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The Hikers You Meet on the Trail: A story about the kinds of hikers you might meet as you're exploring the great outdoors.
Posted by Douglas, Aug 15, 2008. 2823 views. ID = 1595

The Hikers You Meet on the Trail

Posted by Douglas, Aug 15, 2008. 2823 views. ID = 1595
This post was written in 30 minutes.
Today is my last day here, so this will (probably) be the last installment.

Until next summer.
This post has been awarded 25 stars by 6 readers.
This post is Part 6 of a writing series titled Lake Passagassawakeag.

Aside from the sheer pleasure and joy of standing at the top of a mountain and looking out over the rolling hills, the rivers and streams, the sprawling villages with their needle-like church spires, and the distant craggy peaks, one of the other delights of hiking is meeting others who are going to or returning from those same wonderful destinations.

Sometimes the climbers you meet are rugged outdoor types who look like they haven't washed in a week or two, with several days of scraggly growth covering their dirty jaws. Others are city folk venturing into the wild for the first time, without preparation or expectation.

There's a sort of community feeling among hikers, though; it's rare to meet a hiker who doesn't want to stop and talk. Common questions include "How are the views at the summit?" and "Where are you headed from here?" Sometimes those chance visits make a good excuse for a lengthy - and much needed - rest.

This morning Tom and I started out bright and early on our hike, and we didn't expect to meet anyone. We were climbing up over the steep, boulder ledges to the hilltop where the wooden cross stands sentinel over the camp. The dew was heavy, and the moss was slippery, but the sunlight was already heating up the bare rock face, so we were confident that we could keep our footing.

But we certainly didn't expect, this early in the morning, to meet someone climbing down.

I think we saw him before he realized we were there, so we got a chance form a first impression of him before he could size us up. I went through various impressions of him over the course of just a few seconds. My first thought was, he reminded me of a punk rocker with piebald hair coloring: streaks of dyed blond hair mixed in with the darker, natural color. His was an unkempt Mohawk that was in desperate need of trimming and shaving.

My second impression was of a lumbering, beefy outdoorsman - a surveyor, or a lumberjack, perhaps - out examining the forest lands where he would be working today. His steps were plodding and careful, but surprisingly agile over the jagged boulders.

Then the hiker saw us, and things got really bizarre. Both of my earlier impressions vanished in a moment, and I immediately thought of Harrison Ford, playing the part of the doctor on the run, being chased by Tommy Lee Jones in the movie The Fugitive. The hiker suddenly dived sideways across the rock face, climbing horizontally now, instead of vertically, as though in fear that we would chase after him. It was both surprising and bizarre to watch. He kept dodging behind boulders in hopes that we would not notice him, or that we would forget he was there. Eventually he simply slipped in between two giant boulders and waited until we passed before continuing on his own journey.

We never did find out what that strange hiker was doing out on our ledge so early in the morning, but I don't really mind so much; I don't have much of a fondness for up-close-and-personal porcupine quills.

Copyright 2008 Douglas. All rights reserved. has been granted non-exclusive rights to display this work. For permission to reprint this item, please contact the author.

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This post has been awarded 25 stars by 6 readers.
This post is Part 6 of a writing series titled Lake Passagassawakeag. The next part of this series can be found here: Missed Opportunities.
This is a revised version of a post. Click here to view the original version

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