What goes up must come down – or so the proverb would have us believe.
But not always easily.
My brother and a friend, both recently and separately (different continents) have started walking in the mountains.
That thought brings back wonderful memories of all of the Mondays, for 7 years, that I spent walking the mountains in Andorra.
The winter walks were all relatively easy, being in the lower elevations to avoid the snow and cold.
The summer walks, in the high passes, were my favorite. Those walks were to places only ever seen by other walkers or the shepherds, goatherds, and…. What do you call the guy that tends a herd of food horses? (As in horses raised for slaughter.)
For the first 5 years we followed our ‘Fearless Leader’ on whatever route he chose for us that week. Some, but not all, of the walks were marked. Even fewer had anything vaguely resembling a trail. If they were marked it would be a yellow or red dot on a boulder or tree trunk, every 100 to 500 meters… or so.
Our Fearless Leader always scoped out the walks a day or two ahead of time so he knew where to go, if we could do a circle or would have to retrace our steps, where the best spot for lunch was, and so on.
BTW: in Andorra, one walked in the mountains unless one was equipped with, and used, ropes, crampons, and harnesses, in which case one was hiking.
He left Andorra and our walking group was without an official leader.
Another woman, A, and I took over as co-leaders. She, because she had been walking in Andorra for years longer than the rest of us; I, because I had kept trail notes of all the walks I had been on.
We never checked out the walks ahead of time.
Most of the time, when I led the walks using my notes, we didn’t get lost, although we often spent lots of time looking for little yellow dots.
Most of the time, when A led the walks we did get lost – mainly because she always wanted to try something new: a new route, a different peak, a valley she’d heard of but never found…
Her walks were always an adventure.
The most memorable was a gorgeous, and well-marked walk up to a peak we had never walked to before.
We had lunch at the top, as usual.
We discussed how to go down, not as usual.
Part of the group wanted to go back down the way we had come up. Part of the group didn’t.
We had scrambled over a section of loose scree, which, while challenging going up can be very scary going down.
The group split: 4 women and my trusty brown dog, Sedi, decided to find a new way down; the rest of the group, including mon mari, went back down the trail, such as it was.
Many people think going down is easy.
They would be wrong.
I climbed the highest peak in Andorra, once. I would have done it again, often and happily, if I could have been picked up on top by a helicopter. Going down was terrifying…. And there was a trail.
We thought we had a trail, going down the other side of mountain we were on. We could see it perfectly clearly from where we had lunch.
We set off, confidently.
After about 20 minutes, the path we are on, which had been going down, started going back up, over the next hill.
We didn’t want to go up; we wanted to go down.
We spotted another path.
This one just ended after about 15 minutes, in a bit of flat meadow.
We spotted another path.
This one ended shortly… and steeply, in a small cliff.
We were following sheep trails – or goat trails.
That’s when I learned that dogs are not as agile and sure-footed as a goat….
And that, sometimes, having 4 legs is less advantageous than having 2 legs.
There were places we humans could climb over or around that poor Sedi had to be carried or slid.
We hoped, eventually, one of the trails would lead us off the mountain.
In the meantime, the rest of the group was sitting at a bar at the bottom of the mountain, having a coffee and watching our little dots going back and forth. We won’t guess as to their unkind comments.
Eventually, we worked our way down the mountain.
I will not comment on some of the conversations held by 4 strong, competent women in discussing various path options. I will say that we remained friends.
Fortunately, it was a nice summer day; no unexpected thunderstorms or drops in temperature. We had adequate water and we had people who knew where we were.
We four intrepid, confident, mountain walkers learned there are marked trails for a reason, and one needs to be very careful and prepared before attempting to find one’s own way in the mountains.
It’s a little scary to be standing on a mountainside, tired after walking for hours, having no idea how to get down and thinking the only choice is to go back up to the top and down the other side.
Damn, I miss those walks!!!!!
Hot and Sweet Glazed Pork Chops
2 – 4 pork chops, 12oz total (350gr)
1 tbs Dijon-style mustard
1/4 cup orange marmalade
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tbs sherry
2 tsp fresh, minced ginger
2 cloves minced garlic powder
In small bowl whisk together the ingredients for the marinade – you need to use the whisk to break up the marmalade. Pour over chops and let marinate for 10 minutes (or longer…).
Remove from marinade and cook on barbecue 10 – 15 minutes turning once or under broiler for 12 – 15 minutes turning once – or sauté in large skillet 10 – 15 minutes (you get the picture). Baste with any remaining marinade 1 minute before removing to give better glaze.
I do love summer cooking!