It has been a long time since I have written a rant on a topic. In fact, I believe it was early 2008 when Hank Paulson said on national television to some effect that “there was no contagion in the financial crisis.”
This time, I would like to discuss one of my loves, 🙂 the outdoors. More specifically, hiking. I have been an avid hiker for sixteen years. There are few things that are more enjoyable than taking a peaceful hike with a few friends. Let me emphasize, a few friends. Not a large group of fifteen or more people who have no idea what they are getting themselves into.
How did this happen? Why do so many singles meet ups want to have a hiking event?
It is so contradictory. With a few friends, you can take a leisurely stroll, challenge each other at the tough scrambles up whalebacks, and then quietly rest at the pinnacle while enjoying a healthy snack. The whole idea of hiking is to get in touch with nature. To respect nature and to listen to her.
It is not a social event to fill some time before you hit the bar. In masses, you are blocking the trails. Everyone has to wait for the slow ones and there are many of you. We can’t get around you at the choke points. We can’t stop to take a few sips of water from our Camelbacks or we’ll get trampled. Oh, you don’t need to stop for water because you did not bring any on a five-hour trek! We do love the ones that wear dresses. Not for the thrill of getting to look up them. But the sheer mockery of your bloomers. Not to slam the women. There are many ill-prepared men out there, too. Like the ones that bring their date but not a trail map. Then, she breaks down and asks me how to get out. And he still has the gall to chide her for chatting with me. Did I mention the guys in leather pants? I have digressed from the meet up.
A hiking meet up is one of the most antisocial meet ups. How can you talk to someone when they are five feet ahead or behind you? How are you judging their demeanor? If you are walking three abreast you are most likely degrading the trail you are on, if not for the sheer number of you that come in wave after wave after wave. The noise you create.
Do you hear the birds chirping? The snake slithering across the path along you? The deer that took off deep into the woods?
Maybe you do. That is probably because you are not even talking to each other. In the parking lot, everybody looked each other up and down and already declared a social bust. Now you are hiking with people you don’t even like. And, you paid someone to arrange this? Yes, some parks do charge an entry fee. I love it when I spoil your day and you learn you could have done this for free.
I have experienced many quiet groups on a trail, too. So, who do you talk to when you finally get to the top? Me! And, I am not even in the group! I don’t mind the conversation, actually. Or, taking your pictures. Or, telling you how to get out of the park. What? You don’t have a map of the trail? You figured someone would know how to get out of the woods. I don’t mind meeting all of you but the problem is that you are all forgettable. Especially those that turn it into a reason to drink.
Drinking beers while hiking. Hey, you’ll work it off. Yeah, right off a cliff! If you don’t go off the cliff then your beer cans do. Or, get stuffed between two rocks. Oh, you’re sorry. You did not notice the endangered skink that was living there? Didn’t need to? Your friend ahead of you already stepped on the poor, magnificent creature. So much for “Carry in, carry out.” It is more like, “Get loaded, get carried out.” This is not entirely your fault. The beer, that is.
I only drink socially. When I do, I like a certain beer. I was horrified when the maker of this beer came out with a commercial that features “The Freedom Hikers”. They break out the half tub of beer on ice next to a waterfall on a folding table on a perfectly manicured lawn! Oh, that’s reality! Let’s associate hiking with drinking. You can look it up. The manufacturer calls it the “What Comes Next” commercial.
As for any other types of recreational medium that may give one a buzz or high. All I can say is that at least it is biodegradable!
Even the state parks have jumped on the bandwagon. Their recent commercials narrated by famous local actors draw even more people to the park system. Isn’t the system overwhelmed already?
If you want to meet someone who truly enjoys hiking, then, go in a small group. Or, if you are experienced enough, go at it alone like me. I have had the best times hiking solo. Don’t go on a popular, fall foliage weekend. Go on a hot summer Tuesday in August. I am speaking from experience here. There may be only ten people tops on the trail that day, but I’ll get to know half of them. And, if I am lucky enough, I’ll make friends that will actually want to hike the rest of the trail with me. Yeah, a true meet up!
So keep your meet ups to the bars and coffee shops. If you are reading, please heed my advice. Or, at least take it into consideration to be more considerate. It’s not all about your pretentious strength in numbers.
You should hike to find inspiration and not to find love. You will know when you find inspiration. It will be the most beautiful, upwelling vista Mother Nature will have to offer. When you find it, then, bring your beloved to that spot. If that person can share in your inspiration, then, you have found love.