Monday, October 17, 2011

Good hiking, bad packing

To my surprise, we did what we set out to do this weekend. This isn’t astonishing in and of itself, except that this weekend the plan was to hike up Bradbury Mountain in Pownal, Maine. Since my new philosophy is to go ahead and plan the things I want to do rather than waiting around for my kids to develop some of my interests, I told them I was going to do this hike and they were welcome to join me. I was sure they’d demur. They never choose hiking when I offer it as an option.

So I can’t explain why this weekend they had a change of heart from their usual reticence, but they assured me that yes, they really did want to do this hike. And since three different guidebooks assured me Bradbury Mountain is probably the easiest hike in Maine, I decided to follow through and see what would happen.

It turns out they really meant it. We did the hike; an hour of walking in all. The kids particularly enjoyed the steep rocks that they could clamber up and down, and the weather was ideal for a fall hike. Foliage in Maine is gradually starting to change, and the views were gorgeous.

But there must have been bad karma going around this weekend when it came to packing our bags. As we were getting ready to leave home and drive to Maine Saturday afternoon, Tim asked if he could slip the few things he needed for a one-night stay into my overnight bag. “Sure, there should be room in the pocket,” I told him. Not until he was changing for bed six hours – and one hundred miles – later did we realize we were talking about different overnight bags. His change of underwear and clean clothes for the next day were tucked in the pocket of the bag I had never planned to bring.

It didn’t matter too much, since I had an extra toothbrush in my toiletries bag. I teased him that for once, he actually had an excuse for not putting on clean underwear in the morning; normally, whether or not he does is anyone’s guess, since he never seems to be able to explain to me why the number of underwear items in his hamper never align with the number of days since I last did the laundry.

So that was a minor problem. Unfortunately, a worse problem occurred when we got back home late Sunday afternoon, enthusiastic and well-exercised from our hike, and I realized my overnight bag had never made it back into the car when we were packing up in Maine.

It means I have to retrace my steps and go all the way back to Portland to pick it up. It was a remarkably stupid mistake on my part, one I stewed over all evening. But in the end, I had to reconcile myself to the reality that while it was careless, it wasn’t awful. No one had gotten hurt, and there was no significant material loss. The only real cost to be paid, other than the four hours it will take me to repeat the round-trip drive this week, is gasoline and auto emissions, but since I drive a Prius, even that can almost be excused.

Still, it’s a big enough mistake that I’ll learn from it. Four dull hours on the Maine Turnpike will surely be enough to make me double-check that I have all my bags next time. And sometimes, that can be a worthwhile tradeoff: make a big enough mistake and you’re sure not to make it again.

Besides, the hike was great. That’s what I’ll hold onto from this weekend, not the frustration of leaving things behind.

I only wish that for Tim, wearing the same underwear two days in a row would vex him enough that he too would be more careful next time. But I’m not counting on it.


  1. Dang, Nancy, if it was any other week, I'd make the drive with you -- much more fun to have a buddy along, and I love Portland! I wish I were free...sigh.

  2. What do you need that cannot wait for 10 days when we go?