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LJI:10 Take a Hike

Susan and Donna sat down at an outdoor table with their coffee and muffins.

“Alright Susan, this had better be good.  You’ve been ignoring me for nearly two months.  Did you start dating someone?”

“No - it’s strange – and I’ve been trying to figure out how to explain it.”

“Just start talking.  No figuring is necessary.”

Susan smiled wanly, and took a large drink of her coffee.  “For the past two months I’ve been all over the country.”

Donna put her cup down slowly.  “You haven’t left the Bay Area.  Explain.”

“I was hiking on the back of Mt. Tam and ended up off the marked trail.  I knew where I was supposed to be so I kept moving through the back-country and found a box.  You know, like those neighborhood library boxes that are springing up?  You can leave a book or take a book?”

“Sure there’s one outside the YMCA.  Why is there a library box in the middle of nowhere?”

“It’s not for books.  There’s nothing written on it, no notes or anything, and it had socks in it.  It seemed like a wonderfully hippie thing to do – dry socks in the middle of nowhere for lost hikers, and one pair was bright yellow so I put them in my pack.  I found the trail shortly after that and finished the hike.

“The next day I wore the yellow socks.  I ran errands and did the usual Sunday things, but that afternoon I sat on the couch for a bit to zone out.  I had a really vivid daydream, I thought, of a place I’ve never been, the trees were different and it was humid.  I was on a trail so I started hiking.  I must have gone about two miles and then suddenly I was back on the couch and the phone was ringing.”

Susan kept her gaze fixed on the table to avoid the disbelieving look on Donna’s face.

“I tried zoning out later that day and later that week with the yellow socks on, but it didn’t work again.  So I washed the socks and the next Saturday I went back to Mt. Tam and found the box off-trail.  I left the yellow socks and took a rough grey pair.  Sunday I turned off the phone, got comfortable on the couch and pulled the socks on.

"I was somewhere else again, somewhere north, the trees were starting to turn colors.  I was out there for a long time and when I was almost at the trailhead I found myself back on the couch.  I could feel the hike - my legs were sore.” Susan made eye contact with Donna.

“I’ve been going to Mt. Tam every Saturday to trade socks, and hiking somewhere else every Sunday.”

“Now Susan-”

“I’m always dressed for the weather of where I arrive, and have a pack with water and snacks and lip balm and sunscreen.  I’ve even seen other people on the trails sometimes.”

“Did you ask them where you are?”

“Hello person I’m meeting in the middle of a trail hike, can you please tell me what state I’m in?”  Susan rolled her eyes.  “It’s too ridiculous, I can’t do that.  From listening in to conversations and googling trail names I know I was in Michigan once, and in the Southeast another time.  Last weekend I think I was on the Appalachian Trail.”

“How does it work?”

“I don’t know.”

“Are you really transporting or on your couch the whole time?”

“I don’t know.”

“What if you get hurt in the – wherever it is?”

“You know the bruise on my forearm last week, the one I wasn’t telling you about?  I fell and knocked it against a stump.”

“This is unbelievable, you know that.  If you didn’t want to hang out for a few weeks you could have just said, instead of making up forest socks laced with hallucinatory LSD or whatever.”

“Donna, this is really happening.  I want to put my own socks in, it’s not fair to only take, so I’m thinking I should do my own hike one weekend, and then go to Mt. Tam the next weekend; establish a give and take rhythm.”

“It’s impressive that you always get lost in just the same way to find the sock box.  How many pairs of socks are in there anyway?.”

Sarah answered quietly.  “I think it knows me now, I’m sure it’s been in different places a few times.  And the socks keep changing so someone else must visit too.”

“So there’s a moving box full of rotating socks that transport you to different hikes?  It’s too weird and unsafe, you have to stop.”

Sarah shook her head.  “I won’t.  It’s wonderful, to see so many different places.  I was going to hike up on the Marin headlands tomorrow and wondered if you want to come.”

“You’re hiking so the Marin headlands magically suck into the socks you’re wearing, and someone else can do the hike remotely.” Donna said deadpan.

“I told you it was strange.  I won’t be able to keep hiking like this every weekend, but let me know if you ever want to come, either here or - to somewhere else.  I was thinking if we each put on one sock of a pair...”

“Absolutely not, no.  I’ve never really liked hiking, and have no interest in transporting somewhere else.  I won’t be a part of this crazy.  I don’t even want to hear about it again.”  Donna stood and gathered up her cup and plate to put in the trash.

