Blonde Moments, humor, Kvetching, PSAs

The Mountains are Calling and I Must…NO.

Go Jules Go Title Graphic The Mountains Are Calling and I Must NO_10JUL2019

I glanced at the clock. 1:15pm PST.

No matter! I’ve still got eight hours of daylight left here in beautiful central Oregon!

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It’s 10:00pm in Oregon. Do you know where your local hard cider is?

I checked Google maps and my guidebook. Gack. Seven miles too far. I turned the car around.

When I eventually pulled into my target destination, the Green Lakes trailhead parking lot off of the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway, I inspected the tags hanging from other cars’ rearview mirrors.

That kid at R.E.I. better have sold me the right one.

America the Beautiful Park Pass
Don’t be fooled. Apparently there are 47 different kinds of national/state/city park tags you’ll need to purchase if you want to (spoiler alert) suffer wildly.

On top of the colorful car tags, I also spotted a lot of these:

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The trailhead parking lot was nearly full, but I found an empty spot – thanks to someone who probably started their day before noon unlike some jobless hobos. I filled out a “day use voucher” (a.k.a. Evidence I Was Here Should Things Go Horribly, Horribly Awry), stuck one half in the slot beneath the signage and the other half in my backpack.

Since quitting my corporate job in March, I’d been hiking constantly. In New Jersey. Now, three weeks into my new Oregon life, I was seriously upping the ante.

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That’s how we do(odle).

The first five miles to Green Lakes, though mostly uphill, were breathtakingly scenic and only slightly buggy, with a well-marked, moderately trafficked trail.

 

By the time Uncle Jesse and I hit the lake and stopped to enjoy some peanuts and cherries, we were feeling bold.

 

“Once you’ve taken in the glory of the area, continue along the shoreline toward the east, where you’ll wrap slightly around the lake before noticing a number of side trails…” my trusty new guidebook read.

That sounds…confusing. I shook off any niggling doubts and headed east. At least, I was pretty sure it was east. Soon I found what was certainly the proper path. I persisted onward, but the lingering snow made it almost impossible to tell if I was still on a trail, let alone the right trail. I wonder what cougar tracks look like…

Every now and then we’d hit an open area and I’d gaze around hopefully. There is seriously no trail. Uncle Jesse and I bushwhacked for another seemingly endless stretch before I finally gave up. That’s it. Broken Top [mountain] is behind me, that means the water is in front of me. We’re going west (f%@&, it’s west, right?) until we hit the damn water.

The next thirty minutes felt like twelve hours, until at long last, I heard the familiar sound of rushing water.

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My Jersey self never fails to think it’s the din of ever-present highway traffic.

I spotted people on a wide, luxurious trail…on the other side of the creek. F%#&. We walked south along the water’s edge, constantly being forced back uphill to more level ground, stomping over fallen trees and coarse, woody debris. In spots where it might have been safe, if highly unpleasant, to cross, the bank on the other side was so steep, we’d never make it up to the trail.

Eventually I succumbed to our less than ideal Fate. Uncle Jesse, always eager to show off, sensed my resignation and bounded towards the water.

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It ain’t no thang!

“WAIT,” I said in my sternest Mom voice. “COME.” The water was rushing with the force of Donald Trump’s combover. Uncle Jesse stopped in his tracks, just inches from the crashing falls, and ran towards me.

I said a prayer and put both feet in. It was deeper than I thought, almost thigh-high. Okay. This is fine. It’s not so bad.

Uncle Jesse followed and immediately got scooped up by the raging current. I grabbed his collar, shocked by the water’s might. This won’t work. With not a second to spare, I gathered him in my arms, above the roaring waves, struggling to keep my balance. I made it nearly to the other side when my shin collided with something hard. A rock? A log? Holy s&#% it’s cold!

Uncle Jesse sprung out of my arms, and after a heart-attack inducing second or two, scrambled onto solid ground and up a steep hill. One more step, two, three… my head spun and my heart pounded. There. I clung to soil and suddenly realized my phone -secured in a race belt (all right, fanny pack) around my waist- had been completely submerged.

I freed it from its pouch as I crawled uphill, utterly amazed by my own stupidity.

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I suspect this will look more impressive over the coming days.

When I made it to the top, finally back on the proper trail, I looked for a place to sit down. I sucked in a few deep breaths, adrenaline coursing through my veins. You’re lucky no one is here to witness your fool self.

I decided to keep walking, glancing down at the rushing rapids. If I hadn’t caught Uncle Jesse… I tried not to think about what might have happened; the next half mile was even more treacherous than where we’d crossed.

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Quick question. Why are you so dumb, Mom?

