Monday, April 13, 2009

Best-Dressed Hiker (published 4-13-2009)

The Appalachian Irishman hiked his beloved House Mountain, for the 55th time, on Easter Sunday. (The last hike was almost five months ago, so the trek was long overdue!)

The Appalachian Irishman has met a few interesting people on the trail. Often, he meets folks who “aren’t from around here,” either by geography or by mindset, who bring all the professional hiking gear. You know – the fold up metal hiking sticks, the high dollar packs, the costly hiking attire. The Appalachian Irishman usually snickers, after a brief conversation, as he continues on the trail, in his beat up blue jeans, old shirt and cap, carrying his “old school” quart canteen and Army surplus gas mask container, which contains his few essentials (e.g., beef jerky, toilet paper, lighter, first aid kit, snake bite kit, etc.). The brief conversations with these folks are entertaining. The vehicles they drive are easily identified in the parking lot. They usually drive a Subaru, fully equipped with the mandatory liberal, politically correct, tree lover bumper stickers.

Well, on Easter Sunday, I saw the best-dressed hiker ever – in my entire life of hiking! A young man with an older lady, perhaps his mother, came across the ridge from the east to the west bluff, just after I arrived, having come up the west trail. I was shocked, shocked, to see the young man dressed in black dress shoes (of course, quite dusty from the hike), gray-stripped dress pants and matching vest, white dress shirt, and light blue necktie, still neatly tied! For once, I was – almost – speechless. After a brief exchange of pleasantries, I allowed them to enjoy the view from the rock ledge.

Not being able to subjugate my mischievous side, and before continuing across the ridge eastward, I had to, just had to, remark, “Young man, I must say in my 55 hikes on this mountain, you are the best dressed hiker that I have ever seen.” The young man wasn’t sure how to take my remark at first. I paused, awaiting his reply and giving him a little smile. He retorted sincerely, “Thank you.”

As I turned to continue across the ridge eastward, I could hear the older lady, who had walked a few feet around the ledge toward the west trail below, laugh aloud delightfully. My smile broadened. It was another proud moment in the hiking history of the Appalachian Irishman. Enjoy the photo of the young man, which I took by stealth.

Lesson to all Easter Sunday hikers: Change your Sunday-go-to-meetin’ clothes before the hike! Otherwise, folks will laugh at you, as they laughed at Mr. Douglas, riding his tractor in suit and tie. (Please don’t tell me that you don’t remember the 1960s TV show Green Acres!)

No comments: