A hike is not just a walk in the woods. Today, I undertook my first ‘real’ hike. I met with a group of young, social outdoor enthusiasts at the Middlesex Fells Reservation state park just outside of Boston. There were nine of us in total (ten if you include the dog), an interesting cast of characters including a programmer, a mechanical engineer, and even a seismologist.
At first, the hike seemed like any other walk that I have taken in a park. The entrance to the park was non-discreet and the trail was wide but mostly flat. However, suddenly we took a hard left by a tree with a white marking on it and we diverted onto a much smaller path. We walked single file winding around and over jagged, rocky terrain. There is a lot ‘up,’ ‘down,’ and ‘around’ in hiking. We took a brisk pace, which meant at times the hike felt like a step workout, however, the ups and downs evened out to make this hike feel more like an activity than a cardio class.
The group that I joined today comprised serious hikers. Although many had been affiliated with the group for years, it seemed that most were unfamiliar with the others as individuals. The conversation in the group was light and much of it initially revolved around hiking topics, the Blue Hills in New Hampshire was a recurring theme that I unfortunately could not relate to. Everyone in the group seemed to enjoy outdoor sports in general. One of our trip leaders told us about her recent adventures in Costa Rica where she snorkeled and kayaked. Through my conversations I also learned what “snowshoeing” is (walking on the snow, but with shoes that resemble mini snowboards). There is a whole world of outdoor sports out there that I feel is just out of my reach, as a city dweller.
The hike took us by a very beautiful pond. However, the focused and determined group did not take even a 30-second pause to admire the view and instead pushed on down another trail. Somewhere along the white trail, we changed course and followed the orange trail around a dog park and up several more hills. At the highest point, we reached a scenic spot that overlooked Boston from a distance. It’s amazing how much can be seen from that vantage point. From so far away, Everett, Cambridge, Somerville, and Boston all seem like one place rather than separate little communities. It was as if I was taking a picture of the “greater Boston city” skyline from such a distance.
I had a beautiful hike. It was very cold, but with handwarmers, a heavy coat, and some steep hills to get your heart pumping, the weather felt pleasant; I was certainly working up a sweat! In fact, the least enjoyable parts of the hike were when we were just standing around (notably to wait for one latecomer). My companions described today’s trip as a moderate day hike at around 6.5 miles. What we did was nothing in comparison to their New Hampshire backpacking trips that the group often coordinates, but it was good for a (already physically active) beginner. The group was incredibly friendly, and it very much makes me want to continue this hiking journey and see more of New England.
Days like today make me feel as if I’m still just a kid. If something sounds interesting to a child, the child will want to pursue it, even if he has zero experience or training. Without any familiarity with hiking or acquaintance with the group, I just signed myself up and then met up with total strangers for what turned out to be a very fun day. As an adult, it can sometimes be hard to be an absolute beginner, however, if your interest is there, it is well worth trying something new! I think there will be more hiking in my future. Next time, perhaps, to terrain a bit further out of the greater Boston area.
If you are looking to elevate or step up your outdoor physical activity, hiking is worth a try. Even if climbing up and down hills is not your thing, to just be in nature is a valuable experience. If you’re wanting things to do, Dear Reader, why not just take a hike!