We trudged the final, endless mile back to the car, swatting away hundreds of blood thirsty mosquitos, the pain in my left leg growing.

 

107…108…I did not know it was possible to sustain this many mosquito bites
and live to tell about it.

When we reached the parking lot, I peeled off my soaked, mud-covered socks and collapsed in the driver’s seat. Thirty minutes later, a dripping wet, bug-bitten, bleeding blonde could be seen purchasing several bottles of wine from the local Fred Meyer.

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And this souvenir was spotted in my trusty guidebook. (Vegan disclaimer: Many, many bugs were harmed in the making of this post, but not on purpose.)

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Had any fun run-ins with Mother Nature lately??

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Giveaway Junkie

GIVEAWAY: 10 States in 10 Days and All I Got Was This STUNNING BEER KOOZIE

Go Jules Go title graphic 10 States in 10 Days Beer Koozie Giveaway 20JUN2019

Ohhhh chipmunks. Things are so real right now. On Monday afternoon, after 10 days of driving across the U. S. of A.

Okay, so five were for a hiking break in Salt Lake City with Janeen, Renaissance Woman and Lover of Breakfast Pizza.

…I landed in my new home in Bend, Oregon!

Before I was allowed into town, they checked my resting heart rate, “Oregon” pronunciation, and facial symmetry.

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What I’m trying to say is everyone here is insanely fit. And hot. And smart. And nice.

I haven’t sat still for a minute, and I’m not sure I have enough years left to do all of the fun things on my Oregon checklist.

Completely unpacked and settled in by hour eight. Project manager 4 life.

I’m ticking one of the boxes next week, sans cell service, which means I won’t be putting up my usual Wednesday blog post, but I promise -PROMISE- the following post will make up for it. I mean it’s probably going to be the best thing I’ve ever written. Because it will involve your very favorite topics on this blog, based on the search term analytics that led you here: my suffering, sweating and -possibly- nudity.

To help the time fly, I’m going old school Go Jules Go-style and doing ANOTHER GIVEAWAY!

Did you know that all you have to do to acquire THE BEST BEER KOOZIE (and deck of cards) EVER was drive 2,777 miles? Somewhere in the land of…well…LAND, I started to spot curious signs.

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Forget your Exxon Mobil. Forget your BP gas. I bring to you…

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Naturally, I couldn’t walk away from Kum & Go without a trinket or ten. And because I’m living the dream, I want to pay it forward. To you, dear reader.

ALL OF THIS CAN BE YOURS:

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Not the flowers. Sorry.

To enter, simply leave a comment describing your worst road trip (or other car) moment by 12 midnight PST (awww yeah, my first PST deadline!), Tuesday, July 2, 2019. The winner will be extremely subjectively chosen by whatever cute Oregonian is jogging (or stand-up paddle boarding or kayaking or mountain biking) by at that moment.

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humor, Just For Fun

Duluth, Dogs & Drag Queens

Go Jules Go title graphic Duluth Dogs and Drag Queens_7MAY2019

“Excuse me,” a tall, voluptuous woman with bleached blonde dreadlocks beckoned the uniformed man over with her elaborately manicured finger.

Her voice was playful and husky and I noticed an Adam’s apple. She held up the slip of paper in her hand.

“It says my boarding group is ‘basic.’ I ain’t basic.”

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Mine says the same thing and I’m pretty sure I am.

“No no no,” the Delta employee laughed. “Don’t worry, ma’am. You’re not basic.”

They joked around for a few minutes while I thanked my lucky stars that I’d managed to score a window seat, where I planned to use my winter jacket as a pillow.

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When you decide to fly to northern Minnesota in May.

I knew I’d need to stockpile Zzz’s before five days of Duluth’s Homegrown Festival. A friend* I’d met during my Master’s degree residency had invited me to get out of Jersey and attend the festival, and I suspected she wasn’t on my same post-leaving-Corporate-America schedule.

*f&%@#$-amazing-and-deserves-her-own-post friend

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Hang on, Shawna. You don’t get 12 hours of sleep a day?

In between seeing fantastic local musicians, we subjected her three-legged, one-eyed dog to all kinds of unbidden “fun”…

…saw the sights…

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Don’t you love the endless sea and sky vista behind us? Apparently your mind would have been blown had we arrived exactly 13 minutes earlier. Also, I’d just like to point out that you’re looking at not one, not two, but THREE left-handed vegans.

…ate so much plant-based foodie goodness…

…and of course, went on oodles of hikes.

