I had a fantastic time hiking up the mountains in new york. Normally, I like to be really, really backcountry, miles from anything. All the signs of civilization made it different from previous backpacking trips, but with the cold weather, I felt better knowing that I wasnít too far from roads.

After we set up camp, I enjoyed staring off the mountain and enjoying a view of the lights below, including an outline of Manhattan.

It was a 9.7 mile loop over two days, which is on the short side, for me, but the terrain was challenging, especially with the snow and ice. At one point, I went off the trail and climbed up a steep, sheer ice section, while the others dragged themselves up the more conventional route. It was tough, and I am lucky to have made it. I was up before the rest of them (mostly because I was the only person taking that route and had no one in front of me to worry about), and continued hiking.

Later, I mentioned to Adam how difficult that was, and he gasped, ďWhat? You were being karate girl, leaping from rock to rock and waving at us as you went by!Ē

There was another girl there, Melanie. Sheís a few inches shorter than me, and maybe 15 pounds or so lighter than me (thatís nothing to scoff at, sheís tiny).

I was thoroughly impressed with her strength as she made her way up the mountain faster than me. Itís always the little ones that fool you. Itís funny how Iím so impressed with other peopleís athletic ability, but I donít think much of my own.

As a whole, the group did very well and it was a fantastic time.

There was one person who did not heed Adamís multiple warnings that only experienced hikers in good health should attend. Even though we all do this for fun, itís still snow and ice, a steep incline, and gear on our backs. Thatís not something to joke around about.

Once it became evident that she wasnít fit enough to be doing the hike, there was a lot of contention over whether or not she should be sent home, and if she were to be sent home, how? She obviously couldnít go back down the mountain by herself.

It wasnít my decision, of course, but I was nervous about bringing along someone that could potentially endanger the entire group. Our destination was a stone shelter with a fireplace. If she slowed the group up enough that we didnít make it to the shelter before night-fall, weíd be forced to camp without a shelter. Thatís camp without a shelter in a wind chill of 5F.

She insisted on finishing, though. Rather than water, she brought a mug of coffee, to hike up a mountain. The next day, she was feeling her dehydration and had a lot of difficulty making it back down the mountain.

Personally, I was more concerned that sheíd drop dead of a heart-attack. Not only did she not have the cardiovascular health to be doing the hike, she was also carrying an exceptionally large and heavy backpack.

When backpacking, I go towards ultra-light as possible. Even with the lightest pack (around 30 pounds), Iím still carrying a significant percentage of my body weight, and I try not to go heavier than that.

The girl brought canned food and many other unnecessaries. Her pack was probably close to 50 pounds.

I told Adam that I thought her pack was far too heavy for her. He disagreed, saying sheís much bigger than I am. I told him that it meant it was harder because she also had to get her body up the mountain too.

So, I donít know. Does being bigger necessarily mean that you have more muscle?

Well, anyway, my sleep deprivation is also becoming a bigger issue. I didnít get enough sleep this weekend, and every night this week, I have some obligation in the evening, so thereís little chance to catch up.

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Monday, Jan. 21, 2008 at 11:24 AM