Halfway around I was reminded of the 1964 film “Robinson Crusoe on Mars”. It starred Paul Mantee with a brief appearance by Adam West as Colonel Dan McReady. He should have been named McAlready since he died in the first fifteen minutes. As you probably guessed it’s the story of an astronaut stranded alone in a hostile environment where he soon discovers his man Friday. Not a great career move for Friday going from slave to pack mule for an alien. In a white-centric society I guess they thought this progressive at the time. Paul Mantee may not be a big Hollywood name but he did appear in a number of television shows from “Dragnet” in 1959 to “Seinfeld” (he played a health inspector in The Pie).
Anyway, back to me. It wasn’t the strange landscape that reminded me of the film. Nor was it the fact I could have used my own Friday to help with carrying my pack and someone to talk to since I took the trip solo. It was something else in the film. To compensate for the thin Martian air Mantee’s character was given oxygen pills that he could take whenever he needed a little extra O. (They used M&Ms in the film) You see this hike wasn’t flat like my feet but went rather vertical like my stock portfolio in my dreams.
I can’t blame my huffing and puffing on the fact that I’m at 5,500 foot (or is it feet?) altitude anymore, because it has been over a year since I landed. It has to be the poor physical shape I’m in. I feel pretty healthy. That is until I come across one of these human dynamos out here. This one woman hiked past me, stop to answer her cell phone than ran passed me again repeating this scene two more times. I finally told her “Look, can you just go pass me and stay there? I feel bad enough as it is.” She mentioned something about her grandkids but with the blood rushing into my ears I couldn’t make out what she said.
I moved along the path as if underwater while everyone else went scampering and frolicking away. Dogs, kids, old people, they were all leaving me in the proverbial dust. In all fairness to me it does have an net elevation gain of 1,323 feet and is rated “moderately strenuous”, but that don’t mean Jack when you’re laying on a rock, crying as if in a scene from ‘Saving Private Ryan’.
I did make it to the top and now I had a different problem. As mentioned earlier I do indeed have flat feet and when going downhill my knees begin to feel as if locked in a vise after only a few hundred feet. I still had a mile and a half to go. Each step the vise got tighter and tighter. I grabbed a fallen branch to use as a walking stick since I decided to leave mine in the car for some unknown reason. I hobbled along looking like Gandalf the Grey. “YOU SHALL NOT HAVE MY GRANOLA BAR!” I yelled to myself.
There are a good number of people in great shape out here. Over 12% of commuters bike to work, the highest in the country. And with so many beautiful days people can take advantage of the weather.
So I have two choices. Either work myself harder to try and get into better shape or start hanging out with the guy on Pearl Street with the sign that reads: “Will work for pot”. I’m not making that up. That is a man with a mission. A goal. My only question is what kind of work does he do?
Latest plein air piece “Grove of cottonwoods”.