Monday, April 21, 2008

Super-calcetines, hiking help, from a distance

1. After weeks of rain, my friends and I set out on a hike with a local mountain climbing club to the Basque country on Sunday. As I was humming happily to myself, I missed hearing a fellow Spanish hiker warn me not to step in a huge puddle of mudwater disguised by a thick layer of leaves. I splashed into it full force and felt the cold sink into the "breathing holes" of my meager running shoes. Minutes later, the cold disappeared and I could hardly tell that I'd stepped into water. I suddenly remembered that I was wearing my SmartWool socks that my mom sent over months ago. Before the hike, I had wondered if they could block water, and instead of feeling stupid for not paying attention, I chalk it all up to an experiment gone well.

2. Going up the mountain is hard work, especially as I'm still in the cold zone and find it hard to breathe, however, going down is almost as much work, seeing as we have to surf the ubiquitous mud slicks to get back. Another hiker offers his walking stick "baston" and I feel like a skier tackling the mud in the same way I'd take on the snow.

3. Once we reach the top of the mountain, there are pockets of snow ponds and mucho viento. We are above the birds and a guide points out that the city of Bilbao, its coast, and the glint from the shiny Guggenheim museum are visible from the top.

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