The Birthday Orange
Last weekend, as we hiked Peters Mountain, Mike E celebrated a birthday. The wilderness doesn’t provide good shopping opportunities, but I was able to find a great gift for him from the inventory of my pack. An orange! And so, at our our second day campsite near Symms Gap, Mike ingested his birthday orange.
An orange may sound meager, but it was well-received. Over the last couple of years, oranges on hikes has become a little tradition of ours. Here’s an entry I found in my 2006 journals talking about the history of our hiking oranges.
Last year when Mike E and I hiked VA-779 to VA-311 [13.1 miles], Mike brought along an orange. When we reached Tinker Cliffs after a long, steady ascent, Mike shared a few wedges of his orange with me.
It was so very delicious on that hot day, that orange and its sweet rejuvenating juices were exactly what our bodies needed.
This year when we hiked 13.1 miles from VA-779 to VA-220, it was I who brought an orange. And… when our bodies were hot and fatiqued, shortly before Hay Rock, Mike and I sat down and split that fruit.
Again – it was DIVINE. Delicious and refreshing. Just what we craved.
The oranges are such a highlight of our hikes– that [on our hike] last week, Mike and I both brought 2 oranges each! That’s a total of 4 oranges!
Not only that– early in our own hike, maybe even mile one, we started anticipating the oranges – speculating when we’d stop and how good they’d taste.
It wasn’t a disappointment when we finally stopped and ingested our first orange.
So today, preparing for my hike with Bill— an orange was a no-brainer inclusion. It was a downright necessity.
BUT– once I got on the trail, the orange securely in my pack, I had a strange feeling come about. It was a twinge of guilt and regret. It almost felt– it almost felt like I was being adulterous to have an orange without Mike E. Like I was cheating on him by sharing our fledgling tradition with a stranger.
It turns out no one (Bill, Tony, Paul, Matt, Nancy) had the least bit interest in my orange. That only goes to show they were unworthy of the orange to begin with! 🙂
Anyway– so no orange was had in Mike E’s absence.
This evening when I returned, Mike and I discussed today’s orange goings-on. Mike and I decided to have an “open relationship”… in regards to oranges. 🙂
“I’m cool with you eating oranges with other people,” Mike said.
I couldn’t help but laugh.
“Likewise, I give you permission to share oranges with whoever you like.” I told Mike.
So we are both free to sow our orange seeds whereever or with whomever we desire. BUT– I suspect that having an orange on the trail without Mike E will just not be the same.
I will always think of my hiking buddy whenever an orange is ingested. Mike’s lasting legacy?
It’s a good thing we established an orange understanding. This summer at Apple Orchard Falls— I shared an orange with some Potomac Appalachian Trail Club members. Yup, members. I’m a slut. 🙂