The best part of the Duluth Homegrown Festival -a 20 year-strong, nonprofit tradition that features local musicians performing all over town for an entire week- was the close-knit community vibe. For eight straight days, like-minded music lovers united to support their fellow Duluthians, shouting, “Happy Homegrown!” and sharing smiles at every turn.

Besides the bargain booze, highlights included:

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Gaelynn Lea and her insane fiddle skills, playing in a church-cum-concert-hall.
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Fire, using equipment made by a local female welder.
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Jamesg, a white male rapper who dedicated an entire song to fanny packs.
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Major road construction + week-long concert series = free seats! Yay!
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The Elusive “Poncho Man.” I’m told he does amazing things with his hands while dancing, but this is as close as I got.
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This guy. This gal.
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And the grand finale – The Latelys. Phenomenal.

And now I’m back in New Jersey.

Sort of.

I may have just signed a year-long lease on an apartment in a city 3,000 miles away that I’ve never been to.

Duluth tarot cards May 2019 Go Jules Go
The Duluth cards told me to.

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humor, Lists, Project Management

What I Wish I’d Known BEFORE My Month-Long Road Trip

I shift in my seat, lifting a hand to massage the knots in my neck. I glance at my notepad.

148 miles on this highway. Great. At least it’s not snowing. 

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Ha. Just kidding. Happy spring.

It’s been almost three weeks since I packed my car, left New Jersey, and headed north. Resigning from corporate America in March, I had had a one track mind:

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ALL THE TRAVEL!!!!!

It sounds like a dream come true, right? Freedom, adventure, new friends… What could go wrong?

Go Jules Go Title Graphic What I wish Id Known Before My Month Long Road Trip_24APR2019

Unlimited Cell Service? Psssshhh.

After discovering that the middle of Maine was a dead zone (at least for me), I took to hand writing my directions before entering unknown territory. Luckily, the impressively eclectic radio stations provided the perfect soundtrack for my 90s-style, Google maps-less travel. (Rant for another day: Why does New York City radio have the most monochromatic music on the face of the planet?)

directions to Canada
148 miles doesn’t look so bad when you’re singing Beastie Boys at the top of your lungs.

“Fully Equipped Kitchen” Means Very Different Things to Different People

If you’re planning to do any cooking on the road, and assuming your lodging (mostly AirBnbs, in my case) will come equipped with certain basics as described — think again. Here are some common items missing in one or all of my AirBnb kitchens: Ice cube trays, wine opener, strainer (colander), dishwasher soap/cleaner, pot large enough for boiling pasta, curtains (ahem), and spatula.

Curtain-less window
Thankfully, this looks right in through to the bathroom. On a busy highway.

Sitting All Day is Exhausting

Even with my lead foot, I couldn’t turn the drive from Nova Scotia to mid-coast Maine into anything less than a 10-hour trek. After 5-6 hours, everything starts to hurt, and even cycling in frigid, rainy headwind starts to sound appealing.

Jules-collapsed-on-floor
On second thought…

You’re Going to Spend More Money Than You Think You Are

As a [former] project manager, I’m ashamed to admit that I didn’t fully acknowledge the ‘over deadline, over budget’ mantra that accompanies so many projects – including road trip ones. Besides ALL THE GASOLINE, unplanned expenditures are bound to crop up almost daily. Like, oh, I don’t know, duty charges on your case of wine, forgetting your dog’s kibble and discovering he’ll accept no substitutions apart from homemade people food, and ice cube trays/spatulas/THINGS ANY NORMAL KITCHEN SHOULD HAVE.

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%*&*@. He’s never eating kibble again.

But lest you think road travel is all a pile of tears…

Most People Are Mostly Nice. Really Nice.

By far the best part of traveling alone is forcing yourself to rely on the kindness of others. Rarely did I find anyone who wasn’t more than willing to offer the insider scoop, their washer/dryer, or just a general helping hand. I’m headed back to New Jersey with friendships and experiences I never would have had were I to stay inside my comfort zone.

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Comfort zone? What comfort zone?

And isn’t that the whole point?

Next time, though? I’m bringing my $%&*@! colander.

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Have you ever road tripped? Was it what you expected?

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Blogging, humor

Canada: Just Like the States Except Not At All.

Go Jules Go Canada Just Like the States Exept Not At All Title Graphic_17APR19

“Hello. Bonjour,” a baby-faced, tow-haired man greeted, nodding curtly at me.

“Hello,” I answered to indicate that, while I was in fact learning French, I didn’t think ‘Where is the bathroom?’ and ‘My dog is beautiful and intelligent’ would be particularly helpful in this moment.

“Do you have any weapons, firearms, commercial goods?” he asked.

“No,” I replied easily, my hands resting on my steering wheel.

