When people hike in the Adirondacks the most you get from another passing hiker is a quick hello. Most folks are breathing too hard on the way up or enjoy the silent beauty of the woods around them. Conversely, on the way down, gravity quickens your pace to a point where others are just a blur.
Besides, pesky little black flies come out of nowhere when you do stop, be it for water or a granola bar. Best to keep moving! Once you’re at the summit, well, that’s a whole different story.
The climb up Baker was a short and easy one. A little steep in some parts but overall nothing that Dad, Bev, George and myself couldn’t handle. We’d just finished our box lunches sitting on a sunny ledge overlooking McKenzie Mountain Wilderness, towards the High Peaks region, when I asked a random hiker if she could take our photo. “Sure, no problem,” she said.
I handed her my Nikon. Click, click went the flash. Being the consummate perfectionist (and admittedly annoying to most) I asked her for another shot with less headroom or sky. She tried again. This time I was satisfied.
They say keep politics out of the woods, and I’m not sure how the connection was made, but we were happy to hear that Peggy was as much a left-leaning environmental advocate or activist as us. Honestly, having hiked as much as I do, I’m always surprised to run into hikers who appreciate the joy, tranquility and peace that Mother Nature provides but don’t necessarily support the protection of pristine lands.
Sometimes the biggest challenge is not the climb itself but coming to terms with the ideals of other hikers. The outdoors belongs to all and there are all types that do it.
Meeting Peggy gave us the opportunity to engage, vent, poke fun at and learn that others, in a mostly conservative part of the state, are just as frustrated with D.C. leadership as us. A few hours of escape into the woods helps to bury the frustration but it’s not the longterm panacea you hope for.
Back at the car, a lawn poster for North Country;s Tedra Cobb, a tough St. Lawrence County Democrat running for the 21st Congressional District, was left for us. Dad and Bev smiled… they would be proudly hammering it into a space near their mailbox as soon as they got back home.