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482 Summer Stories -
Away from the Trailhead

hikers we met on Halletts

We stayed the summer of 2011 in Colorado. Our agenda had us visiting some of the more popular areas of the Rockies including Boulder's Flatirons, Rocky Mountain National Park, and the other popular Front Range 14,000' peaks. Some of the trails we hiked (like Barr Trail on Pikes Peak and Grays Peak) were so popular that they seemed as crowded as Denver's streets.

All of the trailheads were congested. Most of the folks milling around were not hikers or climbers. They were tourists walking to an attraction. If the waterfall, lake, or whatever had been featured with an overlook, they might not have even gotten out of their rental cars at all.

As we visited these trailheads and shared the trails with these walkers, we tried to be cordial and acknowledge their presence with a kindly nod, eye contact, or short greeting. Seldom times would we ever get a response. The tourists still had the mind set of their lives in their busy hometowns. We still nodded and continued on our merry ways.

Miles away from the trailheads life was different. All the hikers had gotten there on the same path and had similar experiences. They all had to ford the same creek, scramble up the same waterfall, cross the same snow patches, and breath the same thin air. The likeness of experiences breeds a kinship. Hikers were not only friendly; but they gladly stopped and talked, happily offered to help, and were willing to share with other hikers in need. Even the neophyte hikers quickly learned that it was important to be friendly to other hikers. You never know when you might need a friend!

On the return trip as we hiked closer to the trailhead the mood on the trail reversed again. The trails were once again crowded and unfriendly walks.

There is a transition that takes place after leaving the trailhead. The further away from the trailhead that we traveled, the more dependent we are on each other. We need each other. We learn to forget the isolationism of city life and embrace the backcountry. It is a good feeling. It is why we go to the mountains.

Happy away from the trailhead trails



When we hiked Barr Trail this summer, I commented that it was the friendliest trail I might have ever hiked. It was almost if Colorado Springs had trained the hikers and runners in some friendliness Public Relations campaign. It was refreshing.


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