Sometimes you find a good workout routine, and sometimes a workout finds you. Other times, you find yourself standing in the middle of a creek in the Black Hills of South Dakota, wondering where it all went wrong.
Last weekend I tagged along on a traditional college road trip with the noble ambition of getting some work done on my honor’s thesis. As you might expect, thesis progress was minimal. So, in the name of general productivity, I joined the group in a hike to Devil’s Bathtub with the thought that at least I’d get some good exercise.
As long as no bees, wasps, spiders or snakes were involved, I really didn’t mind the great outdoors. I traipsed through the woods with my friends, surrounded by beautiful scenery and breathing in the fresh fall air. Just as I was about to break into a Disney princess-inspired song, we found our path cut short by a lovely, bubbling creek.
“Well, it was a good run,” I thought to myself as I looked for an alternate path. Then, one by one, the rest of the group precariously passed across the creek by balancing over exposed rocks and logs. This seemed easy enough as an observer. I convinced myself this was what true hiking was all about and sallied forth.
Several creek crossings and one soggy foot later, I was making my way back to civilization with the rest of the posse. I was winded and moving a bit slower than the rest, but my confidence was gaining. I’d begun to get a sort of thrill out of choosing the best way to cross the creek and a sense of accomplishment when I managed it.
Unfortunately, my confidence wavered when I found myself standing on a lone rock in the middle of the ice-cold water with no safe option of passage. A couple friends had already made it to the other side and were doing their best to coach me across. One was on her way to the closest foot-hold with an out-stretched hand. The other picked a large rock up off the ground beside him and said, “Here! Step on this!” before heaving it into the water in front of me.
As the rock plummeted downward, time seemed to slow down just long enough for me to think, “This was not a great idea.” The rock then plunged into the creek with a loud slap and a wall of water descended on me before I could so much as flinch. I stood there soaked in the middle of the creek as my friends’ shocked cackles echoed through the woods, and I wondered briefly if I really had the patience for this quest for fitness.
After some careful reflection, I’ve decided if these sorts of stupid memories with pals are made in the name of exercise, there really isn’t much of a downside. Unless you count my water-logged shoes. In fact, two of my goals for my senior year of college have been to go on a few adventures with friends and work some exercise into my routine. You might even say that last weekend, I killed two birds with one big rock.