Salty Stories

My Body Was Not Built To Climb Mountains

It’s that time of year again in Upstate NY. The snow is “melting” into black-spotted mounds surrounded by mud, the temps are hitting 50 which brings out society’s inability to dress appropriately and it’s no longer pitch black outside while you drive home from work in the freezing cold. SPRING HAS SPRUNG, Y’ALL! And not only does that mean seeing bozo’s wearing flip flops with their disgusting feet that they prematurely pulled out of winter hibernation loudly on display, but it also means all of your hiking friends come out of the woodwork. You know the type, the people who CHOOSE to wake up at 4am on a Saturday morning, scale the rocky side of a mountain and then sit unnaturally close to the edge of a cliff to watch the sunrise. I say this with the MOST jealousy because I’ve forever wanted to post a cool-ass Insta of me at the top of a mountain with the sun cresting behind me, bragging about how casj and effortless it was to hike my 14th high peak. I want that for myself SO badly, that I’ve attempted hiking. I’ve attempted hiking knowing that on a regular Tuesday, I trip over my own feet an alarming amount of times. A few days ago I slid stepping into the shower and smashed my shin off of the tile so hard that I screamed and just stood there in the water for a hot second contemplating how I haven’t fallen to my death yet. It’s a valid question for someone as uncoordinated as I am who also lives alone.  

Not only am I clumsy but fun fact numero dos: I get VERY winded from exerting myself physically. If you’ve ever been on a phone call with me while I’ve gone up a flight of stairs oh baby, are you in for a treat. I gasp for air from the slightest activity. So yeah, this ganglerod disaster who is regularly out of breathe from walking voluntarily scaled a mountain. THRICE. The first time was in Hawaii. Humble brag. I climbed Diamond Head. Climbed is a generous term. I feel like I need to get ahead of the story here and admit that I had absolutely 0 plans to do any physical activity on my work trip/vacation. My vacay mode is beachin and drinkin and it is almost NEVER climbin. Except for the fact that it stormed for the majority of my trip, which really put a damper on beachin. So that’s how I found myself agreeing to join a VERY fit friend on the Diamond Head adventure. I figured I didn’t have anything better to do and it sounds BADASS as hell to tell people you climbed a freaking volcano. I was doing it strictly for the story and for the ‘gram. (In case you haven’t figured it out yet, that’s basically how I live my life.) As our gang started the hike, I knew I was in trouble when families with small children, all wearing flip flops (at least they were summer-ready feet) were immediately lapping us and we’d barely just begun our journey. Nothing kills your confidence quicker than a 4 year old in beach gear showing you up. The rest of the hike was no less than 15 years long. Built for tourism, it was essentially paved with railings the entire way and yet I still felt as though I was being personally attacked by this volcano. If it had erupted, I would’ve just nodded in understanding and lied down, letting the hot lava solidify me there in my huffy embarrassment. I kept chugging though. I wanted that money shot at the top and I would die getting to it if I had to. As if Diamond Head was a salty bitch and knew my intentions for hiking her weren’t pure, she decided to do me dirty one last time. The last segment of the hike is just a staircase. It quite literally looks like the stairway to heaven. You can’t see the top, you just see stairs going up toward the sky. And there were A LOT of them. This was like a 7 floor walkup just to finish this damn hike. I stopped at the bottom and literally laughed out loud (and took the picture below.) Well played, you fiery volcano, you. My friend ran full speed up the infinity stairs because clearly she didn’t feel challenged enough by being forced to keep pace with a 26 year old trapped in a 96 year olds body. Sorry bout it. I took the steps one by one, thinking about the consequences of my actions. This is what I get myself into when I live for the gram. On the bright side, after that giant stairmaster, and a very rusty spiral staircase immediately afterward, I can only hope I was one step closer to buns of steel.

My friend, Rocky’ing the shit out of these endless stairs
Not sketchy at all

Plus, the view WAS pretty flawless. I also took it one step further and hopped a fence that said “don’t cross this fence” to literally sit on the ledge and dangle my feet. If I was going to do the equivalent of a year’s worth of workouts in one afternoon, you bet your ass I’m gonna illegally dangle (trembling with fear the entire time) to make it worth my while. The over-edited shot that I posted accompanied by my supes casj cool caption basically qualified me as a fitness influencer, so my job here was done. Everyone believed that I do this every weekend and didn’t just almost keel over and die on a hike that toddlers were doing with ease. And I bet not a soul knew that while I was “livin on the edge” I was also crapping my pants with fear. Insta-magic.

