We love to hear that you guys love hiking with us and hearing your individual experiences but to be honest, we are generally nervous wrecks before each hike. This day was no different. To add fuel to the fire, we mistakenly told everyone to arrive 30 minutes before the park even opened so naturally, I had a wave of calls and texts from everyone. Thankfully everyone seemed more concerned about getting left as opposed to being mad at us. But at 9:00am, the park ranger opened the gates, and off we were.
This was a particularly special hike for me because it was my mom’s first hike. Ironically enough, her excitement mellowed out my nervousness and I used that to our advantage. She helped us to set up and entertain our guests as we checked everyone in. This gave us time to relax our nerves, and gave her the spotlight to be the social butterfly that she is.
So normally, I’m in the back of each hike making sure no one gets left behind. It’s a very calm, “move at your own pace” type of vibe. The front of the line is nothing like that. This was the first hike that I led, and so it was a bit of a culture shock to me. The front was way more upbeat than I was used to but I’ve hiked this trail numerous times so It was pretty easy to lead. Y’all know the song “The Ants Go Marching 1 by 1” right? Yeah, that was living in my head rent-free as I led this hike. The trail started off a bit more difficult than some people would’ve imagined, only because the hills were in the beginning of the trail but still, we marched on. Throughout the hike, we got free entertainment from the bikers that were on the trail as well. I couldn’t tell if we were at a skate park or a hiking trail. It definitely made a few of us motivated to get into better shape, but that was about as far as our commitment to trying new things went. My mom, however, was trying new things and succeeding! Imagine my surprise to see her in the front of the line with the big steppers for her first hike.
Aside from the hike itself, I truly live for the networking from being in such a large, diverse group. It’s very humbling to hear people’s backgrounds, how they find us and their experiences hiking. What shocked me the most is one of our guests traveled from Chicago, Illinois, all the way to Elkridge, MD, to be with us! I’m a big softy for things like that so naturally, I was fighting back thug tears LOL! Because this trail was relatively short, our breaks were few and far in between, but we saved the best for last. We always like to have a gorgeous view at the end of our hikes and Cascade Falls did not disappoint. There was a slight transition in the trail from the grassy forest area to a rocky wetland. At that point, people knew that there was a waterfall nearby. The falls were beautiful, but the view is always better from the top.
People couldn’t believe how close the end of the trail was after this break. Although it was an easy hike, it had some people longing for more. It was hard to imagine that a few people thought they weren’t going to finish this hike, but we make it a point to finish what we start. It’s always a bittersweet moment at the end of each hike. I hate saying goodbye, but I am incredibly grateful to be in the company of such beautiful people who share our love for the outdoors. These hikes are constant reminders of the importance of the work we’re doing. Representation is critical in breaking the mold of who we are and I am honored to be a part of this movement.