Hiking Bear Mountain, Talking About Life With My Friend Kristen

Kristen, my childhood best friend, picked me up at 8:45AM. We drove up to Bear Mountain to get out of the city.

Kristen picked me up on 1st Ave and E23rd street. I got in the car and asked if she wanted me to drive. She said no, she would. We both wore similar outfits and it made us laugh. We had sleeveless black/grey exercise shirts, tight thigh-length black shorts, and black hats. 

We drove up the FDR. I played 90s songs on Spotify that I thought she would like. 

We arrived at the Bear Mountain parking lot which I remembered from when we took my niece there as a baby 4 years ago. We got out of the car. I put spray sunscreen on my arms/shoulders and face. My Adidas hat and sunglasses also protected my face from sun. I used the app “All Trails” to find the trail we wanted – the 1.5 mile loop around Lake Hessian. 

We walked and laughed because we were both talking a lot – as if we both needed to get out what we had to say at the same time. Without meaning to, we’d talk on a topic back and forth, then over each other, energetically at the same time. We laughed and tried to demonstrate how we were talking. “On three, let’s talk at the same time. 1-2-3 go,” I said and we’d both talk, as if we didn’t care what the other person was saying. We laughed at what we sounded like.

We talked about “the food that you put into your body directly affects how you feel physically.” We both agreed about that. I learned this working at MTV in 2010 when one of my co-workers told another co-worker to change his diet to improve a rash, and it worked. The rash healed.  

A young girl on a bike –  9 or 10 – stopped next to us and said, “Excuse me, I lost my dad. I know his phone number. Can I use your phone to call him?” “Of course,” we said. I walked to her and typed in the number she told me. I put the phone on speaker. 

“Hello?” the father said. 
“I lost you,” the little girl said. 
“It’s a loop Kayla. I am behind you and if you keep going, the path goes in a loop. I am behind you, just turn around and bike back to me,” he said. 
“Okay,” Kayla said. 
“Why is this a 917 number?” he asked.
“I asked someone to call you,” she said.
“Okay, you silly duck, just turn around and come back to me.”
“Okay,” she said. 

We hung up, she thanked us and Kristen said, “I think I actually hear him talking. Oh, there he is!” She pointed across the lake. 

We walked away and joked “imagine now that I had this man’s phone number we harassed him.” 
“I have your daughter…” like Liam Neeson from the movie Taken.

We finished the 1.5-mile trail and wanted more hiking. We started to hike the “Bear Mountain Loop.” It was all stairs which we didn’t know. A man started the hike with us and asked directions when we got to a fork. He followed in our direction but he sped ahead and we lost him quickly. 

We climbed flights of stairs, walked over a wooden bridge and got to a beautiful landing where we asked two women to take our photo. They took the photo in two angles. They looked like cool women and I though it would be cool to make friends on a hike. Would be a fun, chance, meant-to-be story. “Yeah, we met on the top of a mountain.” 

We continued. More stairs. We joked, “We should have stretched.” We stretched our calves against the edge of the bridge. “Not too late to stretch.”

We walked up more and were getting tired. It was hot out. A heat wave this week. 90 degree weather. We didn’t expect to walk so many stairs. 

“Does this trail loop around or you go up and come back down?” Kristen asked a hiker on his way down. He’s was a 60-year-old man in a tan t-shirt with walking sticks. 
“You go up and it comes back down,” he said. “You hike to the tower.”
“It it much further?” we ask. 
“About 20 minutes,” he says. “We’ve been out since 7AM – we came up the other side,” he tells us. “You’re young, you can do it.” 

We walked away. “We are young and we can do this,” we said.

We wanted to get to the tower. 

We continued up stairs. “Ask her,” Kristen whispers to me as another woman comes toward us. 

“Is it much further to the top?” 
“20 more minutes,” she said.
“Another twenty minutes?” we thought.

We continued, stopping to take breaks, sitting on rocks and sipping our water. “I am so glad I brought this water,” I said to Kristen and she agreed. I remembered on a hike in California this year I didn’t bring water. It was a medium-length-hike, but I got very thirsty.

After more stairs, I looked to find the tower on Google Maps. Not knowing where this tower was felt frustrating. It’s still 20 more minutes, .6 miles up stairs. “Kristen, it’s still 20 minutes away,” I tell her. I got nauseous at this point. Thinking of the ice cream I ate yesterday. Ice cream makes me feel nauseous the next day. My energy was dwindling. I only had one or two sips left of my water. I didn’t want to drink the final sip because psychologically I would know there was no more water. It was nice to know I had even a small sip left.

We walked and walked and walked more stairs. We made a metaphor for this trail. That we are trying and trying to get to this “tower” everyone is talking about. Like in life, people are trying to make more money, get get get, work work work, trying to get to a “tower”  of life, but it never comes and you work harder and harder and the more you think about it, the harder it is. The more frustrating. But you should take one step at a time, relax and just try to enjoy the process of getting to the tower. You stop and pause, and look around at the views on your way up to the tower. 

