Last weekend Shawn and I hiked up to Pine Creek Lake in the Absoroka Mountains, south of Livingston, MT. The trail climbs over 3,000 feet in four miles, which wouldn’t have been a big deal, except that shortly after we started, I noticed I was hungry. I thought about the omelet I’d made myself that morning with Swiss cheese and smoked turkey — a feast befitting a stout day hike. I remembered setting the lid on the pan after turning the burner off to melt the cheese on the eggs, and then realized…the omelet was still there. At home. In the pan. I’d forgotten to eat.
Seriously. I’ve NEVER been one of those “Oh, I forgot to eat!” type girls.
It was odd. Made me think that I’ve been forgetting stuff a lot lately.
“Do you ever worry about forgetting stuff?” I asked Shawn. “Like that you’ll be one of those statistical tragedies who gets early-onset Alzheimer’s?”
“No,” he said, handing me a half a PB & J sandwich from the lunch I’d packed us, which he was carrying.
The sandwich held me for two hours into the hike, until I started asking Shawn how much longer, warning him that I was going to need food soon. We only have 20 more minutes to the lake, he said, not wanting to halt our momentum.
Twenty minutes later I informed him that we weren’t there yet, to which he replied “Just a bit longer.”
So I sat down on the trail like a small child. He kept walking, then finally turned around and looked at me. “What?” he said.
“I’m not moving until you give me food.”
He handed over some peanut butter cups, sesame sticks and Gatorade and I perked up. When we got to the lake we ate lunch, and Shawn announced he wanted to climb the rest of the way up a nearby peak. Lucky for me I KNEW he would say this, and packed a book so that while he and Angus played mountain men, I could relax and read. (Back when we were dating I would’ve killed myself following him up high peaks, but we’re married now. Why pay for sausage when you already own the boar? Or something like that.)
I read my book and soaked my feet in the icy lake, noting the marginal paint job I'd given my toes, which appeared to have been done by someone with very poor eyesight. I thought of my mother, who’d called me from the beauty shop the day before, while I was at work. “I’m waiting for my toenails to dry and I’m bored, so I thought I’d call you,” she said. She was having some sort of art installation done on her feet, a fireworks theme that pleased her. My cheapo polish job was an attempt to hide two unsightly black toenails that came as awards from various trail runs.
When Shawn returned we prepared to head back down the trail while Angus stuck his head between large boulders, snuffling after a small critter. Then some rocks shifted and he couldn’t get his head out. Have you ever heard a dog scream? I hadn’t either, until Angus got stuck. Turns out it’s hard to keep your cool and move boulders while your dog is screaming. When Shawn finally found a rock with enough wiggle room to get him out we were both shaken, and Angus just trotted off.
When we arrived back at the car we were hot and filthy, and decided to stop at the Yellowstone River for a dunk on the way home. We pulled into the river access, cars of fishermen and floaters packing the lot. I ignored the people standing around and waded into the water, waist deep. A kayak with two men inside pulled up next to me, and I looked at the guy in front and thought, Huh. That guy looks like John Mayer. Then I thought, Holy shit! That’s John Mayer!
I read the tattoos covering his arms, and somehow — perhaps because I like his music — couldn’t come up with one intelligent thing to say. Then Shawn swam out and helped pull a drifting raft that was with Mayer’s group to shore and John said, “Hey, thanks for your help.”
I’d heard Mayer recently bought a home south of Livingston, and his latest video has several shots filmed in the area. Now here he was, floating the Yellowstone with friends, standing next to me. I slunk around the edges of the group on the beach for a while, just in case he might want to ogle me.
“I’m sad,” I told Shawn when we got back in the car and began the 40-minute drive back home. “John Mayer never checked me out.”
It was a weird day.
And despite what I’ve written, it was a good one.