“Alcohol?”

“Yes, a case of wine.”

“I’m saw-ry, how much?”

I gulped. “A case…?”

“How many baw-tles is that?”

“Twelve. Well, eleven. I drank one last night.”

Champagne-2-Jules-Apr2013
Eeny, meeny, miny, moe, how many of these can I take to Canada, yo?

He raised his eyebrows and looked at the officer in the booth behind him. They began having a hushed conversation. He turned back to me, looking like he was trying not to smile.

“Are you planning to leave them all in Canada?”

“That was the plan,” I said, smiling nervously.

“Why do you have so much wine?”

You don’t get out of this booth much, do you, sir?

“Well, I’m visiting a friend and I thought I should be a good guest and not show up empty-handed… She’s having friends over this weekend to welcome me…”

I wasn’t entirely sure if this was true, but it could be true.

“The first two bottles are free, but you’re going to have to pay a duty charge on the others. You can decide if it’s worth it to keep them. Just pull to the left and go inside.”

$61.90 ($46.30 USD) later, I was back on the road to Nova Scotia, my bubbly safely nestled in my trunk where it belonged. What’s more, my cell service was as bright-eyed and bushy tailed as the border patrol officer (unlike during my most recent adventure…). Things were looking good.

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Really good.

When I hit the small university town of Wolfville, Nova Scotia, nestled an hour northwest of Halifax, I easily navigated the two blocks to my AirBnB apartment. As I was about to pull up the steep driveway, I saw a college-aged woman coming down the sidewalk. I paused to let her pass, but instead she knelt down at the corner of the driveway. My gaze followed her reach and I soon realized she was picking up a large branch that was lying in my path. She moved it aside and grinned at me.

It took me a moment to realize that she was not only offering roadside clean-up, but also allowing me, the non-pedestrian, to pass in front of her.

Oh holy cannolis. I am not in Jersey anymore.

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“Why come everyone is smiling, Mom?”

As soon as I unpacked, I checked my phone.

“I can pop over in a little bit to say hi and we can make a plan for tomorrow, if that works!” my most recent text read.

After years of communicating through our blogs and joking-but-not-really about me visiting, I was finally within a few short miles kilometers of one of my oldest bloggy friends, Sandy from Sandy the Social Butterfly. We’d never video chatted or talked on the phone, but I wasn’t worried. Over the years I’d had nothing but sparkly experiences meeting other bloggers in person.

See?

Sandy arrived a few minutes later and immediately gifted me a bottle of her favorite Nova Scotian wine. Her stunning bright blue eyes sparkled and she was dressed to kill. Meanwhile, I was covered in 10+ hours of car funk and not sure if I’d remembered deodorant.

“I didn’t realize you’d be so tall!” she said.

And I’m only in sneakers, I thought. I didn’t miss my heels, which I’d left back in New Jersey, knowing my 3+ weeks in Maine and Canada wouldn’t call for them.

We gabbed enthusiastically before heading a few blocks downtown for a glass of wine, quickly falling into conversation like old friends. The waiter took our photo and made sure we’d promise to tell him if he should take another one.

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“Canadians are so nice it almost makes me uncomfortable,” I confessed to Sandy.

Over the next few days, Sandy showed me around town, took me to wineries, kicked my ass in her boot camp class, arranged a gorgeous hike, and introduced me to her friends. (Too bad they were real bitches.)

Bitches.

P.S. – Even the dogs in Canada are nicer.

Go-Jules-Go-Jenn-Laila-Split-Rock-hike-Nova-Scotia_14APR2019

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How does it feel when you travel? Do the people start getting nicer…or not?

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New Jersey is breathtaking

Deep (Woods) Thoughts

You know how golfers love to compare their sport to life? Heavy-handed metaphors about taking aim, working with the winds of change, etc.?

You know what I'm talking about.
You know what I’m talking about.

I’m starting to do the same. With hiking.

hiking-demotivator
-Go Jules Go, 2013

I realized this weekend, while battling an unrelenting swarm of gnats for over 3 hours in the New Jersey highlands, that every hike this summer has provided a new challenge. If it wasn’t one thing, it was another.

Heat.

Wet rocks.

Water shortage.

Bears.

Hike-2-mapAs soon as I was sure, fitness wise, that I had a trail in the bag, something would come along to knock me off course. (See what I mean about the heavy-handed metaphors?) This past weekend, I thought the pests were going to do me in, despite toxic levels of bug spray coating my red, soaking wet, weary limbs. By mile 5 of one of njhiking.com’s most challenge trails, I couldn’t see for all the gnats.

