Wednesday, January 13, 2021


 I have never seen myself as a hiker.  I remember as a kid struggling with climbing.  It wasn't my thing.  Any minor incline and I would be winded.  I lived at the top of the hill going toward what I knew was Misericordia Hospital.  Later it would be called Our Lady of Mercy.  I don't know what it is called now.  I lived close to 233rd and White Plains.  About a mile from the main avenue is Bronx River Park.  It starts around where the Hospital starts and it goes several miles going south in the Bronx.  I used to love this park.  In order to build my stamina for climbing, I started waking up early and walking down by the river, then I would go slowly up and down the residential streets hoping to not be so winded.  I only did this two or three times before I gave up.

There are not many tall building in Arizona.  It is mostly a flat desert with one story houses and buildings.  I tried the stair climber machine in the gym and nearly died.  I can not do 5 minutes continuously.  After 2 minutes I start to break out in a sweat.  Doing this while wearing a mask is pure torture.  I am definitely not doing too well in the climbing department but I am fascinated at hiking.  

We went to Payson with the church to do one of the first Arizona hikes in my memory.  Janet was but a baby and at times I had to carry her because she would get tired.  Santi and I got lost with both our children and two children from another family.  Cliff VanderArk and his dog Heidi was with us at the time.  We had decided to take an easier path and got lost and separated from the main group.  We were found as we were closer to the end. Mike Darus injured himself as he carried little Janet.  He lost his footing and fell while holding her.  She was unscathed in the altercation.  I felt so bad.  I still feel bad.  We talked about going back and doing it again.  We never did..  

I have hiking sticks.  All of us have hiking boots, the children's courtesy of Geoff.  I walk with a backpack that has a bladder in it. I have hiked in Payson, Sedona, Flagstaff. This winter we are getting to know the hikes that are close by.  We may go to Tucson.  We explore places it's fun.  He calls and asks me which one.  I start looking, dreaming and drooling.  I tell hiking stories to my students and they have recommendations for me.  

It's hard starting at the bottom and looking up to see the peak.  I go slow.  My kids like to go ahead.  David used to be the one who would stay behind with me.  When he sees that Geoff is the one who walks with me, he is free to go ahead with his sister.  There is a metaphor in this.  Sometimes going down is harder than going up.  We are always happy and hungry when we are done.  I have never considered myself a hiker but it would appear that this older, chunky Latina is a hiker now.  Who would of thought it?  

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