The hard slog up the trail to Jasper Lake.
When individuals face adverse conditions together, they come together as a group no matter how different their backgrounds are. The conditions could be as dangerous as surviving a plane crash, or as recreational as climbing a mountain together.
This bonding experience is something I relish every time I go on a hike with The Happy Hikers Club. I joined the group more than two years ago so that I could get in some mountain time, which was too hard to do with my boys. Terry and I would try to take them on a hike or picnic in the mountains, and the complaining and whining throughout the experience didn't make it worthwhile.
The group sounded like what I wanted. It goes on moderate, 4-mile to 10-mile hikes outside of Denver. It meets every weekend, making it easy to fit one into my schedule. I hesitated a little about joining because I felt awkward about going on hikes with total strangers. But my need for "me" time overrode that issue. I didn't care if I didn't talk to anyone the whole time. Just being out the "mommy" role was all that mattered.
My hikes with the group follow a similar pattern. When I arrive at the Park-N-Ride lot, I'm usually the odd man out. I'm the only person in their 30's--everyone else is in their late 40's or older. While some have grown children, others have never been married. Their careers, along with pursuing their personal interests, are of upmost importance to them. I, on the other hand, have given up my career to be a SAHM, and am not sure how or when I'll get back into the career mode. The only thing I have in common with these people is a love of nature and hiking.One of the gorgeous views on the trail to Jasper Lake.
Turns out that love is enough to make me feel at home in the club. As we push ourselves to complete the hike, we forget our differences and focus on how our legs ache after a certain uphill stretch of trail. We pause to take in a breathtaking view or marvel at the delicacy of the wildflowers we see along the way.
By the time we return to our cars and head home, a feeling of accomplishment effuses throughout the group, creating a bond that probably wouldn't have been made in another context.
After the hikes, the group likes to keep that good vibe going with food and drinks at a nearby restaurant, but I pass. By that time, I miss Terry, Ethan and James, and want to eat dinner with them. I start to forget about the people I've met on the hike. As much as I like some of them, our lives are so different that it would be difficult to build a relationship outside of the club.
Now I'm glad my sons could care less about the mountains because it forced me to join The Happy Hikers Club. I've met people I really admire through joining the club, whom I wouldn't have met in my daily life. Even though the bond we form through hiking is frail, it's meaningful.