“Having hobbies” is a hobby of mine that I take very seriously. I’m impulsive about it. With sites like MeetUp.com and Eventbrite.com it’s easy to pick up and drop hobbies like hot potatoes — and that’s just what I do. Because some restrictions on group gatherings are being lifted (despite the worsening pandemic situation — yikes!), I took the opportunity recently to go on a hike with an outdoors group I joined (more here).
On a Sunday morning, I met up with the group in the parking lot of a skating rink near the entrance of the Blue Hills Reservation just south of Boston. In advance of the hike, we each had to agree to follow the COVID-19 protocol via phone call with the group leader and promise to wear a mask, bring hand sanitizer, and refrain from sharing food. There were ten of us in total including a group leader and co-leader. In an attempt to make the hike along the “Skyline Trail” an educational experience, the leader emailed us the trail maps in advance and asked us questions including: 1. How do we know if we are lost? 2. What are the numbered junctions we will pass along the way? 3. A mile into the hike, someone gets hurt and we need to hike out right away. What are our options? 4. Two miles into our hike, someone gets hurt, what are our options then?
The answers being: 1. We know we are lost when we do not see a “trail blaze” ahead or behind us (blue marker on tree pictured above).
2. The numbered junctions are posted on trees as markers to locate your position on the map and we will pass a handful of them (including the one pictured above).
3. According to our path, if someone gets hurt one mile in, we can hike to the nearest road and call for an Uber.
4. According to our path, if someone gets hurt two miles in, our path is due to intersect with a smoother path that we can take until we hit a road (and then call for an Uber).
The hike was around five miles in total and reached an elevation of no more than 1,000 ft. This is considered to be a beginner/ moderate hike. Regardless, the hike was a workout, but an enjoyable one. Conversation flowed freely even with social distance and behind masks. We ranged from expert hikers to a novice, the novice being someone who was athletic enough but showed up in basketball shoes with only a pint of coconut water and a handheld lunch box.
The Blue Hills and Middlesex Fells (my only real hiking destinations — not counting Mt. Battie, more here) are great for entry-level hiking. At these locations, it is common to see groups of friends and families wandering around with nothing more than a smartphone and water bottle in tow. For more advanced routes, the outdoors group leads trips to New Hampshire’s White Mountains, where proper hiking boots, backpack, and adequate water supply are necessities. The leaders have hiked the White Mountains many times over and had plenty of stories to share about getting lost, running out of water, and grueling treks (the longest being 15 miles — a sunrise to sunset hike!).
Even though our hike was comparatively short, carrying several liters of water was essential (I felt bad for the coconut water man!). In addition to water, one may even consider bringing a drink filled with electrolytes (like coconut water even or Gatorade) to stave off lightheadedness. Also, it is always recommended to bring healthy snacks or food, even if you don’t think that you will need them. On the skyline trail, we saw some great views, however, I did not get a good look of Boston from our lookout points.
While I accomplished the hike without any real problems, I also realize that I am not in the best physical shape for hiking…booo. I won’t blame the pandemic for this… but it certainly doesn’t help. The leaders chatted about future 7 – 10-mile hikes in the White Mountains. Thinking about completing that length at a faster pace with a heavier backpack makes my legs preemptively hurt. But because I take my hobbies deadly seriously — I will aim to do just that— a long hike. Excuse me as I devise a training regime for this very goal.
Until next time, dear Reader.