Getting Hot on Cold Mountain

One of the first things I did upon learning I’d be moving to Asheville was to purchase both Cold Mountain and Look Homeward Angel. I feel like this is where I should tell you to support your local, independent bookstore, but I Amazon Primed both because I just couldn’t wait more than two days for my new reads.

It’s been 8 months and I’ve yet to open either.

I did however, hike the titular Cold Mountain two weekends ago. The hike itself reminded me quite a bit of Lemon Gap to Max Patch in that the majority of it has very walk-through-the woods vibes. It’s a nice steady climb, but sort of sneaky hard. I felt good after my hike to Max Patch. I couldn’t move after Cold Mountain. What also differentiated Cold Mountain from Max Patch in a big way was the lack of people. On my way up the mountain, I didn’t see anyone until the junction of the Art Loeb Trail and Cold Mountain trails, which sits around a bunch of backwoods campsites. I’m learning that all-important fall foliage makes western North Carolina a zoo, and so it was nice to go on a hike that never got bottlenecked.

The spot where the Art Loeb Trail intersects with the Cold Mountain trail was the first time I had to do almost a full change on this hike. I changed my socks. I changed my shirt. I changed my underwear. I’d sweated almost completely through everything but my sweat pants, which I ended up sweating through and swapping out for shorts once I got to the summit of Cold Mountain, which brings me to the most important part of this post. I’m not going to talk anymore about the gorgeous views of the Shining Rock Wilderness one gets if they look off the right side of the Cold Mountain summit trail or the juxtaposition one gets when they then look off the left side of the Cold Mountain summit trail and see smoke plumes coming from the paper mill in Canton. I’m not going to make a thesis about how the summit of Cold Mountain could be viewed as an allegory about man destroying nature. I have a much more important question:

Why am I so much sweatier than the average hiker?

My brother and I bitch about this to each other all the time. We’ve done a ton of hikes together and consistently notice that by the time we reach the summits of most of these we’re red-faced, bedraggled, and completely soaked-through with sweat, while mostly running into people wearing many more layers than either of us who look dry and jovial—and these are often people much older, younger, or seemingly in worse shape than us. And before someone out there decides to reach out and tell me I’m not wearing the right clothes, I have yet to meet a sweat-wicking item of clothing that keeps me dry. It’s even more infuriating when my tank-top and short clad ass has sweat pouring down my face when some guy wearing a wide brimmed hat and down vest in July looks like he could be a starring in a Patagonia campaign.

Luckily, the Google is here to help.

I thought I remembered reading somewhere that the better shape you’re in, the more you sweat. This would be my ideal finding and generally make me feel better about life. I thus Googled “why do I sweat so much?”

Women’s Health was the first link listed and did not make me feel better about life. Apparently, there’s a condition called hyperhidrosis, which means you produce more sweat than is necessary to cool the body. This often is directly linked to underlying health issues such as diabetes or tumors. This was not productive for me to read. If you’re someone in my close circle then you know that I’m the asshole who will get a sore throat, go on Web MD for forty minutes, and text my nurse practitioner sister to see what she thinks the chances I have pancreatitis are.

Speaking of Web MD, they told me hyperhidrosis means you sweat excessively when you’re being sedentary, which has never been an issue for me. It’s mainly when I hike. This also lead me to believe that I may be googling the wrong thing. I thought maybe Googling, “Why do I sweat so much when I exercise?” would give me the answers I was looking for.

The CNN article that popped up first seemed promising. “Does sweating more mean a more intense workout?” That could be it. I found men sweat more. So do heavier people. I fit into both those camps! Then finally, the passage I was looking for. “Surprisingly, fit people tend to sweat sooner during exercise and more copiously than those who are less fit.” I knew it! I’m not just an embarrassing, sweaty mess who can’t keep up with all those other hikers. I’m actually more fit than those suckers! Now, I didn’t read on. There might be a “but” involved, but frankly, I got the answer I was looking for, and that’s what matters, right?

That concludes today’s journey. Thank you for joining my 873-word, only semi-scientifically proven humble brag.

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