When I was a wee-babe of 11 my fifth grade class went on a weeklong field trip to Camp Hi Hill in the Angeles National Forest; cabins, bunk beds, KP duty, it was everything you saw in Parent Trap minus the twin sister. My city school district owned a camp and every year would ship city kids off to have a little slice of nature. Among the many, many, memories I still carry with me, like my crusty beech counselor and her obsession with shaving her legs, was the most exhilarating yet totally inappropriate activity for children: the night walk.
Picture this: the mountains of Los Angeles, at night, in the dark. Our counselors take us to a trail and we are instructed to turn off our flash lights and walk a half mile of the trail, alone, to a counselor at the other end.
In the dark.
It was both terrifying and exciting, and I had ZERO hesitations despite the obvious fact that serial killers live and thrive in all dark places.
Mom, I survived. Calm down.
But this little adventure now lives in my brain and lingers in that area that pushes me to say ”YES!” to terrifying, exciting, and dumb ideas. Like running a marathon after just running a marathon, or baking Mario and Sonic cakes for my nephews’ birthdays.
Kids are serious about their cakes.
So last week when Mark said ”let’s do a sunrise hike!” I did not even have to agree. It is an unspoken rule that I am ON BOARD for a challenge. Then he said ”let’s hike Wright Mountain!” and I just kept packing my damn bag.
Sunrise hike: what to expect
Option 1: pack a sleeping bag, drive to the trail the night before and nap in your car. Wake up with enough time to strap on your shoes and your pack before hitting the trail.
Option 2: book a bunk at a local hostel, sleep commune style with strangers, hope for the best. Wake up with enough time to drive the short distance to your trail.
Option 3: sleep in your comfortable bed. Wake up and drive for hours in the middle of the night to the trail. Pass the cool kids who are heading home from a night on the town.
Wright Mountain: what to expect
An Adirondack High Peak; over 4,000 feet, with 2,800+ elevation gain.
Windy. So windy. Nearly blew me off the peak the last time we hiked.
Not sure why anyone would choose to go here.
Cool plane crash just off the summit.
And so, after running 6 miles Saturday morning and doing chores all day, we decided on option 3 and settled into a nice comfortable bed for a hot second before waking up and rushing out the door with gear and snacks at midnight.
Oh but it wouldn’t be a true Agostino adventure without a touch of mayhem.
Picture this: the last potty break for our dogs just before we left. Also the last potty break for, Lucy, a neighbor dog. Mid-pee, my two realized they were not alone, and so they darted across the road, dragging me in my sandals, then after I fell, dragging my full body across their lawn. Dog fight ensued. At midnight. With me still attached to the end of the leashes.
Everyone was fine.
Annoyed. Furious. But fine.
And then it was off we go!
Fortunately, no more hiccups. Just driving and chatting, and dancing to House of Pain. After that, hiking and cursing and completely missing the sunrise.
Our legs were tired. Our entire bodies were tired. The climb took so much more out of us than we expected and we made it to the mountain in the full light of day.
(We wouldn’t have seen much anyway; a cloud came and enveloped the whole mountain range until we were well into our descent.)
Leading up to the peak, though, in the darkness, it was cool, quiet, and serene. The forest critters were all still nestled in their beds.
Every now and then I’d remember that behind me (I was following Mark) was absolute darkness, and then I’d remember that serial killers lived and thrived in absolute darkness; filling me with terror and dread for just a quick second.
A sunrise hike that starts in the darkest part of the night is the adult version of my childhood night walk at camp. Maybe that experience is what nurtured an adventure streak in me. Regardless, walking in the dark, not knowing what’s out there, is just so creepy cool.
As long as you stay clear of the serial killers.