Mountain Man

I don’t know much about Sacagawea other than she’s one of the toughest baby-wearing moms in the history of the US.  Back in the days before Velcro and straps, she joined Lewis and Clark in their cross-country trek across the untamed wilderness of a new country.  I suspect that the Tula in the Wild phenomenon is based on an incident where she tracked down and distracted a hungry crocodile with a socially awkward, yet life saving bird call in order to save her friends’ lives… all while nursing her strap-on baby.  I recently undertook my own Sacagawean journey through the winding staircase wilderness of Tallulah Gorge Falls with my very own mini-Sacagawea strapped to my body.

The beauty of nature is all about perception.  An 800-step descent through a majestic landscape leaves you contemplating your place in this world as you gaze in childlike wonder at the handiwork of the Creator.  Zipedee do da whistles in the background and the occasional blue bird perches happily on your shoulder as a friendly squirrel shakes your hand, much to the delight of the giggling mini-Sacagawea.  My oh my, it truly is a wonderful day.

Then there’s the 800 step ascent, with a weary strap-on passenger who’s had enough blue birds, talking squirrels and kangaroo jokes from passers-by.  The sky somehow turns from a cartoonish blue to an ominous grey.  Smiling cherub-faced clouds morph into taunting clowns that point at my burning thighs with every aching step upward, upward, upward.   The flutter of butterfly wings and babbling of the brook is drowned out by the wailing cries of my pocket-sized explorer. No matter, though…as Sacagawea-man I forged ahead through screaming muscles and breathless steps with only a pioneer’s essentials: my wit and a fan-spray bottle.

In the end, my pint-sized pilgrim and I pushed through the staircase wilderness and emerged victoriously on the parking lot, embracing the water fountain with abandon and ignoring all sense of sanitation and propriety.

I now realize that survival is all about facing nature on its own terms, and then laughing in its face as you slam the car door and crank up the a/c.  

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