The second and third (final) hikes of my life just so happened to be the same exact hike. Again, motivated by aesthetics. I’ve always wanted to peep the foliage from a mountain as well, so I took a poll from my hike-happy friends and all agreed that the tamest one for me to tackle while still getting an eyeful of orange leaves was Pilot Knob in Lake George. After a Saturday full of drinking, I forced my boyf at the time to do nature with me for a nice Sunday cleanse. Our definition of cleanse started with eating hot dogs and cheese fries out of a food truck first. I’m not sure exactly what is the correct hiking fuel, but if I had to guess, wieners and processed cheese probably isn’t it. Whatever, it was delicious. This hike turned out to be the real deal. In fact, it had a journal at the bottom for you to “check in” aka if you go missing in the woods, at least the cops looking for your dead body know you’re definitely there and how long you’ve been gone for. The boyf and I were unaware of that feature and felt very confident charging into this hike until roughly 3 minutes in when we were confused where the actual path was and started to second guess if we even knew how to follow a marked trail. Thankfully a family was near and we could follow them…until we couldn’t see them anymore. SERIOUSLY WHAT IS IT WITH TAKING YOUR SMALL CHILDREN ON HIKES? It’s just downright embarrassing for us fatties. They’re like speed racers, I tell ya. This hike was directly uphill. There were leaves and branches scattered about, the stairs were just jutted out rocks and there were multiple times that I slid on a wet patch. It was horrific, but again, I wanted that leaf porn. We huffed and puffed to the top, and honestly, leaves weren’t even peak anymore. I didn’t feel accomplished. I just wondered, probably out loud, “Who actually enjoys this?” After a photoshoot to mark our athletic achievement, the boyf and I agreed that this was a one-time deal and never under any circumstances would we become hiking people and we beat it down the mountain back to the comfort of our couch. 

The deadest leaves in all the land
vs.
What I edited the shit out of and posted on IG:

I hate to even admit this, but the next time I did this hike was the following summer with a group of friends and if you’re wondering how I ever agreed to join them…so am I. You know when women say they forget about the pain and trauma of childbirth when they’re having more kids? I think that’s what happened here. Enough time had passed for me to look back on Pilot’s Knob with an easy breezy attitude like it was a walk in the park. I remembered it not being that bad and also this time, there was alcohol to be had at the top for sunset. Call me an alcoholic but that was for sure a motivator. Apparently I had blacked out that HIKING IS THE ACTUAL WORST AND THIS BODY WAS NOT BUILT TO CLIMB MOUNTAINS. But if we learned our lessons the first time, that wouldn’t really be life, now would it? I accompanied a friend of mine who invited a bunch of her other friends I had never met. Essentially I was hiking with a pack of strangers and guess what?! They were all pro hikers. Some of them were even wearing hiking boots. It was clear from the jump that my tank top with slits up the side that read “If only sass burned calories” wasn’t going to cut it with this seasoned outdoor gang. After a late start and the realization that the sun was about to set in 20 mins, everyone kicked it into high gear essentially running to the top of the mountain. Again, quick reminder that I was surrounded by the kind of people who grew up playing sports…and not in the participation trophy kind of way I did. I was quite literally wheezing to keep up while simultaneously mortified that this would be a long lasting first impression to this new crew. I finally waved everyone off to go on and leave me alone on this mountain to hopefully die and leave my horribly out of shape body to be eaten. My beefcake of an ass would be a delicacy to whatever roamed the Adirondacks…at least I have that going for me. For a brief moment, I considered chugging a seltzer as I dragged my body up thinking a buzz might put a little pep in my step but honestly I probably would’ve just given myself a foot cramp and tumbled back down to the bottom. I will also be forthright with you and admit that there were tears. Not like a sobbing moment…more like a who the hell do I think I am teary-eyed moment. When I finally crested the top, I tried to play it off like I went that slow on purpose to take in the scenery and not because it’s exhausting for me to support my own body weight when it’s not laying horizontally. I chugged the seltzers that I earned, took some shitty sunset photos that I refused to be in because I looked like a sweaty garbage can, and got ready to reach my grand finale of forest-related walking. Another key factor that I didn’t think through all the way, if you’re climbing a mountain to see the sun set, YOUR HIKE DOWN WILL BE PITCH BLACK. Guess what doesn’t have lights? The woods. *cue Taylor Swift’s 1989 sleeper hit are we out of the woods yet are we out of the woods yet are we out of the woods yet playing on loop in my terrified brain.* I saw exactly one snake on my descent using a cell phone flashlight and it never for a second crossed my mind that ALL THE CREATURES WOULD BE OUT AND I WOULDN’T BE ABLE TO SEE THEM. So that’s it for my hiking career. I tried guys, I really did. I envy your outdoorsy adventures solely for the pictures because I’m a real picture whore. But NO PHOTO is worth stumbling over rocks on a steep incline amongst woodland creatures for. When Elon Musk invents a way for me to get the breathtaking shots without the exertion– a quick elevator ride to the top, perhaps? Then I’ll be all in on hiking.

