I just returned from Southern Utah where Proman and I spent ten days hiking in the five spectacular national parks there.
We started with an overnight in Las Vegas–what a great place to people watch–and then set off to hike in Zion, Bryce, Capitol Reef, Arches and Canyonlands parks, before returning to Las Vegas early ourlast morning to catch a plane home.
We found the parks stunning and varied, just like the hikes.
Also the hikers.
As intent as I was on keeping my feet on the paths–which was not always easy, especially at Bryce–I couldn’t help but notice how many different kinds of hikers there are. After the third park I formed a theory that many of us are hiking through life the way we hike through nature’s magnificent scenery. What do you think?
The Accidental Hikers
Some hikers were completely unprepared and obviously preferred not to plan but just to see what popped up when they got to a trail. They were the easiest to spot. The woman climbing downhill in rhinestone flip-flops. The tourist who passed out behind me in the ladies room because she hiked without water in a wool sweater and pants when the temperature was in the high 80s, and the park had no shade.
On the plus side, these hikers spent little time fussing about what to bring or wear, and everything they saw was probably a huge surprise.
Are you happiest when life just presents you with whatever it has in store, and you don’t have to make changes or plan? Maybe you’re an accidental hiker.
Adventurers were also easy to spot. Their perfectly-suited hiking boots, packs and cargo shorts were well broken in. They were tanned and fit and always in a hurry. They took the longest, most difficult hikes and rarely lingered for the views. The most fun for them was the physical exercise and fresh air, not the scenery.
Are you usually well-prepared for whatever life throws at you, but often forget to check out the world around you for anything other than clues on where to go next? You might be hiking through life as an adventurer.
Sightseers were a little harder to categorize. They were usually prepared for the trails, but their equipment wasn’t expensive or worn. Sometimes they walked quickly from one extraordinary “sight” to the next. Sometimes they meandered along the path, looking at little things that others might miss, the view of a hoodoo from a different angle, the stunted skeleton of a tree or bush.
They took lots of photos and often took photos of sights, not just selfies or shots of their loved ones, but scenery they wanted to capture and remember. Their hikes took longer because of frequent stops, but were often shorter in length for the same reason. Sightseers were often older, less excited about the physical challenge, and more excited about discoveries along the way. Still, plenty of younger people were sightseers, too.
You might be a sightseer if you’re happiest noting your surroundings and pondering what you’ve seen. If you keep a diary? An updated photo album? Send emails to friends and families with thoughts on what you’ve just experienced? Those might be clues.
Of course most people were and are a combination. Sometimes I’m prepared for what life throws at me, and sometimes I love to just open random doors and see what’s waiting outside. Sometimes I’m in a hurry, and sometimes I want to take everything slowly so I can drink it in.
On a trip like this one, though, I was firmly in the sightseer category. Clearly sightseer authors get lots of great fodder for their next novels.
Look for Utah in mine.