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The Hill

by CHRIS PETERSON
Editor | July 5, 2022 12:45 PM

The Belly River hill is an interesting place. You watch people coming down it and they’re clean shaven if they’re men (and a few women) and their clothes are spotless and they all smell like they’ve just had showers, mainly because they’ve just had showers.

Everyone is in a good mood. The trail isn’t too tough on the knees and the going is easy. I’ve timed it out over the years. The last switchback is at the 15 minute mark, or give or take. At that mark, you go from almost all aspens to almost all lodgepole.

But the hill, as you may have guessed, isn’t so much fun coming out.

This weekend it was a mix of mud, running water and horse crap.

It was raining so hard the water was running down my pack and into my rain pants to places where the sun doesn’t shine.

The goal of the hill, at least my goal, is to go up its 775 feet or so as fast as I go down it, which is to say, an hour. No bird watching. No snack breaks. Just head down, legs pumping, feet squishing in mud. Rain pants that aren’t keeping out a drop of rain.

And then there’s the people you meet along the way. Like the freshly-shaven-freshly-showered-Old-Spice smelling guy who was just trying to be friendly, I suppose, as we slogged up the hill.

“How’s it going?” he said.

I looked up briefly as water trickled down my butt crack.

“You can’t be serious,” I said.

“Wha?” he said, all Old Spice smelling.

I slogged by him.

In retrospect, it may have been a bit harsh of a response. I mean, how was Old Spice guy supposed to know we had been in the pouring rain for five straight hours. How was he supposed to know those $234 rain pants were chafing a fresh hole in my leg?

How was he supposed to know I had a rock in my shoe from slogging through a foot deep puddle of mud and horse crap two miles back?

He wasn’t, of course.

But you know what? We made it up that damn hill in a little less than an hour.

That’s five minutes faster than it took to go down it — a feeling as sweet as Old Spice.

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