Seltzer hit harder than this sunset

PS I also attempted a brisk walk in the woods this spring (level ground), gasped for air the entire time, tripped over twigs and ended up with blisters on both of my heels so let’s just go ahead and cancel my body because I’m not even 30 yet and walking in general is a no for me, dawg.

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Salty Stories

The Salty Ju Trail of Blood

When I was twenty-five and stringing together a bunch of part-time jobs, living on my own, it was not uncommon for me to have a day off in the middle of the week. I worked primarily as a hostess at a restaurant and I typically didn’t go in until 4pm anyway. I’ve always been a goddess of the sun, taking every opportunity to lay out and fry my skin off that was presented to me. Before beach/pool season began, I would do this thing where every time the sun was out, I’d lay a blanket on the grass in front of my apartment and sit on it in a skimpy tank top and athletic shorts hiked up as much as I possibly could to soak up some of that UV good good. My dad used to call this trashy—I call it innovative. I didn’t have a backyard so this little public patch of grass was my sunning oasis. Alright, fine, it was super trashy but I paid a steep rent and the least I could get out of an apartment that had original windows from 1930 that I had to SARAN WRAP in the winter to stop the frosty windchill from taking over my living space was claiming a square of green. Well one fateful day as I came down with my blanket in my “it’s too soon for bikini season so I’ll respectfully wear gym clothes” tanning outfit, there was a sign on the lawn that said: “pest control—stay off the grass!” Was it strategically placed there just to keep me from sitting? Probs. I scoffed and quickly changed plans, marching across the street to Congress Park where the stoners play frisbee, the homeless people snooze on the bench and the ducks get too close for comfort. It was not my slice of partially enclosed apartment heaven, but it would have to do if I was going to erase this blinding whiteness that 5 months of winter had created. Dress season was upon us and I didn’t want to have translucent legs anymore.

After a couple hours of worshipping the sun, I began my sweaty trudge back to the apartment. I came up to the top of the park on the “Welcome to Saratoga Springs” statue and noticed that the red tulips surrounding the park were in bloom. At the time, I was running my dad’s small business Instagram account and my first thought was how bomb this would look on his page. I don’t mean to toot my own horn, but what a star employee I am. I snapped a few artsy pics, getting those angles all up in those tulips, went to hustle across the street without a Walk symbol because I like to play it fast and loose and mid-crosswalk, I was shot at. Just kidding, checking to see if you’re still reading. Mid-crosswalk I felt something in my flip flop. I thought it was a rock so I just kept scooting as there were cars approaching now. Once I got to the other side, I looked down as this rock was really starting to hurt and saw a WHOLE ASS glass bottle STICKING OUT OF MY FOOT through my flip flop. I’m not sure how dense I had to be to not notice peg-legging across the street with a glass bottle as a heel, but clearly I needed to get a little more observant. Obviously my first instinct upon this discovery was to get the foreign object out of my body. Had I known that dislodging the bottle would create a whole other bloody situation, I would’ve kept it inserted in my foot for the rest of my life. Because oh buddy, once I yanked that thing clean, my foot started spouting blood like a spigot on full blast. I was now standing on the sidewalk of a main street splooging blood everywhere. It was puddling at my feet on the sidewalk. If this is too graphic for you, please know that I almost puked at the amount of blood that was collecting in such a short span of time. (I have many photos of this incident including a close-up shot of my blood covered stump but I’ve decided to only include the tamer ones here…if you’re squeamish with blood consider this a courtesy warning to scoot past these pics without a glance.)

