Saturday, January 12, 2008

Positive hiking encounters

For some reason, I find it easier to complain about unpleasant or annoying hikers and have blogged about such a few times and will do so again. This time I want to comment on helpful and enjoyable encounters with other hikers.

A few years ago I hiked to a local lookout. On my way down, about 2 miles and 1000 feet below, I discovered my binoculars were missing, probably left at the lookout. After searching my gear, I tried to decide whether I should go back for them and concluded I did not have the energy that day. About that time, a pair of hikers came by and asked what was wrong (I probably looked rather unhappy). I told them I had lost my binoculars and told them they could have the binoculars if they found them. They offered to look and to send them to me so I gave them a business card. A couple of weeks later the binoculars arrived in the mail from these wonderful people. Of course I sent them a thank you note and cash to pay for the shipping.

Other times hikers have offered to share food or water with me. In one case, another hiker thought I had a cold (I have bad pollen allergies) and tried to give me orange juice to help with my cold. After a clumsy fall, medically trained hikers have come over to make sure I didn't need help and was okay. Other hikers have offered to accompany me if I seemed lost or perhaps just looked uncertain. I haven't needed help but I am certain if I did most of the people I meet hiking would go out of their way to assist me.

That chance met strangers are so helpful is not unique to hiking but is not all that common in my experience either. I grew up in a small town and rural areas and there and in my youth it was common to help others even if you did not know them. In cities and in more recent times helping strangers seems much less common and often for good reasons. I'm quite aware of violence against people even on hiking trails and theft. I am happy that most backcountry users are trusting and trustworthy.

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