Saturday, August 25, 2007

Adventures of HikeWoman

Published August 25, 2007
St. George Spectrum & Daily News

Living my life as a published writer, I'm often approached by people with suggestions on what I should write. The suggestions range from the witty to the off topic to the inappropriate, but I try to listen and be open, taking note of those ideas that would work well for "The Mother Load." Lately, the suggestions have been loud, and they have been unanimous.

"WHEN are you going to write the Half Dome column?"

They have a point. I hiked the Half Dome trail in Yosemite just over a month ago, completing the 19 miles in a grueling 13 hours. My dear friend, Becca, and I bounced up to the trailhead with vigor and excitement and just a little nervousness. 13 hours later, we hobbled back across that line, exhausted but accomplished, feeling like superheroes. (That is to say, we felt like superheroes who had faced an arch enemy, battling for 13 hours straight while covered in kryptonite and simultaneously holding an endangered bus full of nuns and school children.)

You know, I kind of like the idea of being a superhero. I think I'll keep it. 13 hours on that trail certainly earned it for me. And, if I do say so myself (and I always do), I fit most of the criteria for being a superhero. I found this criteria on various websites, including a site devoted to the promotion of the "Real Life Superhero" community, a growing movement of ordinary people fighting crime while dressed in costume. (I wish I were making that up.) To prove myself a real superhero, I submit to my readers the following:

-Costume. It's not much and wasn't sewn by my adoptive earth mother out of alien baby blankets, but my costume is perfect for my superhero persona: HikeWoman. Cargo pants, light t-shirt, a reflective cap, and extra padded socks allow me to hike in style. Sunglasses conceal my identity, and my beloved Merrell hiking shoes keep me going for hours on end. I may not have a jaw dropping, black body stocking like Catwoman, but I can guarantee I'm much more comfy.

-Gadgets. I'm not able to claim any actual super powers, so I'm of the Batman variety of superheroes. I compensate for my humanity with gadgets. Instead of ex-ray vision, I have my trusty flashlight. Instead of sticky spider claws that enable me to scramble up walls, I have my hiking gloves with the "sure grip" textured surface. My Camelbak acts as my all in one utility belt. Instead of super strength, well, I have completely disgusting power bars...but who needs super strength anyway, right?

-Sidekick. Every superhero needs a sidekick, and that's where Becca comes in. I prefer, however, to consider her my partner in crime fighting. We're like the two person version of the Fantastic Four. We're the Terrific Two, if you will. Becca fights crime and fashion faux pas as "The Prada Boy Scout." She's always prepared...with handbags and shoes and other glamorous accessories.

-Alter ego. HikeWoman's alter ego, Sarah E. Wilson is as nerdy as they come. She even writes for a newspaper just like Clark Kent! ( didn't hear it from me.)

-Nemesis. For now, my nemesis is the Half Dome itself, and what a clever villain it is. Braving the first 8 miles of the trek, 4800 feet straight up, we made it to the base of the dome only to learn we were almost out of water. With another 8 miles to the bottom, I looked at my arch enemy and admitted a slight defeat (making sure to note that dehydration is my kryptonite). I made it all 19 miles, but I didn't stand on top of the rock, so I consider this battle a draw. Now, I sit in my fortress of solitude, training for the day next year when Half Dome and I will meet again. Next time, I'll have all my gadgets, skip the power bars, and I'll make sure I have enough water.

I'm also in the market for a radioactive spider, if anyone knows anything.