As the sun broke through the clouds during a break in the rain it lit up the trail ahead of me gifting me with a serene view.
It was a busy weekend and I needed some time alone to clear my head and prepare for an upcoming trip in the backcountry with our next group of hikers.
As I hiked along the trail I thought about the opportunities I have to meet different people through what we do at @hbfoutdoors and was reminded nature is for everyone.
The more I do this and the more people I meet in our community the more I’m driven to introduce the outdoors and adventure to anyone willing. Regardless of skill level or limitations. Regardless what gear they own or don’t own. While some preach a certain way of experiencing the outdoors as though its gospel, I simply want to help others experience nature and its benefits.
During a recent group hiking trip, a woman new to hiking had decided to join her friend for this adventure. The trail I had chosen was not the easiest and is considered one of the toughest Blue Knob State Park has to offer. A gradual descent followed by an easy stroll along the ridge would lead to a steep half-mile climb back to the top. As we began our climb up Mt. View Trail me and my guides kept a careful watch over the group to assure their safety and health. The hot humid weather was causing even the most seasoned of hikers to break often to catch their breath, sip some water, and lower their heart rate before moving on.
At first, I stayed towards the front of the group leading them to the top but as I looked back to check on the group my guide was nowhere to be seen. I wasn’t concerned. I knew he was doing his job and most likely hung back with some hikers who were taking their time. From the very beginning, we had advised the group to hike their own hike, not to rush, rest as often as they needed, stay hydrated, and enjoy the experience.
I eventually reached the top and caught up with those who pushed ahead. I instructed my other guide to take the group on ahead to the lookout view and told her I’d hang behind and wait for Tyler. It gave me a moment to rest as I had doubled back down the steep slope more than once to check up on the rest of the group. To say I was winded is an understatement.
As Tyler reached the top I noticed the woman he was with was the one new to hiking. Tyler shared with me she had become light headed and overheated. As per his skills, experience, and training, he tended to her health needs. He had stopped for a period of time to have her rest which explained why I had lost sight of him, placed an ice pack on her neck to cool her down, made sure she sipped water to hydrate and gave her a peanut butter pack. Once she felt better she was determined to reach the top and complete the hike.
I’ll never forget the look on her face as she approached me at the top. Sweaty and out of breath she smiled at me and said, “when we get to the pub you’re buying me a cold beer. And I’m never hiking again.” I knew she was joking about not hiking again but I still took a moment to encourage her. I told her there are many trails she can hike that are easier and suggested she not give it up but keep going and explore those trails. I also told her if she can hike this trail for her first ever hike she can pretty much accomplish any trail in the region.
Later when everyone was sitting in the pub enjoying a cold beverage, great food to replenish the calories burned, and soaked up some A/C, the woman new to hiking grabbed my attention for a moment. She leaned in close so I could hear over the noise of the pub chatter and said; “Thank you, I’ve had a great time. Was it tough? Absolutely. But I enjoyed the time I spent on the trail and have met some great people. I’m looking forward to hiking again.”
Just days later as I sat scrolling through my Facebook feed I saw some pictures she posted from a hike she took on her own along with a friend. The look on her face was one of accomplishment and joy. A smile stretched across her face in one photo she took of herself while on the trail. I stared at the photo for a moment as the meaning of it sunk in. She endured heat, humidity, a rigorous trail, sweat, thirst, fatigue, frustration, and feelings of wanting to quit. And instead of giving up she pressed on beyond the group hike and onto a new trail. She got back out there. She caught the fever and now loves to go hiking.
To enjoy the outdoors, to experience a backpacking trip, to camp in the backcountry, all you need is the desire and will. And HBF Outdoors, LLC. is here to help you accomplish your goals. It’s moments like this one that is a testimony of why I started HBF Outdoors, LLC. My desire is to help people get outside and realize it’s for everyone. Regardless of skill level and regardless of what gear own or brand you follow.