A couple weeks ago, Cheryl and I went to the mountains in north Georgia to stay at a lodge, the Hike Inn. But this was no ordinary dead-animal-heads-on-the-wall type of mountain lodge like you might find in the wretched bowels of Gatlinburg (shudder). It was an accessible-only-by-five-miles-of-hiking-uphill type of lodge. It was a pack it out, coffin-sized bunk beds, complete silence, compost turlets, hummingbirds and ants kind of lodge. Even better than this, it was the type of lodge that frowned deeply upon cell phones (yay!) and computers (smaller yay!) and alcohol (no yay whatsoever!).
Next to running, hiking is probably my second favorite physical activity/hobby kind of thing. Actually, when I think about it, I may like hiking more, because it usually means I’m on vacation whereas running usually only means that I’m merely alive and it’s another day. Which I suppose is not necessarily a bad thing. Anyway, I like to hike. It’s a good feeling to get further and higher away, removed and isolated from all the white noise yammering of life. There’s usually always a point during hiking where something that has been annoying me crosses my mind, and I think, “Ha ha ha, you crazy goofbucket. Get overyourself.” Then I hike a little more, and then I typically get over myself mid-afternoonish.
Nonetheless, I’m not hiking at this very moment, so I’d like to chat about something that annoys me.
Our time at the Hike Inn was really pretty stellar (I’m not annoyed yet). There was a 7-hour hike to the terminus of the Appalachian Trail at Springer Mountain and back, decadent cookies the size of shingles in the afternoon, a monstrous thunderstorm at 3 a.m. that produced mountain-bouncing thunder, and views for days. There was even a huge rattlesnake near the lodge entrance that Mr. Manager in a Flannel Shirt had to capture with one of those creepy snake-grab things. Good times!
And so there we were on our second day, just hanging out and doing nothing… Reading, looking through the binoculars, kicking Cheryl’s ass in Scrabble (XI! Quoph! Zax on the triple word corner!!!), and generally enjoying the sound of nothing. Naturally, the loudest voice I have heard in some time comes a-yapping from the far end of the lodge, along the decks, through a couple of buildings, around another deckway, and right toward us. Dismay. As Mrs. BlastTone came into view, we saw she was with her husband. The two of them must have just hiked up the hill. They were all sweaty and carrying backpacks. Plus, BlastTone was recalling in ear-shattering detail how, you know, she had JUST HIKED UP THIS BIG HILL TO A LODGE!!!
Cheryl looked at me said, “Her husband is standing right there. Why is she shouting? Plus, he probably has some insider knowledge of the fact that she just hiked up the hill because, hello, he hiked it with her.” It was at that point I noticed the wedge by BlastTone’s ear.
“Please tell me that’s an earring that’s gone awry,” I said. Alas, it was not. I have to ask: who the hell wears a bluetooth (or whatever they’re called) on a trail? Are you kidding me? For what it’s worth, BlastTone’s husband looked moderately embarrassed and cast a slight eye-roll our way. After all, in addition to the fact that wearing a telephone snapped on to your ear is wack, there were a few obvious notices around the lodge reminding the phone-addicted to politely stow it. Nonetheless, Old Blasty went right on ahead and made a few more vestibular nerve-shattering calls. We gathered from her trumpeting that she had never hiked before. She was an important lawyer. She was from New Jersey. Shockers all the way around, I must say.
Anyway, later that evening, we were hanging out in one of the gardens watching some birds when a pleasant young man with a mohawk plopped it not 20 feet from us, pulled out the cell phone and began recounting his entire day to a friend, throwing in a generous pile of gratuitous “fucks” and “shits” while glancing our way to see how shocked we might be. (I was so fucking shocked!) Some time later, a woman stood just outside the screen door of our room and chattered like a magpie on her phone about some TV show she was missing. The next day, we passed a couple on a trail. The woman announced that she was updating her status on Facebook to let everyone know she was hiking! In a remote wilderness! Totally gettin’ away from it all!
What is wrong with people? Whatever happened to big quiet spaces of time where no one except yourself knew or cared what you were doing? Is it that shameful anymore to be seen sitting still, or walking slowly, and thinking? Why are we all in such a major panic to appear to be in big demand? Are we really so arrogant that we think everyone really cares about what we’re doing every 22 minutes? Or our are brains so flaccid and full of small talk and reality TV and tweets and the internet (oh, the irony) that we can no longer operate thoughtfully? *SIGH*
Damn, I need to go for a hike.
And get off my lawn.