Monday, July 25, 2011
3. For the mornings you've brought along a little stove, Snowpeak, a Japanese creation that looks like a metal insect and folds into a plastic case the size of a pack of cigarettes. It screws onto a red, hissing canister of gas and affords you the luxury of making coffee in the vestibule of your tent, without even leaving your sleeping bag. An ideal situation. You wake up gradually, roll onto your stomach and fill the french press with Green Mountain Nantucket blend as the water boils, the bright early light filtering green through the nylon walls. You wait there in the domed calm of your tent, allowing yourself these few peaceful minutes before the day and its many tasks. Soon you will hear the girls are awake, crashing around in the woods getting breakfast ready.
4. Sixteen year old girls wake up with a snap. At six fifty nine AM they are smashed inside their tents (they insist on fitting four girls inside both of the three-person tents, leaving the third tent untouched, which on the first night makes you smile, bemused, thinking this will never last the whole trip, they prove you wrong) faces buried in braids and fleece jackets. One minute later they're up, rolling around and messing with zippers, recounting their dreams all at the same time, at the top of their lungs. Liz is awake as well, already dressed and mostly packed, helping the girls wrestle with the cantankerous Coleman.
5. One thing you should know about your co-leader, Liz: she seems to have very little in the way of human needs. She doesn't eat much, sleeps a moderate amount, wakes up in an instant, does not treat herself to even the smallest luxury that you're aware of. She does not daydream aloud about food and packs for expeditions like a spartan. This makes you, in your stubbornness and ubiquitous hunger, try repeatedly to tempt her with ice cream or lunch stops when it's just you two in the car, driving the shuttles. She never wants any of it except for, on one occasion, a bottle of Rootbeer. She works constantly, non-stop, even when there is very little to be done. After a certain bit of news reaches your ears and you become forgetful, prone to staring into space for half an hour while camp life whirls around you, she'll do even more work. The crying jags you are careful to keep quiet, hidden inside your tent, but she knows, and she picks up your slack without a word. Liz knows a lot of things about living outside. It's best to know right now that out of the 32 mild disagreements you'll have over the next four weeks, Liz will be correct on 29 of them.
6. For about 8% of the trip you'll be annoyed with one another, stormy and exasperated. You wish she would control her bad moods, she wishes you'd talk less and work more. For the other 92%, you're inseparable. Neither of you can seem to get enough of the other. You'll start a conversation at the mouth of the Androscoggin that will last for weeks, up the Coast to Maine, down into Booth Bar Harbor and through the difficult mountain passes of the Whites. The barrier between your private thoughts and the things you share with her becomes micro-thin, until it's really not there at all. Most evenings will be spent with her head in your lap, in front of a campfire somewhere, telling stories in a kind of kid-friendly code. Her lack of desires and your abundance of them ("do you ever think about a hamburger? Like, really think about one?") is ever present, something you bat back and forth the whole time. You cram two dollars in quarters into a machine in Bar Harbor for four minutes of hot water. She never showers, but because of her dreadlocks and flawless complexion, she barely ever appears dirty. You are always a mess. It makes you crazy. This is your second summer leading with Elizabeth and you wish you could always have her near.