Mt. Whitney Part 3: Adieu Fitbit

I have written about the enthusiasm with which I used my Fitbit. In case you missed it, here it is: The Headache Machine. I had it on my person at all times during the day, and even slept with the thing. Days I touched 25,000 steps, the relentless Fitbit would nudge me into trying out another 5000 steps to get to 30,000 and get myself a badge. All extremely annoying for a competitive hog like me. There have been days when the husband scooped me up from the street after I’d put in a hike, a run and a neighborhood stroll just to get to that magical N000 steps before the clock struck midnight and the counter for the next day began. The days I did not make my target number of steps, a certain despondency gnawed at the back of my brain and I muttered about the place trying to walk it off in the kitchen and bedroom. I lured my friends into it, I sneaked a peak at it once at mid-day, then at more frequent intervals as the day wore on. I, after all, had to ensure I met my step count. What I am trying to say is that the Fitbit possessed me like a spirit that was friendly at first and then, as time wore on, turned into a ruthless devil. A fortune-teller peeking into my crystal ball would have seen a tiny piece on my physical body giving me the vapors. “Exorcise it!” she could say in Sybil tones, and I would have clutched at it with my spirit.

Given this, of course, I wanted to see how the Fitbit would do on the Mt Whitney hike. It seemed well worth it, going through all that trouble if the Fitbit, at the end, would send me a wonderful note saying, “You over-achiever, you! Good job. At 83000 steps and 800 floors! Here you are, with a Diamond and Platinum badge that you can display proudly on your Fitbit login page, and brag to your friends about. I will still nag you about your 10000 steps for tomorrow’s goal, but for today, you are above reproach! Or maybe you can try to walk another 2000 steps while you out-run that bear eyeing your pizza and make it a round 85000 steps?”

Since I was not going, I handed the thing gingerly over to the husband, love dripping from my eyes and asked him to take it with him to see the impressive numbers it would come up with. I added with a laugh that it could remind him of me should he miss me while taking in the pure mountain air, and gasping at the views from up there. The day the h and friends drove to Lone Pine, CA, the heart wrenched a bit. Something felt amiss.  It only dawned on me later, that I did not have the fitbit on me. So the day of the hike, I woke the h and wished him luck and all that, and added (nonchalantly I thought) , “Remember to take the Fitbit! Make it proud of you and make you proud of it! Ha Ha!” Which just goes to prove that a device, no matter how well touted, can substitute your brain for wool and make you bleat.

All that day of the hike, my mind was in the mountains imagining the hike, and every now and then, wondering how the Fitbit was doing. But there was also a dawning realization on me. I had relaxed around myself in the day or two that I spent away from it. I was no longer frenzied, no longer walking like a purposeless maniac. I was okay with being in one spot without giving those around me a perpetual sense of motion sickness. What a nuisance I must have made of myself with the Fitbit?! Which only goes to prove that true love trumps everything else. The first thing that occurred to me was that I had been a pesky, fluttering pest the whole time. I had dragged family and friends off on walks so we could talk, when I could have sat with them sipping tea and had just as good a conversation. How wonderful people around me are that they accepted me even when I was behaving thus? I have much to be grateful for and the absence of the Fitbit was making me realize it starkly.

Fluttering Pest with the Fitbit
Fluttering Pest with the Fitbit

The day wore on for the hikers. I waited to hear from them and on their safe return to the hotel, let them sleep it off. It is a mark of my restraint that I only broached the topic the next day afternoon.

The husband sounded apologetic. He said that he had taken the Fitbit out at Mt Whitney and was checking the steps because he knew that would excite me, and then, on the way back, when they were negotiating some tricky switchbacks, things were crazy and it got lost. He doesn’t seem to be remember what constitutes crazy, but I saw some pictures of the switchbacks they were scaling and let it rest.

Switchbacks at Mt. Whitney
Switchbacks at Mt. Whitney

It sounded like a good spot to lay the thing to dust. Its entire lifetime pushing people to scale newer targets and higher heights, what better place for it to finally come to rest than at the highest peak in the contiguous USA?

“I’ll get you another one.” said the husband.

“NO!” I howled and the husband leapt away from the phone groaning like a buffalo torched at the ears.

“What are you doing that for? My ears are still weak from the high alt. Yesterday, it felt like there was a bee hive operating in there, today, only the Queen Bee seems to be holding fort, but still weak in the eardrums.” said the husband.

I muttered a ‘sorry’ and he said, “What? Speak up! I can’t hear you. “

“A bee in your bonnet eh?” I said cleverly. “The point is, please, I beg you. Don’t buy me another Fitbit. My life seems to have become much better without it. “

I still do my spot of exercise, but now, I am doing it listening to the birds, watching the leaves fall and taking in the beauty of the flitting clouds. I am truly enjoying exercise and experiencing the bounty of nature. Not working towards appeasing a cruel, and hard-to-please, cold mistress. What really cut me deep was the seemingly motivating messages that came in as I lowered the tired frame onto the welcoming mattress at 11 p.m., “You can do it! Just 700 steps short of your goal. “

No. I am happy where I am. I have since told friends who asked me to join their Fitbit journey, that mine was probably swallowed by the bear who was deprived of the pizza. (Mt. Whitney Part 2 : The Pizza And The Bear )

The Bear and the Fitbit
The Bear and the Fitbit

Anyone care to join me for a walk now?

