I should’ve known to be extra methodical in preparing for a hike this weekend. Should’ve remembered Memorial weekends are cursed. It’s become our own special holiday tradition to flirt with doom. Not doom doom. My grandpa’s received Purple Hearts during World War II – doubt they’d use “doom” to sum up discomfort. We’re talking intense discomforts. Blisters, coffee headaches and I-didn’t-bring-enough-mango-strips intensity.
This year’s intense discomfort revealed itself as soon as well pulled into the Bear Creek Staging Area in Briones Park. I take off my sandals and ask my fellow to hand me my hiking boots from the trunk. He looks and says, “You’re not wearing your boots?” I say, “No, I wore my sandals this morning because you put my boots in the trunk. … Right?” He swears he never said he put my boots in the trunk. I swear he did. The only possible explanation is paranormal. Some supernatural monster sounding just like him told me my boots were in the trunk. “Wear your sandals in the car,” dirty monster says in my fellow’s voice. “I put your boots in the car already. You be comfortable.”
I remained in denial for a few minutes, staring in the empty trunk while my fellow refused to take responsibility for the fact that I forgot my hiking boots. You know the expression: When the going gets tough, the tough get going. That’s not me. However, when I get up early to walk in the woods and remember to bring socks but forget my boots, I put my sandals back on and start walking.
“Like in olden times!” I told him every time five pointy rocks massaged my arches or a sticker stabbed my heals. Surely old timey hikers rocked purple wool socks in strappy Karrimor sandals.
We scrapped our planned route for the day and set off on the lovely and much exposed Old Briones Road. Past Memorial Day weekend discomforts have also included heat exhaustion, dehydration and helping another hiker in danger of heat stroke. As we continued down this picturesque gravel road, I kept thinking how quickly one bad decision leads to another and then we get in trouble. We decided to turn off on a more shaded trail and see if I could do some elevation in sandals.
This was our first trip to Briones. As far as discomforts go, hiking in sandals here wasn’t that bad. I wouldn’t recommend it, but it didn’t take away from our good time. In New York’s Catskill Mountains, hiking in sandals would’ve been a disaster, at least for me.
We lucked into getting a paper map at the kiosk when we first arrived. Trails here are clearly marked and we found it easy to figure it out as we went along. We wound up strolling the rolling ridge and other trails for just over 6 miles. Plenty of people were about hiking and biking, but it was easy to keep far apart.
The butterflies and humming birds seemed happy to have us. Baby butterflies fluttered around our legs for much of our last stretch along the Seaborg Trail. At first we thought it was one super energetic butterfly keep up with us. Then we realized where one would land, another would take off. Then we thought we saw one look back at us in terror and wondered if maybe they weren’t so much flying with us as away from us, running for their lives while we laughed and the purple-footed one waddled up a cloud of dirt with every I-think_i’m-getting-a-blister limp. Two blisters for me. Sorry, butterflies.
Note the cut off feet. That’s photographic denial right there. This is why we never learn from our mistakes.