Hey its easy you’ll love it!

In husband or even boyfriend 101, certain things are taught.  One of them is to beware of certain questions.  The classic is when asked by your significant other:

“Does my butt look big in these<insert article of clothing here>  “

This question can be the kiss of death!  I solved this problem by marrying someone who’s butt look GREAT in anything! (And I tell her regularly)

This is not a relationship advice column though, lord knows that is not my expertise.  Hell my wife has always said it has taken a village to keep me out of trouble, and she is correct!

Nope, the question I have learned NEVER to answer, at least not a short yes or no, is “How hard is that (ride, route, climb, hike, hill climb, or book to read)?”  Now this may seem strange to you, but as you may have guessed there is a story.  It ended with my name being cussed for hours by two people who listened to me say, “Hey its easy you’ll love it!”

13 or so years ago my future wife and a mutual friend of ours (I’ve always said in the past that he was an older friend of ours, but as I write this, i realize he was probably close to the age I am now, so we will refrain from calling him that!) wanted to climb Mt. St. Helens.  Since I had climbed it more than once, they both came to me to ask about the climb.

The words “Hey its easy you’ll love it!” came pouring out of my mouth.  Now in my defense, every time I had climbed it it was my consolation prize for not getting to the top of Rainier, Adams or Shasta.  The reason I didn’t make it had NOTHING to do with my fitness.  (My body shuts down at altitude)  Each time I climbed it, I was in what I like to refer to as “Mountain Shape”.  I could carry a 40lb pack, uphill for 5 hours non stop.  Then wake up the next morning and do it again!

St Helens is only a 4.5 mile climb to the summit, and all I carried was a day pack with water, food and an extra layer of clothes.  I climbed it with a buddy who was competitive as hell when we hiked, so we made it to the top in 2.5 hours, and when we went back down, it was only 2 hours to the car!  This is also what I told the two of them….

Now take a look at this picture:

Rob Heading up St Helens
Rob Heading up St Helens

This is my buddy Rob (who by the way refused to ever hike with me again after this) part way up the mountain.  The “trail” goes straight up from here, over broken rock, while trudging through pumice ankle-deep!  This in not your normal walk to a lake or waterfall kind of hike.  I neglected to tell these two this kind of detail (Say it with me: “Hey its easy you’ll love it!”)

My wife and our friend did the climb.  Remember my “Ride your own Ride” post from yesterday?  Well our friend refused to hike anywhere without a full pack in case of emergencies.  It was over 40 lbs. (Its how he hiked his own hikes)  He was carrying this pack, pulling himself up and over the boulders and rocks I forgot to tell them about.  In addition, for some reason, he refused to drink during the hot dusty hike, so he was getting dehydrated.  More than once he fell and my future wife had her hands full taking care of him!

My 4.5 hours casual round trip stroll became a 9 hour epic death march for them!  They made it to the top, but they were CUSSING my name the whole time.  I honestly believe it was the thought of chewing me out in person that kept them moving even after he fell and she had to carry the pack for a while!  My wife still talks about the crinkle fries and Coors beer they had in Cougar after they got down.  And YES they did chew me out (and rightfully so!)

NOWadays I take a different tack when I answer this question.  I start with “When I did it I had trained for ….”  “I found these parts to be the most difficult…..”  “I really liked …..   but you will need to watch out for ……..”  Instead of giving my opinion of what it was like, I give facts about the ride or hike.  I want people to know what they are getting into!

One caveat:  If I thought the ride or hike is hard then they are going to hear that!  Hiking to Camp Muir on Mt Rainier or riding the High Pass Challenge is HARD!!  I will still give the facts, but if I thought it was difficult, then that impresses on the asker they better be ready!

One thing, IF you ever get a chance to climb St Helens, and you are ready to train for it, it is an amazing climb!

Standing on the Summit of St Helens, Rainier in the background
Standing on the Summit of St Helens, Rainier in the background
Lava Dome Rock fall in the Crater
Lava Dome Rock fall in the Crater

But i will warn you now, if you ask me how hard the climb is (or the STP or if I make it to the RAMROD) you better pack a lunch, cuz it’s going to take a while for you to hear the complete answer!  No more 9 hour cussing Tony sessions!

P.S.  Luckily she didn’t hold a grudge since we have been married almost 3 years now! Love you babe!


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