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The top of the turkey trek

Alexandra Tyminski
MSM Class of 2015

(11/2013) The black fuzzy socks with the pumpkins on the sides captured all of my warmth. The white fur on the inside of my green zip-up sweater made me feel so comfy. And the hot apple cider in my mug was soaking warmth into my cold fingertips. The heavy wind was blowing the rain sideways onto the windowpanes, and I couldnít help but be thankful I was inside.

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A voice was calling my name: "Kara, Kara!" I could feel a gentle nudge on my right shoulder. I reached up to rub my eyes and slightly opened them.

"Kara, are you all there?" the male voice said again. Why wouldnít I be there? Iím clearly listening to you.

"What is going on?" I asked urgently.

"Calm down! Iím just joking, Kara. You fell asleep while we were resting at our final rest stop," Jack said. I could tell it was his voice because of its low sound.

"How long have I been resting? I just had the craziest dream. I was actually in a dry environment! Ha!" I slowly sat up, and I reached back to the kink in my lower back. I must have sat on some type of large shaped branch.

"You were out for about an hour and fifteen minutes! We should get going," he said.

Jack was always anxious when it came to hiking. He always wanted to get to the top of the climbs as fast as he could. He and I had discovered our similar passion for hiking in college when we became friends. Our fathers actually graduated from the same college in the same year, and coincidentally lived in the same dorm room their freshmen year. Over the years, Jack and I became the best of friends. During our senior year, we promised each other that the gift to ourselves after graduation would be to travel to Europe and take a backpacking trip. So here we are in Cinque Terre, which is composed of five villages in a small region of northwest Italy. It was raining and my feet had blisters on them. My back ached, and to top it all off, we didnít have any more snacks left and I was incredibly hungry.

"Okay Jack, so you want me to take an extra hour long nap?" I jokingly smiled at him and started to pack my things. It took every ounce of my strength to lift myself off the ground. My legs felt like bricks that were pulling me through a big swimming pool. My shirt was sticking to me like a wetsuit I put on 5 hours ago. My hair was filled with mud and dirt, and I couldnít remember the last time I showered. But I was loving every minute of it.

"We only have about 1 more hour until we reach the top of the last climb," Jack said, reassuring me.

"We can do this," I said back to him. I felt like I was back in 6th grade gym class, when I would whisper into my best friend Brittanyís ear and say, "The 1 mile test. We can do this."

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But then, my fatigue hit me again. "Jack, I just donít know if I can do this anymore. Iíve never given up before, but this time itís just so hard," I began to complain even more.

"Kara, youíve got this. We are almost there. We just passed the sign that said 6 more miles," Jack yelled backwards as he was farther in front of me than I ever expected.

I had hiked am immense amount of miles in the rain before, but nothing like this. This was different. With every step that I took in deep and sticky mud, I could feel my mind wandering.

"Alright, Kara. Listen to Jack. Youíve got this. You are so close, and you can do this. Think of some positive things right now. Yeah, think positive," I said out loud to myself.

Instantly, I began to think about my home. I thought about what people in America would be doing today. It was Thanksgiving Day in America. So, maybe my mom just put the turkey in the hot 450N degree oven. All fourteen cousins just arrived at my house. Little 6-year-old Rosie probably got herself into the pumpkin pie already. My two older brothers, Evan and Sam, are most likely watching football and discussing how in high school, one of them was always the more athletic one. Dad is outside with the many aunts and uncles, laughing and drinking some type of fall ale. I could hear his beer belly laugh in my head as he would tap me on the shoulder saying, "Why donít you take your little sister inside and help your mom make the mashed potatoes?" I began to feel the corners of my mouth shape into a smile. I was really thankful for my family.

"Hey Kara, good job! Keep coming! Only 3 more miles to go!" Jack said. I could barely hear him as the winds were starting to pick up.

I couldnít help but be shocked at how fast the time went by! I still had 3 more miles to go. I could feel my right pinky toe rubbing against my shoe. This time, though, it felt much worse.

