Place: I’m not sure.

Phone reception: none.

Heartbeat: similar to a Morse Code punching out Mayday.

My Situation? I’m dangling by a vine over some river, the ravine below a steep slope of slick mud.

I no longer feel like me. I feel like I’m in one of those disaster movies where a plane crashes in the middle of nowhere where the handful of survivors’ trek back to civilization, except for one–the out-of-shape older passenger who dies. Shelly Winters, here I come.

Why do I hike?

Do I crave the thrill of a rollercoaster ride without the long lines? Do I want a life more adventurous than Tampax commercials in the seventies, where you could horse-ride and wind surf?

Or, do I want to put in some vigorous activity to burn off a few of my Chinese egg rolls?


That’s what I hiked Kunming’s Moon Valley last weekend last weekend and Kunming’s Grand Chess Trail (QuNingsi Temple) the week before, both popular trails in Yunnan.

Both were an adrenaline rush and a pit of a poop in the pants.

The hike to the Moon was rated just a two on the hiker’s equivalent to Michelin stars. But to me? The hike equated to an I’m two-old-for-this. Along with the vine dangling scenario, our group–who are not hiking ninjas– straddled gigantic roots, leapfrogged rivers, and survived the stream of profanity from a farmer who accused one of our hikers of biting his goat. Uh, the dog.

So why do I do this?

Well, the easy answer is that once China enforced the zero COVID policy, I traded my frequent flyer card and neck pillow for a yellow backpack and tough rubber soles. Actually, this is the longest I have been gone without flying since 1984. My nose misses the smell of the toilet in the aft of a plane, and the nebulous chicken dish. But Cyprus trees and fresh air are better.

The week before I went to the Moon, I organized a hike up Kunming’s Grand Chess Trail, which I think should have been named named Poodle Point, as that what was at the summit. The meandering trail up the mountain included stops at the temple and a bit of libations.

The hike down Chess Trail was like one of those Wham-O® Slip ‘N Slides I had as a kid, minus the collision with oscillating sprinkler.

Hiking twenty-six thousand steps in the middle of nowhere is more exciting than accomplishing the same thing on a treadmill. Instead of loading up on power bars, I ate cool stuff with my comrades, such as roasted duck and omelet cooked on hot stones. The omelet, ironically was chicken, not duck eggs.

But why do I hike?

When I find myself literally at the end of a rope in China, hiking is the ultimate brain eraser. Either I’m concentrating on the beauty or not slipping, totally forgetting that the snack I purchased for my cat was freeze dried baby birds (I will spare you the photo).

I forget about the kids in class who lick glue sticks and poke holes in my erasers.

I stop wondering how they make corn juice let alone why anyone would drink it.

Instead, I ponder why folks still nibble these bright yellow berries growing along the trail for tooth pain.

I think I’ll stick to Novocain.

After I survive, I mingle with the laundry ladies who hang dry their vegetables.

Why do I hike? It adds more spice to life.

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