Monday, September 25, 2017

It's All Downhill From Maine: Part 4 - When's It Going To Be MY Turn?

Many years ago, my Dad took us on a hike up Mount Washington, and I can still remember clawing my way uphill on hands and knees, and getting passed by a pack of little old ladies scampering up the trail. I was 18 years old and in total amazement. Well, here I was, years later, at age 63, crawling up an apparent rockslide of a trail on hands and knees, when suddenly I saw a young woman appear at the top of the ridge with a large smile on her face. I begged her please don't make it look too easy. Her smile widened and she said, sorry, but she had just downed a RedBull and proceeded to hop down those rocks like a mountain goat. I heard Paul grumble something about damned Parkour people as she continued down the mountain, never slowing for a moment. "When is it going to be MY turn!?" I said, mostly to myself.
Don't get me wrong, hiking is a sport about peaceful walks in the woods and seeing how you prepared you can be for extreme effort and survival. But, sometimes it seems to be a little bit like running. It's all you and doing your personal best, until you get passed by somebody that made you look like you were standing still. There were a lot of hikers on the trail this trip, and we probably didn't go an hour without meeting someone. They were almost always nice and friendly....and much faster than we were. It wasn't like it felt like a race, it was just we were already doing our best, and we saw how puny it was.
Probably the most extreme example of this was the time we were coming to the very top of Bigelow. We were above the treeline and saw nothing ahead but rock and a sign at the very top. I told Paul that there is no way that the AT could go up that way because it seemed something impossible to do with a pack on your back. We stood there for a few minutes, trying to figure out how in the world we could even climb up on the first rock to get up to the sign, all the while I was wondering if there was a cliff we had to scale down on the other side.

About this time, a young heavyset woman with a large pack on her back came up beside us and we stood there with our mouths hanging open while she hopped up on the first rock and scurried up to the sign while we tried to imagine how someone that didn't even look like a fit hiker just did something that Paul the long-term hiker hesitated at. I was already to pull out my old-person card just in case I needed it, but unfortunately we had already been passed earlier that day by someone that could have been my father.

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