Only 3 more miles. I started to laugh to myself after realizing that I only have 3 more miles even though I have already hiked 18. I think my friends would call me crazy. My best friend Brittany is probably at her Aunt Debbieís greeting her cousinís cute little baby. Brittanyís brother just pulled up into the driveway with his new girlfriend from college, and everyone is as happy as can be. My best guy friend, David, is probably not having the best day since he isnít a big fan of Thanksgiving. But, he is enjoying spending time with his younger brother, Tom. They wonít have the largest Thanksgiving dinner since it is only David, his brother, and his mom, but he will still try to enjoy it. I giggled again, thinking about their reactions when I told them I was even attempting this hike. I love them. I miss them. Iím thankful for them.

"Ouch!" I screeched.

"Are you okay? Kara, are you okay?" Jack said to me from afar.

"Yes, Iím fine. I got a piece of a thorn bush stuck underneath my pants, and I just got pricked! If it wanted to take some blood, it should have just asked! Sheesh!"

Jack rolled his eyes at me. "Youíre fine! Kara, you are almost there! 4 more miles!"

"Alright, alright," I said. I tried not to get short with Jack.

Well, 2 more miles isnít too bad. Or is it? My lower back pain kept increasing by the second. I wonder what type of person or animal could ever do this type of hike without any pain at all. Maybe my dog, Gus. He was a pretty athletic 90-pound German Shepherd. Actually, the more I thought about it, he probably would never attempt anything like this. Gus, being the dog he is, is most likely at home sprawled out on the family room rug. If my family is eating, he is definitely crowding around the kidís table waiting for little Rosie to drop him pieces of turkey dinner. Thank goodness Gus is around to pick up after us humans!

I looked up and instantly noticed the royal blue sign that pointed to a high path and it read, "To the Top."

"Kara! Kara!" Jack was jumping up and down.

"Itís just 1 more mile to the top! Then we can rest!" he shouted.

"I never thought I would see the sign!" I yelled back.

One foot in front of the other. You are almost there, Kara. I just kept pushing myself. You canít give up now.

"Kara, hurry! Itís beautiful!"

"Iím coming!" I said. I could feel my pace picking up as I was hiking quicker and quicker. I was just happy it had stopped raining.

When I approached the top, I heard some other voices that were nothing similar to Jackís deep voice. It was a womanís voice.

"Hi, Iím Julie! This is my friend, Alyssa. We are from the United States, as well. Colorado actually," the thin blonde haired woman said.

"Hey there! Iím Jack, and well this is uhÖ"

"Iím right here Jack! Hi, Iím Kara! Nice to see some Americans around here! What a coincidence that you all are also from America!" I said.

"Yes, that is crazy!" Julie said. Julie and her friend Alyssa looked as if they were serious backpackers as well.

"What brings you two here?" Jack asked them.

"We are just taking the trip for fun! We just graduated from Colorado State University. We have been best friends ever since we met our freshmen year. We were first year roommates, and we decided that after graduation, we would take a huge hiking trip!" answered Alyssa.

"Call it a coincidence or not, but we are actually doing the same thing! Just two really good friends doing some traveling before we start work in the New Year!"

"Wow! Thatís great. Would you guys care to join us? We packed a pasta meal for our Thanksgiving meal today. Itís no turkey, but you two are more than welcome to share a meal and your travels. There is enough food for you!" Julie chimed in.

"Well, I guess we will be here for a while enjoying the view anyway! Thank you!" I said.

Jack and I sat down with Julie and Alyssa. They passed us their leftover penne pasta and meatballs. It was no turkey, but it was delicious. We didnít know them at all, but we shared a common bond: all Americans, all hikers, and all indulging in a Thanksgiving meal together. As I looked over the small Italian village and watched clouds moving through the sky and boats swaying in the water, I thought about what I would be doing if I were at home for Thanksgiving. Probably the same thing I do every year: watching football and cooking. I love both of those things. But, if someone ever told me last year that I would be overlooking an Italian town while sharing a pasta Thanksgiving meal with two strangers from Colorado in my soaking wet clothes, I would probably have said they are crazier than me. But, in that moment, I was thankful to be fully present there.

Read other articles by Alexandra Tyminski