Press "Enter" to skip to content

Stupid Hike

By Jane Provorse

It’s fall and ’tis the season for stupid hikes. Now, I’m not referring to those glorious treks beneath yellow-dappled aspens and china-blue skies. I’m talking about the other kind; the not-so-pretty, dumber kind.

Stupid hike definition: “A misguided walk that ends up pointless and offers little, if any, reward for the effort.” You might think I just made that up, but I didn’t. My kids did.

Our family of five went camping in Glacier National Park several years ago. My husband, Festus, (not his real name) suggested a hike to the top of a hill. It was hot, buggy and the way up required bushwhacking, his specialty. At his urging, we commenced to claw our way up the embankment through stickers and branches. Finally, we emerged into – more stickers and branches. You get the idea. The kids were itchy, tired and not happy. “Another one of your stupid hikes!” my son said to his father, and the name stuck.

You’d think we would have learned our lesson after that, but we are not that smart. Last fall, Festus and I decided to hike in the magnificent foliage to Pass Lake near Salida. After driving down the dusty, rutted road, we reached the trailhead. Since it was a warm October day, I wore a T-shirt and long pants and Festus had on shorts. Oh yeah, and I had forgotten my hiking boots so I wore flip-flops. So who’s perfect?

The two of us proceeded up the four-mile trail, determined to view the lake at the end. As is common in the mountains, the weather decided to become like a small child and suddenly throw a tantrum. The wind began to howl and we passed through a low cloud which dumped little white pellets on our heads. We stopped to put on our coats and hats, implausibly optimistic that the sun would soon shine again. But the bad weather-child had other ideas.

It started to full-on snow.


Stubborn and stupid, we pushed on to Pass Lake, which I viewed with one eye open from behind a tree as the October blizzard raged. Victorious in a perverted way, we high-fived, then turned and ran.

On the way back, believe it or not, my feet got quite cold. My flip-flops turned into miniature Slip-and-Slides. Mud filled with small stones oozed between my toes. Every so often I stopped and put one foot up Festus’s shorts (so exciting) to warm up. At one point I spied another couple approaching the path, so I quickly removed my foot from Festus’s crotch.

“How’s the lake?” the man shouted over the wind.

“It’s horrific!” I yelled. Both nodded, then noticed my blue toes and ridiculous shoes. Their eyebrows shot up and they looked at each other in alarm. What moron wears flip-flops on an eight-mile hike in the snow? I wanted to explain, but my frozen face could form no words. I smiled weakly. They moved away quickly.

It took almost two hours of shame and agony to make it back to the car. Festus’s hands, crippled with cold, fumbled and dropped the keys three times as I stood frozen, waiting, humiliated. The temperature in the car read 30 degrees.

That’s a Stupid hike.

Jane Provorse dabbles in poetry, play writing, journalism and learning the ukulele, not necessarily in that order.