P.S: Our friend has written about the journey here, and he is also the one who gave me the pictures for the Mt. Whitney posts:

Parathas @ Mt. Whitney

The pace of life in the nourishncherish household has been peaking. The husband, in a dash of mid-life madness decided that what he wanted most was to add to his resume, the fact that he scaled the tallest peak in the contiguous United States, Mt. Whitney. Hikers apparently prepare for a few months (with at least a few hikes in high altitudes), but the husband and his friends don’t set much store by what people usually do. So, in their typical fashion, they went ahead and attempted the peak after 5 weeks of ‘rigorous training’ on a hillock by our house.  It is a bit like jumping in the middle of the ocean and navigating through the rip tides on the firm knowledge that you can swim in the deep-end of the pool in your local pool, even when the lifeguard was not on duty. (I exaggerate as usual) But like our friend said wisely, you only get to be young and stupid for so many decades of your life and so, there they were.

Mt. Whitney from the Visitor Center
Mt. Whitney from the Visitor Center

I have observed this multiple times with the husband. When I ask him to take a packed lunch for example, he scoffs. He not only scoffs, but also shrugs his shoulders in a manner suggesting that it is only old maids, elderly aunts and mothers who think of food and packing and all that. Not cool guys like himself. He is a man who will hunt for food, rouse his primal instincts for food gathering or stop at a sandwich place. But to give the man his due, I have never seen this cool attitude towards the food linger once the Biriyani packets are opened at picnics. There are some egotists who would  turn away from the Biriyani thinking back and reflecting on the hurtful statements hurled at the Biriyani earlier in the morning. Not so with the husband. All trifling misunderstandings with Biriyanis are shelved and he is the true example of the bigger man. He shows that all biriyani-related ill-humour earlier that day is water under the bridge and tucks in with joy and enthusiasm. The biriyani is happily settled in the stomach and the smile of contentment is happily displayed on the man. All is well.

Characteristically, when I asked him what he planned to do for food during the hike, he scoffed. I suggested Idlis (steamed rice cakes) because I thought idlis were a good food to take on hikes (they are starchy enough, steamed and relatively dry). But more importantly, I thought ‘Idlis on Mt Whitney’ would make a good blog title. The husband snorted loudly at this. I then prudently suggested Bread and Jam. It is easy to handle, light,  and there is sugar in the jam which can be critical when they planned to hike for 16 hours non-stop. He poo-ed and pa-ed and that was brushed aside too. I told him to forage berries for himself on the barren mountainside and set about packing Biriyani packets for their drive a little haughtily. It was then, that his friends (3 of them planned to hike together) intervened and said it might not be a bad idea to take some parathas (Indian breads). I still think my bread and jam idea was better, but ‘Parathas on Mt. Whitney’ sounded like a pretty good blog title too, and I let it go.

So, off they went with the biriyani, parathas, an unhealthy dose of over-confidence, a seemly dose of comradeship and a good dose of adventure to conquer the King of Peaks, Mt. Whitney.


Our friend has written about the journey here, and he is also the one who gave me the pictures for the Mt. Whitney posts: (the link may only work for his friends)

Did they do it?

Read on in Part 2, for it is a thrilling tale: Do bears prefer Pizza to Parathas? We may never know.

Solvitur Ambulando – It is solved by Walking

We all know that exercising has all round benefits and yet, it is good every now and then for an article to bump us into action, or merely to reinforce the importance of an active lifestyle.

This article talks about what the author wants her daughter to know about working out:

There have been times when I have come into the house after a stroll in the neighborhood at night, breathless with cold, a slight sweat from the swift pace I have tried to keep, only to bundle my daughter up and take her out so she can enjoy the enormous moon or listen to the leaves rustling or watch the stars on a clear night. I know the moon is a beautiful object for her, and she shares a liking with the husband for the night sky. I want her tales of imagination to leap from it and they do, often surpassing my expectations.

I love telling her stories from my childhood as we take walks. She knows it is the best time to ask me for one, because I am so willing then, not trying to do a dozen different things all at once. I am there enjoying my time with her walking and swapping stories. I grew up in a place almost magical to describe. There were heavily wooded Eucalyptus groves,  tea estates in the horizon not to mention the crisp mountain air. It is hardly surprising, therefore, that I love a good walk that can heighten the senses and sharpen one’s thinking.

The article describes a good workout, and I have mostly written about  walking because it is my favorite form of exercise. Another one of those gifts from my father who enjoys his 3-5 miles almost everyday. I find it to be a stress reliever, a soother, a pacifier, an exhilarator, an ideator and a mediator of  internal conflict.

Many greats before us have extolled the virtues of a good walk:

I quote: Solvitur ambulando — “it is solved by walking.”  Words by the Greek philosopher Diogenes

I am extremely thankful also to have family, friends and colleagues who will take a walk with me every now and then.(You all know who you are :))

Joys of walking
Joys of walking


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