After you, Alphonse!

posted Oct 27, 2011, 8:57 PM by Paul Wagner   [ updated Oct 30, 2011, 9:16 AM ]
We're not the fastest hikers on the trail.  We generally average a little less than two miles per hour, unless the going is really steep, or we're hiking off trail, and then we slow down even further.  And because M dislikes downhill hiking even more than a steep climb, that's true whether we are going uphill or down.
We aim for comfort far more than speed.
So when we meet a fellow hiker on the trail, we always suggest that he or she go first.  There is nothing worse than pushing ahead to be first on the trail, only to have the other hiker pass you in the next 200 yards of the trail.  We try to avoid that.
On our hikes, we  very conscientiously allow the other hikers to go first.  But that isn't always the end of the story.  On one memorable occasion last summer, we allowed a hiker to take the lead up to a lake ahead of us, only to see this young man hike for fifty yards, pull over to the side of the trail, and wave us forward.
He was gasping for breath. 
We, on the other hand, were moving slowly but surely, keeping a steady pace that we could maintain for the next hour or so--which we did.  And by that time, the young man was far, far behind us.
It turns out that even though we are both darn near sixty years old, our steady pace and reasonable conditioning allow us to keep moving along the trail rather nicely.  We have covered a lot of ground at that slow and steady pace...and we've had many wonderful adventures without ever needing to break into a jog. 
So if we meet you on the trail, we'll still wave you ahead, and give you the chance to leave us in the dust.  There have certainly been hikers that blew by us like a freight train. 
But if you find that after a few hundred feet you really feel like resting, and you allow us to hike on by, we'll understand.  When it comes to backpacking you don't have to be the hare to win the race, especially if you are carrying your house on your back.
See you on the trail!