Bridget, a fellow hiker, had some of us laughing all morning, after she showed us the "Michigan mitten" at breakfast. Someone asked her where she grew up and she held up her right hand and pointed to one side of her palm. "Right here."
Huh? Apparently, Michigan children learn that their state is shaped like a giant hand, or mitten. And they locate their cities on their own palms. Bridget showed us Kalamazoo, where she grew up, and then traced a line with her index finger to Ann Arbor and on to Detroit. She seemed surprised we didn't know about the mitten. Or else she has a very dry sense of humor. Either way, she had us in stitches.
After breakfast, I had a peaceful morning hiking by myself in the northern part of the Santa Catalina Mountains. Well, not totally by myself. It's not a trail I would have braved on my own. Too many risks for a once-in-awhile hiker from out of town to attempt solo. But with people from the group ahead and behind, I felt secure. When the eager hikers set a brisk pace behind the lead guide, I dropped back so I could be on my own and walk at my pace.
The silence was soothing. The only noises were my boots kicking up dirt and the distant drone of an airplane.
The tour operators had done the work to make the day easy and pleasant. They had hiked the trail and knew the route. They provided lunch, snacks and water for a picnic by a waterfall, and came equipped with bandages for those who blistered.
The guests provided the humor throughout the day. Singing "Rollin' on the River" when we had to ford a river at the start of the trail. Cracking jokes during the hike. Subversively ordering high-fat food for dinner when they knew it would be like nails on a blackboard to the nutritionists. And laughing about Bridget's hand geography. It's all good. Strange that I didn't know these people four days ago.
Photos: Ellen Perlman
Enroute to Romero Falls, Tucson