We got to the top. To the tower.  

I walked to an empty bench and laid down across it. I laid for 15 minutes with my hat over my head in the hot sun. Laying felt so good. To rest the body. Kristen looked at the views. I love that about our relationship. We get to the top and I lay down and she does her own thing without even consulting each other. After 15 minutes I sat up. No more water. I felt rested though.

“Come here and let’s take a selfie,” she texted. 
“I don’t know where you are,” I responded. I then saw her by the edge. 

A dirty blonde-haired woman asked Kristen to take her photo.  
“She can do it,” Kristen said pointing to me. “She’s great at taking photos I am not.”  

The woman handed her phone to me. It’s not an iPhone. I took a bunch of photos horizontal and vertical, making sure to get the view. We’re at the top of a mountain so she obviously wants the view too. I switched angles and she squated down and posed. 

“Can you take our photo?” we asked her. She took a bunch of us. 

We saw a building and walked toward it. There were vending machines which took credit card so I was the happiest person in the world. I got a water bottle and a red, zero sugar, Powerade. $4 each. Kristen got a blue Powerade.

I looked at the ingredients and see there is Red40 dye in the Powerade. I’ve heard that’s not a healthy ingreredient. I didn’t care because I was so thirsty. 

Earlier we thought of getting an Uber to take us down the mountain, or even maybe we could walk down the road, instead of the stairs. But it would be 40 minutes, 2 miles down, compared to a 4-minute car ride. Two motorcycles drive down the hill and we joke imagine we ask to hop on the back.

With the Powerades, water, and my 15-minute lay down on the bench, I was ready for the journey down the hill. I felt way more energized. I timed us on my timer app and it took us 42 minutes to walk down the steps. We agreed it felt way faster to go down than up. 

We saw people walking up the stairs who asked us, “how much further?” we told them, “you’re almost there!” and when we got way further down the hill, a man asked how much longer and we said, “you have a while, but you are young and you can do it!” It’s so funny being the people going down now. We were just those people going up, struggling. It was a lot of stairs! 

We ran into a group of three people going up who stopped us and asked how much further to the tower, and if we had seen a group of teenagers. We told them they have a bit to go, and yes we did see a group of teenagers. As we’re talking to them, Kristen screamed because a bee was near her. It was a horror movie scream as if she’d just seen the ghost or a masked man holding a knife. I laugh now even typing it. “What happened?” the teenager asked. “There’s a bee,” Kristen said flailing her arms. The three people stood with concerning smiles. We walked away and laugh. Kristen is very scared of bees. 

We walked down the rest of the hill and talked about “how to do things in life that you know you should be doing but can’t get yourself to do.” Like for me, it’s eating well-balanced meals with little to no sugary snacks. I don’t believe there are “good” foods or “bad” foods, but I know certain foods make me feel good and certain foods make me feel bad. I am aware of this, but still eat ice cream or cookies or sugary flavored yogurt that make me feel depressed. Kristen helped me discover how to tweak this.

“I just don’t care at all,” I told her, referring to eating too much or eating foods I know won’t make me feel good.
“You do care,” she told me. 

Her saying “you do care” made me realize my first statement wasn’t true. I said, “I don’t care at all,” when in reality, I did care. If I didn’t care, I wouldn’t be having the conversation about it. That was interesting to think about.

We concluded this upcoming week, I should focus on low-sugar, high protein breakfasts. To give my day a sustaining, protein-filled start. It’s good to have a friend to listen to you and help you come up with a solution to a problem you’re struggling with.

We drove to a restaurant 20 minutes away on the Hudson River. Kristen looked up the restaurant. I’m not the friend who looks up the restaurant. She is the friend who looks up the restaurant. We decided to sit inside, compared to outside. 

It took 10 minutes for someone to come over to give us water. We ordered and then both went to the bathroom individually. I washed my hands three times with soap. Felt great to wash hands after a sunblock-filled hike. 

Kristen ate oysters and a tuna roll. I got the well-done salmon with veggies. 

We drove home to the city. We listen to the “Evita” Broadway show soundtrack singing loudly. We love the music from that play because we saw that play at Wagner College 20 years ago. And Kristen was in the play too. We sang and laughed. 

We drove through Inwood and Kristen said, “Those houses do not look like we’re in the city.” 

Kristen dropped me at 42nd street and Hudson River in Manhattan. She’s headed to Jersey. It was still so hot out. I got an electric Citi Bike and drove it crosstown from 12th ave to 1st ave. “You’re going the wrong way,” a biker man said to me coming in the opposite direction. I paused a moment, looked around and said, “You’re going the wrong way.” He looked around and said, “Oh my gosh. I am! My bad!” He seemed a bit aloof. It was funny but also like, don’t blame me dude! 

I got home and showered. Felt great to shower. 

Share this:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.