Amateur Hikers

Mount Greylock

Massachusetts

May 2014

Out of Stony Ledge on our hike down from the high point of Massachusetts, we now follow Haley Farm Trail which leads to…  Haley Farm, and our trailhead parking lot.

We’re more than halfway down the mountain and we’ve passed a lot of hikers who are on their way up, way more than when we were on the ascent.  In fact, other then the four scout leaders and their straggling scouts at trailhead, we met nobody until we reached the summit.  Not even backpackers.

The scout leaders made us promise not to tell their charges that they were hurting, sweating, bedraggled and exhausted.  Don’t they understand that the purpose of taking less-experienced hikers on the trail is to get them to haul your stuff.

The people who are now climbing our trail are occasional hikers, folks who came out for a day on the mountain because it’s something they don’t often do.  How can we tell?

.  They smell good.

.  They are wearing the stylish clothing that is on the rack when you first enter the outdoor gear store, or they are wearing cotton, or both.

.  They are carrying 16.9-ounce bottled water in their hand, or they are carrying their phone in their hand, or both.

.  They usually have no idea of hiking etiquette.

.  They are yelling at their dog.

.  They are yelling at their kids.

On this descent, a group ahead of us on the trail is hiking just a wee bit slower than we are, which means we begin to catch up.  Somewhere along the way, they stop walking while one of them pontificates.  Just as we catch them with the intention of squeezing by to keep going, they begin to walk again.  Right along with us.  This is awkward.

By now, we both, Lisa and I…  well, we have to pee.  One of the by-products of staying hydrated.  We slow down and stop with the idea of waiting a moment until this other group hikes up ahead, out of privacy range.  Well would you look at that!  They stop again too.  Trail yo-yo.

We wait.  Finally they start their slow moseying.  We wait a little longer and — ta-da — we slip in among the trees and blessedly, do what we do.

A little pull-off from the main trail offers a lovely view.  Some people stand on the rocks, looking at the rolling mountains.  Dang!  It’s them again!  The know-it-all continues to hold forth.  He mentions sustainable farming, free range chicken, organic feed, the shunning of pesticides and so forth.  He’s pointing at stuff somewhere off in the rolling mountains as he lectures.

These are nondescript white people, “all Berkshirey” as Lisa describes them, flannel shirts, Tilley hats.  The women are wearing lycra pants.  Lisa thinks of these as representing “the look.”  She says, “To me, Lycra pants on the trail look stupid.  They are stupid.  They will snag on branches and bushes.  Just put some pants on!”

I ask the smart guy a few questions about his subject matter.  I am truly sincere.  He knows none of the answers.  Actually he tries to answer anyway, making up facts as he needs them and thereby demonstrating that he has no friggin’ idea what he is talking about.  Can’t even fake it.

We leave, or we try to leave before them.  Somehow this is their cue to leave too.  Annoying critters.

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