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616 Summer Stories
Fast Hikers

Fast hiking in the mountains

Through the years I have hiked many miles. I have hiked fast and I have hiked slow. I have passed slower moving hikers and faster moving hikers have passed me. Most of the time the passing is uneventful, but a couple of hikers this last summer were different...

While hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park I was doing a fairly long loop trail near the Park's eastern boundary. Several trailheads are available for the popular trail, making the trail accessible to just hike sections of the loop.

Hiking alone I was able to adjust my speed to match the terrain and my conditioning. As the trail gently climbed through a valley, the relatively flat grade allowed me to hike at a fast pace.

Soon I saw a couple of hikers in front of me. As I kept my pace, I saw that I was gaining on the hikers. Growing closer, I decided the hikers were probably a father and a college aged son.

I was walking at a faster pace than them and continued to close the distance between us. When the young man saw I was right behind him, he said something to his father and they started running. Quickly they increased the distance between us.

Then slowly, I once again caught up to them. I was still walking faster than them. Looking back at me with a puzzled look, the young man urged his father to run again and they avoided my passing them.

I laughed to myself as I tried to figure out what they were doing. As the trail steepened I slowed my pace, but still caught them. Naturally, they ran ahead.

I was not trying to pass the guys, I was just hiking my hike which was faster than theirs.

Finally at a waterfall, on a side trail, the pair stopped. The trail was hard to find at that point due to high water, but it crossed the stream at the base of the falls and continued to the top of the waterfall. When I arrived I crossed the stream near them and thought the guys would follow me, but they didn't. I guess they didn't want to get their feet wet.

They were standing along the bank as I climbed the trail on the other side to the top of the falls. Reaching a vista, I sat and ate a snack and filtered some water in the stream. After a short stay, I started down the trail. I found a better crossing a little further downstream but did not see the pair.

As I started down the trail, I noticed someone on a cliff to the side of the falls. It was the young man. He was climbing. At the time he was thirty or so feet off the ground under an obvious overhang. Easier terrain was a couple of feet to the right. He made the move and was safe again. I did not see his father anywhere. I guessed the young man had decided to try to climb the cliff to the top of the falls rather than cross the stream.

I sort of forgot about the pair as I made fast time down the hill. On hearing a runner back, I turned to look. There was the young man running fast down the trail. He sped past me without a word. It seemed obvious that he was trying to catch his father. I never spoke to them, so I did not know why they were not together.

While hiking, and especially if hiking alone, it is important to engage the other hikers you meet along the trail. You never know when you might need their help or assistance. As I think of the pair of hikers I still wonder why they tried so hard to stay ahead of me. Maybe, they just didn't want to be passed by an old man or maybe they didn't want me to be upwind of them. I had not showered in a few days. Ha!

Hiking is not a contest. Hike your own hike at your own speed and don't forget to have fun.

Happy trails


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