In my youth, I scaled mountains.
Nay, I scaled mountain ranges.
When I was an adventure tour guide in Papua New Guinea, we hired a team of locals to take intrepid travelers from one isolated village to the next, up one mountain and down another. Days of hiking, thorns digging into our skin as we trudged on. Wading through rivers. Slipping down ravines. Swinging over chasms on vines. Abseiling down cliffs by the roots of trees. There were no trails, just local men with machetes and bare feet. And I loved it.
It's the hardest I've ever worked. It's the most I've ever sweat. And the last summit was met with the most triumph I've ever felt -- that is, like 10 minutes later, when I had caught my breath.
There was always a feeling of pure aliveness I felt when I conquered a mountain. It can be summed up best by a conversation I had with one of the adventurers on a tour I led. We had scaled a mountain known as Bald Rock, and she looked out over the vast landscape and said, "I feel so small." I countered, "I feel so big." And I did. Huge. Enormous. This world was mine to conquer, explore and protect. I vowed that I would spend all my days scaling mountain ranges.
Today I held myself to that promise.
Before me stood a mountain range of epic proportions, hill after hill after hill. Some said it could not be conquered. Some argued that even if it could, it wouldn't be worth the journey. I myself had been guilty of turning my back on the mountains for too long, fearing the outcome. But I got that itch. It was time. As the great writer and conservationist John Muir wrote, the mountains were calling, and I had to go.
That said, there's a slight chance he wasn't talking about the same mountain of laundry that stood before me today. Excuse me; I don't want to downplay this. Mountain range of laundry.
As every great explorer knows, reaching the summit is all about preparation. This baby had been ignored for too long. I wasn't about to let it best me because of poor planning on my part, such as not taking a pre-climb potty break. No, I would tackle this mountain with the unbreakable spirit of our Postal Service. Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night nor potty break would make me stray. Granted, my laundry range was inside, but it's the conviction that counts!
I strapped on my marathon belt. Intended for long-distance running and used during the two marathons I ran approximately 73,006 years ago, it comes equipped with six 8-ounce water bottles and three pockets for supplies. I knew that to survive this trek into the laundered wilderness, I would need sustenance. I packed a lunch and shoved it into my belt -- two hard-boiled eggs, a cheese stick and a miniature Snickers bar left over from Halloween. Bear Grylls says that to survive in the wild, it's all about rewarding yourself and staying positive. And I wouldn't let Bear Grylls down. Knowing that it would probably be day's end by the time I completed the trek, thirst would be an issue. I considered water but realized I would need more to get me through such an arduous voyage -- much more. I filled the six water bottles with sweet tea.
Now I was set. And at breakneck speed, I launched into the mountain, sorting and folding as if I had never feared the hill before me, unmatched socks be damned.
When I thought of the mountains I would scale once having children, this wasn't exactly what I had in mind. This wasn't anything I had in mind. Our imagined mountain treks were more along the lines of "Heidi" meets "The Sound of Music," with notably fewer Nazis.
I must admit that while gnawing on my cheese stick during my much-needed lunch break, I had a longing for my mountains of yesteryear. How had jungle hikes turned into laundry piles? I wondered whether my kids will know that feeling of bigness, of aliveness, that I cherish so much. And then I noticed the dirt and grass stains permanently embedded in their clothes and knew they will.
I took a refreshing swig of iced tea and kept scaling.
Katiedid Langrock is author of the book "Stop Farting in the Pyramids," available at http://www.creators.com/books/stop-farting-in-the-pyramids. Like Katiedid Langrock on Facebook, at http://www.facebook.com/katiedidhumor. To find out more about her and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.