Saturday May 21st I gathered with a group of 21 in the parking lot of Houghton pond. The group was varied. different ages, equipment and lots of ladies. I also noted about half a dozen people from the Boston area who hadn't attended our workshop so they must have offered it to other AMC groups too. I am clearly a Cape Cod girl and was mystified with people taking an Uber to hike. City Livin' I guess.
As usual I was looking around gauging my inadequacies. I took one last walk to the ladies room and while at a distance i did a little hamstring stretching hoping to prevent sore legs tomorrow. I noted a once over of what I was doing from an older woman who appeared to be in all the best, up to date gear that I dream about. She had the pack, pants, proper shirt, hat and walking poles.
Berry, just do your thing. I need to progress through this series if I want to join other bigger hikes later.
After too many stories from a knowledgeable but over chatty guide we finally decided to get going 20 minutes late even though a few hadn't shown up.
I have hiked this first loop maybe half a dozen times and I like the work involved. I did not expect a woman to stop halfway up the first hill maybe 50ft from the road and announce this was not her thing. See in trying to manage my feeling of hiking in a group I had just added myself to the back and the last 2 people were 2 guides who I really liked. They were friendly, super knowledgeable and yet on the quiet side. I was very happy at their response to her. they encouraged her to stay. To not be concerned about her heavy breathe and sweat. We all were breathing heavy at this point. It was work.
Please stay with us for a bit longer and see what you think. They promised her an out as we looped back around the figure 8 if she wanted to get out she could. Generally you can't leave a group hike. The group stays together but being the location and the first hike for folks they had a sort of emergency escape hatch.
Soon as we crested and came to a place that we could stay off the trail and take a plan was made to split up as to not be such a steam roller on the trail. 21 people can take up some space.
I decided to try to place myself in a group of people that appeared to be able to hike a bit faster but they didn't really have a great gauge yet so the groups were still mixed and they let the slower group go first. This meant we in the second group caught up multiple times and stopped and waited for them to get ahead. Luckily I came with my patience knowing this is a learning experience for all.
After lunch at the tower we were headed back down the north side of the skyline. This time we re-grouped for a second time and the faster group with the 2 guides I liked headed out first.
During my time so far I noticed lots of things. The group varied by gear a lot and I really need to keep working on my assumptions. They are so often wildly wrong.
The woman with the great expensive gear that I was so intimidated by was one of the people who struggled and may not hike again. The guy with no gear and what I would say was a Job Lot $5 backpack stayed with the second group and was super interested in hearing stories of other peoples hikes. Age didn't matter either. A 20 year old had to stop, peel off layers down to almost her bathing suit and rest often once we got to the second loop but a 60 year old woman traveled the whole 7 miles slow and steady with her full pack, pants and long sleeves and trekking poles.
The lesson here....You never know and don't underestimate anyone even yourself.
We made it back to reservation headquarters. We rested, snacked and waited for the 2nd group to catch up. The weather was beautiful but sunny and hot. The multiple stops were a little frustrating to start but allowed plenty of opportunity to stay hydrated.
We split our groups again for the third time. One group would go out to Tucker hill and circle back to the lot on the flatter route. The other group would go up and over Tucker Hill and Buck Hill and circle back. The photo below I took as we are headed back down Buck to follow our steps over Tucker and back to the parking lot. Total mileage estimate is about 7miles over maybe 4.5 hours.
The hump on the left is Great Blue Hill where we just sat and had lunch about 2 hours ago.
What else did I learn today:
1. I am a starving hiker. Bring food and real good food.
2. I have more hiking experience than some but still a lot to learn.
3. This interest is only going to get bigger and take on a big part of my life.