Had an interesting opportunity at the first of the month to attend a professional development training for three days at the Mount Magazine lodge. Was to begin on a Wednesday at 10:00 a.m. and go on until Friday at 3:00 p.m. As far as trainings go, it wasn’t going to be a large one – maybe about fifteen other professionals in this field – and it was great PD. But this isn’t a PD blog.
So I ended up getting my own hotel room for Tuesday night in Van Buren and went down the night before. Woke up early and decided to avoid the interstate for a prettier drive to the mountaintop. Got there in plenty of time to park at the overflow campground and just wander around the series of paths and little-used trails that spiderweb out from those campsites. Of course, the leaves haven’t changed yet, but I’ve not been up there for a few years and you just don’t get that type of view too many places in the state.
Which meant that when everyone else arrived at the training fresh, I had a little sheen of sweat and a bit of dewy mud on my cuffs. I couldn’t help telling the folks around me, none of them backpackers or even trail-walkers, about how amazing it was out there. So, when we had an extended break around dinner time I ended up filling up the ‘yota with three folks and heading back out to my favorite spot. It required a bit of squinting to determine where that little-used pathway existed underneath early fall growth, but we all made it to the view and I have to admit – I got more joy out of watching them see something they’ve never seen before than I did if I’d just gone out alone as I’d originally planned. “Wait ’till you see it at night!” They looked at the trail(ish) path we took to get out here and then looked at me like I was crazy.
When the training ended that night around eight, eight-thirty maybe, the three had backed out. Undeterred, I just grabbed my flashlight and went out there myself to sit for a while and soak in the beauty. On the way back to the lodge, my cell phone rang. Two other participants heard about it, wanted to come, and were disappointed I had already headed out. I swung by the lodge, loaded up the truck, and off we went again! This time, it was a little darker and I had a harder time keeping sight of the trail(ish) path we were following. Several times I asked them to just stand together in a clump and wait while I scouted around for the trail. We all made it to a view, though, and just . . . just sat.
Talking to my buddy Kat later about it, he said that it’s easy to forget that the majority of folks don’t head out and do the kind of crazy stuff we do just to get a view of something beautiful and not-often-seen. I could tell they were all real proud of having survived their first night hike and there was much laughter and retelling to be had. The next morning, I bought all of them a Mt. Magazine patch. Figured they earned it.
The next day, I took a group out to one of the better marked trails and we all marveled at the view from that side of the mountain. Storms were rolling in, though, so there were no night hikes to be had that evening. Instead, I opened up my balcony door (was lucky enough to have landed a 3rd floor room) and just watched the lightning and rain roll past.
Reminded me that I need to take my family up there soon. Maybe when the leaves change, we’ll head up there and bring the hammocks.
Maybe there’s a half-dozen more folks now who consider themselves in this odd and strong-legged group that like to call themselves hikers.