Having taken what I felt were some mean hikes around my new Arizona home, I started looking for people to play with. A short search on the internet yielded the H____ Hiking Club. I called the number given and was told when and where to meet the group for their next outing. I was so excited! I was going to go to a new place to hike and would meet all sorts of nice people!
My first inkling that I was in deep doodoo was when I got to the assigned parking lot and the other people started to emerge from their cars. While some of the men didn't look all THAT fit, the women, though near enough to my own age, looked hardcore. They peered at my Wal-Mart backpack and running shoes (and thighs) with scorn before introducing themselves as Ursula. That's an exaggeration. There were only three Ursulas and one Maria. They were all German.
I began in the middle of the pack but soon found myself almost at the rear, followed only by an Ursula with a grim expression and not much to say. When I told her that I was probably going to go even slower soon, she responded that she was NOT going to go ahead of me and then have me fall which would require her to carry me off the mountain. I didn't like her before; now I KNEW she was a hike Nazi.
I managed to put on a little speed and get a few others behind me, but every step I took made me more and more angry.
Apparently, I am not a hiker; I am a walker. I stop and take pictures, climb the mountains at a pace that does not render me incapable of speech, carry guide books to identify the trees, and, in general, dawdle. These folks were hikers; they did not dawdle.
And speech was limited to their noting that trail damage and littering had been done by illegal aliens crossing the mountains. I told them that if I were a BRAVE poverty-striken Mexican who needed food for his family, I sure wouldn't care a whole lot about preserving Gringo trails or properly disposing of my litter. "They are mules carrying drugs," the Ursulas countered. "...OR," I continued, "about some rich American's substance abuse problem." This went over predictably well.
Actually, I had restrained myself. I wanted to say something about the Mexican crossers not having been as fortunate as some foreign-born people who were able to get here by marrying U.S. servicemen. Of course, if I hadn't shown such restraint the search for my body would still be going on.
So...I got about three-quarters of the way up the damn mountain and informed the crew that I was not going further, adding that I was having NO fun at all and that I was obviously NOT a hiker but merely a walker. The Ursula who was babysitting me was not about to fail in her mission this close to the end, so in spite of her previous snotty comment, she and the others ran off to complete the hike while I turned around and, rubber-legged, carefully picked my way back down the trail, stopping when I wanted, taking pictures, and vindictively thinking up bad ends for the Ursulas.
After four hours of hiking, I was finally back at the bottom of the trail. Needless to say, I will not be joining any more hiking clubs. Instead, I ordered a backpack for my dog, who will join me on my walks, happily stopping whenever I want and not making right-wing cracks about the less-fortunate.