Lessons from the Mountain

What’s wrong with this picture?

No, I don’t mean the hair.  Never mind that.   And look closely.

I learned a number of lessons on my hike with Michelle, Faith and Kathy up and down Mt. Monadnock, and this was just one of them: On rocky faces, if you don’t have rubber tips on your hiking poles (and more on why not, later), you can FLIP the poles, putting the rubber handles down for traction!  I tell you, this was a game changer for me on the way down. It was also one factor in not repeating the face plant from my last fateful trip on this glorious hill.

Mt. Monadnock is the second most-climbed mountain on earth.  Even with rain threatened (actually promised), the trail was crowded, which brings me to :

Lesson Two: Mountains come with angels, disguised as other hikers.  The first one swooped in on a very challenging (for some us) rock face.  He was positioned to help a string of people who looked up a wall of rock and didn’t say the first words that came into their heads, as this was a very family-friendly kind of day.  The second one was a reincarnated mountain goat, who did the same kind of thing in another spot, while leaping from rock ledge to rock ledge for sport.  Both of these guys pointed out the footholds and gave a hand and pull to the next spot.  The third one, a Mountain Angel named Kevin, eating lunch with his young daughter at the top of the ledge pictured here, saw me stepping way too gingerly over these rocks and yelled out for me to flip my poles upside down.  The fourth one was a ranger-like dude who helped us out near the end of the hike, with advice and caffeine  when we needed a boost.

Lesson Three: Hiking poles need rubber tips to be useful on rock.  Mine came with metal tips.  Those are great on dirt.  Then I found the rubber-looking “tips” that came with them.  But they were not really tips.  They were plastic tip covers, made to (as Kathy says) keep them from being weapons in transit.  The metal tips came poking through them in no time!  Get the real thing. And since we lost 2 out of 6 of the real thing on this hike, pack some extras!

Lesson Four: Take more provisions than you think you need.  More water.  Even a light.  You never know.

Here we are at the top – the hair is no better but hey, we’re happy!


It’s On Us!

It makes total sense for their business, but it’s new to me:  I just learned that Amazon has a dollar threshold for returns.  Under some amount, they just say this:

There are reasons to not love Amazon, and other political factors in their favor (in my book), and I will continue to track them (or check in as Sally tracks them), and then there are things like this don’t bother to return policy, which is awesome.

I will donate the bamboo knitting needles to the Dana-Farber Caps for Kids program.

Colorful Lessons

These are some of the things I learned from the Color Me Rad run today. in which Sally and I ran (or so) a 5K (or so) and were happily pelted with color, along with about a million (or so) other very crazy people:

1.  Go early!   This many people converging on one place with limited parking means go really early, even if it means waking up at 5:50 AM on a Sunday.  It was worth it!

2. Wear sunscreen, not just for the SPF of it.  It turns out that the parts with sunscreen were the ones parts took up lots of color AND washed off the best.  That second part is way worth it.

3. If you wear contacts, plan to throw them out after the race.  Mine were bright blue!

4. Bring enough sheets to totally cover the seat of each passenger, and put them out before the run,.

5. Bring extra (expendable) clothes to change into for the car ride home, and plastic bags to contain everything you take off.

6. Meeting others?  Set a meeting place and time way in advance.  Remember the days before cell phones?  Well this is a return to that simpler time.  This is no place for electronics unless you have one of these and can…

7. Bring your camera in an underwater camera bag.

8. When you get to the check-in, buy extra color packets to carry (we had a waist pack) and use at the finale (see video at link above.)  Oh – so that means bring cash.

9. Do the math: If the formula for making the color permanent is to pour vinegar on the shirts, dry them and iron them, then perhaps touching them with bare hands during this process would be a really bad idea – you think???  So much for the extensive scrubbing earlier in the day – green hands are back!

Here we are before:

And here we are, colorized:

You can read more about it, and see more, in Sally’s Blog!


I have learned that this is the only way to charge my phone overnight if I want to make sure that I have it with me on those crazy early Boston-bound mornings:

And because I learned this the hard way, I also learned a new term from Christy:  Nomophobia, the panic that comes from realizing that you are without your phone (as in nomobile – phobia)


Lessons from the Trail

These are some things I learned on the Downeast Sunrise Rail Trail:

1. According to the sign of complex rock/paper/scissors/lizard/Spock-like hierarchy of right-of-way, cross-country skiers trump most other forms of transportation but must yield to dogsledders.

2. Mile markers do not necessarily start with zero at the start of the trail.  Apparently there is a Secret Start somewhere else.

3.  If you get hooked on finding that really cool (at least in our imagination) store at mile 9ish, which is always just around the next bend, you can forget to do that math and end up biking over 18 miles.

A Life-Saving Lesson

Years ago, after we spent a cloudy-turned-sunny morning waiting to meet Hillary Clinton, Sally taught me a lesson that I used every day since:  You need to wear sunscreen every single day of the year.  Steve and I were burnt.  Sally was not, at least not on her face.  What’s up with that, I asked.  I told you Mom, she said, you need to wear sunscreen EVERY day, not just the sunny ones!

Please take a minute and watch this video that I got from Sally’s blog.  There is a second life-saving lesson in here, on top of the sunscreen one.