Seven Questions I Ask Myself Before Day Hiking With Friends

Picture this:  a day hike in early spring with temps in the mid 70’s and plenty of sun.  The group is comprised mostly of city kids turned suburb dwelling young professionals.  Hiking is a novelty for most.  I am proud of my thru-hiker status but I don’t want to look like a “Serious Hiker” which leads to questions that make me feel like I’m trying to figure out what to wear for the first day of high school.

  1. Can I wear cotton?  Yes.  Everyone else will be wearing cotton shirts and risk of hypothermia is scant on our four mile hike.
  2. Should I wear jeans?  Serious Hiker me says no and I don’t argue.
  3. Can I wear hiking sandals?  No–my pair have only been on sidewalks and I don’t want to test their stylishly thin straps.  I settle on my CDT shoes. They are old, their tread is bald and falling off in places, and each shoe has three extra holes in it. They are trustworthy.
  4. Should I wear make-up? No again, says Serious Hiker me, but I know I will.  I decide to go lightly covered, just some fondation…a sweep of mascara…some liner…and a touch of gloss–for it’s SPF.
  5. What about deodorant? My usual answer is yes at the office and no when I’m anywhere else and a hike in the state park is clearly not in the office.  I apply it.  The others will have used their lotions and potions before leaving their homes. And we’re carpooling.
  6. What accessories should I wear?  I don a pair of wood and metal earrings and a chunky wood bracelet. They don’t lend me an earthy woodsy vibe like I’d hope, but I leave them, because if I don’t have an earthy woodsy vibe after six summers spent on trail I’m never going to.
  7. And my hair?  It falls to the middle of my back so leaving it down isn’t an option.  I braid it into a crown on top of my head.  It’s either a nod to my triple crown or it’s the easiest and most secure way to keep my hair off my neck, out of my face, and won’t give me a headache. And I’m ready to go.

These questions, and their variants, plague me everytime I hike with someone new.  I try to fit in, to hide a part of who I am, while still trying to be that person.  I try to hide my Serious Hiker side, but she still appears:  I hike too fast and I don’t get winded, and I can’t help but give my two cents when I overhear people talking about whether they should thru-hike the Appalachian Trail.

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Comments 1

  • zrdavis : Jun 23rd

    Conversely, I opt to dress like the guy who’s pretending to hike across the country for a few mile loop trail in a nicely groomed park. Your flowchart is much more logical.


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