I came to a crossroads.

hiking-NJhighlands-crossroads

If I went straight, I’d knock 2 miles from my remaining distance. By turning left, I’d have 3.6 miles -and another steep mountain climb- still to go to complete the originally planned trek. I stood there for 5 minutes, waving my arms in front of me fruitlessly, chugging warm water, studying the trail map.

I looked up at the brightly colored green and yellow trail markers painted on a sturdy oak.

“Fuck it,” I said aloud, wiping away the 8,000th gnat who’d suffocated in a pool of my sweat. “I’m no quitter.”

I turned left.

Solid choice, Jules.
Solid choice, Jules.

Why did I do it? Week after week, no less. Clearly this was torturous. Was I insane? A glutton for punishment? Just plain stubborn? Even Hub #1 had taken to calling me Forrest Gump.

I watched a video this weekend on why people hike. The filmmaker interviewed a series of hikers on the Appalachian Trail. Their answers to that million dollar question sounded familiar.

I needed to shift my perspective; it helps me let go of the day-to-day worries and focus on the immediate. You don’t worry about work when you’re trying to find a dry place to sleep.

I wanted to clear my head.

I’m trying to figure out what to do with my life.

hiking-NJhighlands-HiPt
Pre-Gnatnado.

That’s the thing about hiking. Walking for walking’s sake may seem a little pointless, but that’s exactly what makes it so powerful. For that time in the woods, however brief, the only thing you’re responsible for is staying alive. To again paraphrase what fellow hikers have said:

Hiking allows me to push myself farther than I think I can go. I bring that back with me into the real world.

It’s not about how fast or far you go, but just that you keep going. In the end, I may wind up right back where I started (at my car, hopefully), but I know I’m one step closer to who I want to be.

Jules-Rainbow-Puke

How do you recalibrate? What centers you?

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New Jersey is breathtaking, PSAs, Uncategorized

6 Things You Need To Know Before Taking Up Hiking

Alternate titles: R.I.P. Big Toenail; I Can’t Feel My Butt; Who Needs Heel Skin, Anyway?

I logged 17 miles in hiking this weekend, Chipmunks. (And I saw you! Yes. I saw my first chipmunk since December!)

Local hiking splendor.
Local hiking splendor.

You’re probably wondering who I am and what I’ve done to Jules. I have a confession. When I’m not drinking and Googling bacon recipes, I like to go outside and get my sweat nature on. I can’t stand running, and cyclists make me think devil thoughts, but give me a dirt path, some shady trees and a mountain view payoff, and I’m there faster than you can say, “Does this trail mix have chocolate chips? Because that’s really the only kind worth buying.”

Mt. Monadnock, 2005.
Mt. Monadnock, 2005.

It’s been a while since I’ve hit the hardcore trails , but in order to combat the three B’s (boredom, bumming and broke-itude) that have slammed me lately, I decided to get my Timberland mojo back. I’ve been tackling the relatively tame local trails over the past couple of months, and had planned on spending the summer working up to trails like the steep ‘Stairway to Heaven’ in northern New Jersey, with the ultimate goal of hitting Mt. Monadnock in New Hampshire this fall.

But.

The stubborn Taurus in me had other plans. “Did the 6+ mile loop again today,” I told my first husband, Peppermeister, on Saturday. “Doing 10 tomorrow.”

Hike-1-prep

Then I picked this trail:

Hike-2-map Hike-3-description

Then I drove an hour there. I was ready and rarin’ to go.

Hike-4-stache-potty Hike-5-Tammany-trailhead

6 Things You Need to Know Before Taking Up Hiking

1. Just because a sign seems to promise bears, this does not mean you’ll finally carry out that long awaited convo with the Shakespearean meme bear.

Hike-6-AT-bear-sign

Hike-7-Shakespeare-bear-meme

2. Hiking Guide Books ‘under’ embellish.

Hike-10-book-lies

3. By mile 7, you will not look like someone from an LL Bean catalog. Even though everyone else you encounter, inevitably, won’t have broken a sweat.

Hike-8-exhausted Hike-9-handsome-Uncle-Jesse

4. In New Jersey, you can run, but you can’t hide. From cicadas.

Hike-11-cicada

5. Some Most times, you’ll see some cool ass shiz.

Hike-12-dead-snake

Hike-13-heliport-view

hiking-14-SunfishPond-rocksHike-14-summit

6. You will have every right to come home and do nothing but act superior, drink champagne and eat all of it. Just… all of it.

Hike-15-celebrate

Is there a sport / activity you think is borderline insane, but you love it anyway? Or one that, no matter what, you’d never be caught dead doing?

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