Me. That answer would be me. But before you give me grief over it, let me give you the background and the hilarious situation I found myself in when I forgot hiking boots for a hike.
Back in August of 2004, I was just recently divorced and in the process of selling my house. My son and I would be sharing a house with a friend and her son so we could both save money. I’d downsized a lot of my furniture and was prepared for the sale that was happening in another week. But first a hut-hike.
How We Started Hut Hiking
Back in 2002 when I quit smoking, I used the patch which sailed me through the quitting process but was also giving me a steady supply of nicotine. When it came time to take the last patch off, I knew that I would want a cigarette to fulfill that loss of nicotine, so I turned to my friend Cheri and told her I wanted to do a hut hike to take my mind off of it.
The day I woke up and didn’t have a patch on my arm was the day that we were climbing one of the White Mountains in New Hampshire for an overnight stay at a hut. It was successful and by the time we were done, I didn’t think about wanting cigarettes at all.
Queue the next 9 years. From that moment on, pretty much every year, we planned a hut hike until I got hurt on one particular nasty hut hike (fog, freezing rain, and temps in the 30s on July 1st were contributing factors.) Mount Washington has some treacherous weather at all times of the year. On June 19th of this year, there was a rescue on the Gulfside Trail. However, the hiker later died at the hospital. The wind chill was 6 degrees that day.
But this hike was in August and we weren’t expecting that kind of weather, but you never know. I also wasn’t expecting to have the closing on my house at the end of the week. We always made our hut hike plans in the spring to get the dates and huts we wanted. Yes, hut hiking along the Appalachian Trail in the White Mountains is very popular.
When I say hut, don’t think I mean some shelter on the side of a mountain where we lay out a sleeping bag and cook our own meals over our portable stoves. Nope. These are full-service huts with bunk beds, bathrooms, and large meals served for both breakfast and supper. You only need to hike with water and snack. Sure, you still need to bring your sleeping bag or sheets for the bed but not having to carry food or a stove lightened the load.
We needed to book in advance and match up our calendars and pick dates that worked for all of us. At the time, I still wasn’t officially divorced and it’d been dragging on since 2002. How was I supposed to know it would be finalized by then or that my house would sell in a bidding war in one week? Or that the closing would be so close to our trip? I pushed it out as far as I could.
How It Happened
First, please note that I’m a very organized packer. I have checklists for anything I need to pack for. (You may have noticed my need for checklists in previous posts!) I pulled out my hut hiking checklist, got all my gear together, packed my backpack, and got my hiking poles and boots. I put ALL of this next to the front door a day before we were to leave on the hike.
I picked up my mother and brought her to my house to stay with my son. Then then I packed my gear into my car and headed out to pick up my girlfriends and we headed north. The four-hour trip to North Conway, NH is something I know like the back of my hand.
Once there, we headed to our favorite B&B and brought in all of our gear. We knew we had a short hike into the first hut the next morning but we wanted to make sure we had all we needed. Only I didn’t. I couldn’t find my hiking boots. We combed the car front to back and then back to front but couldn’t find them. Just to be positive, I called my mother, and sure enough. They were right by the front door where I put them 2 days before.
At 9 am the next morning, we pulled into Ragged Mountain, our favorite outfitter. Not only was it the closest gear store to where we were it was also the only one open at that time on a Saturday morning. We loved Ragged Mountain and got some of our favorite gear there. They not only had their main store but a resale shop in the basement where people sold their old gear or the store sold some of its one-offs.
I went to the counter and told the sales rep that I needed new hiking boots. He asked me what brand I wanted and I told him the brand didn’t matter what mattered was that they didn’t need to be broken in and could handle slippery granite. I told him that I forgot my hiking boots at home and we were doing a hut hike that day.
He looked at me and asked how I could forget my hiking boots for a hike. Just the question I didn’t want but I told him that I was moving, had a closing on Friday, that I had my gear all packed and next to the door but forgot to go back into the house one more time. Because my mother was there, I didn’t need to lock up the house, I got distracted and left without them.
He looked me right in the eye, this laid-back dude from New Hampshire, and said, “Let me guess, you’re from Connecticut?”
I was astonished and asked how he knew. He told me it was because everyone from Connecticut is always multi-tasking. I couldn’t deny it. Probably my lack of a Boston or NYC accent also helped.
Luckily, he also led me to a pair of Salomon trail runners that became my go-to until I wore them out.