I’m always eager to see their feet.
I got out of my little truck, gathered my daypack and hiking stick, and headed toward the group that was – strangely enough, I still think – waiting for me.
And from a distance, I glanced at their feet.
March is a month of unpredictable weather in Alabama. Within a span of hours, the weather can go from sunny and 70 degrees to snowy and 20, and that’s something that can happen more than once within a few weeks. That day, however, this group of hikers and I were enjoying the highs: Low 70s, a slight breeze, and partly cloudy skies. It was a beautiful day for a hike.
I’m a volunteer hike leader for the local land trust, and I had a group of about 15 folks who looked ready to go. I’ve always enjoyed leading these events, and it’s always fun and interesting to see who’s in the party.
Now, the system sort of ensures the group will be a good one. Everyone who shows up is typically a Land Trust member since the hikes fill up shortly after newsletters go out; sign-ups don’t go public for a few days. They’re also familiar with the types of trails we’re walking on, as most of our properties are, ahem, hilly and rocky. Finally, they almost always enjoy being with a group, and as we move into the third year of a pandemic, it’s nice to be outside in the open where conversation and gathering is more comfortable.
All that said, it’s always with a bit of trepidation that I look at everyone’s feet, and this group’s feet were looking great: Nothing but hiking boots and solid walking shoes. No carpet slippers, no flip flops, and no crocs. Yessss!
We gathered and talked for a bit, renewed a few friendships (a major benefit of hiking with a group), and headed out. The trail was wonderful, despite the 450+ feet of elevation gain, and the Falling Sink waterfall – probably the highlight of the trail – was gorgeous. I can’t wait until next month when we get to do it again!