Almost every morning for this last month, I’ve had every intention of quickly throwing on some shoes, putting leashes on the dogs and getting out there to walk on the many trails in the beautiful open state park right by my house. I would be crazy not to.
But my self talk hasn’t been convincing enough. When it comes to regular exercise, I seem to go all-out or not so much out-at-all. And lately it’s been more the latter. I am determined to become more consistent. And I’m saying this so that someone out there might hold me accountable.
However yesterday I took advantage of a beautiful (although hot) day and took a long hike. My pups were ecstatic to have the opportunity to sniff smells other than the routine scents of my neighborhood streets. My husband, who participates in 75-mile bike rides without breaking a sweat, was pleasantly surprised that his less that athletic wife wanted to take a longer walk than our usual easy neighborhood loop.
On our walk I made some observations from the trail.
I should note here that in shared trail situations I am borderline overly polite and will always try to make room for someone approaching from behind or in front of me. I will also at least make an attempt to say hello or acknowledge with a nod. This is not the case with everyone and I find it fascinating to observe.
My sometimes cynical but realistic husband says this quite possibly puts me at a disadvantage in the larger world scheme of things where it’s every man for himself. This, and not having a duplicitous bone in my body. But at any rate, I’m not changing my ways anytime soon. (And I like to think this helps cancel out my negative karma from occasional minor road rage flare ups.)
First noticed were the the friendly, comfortable in their skin, outgoing walkers. I’ve decided these are mostly women (usually in pairs) or older men who are usually walking with a friend and/or dog. They’re walking at a good clip, but they aren’t so hard core that they can’t look up and say hello as you pass by. They make room for others as I do.
Then there are the dog walkers. They are also usually friendly and mostly women. Not uncommon are comments on how cute my scruffy dogs are. They definitely make room for passing on the trail. Until, that is, my one less than social dog begins to panic at the sight of another dog and they speed up with a concerned look as if Cujo, our 24 pound adopted mix with a partial set of teeth, is coming to eat their dog. (We have tried for years to make him more comfortable around other dogs to no avail.)
Next are the runners, usually in pairs. They don’t talk much and usually have earphones in place. They pretend like they are going to make room for others on the trail but they really have no intention of doing so. Because if you are only walking, you really don’t deserve any special effort on their part.
The casual bikers are usually biking families that almost always have a child lagging far behind and they are trying to seem patient about it and not lose their cool because people are watching. They have good intentions of making room on the trail, but their circus train of bikes prevent it. They are just happy to make it past us.
The semi serious bikers are next. They are usually by themselves and always very courteous to alert you when they are approaching with “on your left.” Sometimes they even nod a hello.
Next we have the hard core speed bikers who race up behind us one at a time with their fancy bike race shirts and helmets. They will most likely only graze one of your legs after approaching without a warning or a peep. And certainly without losing any speed on your behalf.
And my favorite part of the trails is the expansive underground network of prairie dogs with their intricate alarm procedures. As our trail approaches each mound, a prairie dog scout sounds the alarm for all those nearby. The high pitched chirping signals the little guy at the next mound. He then dips down right as the trail gets close and immediately the prairie dog at the next mound sounds his chirping alarm. This cycle repeats for long stretches and kind of makes me wonder what it would be like to be a prairie dog.
In the end, I am embarrassed to admit that I am a little sore the next day from our long, hot walk. But I am glad that I am physically able to get out and take a walk, for this alone is a luxury for some. And also that I have such a beautiful trail system at my disposal, speed bikers and all. For these things, I am grateful.