” I’m aware of is the one we were climbing up to.
There are no other “ridges” out there.
Not visible ones, anyway.
But I guess OT and BB could see it. Because when we’d traveled sufficiently along our standard path, they stopped and held a meeting with GJB while Rogue and I were still strolling, and decided they saw the invisible “ridge” and we should turn right.
And this is where the mountain tries to kill you.
Like, don’t stand fully erect or you’ll fall backwards off the mountain.
(Heh heh. She said erect.)
There was a lot of whining on the way up.
And it wasn’t just GJB, either.
Even BB, who eats steep climbs for breakfast, was referencing the difficulty of this ascent.
There was a lot of stopping. And staring around at each other. And trying not to question our friendships.
When you reach the top, the “trail” gets a little iffy.
In that it completely disappears.
We did a lot of meandering and low crawling through the tiny forest.
Do you see a “trail” there?
But we made it to the overlook just as the sun was dipping down behind the mountain peak.
And because I was officially going “off call” and wouldn’t have to worry about my duty phone the rest of the night, I had a beer. In celebration.
(Heh heh. She said doody.)
I haven’t had a beer in a few weeks.
Because I’m still poor.
So that one may have hit me a little harder than one beer should.
So trying to maneuver back off of the rocks…
That rock there? On the right? With the jagged edge?
I may have gotten stuck there for a few minutes. Just kind of straddling it and not real sure how to get my other leg over and just kind of clinging for life.
And trying not to pee.
Because I’m 44.
No one helped me.
But I’m grown, so I didn’t need any freakin help.
Once safely off the rock, there was a lot of debate about how to get back to the “trail.”
So we just started meandering back in the general direction we thought we probably came in from.
And eventually stumbled onto the “trail.”
And so you know how much we complained about the “route” up?
It was worse going down.
So much sweating.
Who the hell sweats on the downhill???
But survival, y’all.
We were just trying to survive it.
And BB’s got some serious footwork skills on the nighttime trails.
A few times it felt like we was in the club the way her legs were moving.
And a few times I found myself in a precarious straddle split as one leg found some stable footing and then the other just kept on sliding right down the mountain.
Because I don’t have those same footwork skills.
I never went to the club.
And because the strongest always sweeps the pack, I found myself pulling up the rear.
And making sure everyone was safe.
And not at all worrying about how vulnerable my back was to the chupacabras and Blair Witches and such.
‘Cause I’m a leader.
And there was more barbed wire this time. Way more barbed wire. Why is there more barbed wire…?
And I tried to remember the last time I had been in the middle of a field. In the middle of the night. In the middle of a group of delinquents.
I’m pretty sure my age still had a teen in it.
It was a beautiful kind of clandestine creepy.
GJB thought it was the best worst decision we’d ever made on Christmas Mountain. To go in the dark. Then we said, “Remember that time we climbed Christmas Mountain in the middle of a tornado?”
We know how to make the best worst choices.
And the best way to spend a Sunday night.