In 2004, I went hiking in the Pyrennes for six days with a friend. It was exactly as amazing as you would imagine. The mountains were gorgeous, lakes a teal color I had literally never seen before. We met fun people along the way and hiked with them for a few hours, or a day, or two. And then we stayed in these sort of hostels that had big open bunk rooms and family-style dining rooms where we’d have supper at night and then play Parcheesi with our new-found friends. It was fantastic.
Sleeping in the same room with 30 strangers could be taxing though. I’d never done this kind of thing before, so I didn’t know any better—I didn’t bring ear plugs or an eye cover, or sleeping pills, and there was always, always, ALWAYS someone who snored. About the fourth night, I was pretty giddy from fatigue, having been sleep-deprived for several days, and there was somebody snoring louder than I’ve ever heard. Right on the other side of my friend.
It was like a cartoon. Waaaaaaaaaay worse than my dad. I imagined this 6-foot-6, 350-lb man, with a giant gut and a huge beard, like a Viking, like a bear of a man, and when I got even more delirious after hours of this, I actually imagined that it WAS a bear. A big, huge grizzly bear, all tucked in, the sleeping bag split open at the sides, but him just there honk-shooing away without a care in the world.
Eventually the sun rose and light crept into the room, and we all stirred. I just had to see what this beast of a man looked like. Plus, I wanted to give him a passive-aggressive stankface for the torture he’d put us through. So I raised up on my elbow and peered over my friend, and there sitting up blinking, babbling in French to her companion, was the tiniest woman I’d ever seen. A pixie. Like, 4-foot-9, 90 lbs. She looked over at me bleary-eyed, and I was so surprised I forgot to give her the stankface.