About a year ago, back before I did much solo hiking, I joined a few DC-area Meetup groups specifically focused on hiking. It’s been fun. You should, too. After the fifth hike, I realized that even when the faces changed, the personalities did not. Here are the people you find in a Meetup hike:
- The Sandbagger: Come hiking with us, she says. It’s an easy six miles, she says. It’s a very little mountain, she says, so little it’s more of a hill, really. The next thing you know, you’re bushwacking miles eleven and twelve, and the sun is dipping below the horizon. The next day, when your friends ask how the hike went, you think of that scene from My So-Called Life where the night spun wildly out of control and police were involved and fights were had and drinks were drunk and Angela smiles and says, “We had a time.” Because that’s exactly how you feel, too.
- Hardcore Hiker: This is the opposite of a sandbagger. He’ll tell you exactly how hard this hike will be, which, for the record, is really fucking hard. We’re talking 18 miles, minimum, because he doesn’t show up for anything less. His hikes are labeled “Very Strenuous” on Meetup, as opposed to “Merely Strenuous.” Before you can tag along, expect to email him your hiking resume. How bad do you want it?
- The Hangover: She’s wearing sunglasses even though it’s not cloudy. Be grateful for that, because she’s still wearing last night’s makeup, and it hasn’t aged well. She’s usually around the middle of the pack, but sometimes she passes you. You make plans to meet her for brunch next Sunday, because she seems fun.
- The Newbie: Everything is a surprise. He’s never really been on a hike and is in fact surprised that it takes place in the woods. He’s surprised that, an hour later, you’re still in the woods. When does the walking stop? Will there be beer later? He kind of thought a hiking Meetup consisted of ambling around a lake for twenty minutes, followed by food. Wait, he was supposed to bring food? Oh, God.
- The One You Never Saw Coming. He’s more reserved. He’s never at the front of the pack, but he’s not far behind. He doesn’t say much and most of the time you forget he’s there at all. But somehow he becomes that familiar face you look for when you RSVP. Then one day, you’re eating your PB&J at the summit, watching two bros bro it up, and he leans in. He whispers in your ear, a conversation for the two bros, complete with silly voices. They’re at a Victorian tea party. You laugh so hard tears run down your cheeks. He asks if you’d be into making plans that do not involve twenty other people. You say yes. He smiles and you think, man, I did not see this coming. But maybe you kind of did.