#31 Imp Face: Excerpt

Autumn has arrived!

“What a brave little girl,” the man says, “climbing such big mountains!”

We are near the Imp Face ledge. The trail is wet. There’s a storm coming. We’re both eager to prepare for an overnight backpack the next day, and we want to use this free day to quickly tick off one of the short hikes left on our list.

We’re hiking on a holiday weekend during leaf peeper season so the roads and trails are saturated with tourists. These two caught up with us, but are sucking wind pretty badly and appear to have only one plastic water bottle between them.

“Sooooo brave!” he says again in a heavy German accent. His companion nods vigorously in agreement.

I don’t know if he’s being condescending, or perhaps there is something lost in the translation. Maybe he’s complimenting her, but it comes out sounding wrong, sounding like surprise instead of praise. But I really don’t know. We have had no experience yet with doubters, though from friends who hike big mountains with kids, I know they are out there.

Janelle looks up at me. I want to tell the guy that he has no idea how brave she is, how this is mountain number 31 for her, how we’ve hiked in ice and rain, and how Janelle has dedicated all her free time to this pursuit out of passion and determination. I want to tell him that it’s not about being brave anyway, it’s about being prepared and smart. I want to say that literally anything is possible.

Instead, I take the lazy path. “She sure is!” I say.

Later, I feel like I’ve betrayed Janelle, like she had looked to me for something more, for a greater defence of her accomplishments.

“Listen, about that guy,” I begin, “I should have said more. I’m sorry.”

She’s puzzled. “Why?” she shrugs. “He had a crazy accent, I couldn’t understand a word he said.”

Imp Face (10/6/12)

Height: 3,165 feet

Location: South of Gorham, near Pinkham Notch. I-93 north to Exit 35 to Route 3 to Route 116 to Route 2 through Gorham to Route 16 for 5.4 miles.

Our trailhead: Imp Trail, north.

Distance: 4.4 miles round trip. (Trail Info: We took the Imp Tail up and back to Imp Face, but the trail can also be used as a loop that ends back at Route 16 a short distance from where you begin.)

Categories: Excerpts and 52WAV Mountain Stats | Tags: , , | 11 Comments

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11 thoughts on “#31 Imp Face: Excerpt

  1. Aunt Margie

    Janelle is brave! To face the trials she has during her 31 climbs through the rain, mud, ice and recently snow is not only brave but determined, strong and powerful. How many children her age would have the fortitude to endure and proceed as she has. She is an wonderful example for not only children but us old folks. I am proud of her and look forward to seeing her grow up. Her grandpa would have been proud of her also. I am sure he watches over her shoulder on all these climbs and smiles at her.
    Love to all.

  2. Cristy Rice

    Janelle is brave for tackling all these peaks! We get this same reaction anytime we are on the large peaks. I think about 4 different people stopped and asked my son on Tecumseh “hey buddy how are you doing?” He answers them and never questions why they ask him. It happens on them all. Meanwhile he just about ran down Tecumseh and kept having to stop and wait for us old folks, he is fine on these peaks! Glad Janelle is enjoying all of her travels, the memories will last a lifetime!

    • Hi Cristy, yeah the way down has been tough on me. She’s too fast, LOL! When she gets that fast on the way up, then I’m in trouble!

  3. Yeah, we get that ALL THE TIME. My girls have learned that most people are just trying to be polite. They’re trying to express admiration, even when they do it in a sing-song voice. I’ve always told Alex and Sage to just smile and nod, that they don’t have to say anything back if they don’t want to, to let me handle it if they feel like they’re being spoken down to. Most folks are genuinely trying to be supportive and they do not realize that they can talk to kids just like they can talk to grown-ups. Still, it drives the girls nuts to be spoken to as though they were toddlers…one woman made the mistake of asking the girls if they’d hiked Carter Dome all by themselves or if I’d carried them (we were coming down the mountain and headed for Carter Notch Hut). Should have heard the conversation that followed as soon as that woman was out of earshot…

    Dan, you’ll know the naysayers by the looks they give YOU and the questions they ask (“It’s really slippery up there” , “It gets really steep” etc etc etc).

    Hike on, looking forward to being there for your finish. Be sure to make a huge announcement, I want to plan ahead for this. 🙂

  4. Some of my comment above didn’t show up due to my use of symbols that the computer system interpreted as instructions…I’ll therefore add the following — the naysayers will throw you negative looks while asking questions or warning you about the multitude of dangers that lie just a bit further down the trail…you’ll know the naysayers without a doubt. Fortunately, they consist of a tiny percentage of hikers…most folks are genuinely supportive (though some unintentionally talk down to kids).

    • Thanks Trish, Janelle and I have had some talks in prep for that, she’s also read your book (http://www.trishalexsage.com/) so she knows it’s out there.
      Right now, we hope to finish in the week before Thanksgiving, though weather and time will dictate exactly when. We’ll know more at the end of October. And yes, we plan on having a celebration!

  5. Madeleine Monat

    “Listen, about that guy,” I begin, “I should have said more. I’m sorry.”

    She’s puzzled. “Why?” she shrugs. “He had a crazy accent, I couldn’t understand a word he said.”

    Out of the mouths of babes. She is a wise young lady.

  6. SDR106

    I believe that when folk’s see young kids on the summits it steals a bit of their thunder! Lol. I know I lost some epicness when I was lapped by a very pregnant women heading up Tecumseh, hahaha.

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