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I was in complete shock and I still had two blocks to walk back to my apartment. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t contemplate calling an ambulance. Instead, I called my parents. My dad answered and as I described the bloody sitch and cried to him about how the hell I was supposed to get home and what if I bleed out and die on this very sidewalk? He said, “I don’t know what you’d like me to do from two hours away.” THANKS FOR NOTHING, DAD. My flip flop was soaked in blood, my foot was sliding off of it, and I seriously considered using my blanket as a tourniquet then quickly realized I had no idea how to execute that. Apparently several years of watching the crew at Seattle Grace perform all sorts of medical duties in a pinch did absolutely nothing to prepare me for my own medical emergency. THANKS FOR NOTHING TO YOU TOO, DR. MEREDITH GREY. As I attempted to do something useful with that blanket, all that ended up happening was covering it in my own gore and dragging it on the sidewalk as I limped home, leaving a trail of blood in my wake. No one stopped to help or even question why someone who could be a freshly bronzed runway model was bleeding out all over the sidewalk, midday. Fuckin’ Saratogians. Buncha bougie a-holes who can’t be bothered with a little casual B negative overflowing onto their pristine walkways. I made it home alive and was able to clean my stump of a foot without sobbing. Possibly the worst part of it all was that when I finally mopped up all of the fluids, what I found underneath was one incision in my heel, the size of a regular paper cut. All of this fanfare for a measly little cut.

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I bandaged it up and for the rest of the week wore Converse to work with my sundresses, telling the restaurant that I was severely injured and would not tolerate feedback about wearing kicks to work. I hobbled people to their tables and sat on a stool with my foot dramatically elevated (think Michael Scott when he burned his foot on the George Foreman), sneaking bread and olive oil underneath the hostess stand to ease my pains. I just took it one day at a time, ya know? It’s all any of us can do. And not to brag, but I pull OFF sneaks and dresses—a trend that I still crush to this day. I was getting mad compliments, so if anything, my injury just upped my cool girl fashion game. A few days later, I was finally ready to return to the scene of the crime. I needed closure. What I found was that my blood still decorated the sidewalks (and there was A LOT of it.) I also found the culprit. A broken Grey Goose nip. And you know what? If I’m going to get shanked in a crosswalk and nearly need to amputate my entire foot, I’m glad it was top shelf liquor that did me dirty. I respect it. Should they name Circular St. as a Saratoga landmark for tourists to visit? That’s not for me to say. I did, however, take it upon myself to pen a strongly-worded letter to the Mayor in favor of some sort of ribbon-cutting and celebration of this new historical site. The Salty Ju Trail of Blood.

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In the weeks after, I managed to re-teach myself how to walk with both feet and straighten out that limp like Verbal Kint at the end of The Usual Suspects. Eventually a hard rain fell and washed away my blood from the sidewalk. The Instagram post that I nearly died to capture got 19 likes. If you’d like a point of reference, anyone from Gen Z could post a dog-face filtered selfie on Instagram at any time of the day and it would reach hundreds of likes within the hour. I stabbed myself with a Grey Goose mini all for a photo that will fade into oblivion. You bet your bottom dollar I demanded a raise for my no compensation, family favor social media job. MY TALENTS ARE NO LONGER FREE WHEN I’M GUSHING BLOOD ON A TUESDAY FOR A PRETTY PICTURE OF TULIPS. Obviously it’s been several years since this incident has occurred and it still feels just like yesterday. The mayor never replied to my letter or erected a statue in my honor (with one foot missing) but I will never forget the day I learned walking might kill me before skin cancer does.

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