I love outdoors classes. Hiking, Ecology…
I’ve taken WATO in Massachusetts and WOW on Thursdays is nature studies here at home. I love(d) both of them, but there is something lacking compared to real hiking.
Trail Etiquette, Ms. Carol called it.
Part of it is saying Hello to everyone as you pass by.
“The weather’s nice today” or, “It’s hot today, whew!” or “You’re almost there! Only ten minutes to the falls!” or maybe even, “What a cute dog!”
When you’re in a class, you’re in a separate culture. Class culture. Talking, loud, a huge group, not really aware. The fast group and the slow group constantly struggling to keep pace. Socializing.
When you say Hi to a fellow hiker, you get weird looks from the other kids: “OMG, like, that person talked to you!!! Haha that person is so weird, she actually talked to us!!”
I know some kids that have started playing their Ipods up on the trail. Oops-That was shut down quick.
You get the idea.
I’ve been doing a majority of my hiking recently with WOW, and I feel totally alienated from what hiking is all about. I’m not saying that hiking in large class-groups is particularly bad, but it’s different. Very different.
You miss that sense of camaraderie from fellow hikers.
You miss the rhythm of just walking.
You miss that quietness.
That trail culture.
I love hiking for those things. I like hiking because I don’t talk the entire time(I do a little but it’s not the main focus). I like hiking because I can be quiet and just feel the world around me. I like hiking in the rain. I like the way food tastes better after a long day of walking, and the feeling of lightness when I take my pack off. It’s like flying.
Hiking is good because it’s not competitive. There aren’t really any major cliques or groups among hikers.
It’s something that anyone can do.