Sunday, January 28, 2018

Taking friends to see the country

Finding adventure pals is not always easy, at least not in a town of less than two thousand people. Consider that out of a given population, maybe 50% day hike, but of those, even fewer day hike more than a couple of miles. Then carve that up some more to determine the backpackers. And snowshoers. And cross country skiers. In a bigger mountain town, this might not be a problem. But just like the men who come here optimistically single, then either import or leave, there is a very small pool for finding soulmates.

Every adventure I've taken my friend R on has nearly resulted in disaster. There was the blizzard we faced as we marched to the ski hut, and to top it off, our work up there included tarping an outhouse. Few would maintain cheerful spirits in the face of those obstacles. Another trip nearly resulted in horror when one of her dogs decided to slide down a waterfall. And let's not forget the drive along an exposed single lane dirt 4WD track, with expansive views of the canyon we would catapult into if one wheel left the road. Add in some cowboys with a horse trailer coming in the other way, and I can see why she would never want to go with me again.

Luckily she is resilient and agreed to come snowshoeing with me. Instead of being daunted by the conditions, she enthused about what a great workout it was as we slogged uphill from the ski area. This is extreme snowshoeing at its finest, at least for this area. No easy flat trails here! In fact, we were  making our own trail, ending up at a tiny frozen lake.



Not all adventure pals have been so happy. On occasion I have looked back to see an expression of suffering cross the faces of my companions. This has made me wary of inviting people along. While I like a casual stroll as much as the next person, I tend to want to get to my destination, even if we have to inch along icy logs across a stream or plow through deep snow. I find that women aren't very good at saying when they want to turn around, or if they want the pace to be slower, or even if they want the pace to be faster. I also can feel responsible for conditions--if I drag someone into a mosquito-infested hell and I didn't know about it in advance, I feel bad. Ridiculous, I know. We are all responsible for adjusting our own attitudes.


I try a mixture of both, friends and solo, because sometimes it is easier to only worry about yourself. I can stop when I want, or I can keep going without stopping. I can turn around if I don't like the situation ahead. If mosquitoes make me run screaming, there's nobody to see the tantrum. But at the same time, it's nice to have friends to laugh through some situations. My friend and I still laugh at the muddy conditions we slogged through in 1991 on the Florida Trail. Our friend Chris is long gone, the victim of an aggressive brain tumor, but he had coined the phrase, "Mud sux!" and we still say it to each other. It's also nice to bounce things off of other people: is this really the trail? Where do you think it goes?

This picture of Ruby digging a huge hole has nothing to do with this post. But she's adorable, so there you go.
Even though each outing isn't always perfect, resulting in views and bug-free environs, I'll keep taking friends to see the country. It's almost always worth it. So far, they keep coming back, so I must be doing something right.

13 comments:

  1. For sure you are doing something right...and your traveling companions seem as if they are up for the challenge...with you. Some of the 'adventures' made me chuckle...at least from the sidelines! Or maybe they come for the chance to go adventuring with Ruby?

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  2. I got out snowshoeing yesterday in my new, temporary, location in California. Lots of wet snow midweek was quickly melting with the increasing temps and the sun was out and I wanted to get in a snowshoe before the snow was all gone (it's supposed to be in the 50's here all week, with a high of 57 on Friday!). I enjoy exploring solo, my own pace, no expectations. Of course I don't know anyone here either, maybe if I had friends here I would go out with them some times.

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    1. I have to admit my preference is for solo, also for those same reasons. Most of my adventure companions around here are retired or don't have to work, so they are used to going out on weekdays, when of course I can't. Sad to hear it is so warm there, because I worry about the fire situation!

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  3. I also think the older you get, the harder it is to find compatible adventure companions that are your fitness level. Cute pic of Ruby!

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    1. Totally agree. It was way easier in my 20s.

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  4. What a beautiful, pristine, snowy view!

    I know exactly how you feel as I am the unoffical leader of my 2 walking groups. The day I locked the keys in the car, just moments after arriving at our destination and a locksmith over an hour away had me incredibly stressed, but no doubt, like your friends, mine were relaxed and just happy to be out and about without the responsiblity.

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    1. Ha--I haven't done that yet, but I have found myself in annoying situations where I felt like I had to apologize!

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  5. I'm part of a trail running group in Boulder, and almost never join their activities. Some of it is timing, but I also have performance anxiety. And these are the most laid-back people you'll find in this aggressively athletic town. Really, going solo is where it's at. Of course, I do often think that I should make more friends.

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    1. I am right there with you, people here seem to fall in a couple of extremes. The trail runners who are incredibly fit and only want to stay out for the day, and then a few wilderness walkers who are day hikers also. I can sometimes find backpacking friends but I feel like most normal people only want to go backpacking maybe a couple times a summer. The downside of being obsessed with one activity.

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  6. I admire and am completely amazed by those who complete through hikes in entirety, but I am even more impressed by those, like yourself Mary, who have to stitch it together. So much more difficult to keep the goal.

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    1. Impressed...or bewildered! Interestingly, most of the people I run into with the same goal as I hike solo. And it's not really hard to see why, because of that single minded focus of doing all sections even when it becomes slightly ridiculous.

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