Why Bother to Coddiwomple?
A friend recently shared a new word with me, coddiwomple. I’d never heard of it, and hearing her say it made me laugh. I looked for it in my dictionaries and couldn’t find it, but I did a little bit of research and discovered that it is most likely an English slang word. Long distance hikers and other adventurers use it most often associating its meaning with the idea of traveling in a purposeful manner toward a vague destination.
In a way, I coddiwomple my way through most every day. But since I want to respect this fairly new word and how it’s used by travelers and adventurers, I will stick to its original usage as best I can.
Last summer, my husband and I did some coddiwompling around the southern part of Idaho. We’d planned a few adventures; rafting the Payette River, camping in Stanley and climbing Mt. Borah. It was the climb up Mt. Borah, Idaho’s tallest peak, 12,662, that I believe came the closest to the purest form of coddiwompling.
About eight months prior to our trip, my husband had foot surgery that corrected something wonkey in his big toe. (Wonkey is a word I learned while spending time with some Canadians. It means something out of whack.) The surgery was successful, but recuperation took longer than expected. By the time we left on our trip, his toe was still tender, and not yet completely healed. But, he felt no pain while we rafted the Payette and when we set up our campsite in the Sawtooth Mountains, all went well. But the morning we drove to the base of Borah I heard doubt creeping into his voice.
“I’m really not sure how far I’ll be able to walk,” he told me as we locked the car and slung our day packs onto our backs.”
“I will be happy with whatever distance we can cover,” I said, trying to believe these words for myself. Of all the adventures we’d planned that summer, hiking Borah was at the top of my list. Though I am not one who likes turning back on a trail without completing it, I knew I could not push my husband to walk all the way to the peak if his toe would not hold up under the strain.
So, I set my purpose; to be content with however far we’d get on this adventure. In other words, I would coddiwomple.
Borah is a steep climb, gaining 5,000 feet in four miles and it was the tallest peak we’d ever attempted. My husband led the way setting a comfortable pace and I followed enjoying every switch back we completed. The higher we climbed the more beautiful the view and the happier I became. We were covering much more ground than I’d anticipated.
Eventually, the trail turned into a rocky path as we rose above the tree line. My delight was mixed with a little fear at the steep drops on either side, but we kept on. Then the wind picked up and the day turned cooler. Clouds began rolling in and a storm brewed around us. Sheltering ourselves from the wind, we opened our packs and munched down a quick lunch.
“I think this is about as far as I can go,” my husband told me.
I gave him a kiss and a smile, “This was amazing to have made it this far.” And I didn’t have to convince myself of the words. We’d made it much farther than I’d expected.
Why bother to coddiwomple? Well it is worth it to set a purpose but part company with your expectation. You might go further than you think.