2014-04-14

The League of Extraordinary Hikers


This Picture is not watermarked.
Apparently it did not require too much hopping around
I make it no secret that I am huge fan of outdoors and hiking trips in Lebanon's beautiful mountainous regions. The great outdoors are sadly one of few things left that set this tiny piece of land apart from its surroundings. Unfortunately, this is changing towards the worst fairly quickly. The amount of forest-covered areas in Lebanon has radically dwindled by 35% in the last 40 years and I expect things to get even worse, but that's a whole different ball game from what I am about to discuss here. Right now I want to talk about something far less depressing.

Part of the joys, and often grievances, I have with going hiking with groups are the different characters you end up meeting. Most of them are usually entertaining, quirky and harmless. A few can however really drain the pleasure out of the entire trip to the point that it would take me a few weeks to join another outing.

They say "Sharing is Caring", and I since do care about the few persons that actually decide to kill-off valuable time they have, to actually read my musings, allow me to present:

The League of Extraordinary Hikers

A unique unmatched group of individuals with superhuman capabilities who have dedicated their entire existence to perfecting the art of going on group hikes. Who are these mysterious members of this secretive leagues. Their secret identities remain anonymous but the public knows them by their superhiker names...behold:
  1. The Mountain Goat
    The hiker known as such possesses great climbing capabilities that cross human skill level into the realm where only goats excel. The Mountain Goat Hiker needs no guide, and will often start off barefoot his or her separate trail alongside the official trail that everybody is following crossing back in forth using time warp techniques. Occasionally, they may realize they just ended up in the middle of nowhere and fall back in the ranks until they reach the bus.
     
  2. The PhotograHopper
    First, there were the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles but that was just for fun. The PhotograHopper is a breed that surfaced mostly thanks to digital photography. They will stop at every corner, climb rocks, slide down slopes and do ballerina poses just to grab a picture of an oak tree leaf. They are often recognized by the watermark added to the photos before being shared on social media channels. It's only normal that, with so much effort being put into these pieces of art, one would need to protect them from someone who would want to claim credit for that chamomile flower shot.
        
  3. The Eternally Dieting Hiker
    This breed of hikers joins the group seeking regular workouts in hope of intensifying their metabolic burn. They are often the most perseverant and rarely miss a weekend outing. They are usually recognized by their selection of special food, specially chosen to survive the hike and the sun, such as: Classic Pizza, Lebanese Thyme Bread (منقوشة),  Muffins, Croissant and to wash it all down a Diet soda of some sort. They posess polymorphic powers that make them appear 4 to 5 kilos heavier from one week to the next. Their motto: "I'm dieting all week, I need to eat while hiking or I will collapse"
     
  4. The Bleeding Feet Fashionista 
    Nowhere does it say that if you are going to walk on a trail made of a dirt road for 15 kilometers through thorn bushes, mud stretches, water streams, rocks,  rock splinters, slippery stones, unstable slippery gravel on mud with streams going over them, you can't wear your favorite Birkenstock, Converse, Lacoste or, what the heck, a pair of red soled Louboutins. Nowhere!
    (actually it's written in every event brochure that you need to get professional shoes but who reads that s%#^t anyway)
     
  5. The Mating Call Hiker
    If you have ever watched The National Geographic Channel, then you probably already know that in the wild, many animals use specific sounds to attract a partner of the opposite gender for the purpose of ensuring the survival of the species. This has been dubbed by scientists as The Mating Call. No different from other creatures the hiker may emit certain sounds on a hike to attract any potential mate from the hiker sub-species. Some of these sounds may be familiar to the untrained ear and referred to in plain English as: giggles, loud squeaky laughs as well as very loud conversations about gym workouts and associated food supplements.
      
  6. The Earphones Nightingale 
    The nightingale is a tiny bird very well known for its amazing song. It is that very same melody that this hiker believes him/herself to be generating when they shove the earphones of their music streaming device into their ears, crank up the volume and start singing along in what seems, to the rest of us in their vicinity, like some sacred chant in Elvish and other Middle Earth languages. Some theories suggest that the Earphone Nightingale may be a sub-group of the Eternally Dieting Hiker family, trying to hear themselves lose weight as they walk.
       
  7. The Laundry Soap Ad Hikers
    I have always been amazed at how Laundry detergent commercials can always address, expose and resolve life's most challenging conundrums within 30 seconds. It's like the answers was always in front of our eyes but we were just too blinded (by dirt) to see it. Now take that same deep philosophical exercise multiply it by 5 at least and loop it over a 5 hour hike. You've just met the Laundry Soap Ad Hikers and not even a musical commercial by Rahbani Brothers can remove this stain.
     
  8. The Omniscient Hiker
    Each outfit needs its Professor Xavier. The brain of the operation, the data bank of all hiking knowledge. That person is always there waiting for someone, anyone to ask a question any question.
    Asking "what's the time?" will lead you to a whole explanation on how you can tell time on the hike even if you did not have a watch or a phone, even at night, in a cave...underwater...The only person who is imprevious to the powers of the Omniscient Hiker  is The Earphones Nightingale