Susan nodded. “Okay, Donna.  Bye.”

Susan watched Donna leave and sighed.  She finished her coffee and wondered what Donna would do with the pink socks she had slipped into her bag when they hugged hello.

***Here's my entry for week ten of LJ Idol.  To read more versions of Take a Hike follow the link.***


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i'm totally stuck on the idea of a box in the middle of nowhere with spare socks for hikers. it's a neat idea! but so is the idea that each spare pair can take you somewhere else to hike a trail someone else kind of programmed into the socks. get in a good hike in a new place without ever leaving your couch!

Yeah dry socks in the middle of a hike that you didn't have to pack in yourself would be magical all on its own.

Somehow forests always seem a little mystical to me, so some of that rubbing off was fun to play with.

Ah! What a Brilliant Idea! Just the kind of thing I would love to experience. Amazing work. Kudos!

Thank you. I want to find this box myself now, hopefully other people will too.

I so want to visit this sock box now.

Right? I'm going to be keeping an eye out for odd woodland structures and hoping I didn't make it up.

What an incredibly neat idea! And I love the idea of leaving clean socks behind that have been on an adventure... in the hope of letting someone else hike that trail.

I can see why it would be addictive, too. I mean, if you miss a week, will the sock box disappear forever? What about those potential places you didn't get to go?

Thank you - I started with what if you could 'have a hike, take a hike' like with pennies, and this is where I ended up.

Absolutely - there's no guarantee the box will be there every time, and the possibilities would be hard to pass up, no matter how tiring all the hiking gets.

This is a wonderfully fantastic tale. I would love if you could put on socks that have been somewhere else and be transported there. The only problem I would have with that is I wouldn't be able to take my dogs with me.

I do not have pets and hadn't thought of that. Perhaps if an intrepid hiker wraps a leash around the socks? Surely someone will think of that.

This reminds me of an episode of "The Twilight Zone" called "Kick the Can" where an old man tries to convince his buddy that if he would just play a children's game with him, they would both be young again! It was one of the better episodes of the original series and Spielberg remade it for the TZ Movie when that came out in the 1980s.

I have seen almost no Twilight Zone - my mother got so freaked out by an episode she saw when she was young that it wasn't allowed in our house. The music, the narration, any piece of it would freak her out again.

I'll have to go look for the episode, it sounds fascinating.

I really loved the premise of this! I'll never look at my socks in quite the same way again! Hugs and peace~~~

Thank you. I really want this to be true (and for them to make yellow hiking socks - why all the grey).

This was such a great story! I loved the idea of the socks, and finding them in a kind of neighborhood hiking library box. Take a pair, leave an adventure. Wonderful!

Thank you! A chance to go on mystery hikes would be awesome.

What fun! I love magical realism. There is already something magical about being in the woods, so why NOT have a mystical sock box! Just hope no one gets athlete's foot from the sharing, lol!

Exactly - I've been on my share of hikes where it seems like you're about to see Brigadoon, or meet a witch, so why not a little more magic.

I did think of that which is why I had Sarah washing the socks before she put them back - but it couldn't be boots because those are too clunky. Everyone just needs to care for their feet.

How fun! I'm not much for hiking but if magic socks were involved it would be totally cool!

Magic socks would make just about everything better. Thanks!

*applauds wildly* this was so imaginative and so much fun!!! I loved every word and want more! What a great idea! For those of us who hike, especially mt tam, this was really vivid!

One time we were hiking up above Oakland and stumbled across a huge labyrinth!! It was magical!!

Thank you, lady. There's a trail on Mt. Tam called Steep Ravine that has a 10' ladder at one point. That section of the woods just screams to have a gingerbread house around the corner and frogs waiting to be kissed.

I miss the huge variety of terrain in the Bay Area (a surprise labyrinth is amazing) but am learning to appreciate the high desert / mountain beauty here.

This is delightful!

I really enjoyed this enrty. Kudos!

Edited at 2017-03-05 10:54 pm (UTC)

And now I really wish there was such a thing as "forest socks laced with hallucinatory LSD or whatever".

Well, maybe not LSD, but I'd love to slip on a pair of socks and go hiking somewhere I'd never been.

Me too! Once I had the basic idea and was wrestling it into story shape, I lost a little time just imagining where the box might pop up next and if I could get to it.

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