A few days ago I hiked to the top of Bear Mountain. Not a major feat, as it is only about a mile and a half ascent, but it was one of the top-ten days of the year, as my dad likes to say, so a nice little day hike was certainly called for. The sky was blue, the greenery fine, and the blueberries abundant. I love the Bear Mountain climb.
Thing about Bear Mountain, though, is when you get to the top, peaceful moments of solitude and contemplation are really quite impossible. Bear Mountain has been a state park for almost a century, and since its inception it has had a road all the way to the summit. With roads come non-climbers. It is not that I begrudge anyone of wanting to see a view or get outside, particularly to a place as pretty as Bear Mountain. And it is not that I intend on whining that I can’t have a mountain all to myself. I hope I’m not that much of a selfish grouch. On the contrary, I kind of like having all those people up there, albeit, for somewhat questionable motives. I got a big kick out of spying on all the non-climbers.
I got to the top and passed by a couple of lady bikers, leather clad and looking a bit surly, no doubt warm from wearing, uh, leather on a summer day. I walked down the rock spine and past a couple sprawled out on a picnic blanket. I found it interesting that not only was the girl was facing away from her boyfriend, but she also had her back to the view, and was instead completely absorbed with her cell phone. Despite the fact we were in a park, cell phone service was actually found in abundance on the mountain top, much to the glee of the non-climbers, all of them shocked and awed by the level of cell phone service there was in the ‘wilderness.’
I seated myself on a rock with a bit of shade and pulled out my journal. I barely managed to muffle a laugh when I saw a gaggle of teenagers waddling up the hill in flip flops. The boys’ clothes were as baggy as the girls’ clothes were tight. They all clutched cell phones in their hands. The girls teeter-tottered their way up the hill, the boys had more of a lumbering affect. One of the boys offered to spot one of the girls, so that, in his words, “She wouldn’t roll all the way down the hill.” Out of the blue, one of the girls announced to the mountain in the whiniest of tones, “Ohmigod, I wanna go to White Castle!”
As I sat there writing I heard a family come up behind me looking for a spot to settle. I heard a little girl say, “Ooo Mommy, look at that girl!” “Yes honey,” said the mom, “She is writing.” I then heard boy say, “Hey, let’s go over there!” The mom responded, “No, no, come this way. Don’t bother the writing girl, you’ll give her writers’ block.” I grinned, even though she couldn’t see it. A few minutes I turned around to see the family all bunched together and yelling a resounding chord of “Cheeeeeesseee!” as someone took their picture.
Though hiking often sees its best days when the hiker finds the woods all to herself, hiking has other perks too, even if they shamelessly include eavesdropping.