I live just minutes from a great urban hiking trail called Telegraph Pass. Unless I’m the first one in or the last one out, I cross paths with other hikers who are a familiar and welcome part of my hikes.
First timers: They carefully gaze at the map at the base of the trail. I overhear them saying, “It doesn’t look too bad.” And it’s really not; the first mile is sort of flat. It’s that last half-mile that gets you. They’ll just skip it the first few times.
Alone but not lonely: These hikers appear to be either deep in thought or scaling the mountain to whatever their iPod is pumping out. Either way, they seem to be enjoying what may be the only hour they have to themselves all day.
Gabbing girlfriends: These women hike early before work or after their kids are safely on the school bus. Beats spending four bucks on coffee.
Couples connecting: Stealing away to plan the day, or catch up when it is over, these pairs have found a perfect way to keep their relationship and their bodies in shape.
Fitness buff: Easy to spot, wearing sports bras and expensive heart-rate monitors, these are runners rather than hikers. They gracefully fly down the mountain, barely skimming the rocks as they rush to make it to their 7 o’clock morning spin class.
Senior warriors: These gray-haired marvels in wide-brimmed hats ward off advancing age with their regular treks up the mountain. They always say hi, and I silently promise myself that I’ll still hike when I’m their age, too.
Melting woman: It isn’t the heat. This woman seems to weigh a little less every time I see her. I just had to tell her how much I admired her as we passed. She gave me a broad smile and tossed back, “Only another 30 to go!”
Doggy bag lady: This one is very rare. She doesn’t own a dog but brings doggie doo-doo bags and picks up other people’s dog poop as she walks. I thanked her one day and she simply said, “I’m just doing my little part to make the world a better place.” And a better place it is, indeed.
You’ll also pass photographers hoping for a smog-free view of the Valley from the top, backpackers training for a Grand Canyon rim to rim and mountain bikers that have to carry rather than ride their bikes up the steepest parts (I still haven’t figured that one out). You’ll see lots of dogs, a home-schooled child out for P.E. and an occasional cross country team. You probably won’t see a rattlesnake; I’ve only seen four in my hundreds of hikes – but I’m always on the lookout.
As for me, I’m the one with the dog, gabbing with my girlfriend, connecting with my husband, or by myself with my iPod on. If you say hi, I’ll say hi back.
Dr. Michele May is the author of Eat Mindfully, Live Vibrantly! To learn more, visit www.AmIHungry.com.