Remember when, a mere two months ago, I said I hate the wind? That I’m afraid of it, I dislike being in it, that it’s a little spooky. On and on and on about how much I didn’t like the wind. Well, friends, I’m here to tell you that it’s still true. How do I know? I went on a hike in the Gorge, climbed up a steep bony outcrop to stand a thousand feet above the river, in a gale force wind. Sometimes I have to learn lessons the hard way, and apparently more than once.
But here’s the thing—it was a glorious day in the city, bright blue and ice cold—and my friend and I had made plans to hike the week before. It’s a friend I don’t hardly get to see enough, and I wanted to spend time with her. And truthfully, I did that thing (of course!) where you say, oh but how bad could it be? And of course, the answer was…pretty bad, actually. It could be pretty bad.
It was all fun and games for the two and a half miles up. It wasn’t too busy, we kept getting glimpses of the river rippled in whitecaps below us through the trees, we were catching up on our way up and telling stories from the last few months. It was great! I loved it. I felt totally rejuvenated after a hard week getting back into the grind of teaching, workshop and class. It was exactly what I needed. We’d started to notice the wind a little bit, blowing hard when we were crossing the bare face of the ridge, but other than that it was alright. We thought it might just be too that we were noticing it because much of the trees higher up were skeletal, burned by the 2017 fire that came through the gorge, but didn’t pay much attention until we hauled ourselves up onto the knob at the top of the climb.
There, yes, a beautiful view. The gorge spread out fluttering at our feet, an oil painting shimmering in the wind, every shade of green gold and blue. But also, the wind! A flattening kind of wind. We could barely hear each other as we screamed “can you believe this??” and “is this safe??” We passed by two teenagers taking the opportunity to canoodle in the bushes—or hide out from the wind, we weren’t sure—and when two people offer to take our photo we actually pause near the edge and smile for the photo. Except in it our hair is blown straight up and we’re both in athletic stances, trying to fight the onslaught coming up over the edge. It’s wild, a torrent. The hardest wind I’ve ever been in, and I was surrounded on all sides by cliff!
After a few minutes, Jen’s literally blown down, and all I can hear her say is “BACK!” We hunch over, low to the ground, and head back towards where we came from, desperate to get off the death trap we’d unwittingly walked into. Well, not entirely unwittingly. But certainly not expecting what we’d got up there.
Unbelievably, we did spot one wind surfer out on the water, an intrepid (perhaps insane) person out there battling the wind and waves. There’s a sport that’s not for me! We couldn’t help but laugh hysterically as we stumbled our way down, a mixture of hysteria and relief. It really was wild. We just couldn’t believe how intense the wind was, and I thought I’d known! Clearly, there’s bigger and badder wind out there…but guess what? I think this time I’m really done with it.