Sunday, September 26, 2004

Hiking alone with strangers

Today I went hiking with people I didn't know. I had read about the hike in one of the newsletters I receive. So here I was in the parking lot of this large subway station looking for the group that was supposed to carpool to the hike.
The hike itself, "Old Rag", is gorgeous. I've done it before but just didn't want to do it again by myself. The group is large (about 15 people) and it quickly becomes clear that hiking is not what brings everybody together: they want to talk. "Old Rag" is just an excuse, a pretext. The path climbing up gradually through the forest, the end of the wide trail on a boulder dominating the valley, the large imposing boulders that are tamed to allow the passage to the top, the false summit which tricks the casual hiker into thinking that only an easy path lies ahead, and the summit, large expense of polished stones allowing a rare 360 degree view. All this is for naught. We're here to talk. Soon after we start, I run to the top leaving everybody behind. There is no stopping me. I rush to the summit, savoring the pleasure of watching the birds from above. Spending a quiet time at the top. Feeling completely alive.


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