THE PLACE TO GO WHEN YOU CAN'T GO BACKPACKING

Trail Personalities Part 2

in Fireside by

You know they’re out there. Here are three more trail personalities.

After countless hours on the trail a hiker begins to notice recurring trail personalities, different individuals with strikingly similar tendencies. My first three have already been revealed. Three more favorites today.

Soggy

THE SPONGE: If there is one thing that a northwest hiker knows, it is how to dress on a rainy day. The sponge, however, missed this day in Seattle hiker’s training 101. On sunny days the sponge stays home. On rainy days he heads to the trail dressed entirely in cotton. The Sponge gives no thought to the weather forecast, or the fact that it’s been raining for 29 days straight. His attire is something a normal person would wear to a Mariner’s game, or to lay around the house on Saturday to watch college football. Rain gear, who needs it? He has a Metallica t-shirt and some holey jeans. Water-repellent pants and shoes, not a chance! He needs to be nimble and fast so he wears sweat pants and some light-weight mesh running shoes. Backpack, I don’t think so. All the sponge needs is a water bottle and a pocket full of gummy bears.

THE TRAIL STATUE: The Trail Statue is often encountered alongside the trail equidistant from the trailhead and the turnaround point. The Statue doesn’t have the physical endurance of an Olympian, but he does have enough motivation and self-confidence to start out on that difficult trail. From the onset The Statue’s motivation springs a leak and drips onto the trail like a broken fuel line. The Statue always makes it up the first steep part of the trail, the good ones make up the second hump, but by the third steep incline their tanks are empty. Sitting there in purgatory, The Statue isn’t ready to give up on the goal destination, but his body isn’t cooperating. The opposing forces of pride and fatigue freeze the statue like a hero that has stared into Medusa’s eyes.

THE TIME TRAVELER: It is common practice for most hikers to keep a mental odometer of their mileage as they work their way towards a final destination.  It is also common practice for hikers to conduct accuracy checks on this odometer as they approach their turn-around point or campsite.   These checks usually occur when the brain’s notification mechanism begins its steadily increasing pings of “we are really close…I mean really, really close.”   In almost all cases, the hiker resists the urge to pull out the map or read the hike description they’ve printed. Instead, the hiker chooses to direct inquiries at fellow hikers passing in the opposite direction.  What the out-bound hiker seldom realizes is that upon reaching the turn-around point, the home-bound hiker has become a Time Traveler.  The half-finished bag of Doritos in the car has fully captured the home-bound hikers focus; it’s short-circuited his mental clock and the two miles he’s covered from the turn-around point has only taken “five minutes.”  In almost all cases, the Time Traveler rounds out the good news with an emphatic “you’re almost there!”

James is a serial day hiker, backpacker, camper, traveler, hobbyist and gear junkie. He and his wife moved from Oklahoma to Seattle five years ago in pursuit of a passion for the great outdoors. James has lived and hiked extensively in Colorado and Washington. He's also hiked a bunch in Oklahoma, but that's nothing to brag about. James' most recent obsession is photography; he maintains a photographic hiking log with trail trips for northwest hiking on Instagram (you can follow him @hikinghabit ).

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