“A Memorable encounter with a stranger on public lands”
SEASON 2, WEEK 9
November 8, 2018
Join us on Twitter with the hashtag #NatureWritingChallenge to discuss and share the topic Thursday at 8:30 CST. This post was created in one hour specifically for this challenge.
I can’t pinpoint one conversation with a stranger. I’m not always so good at reaching out to fellow public land users and being my normal outgoing self. I’m always friendly in that I say hello to people along the trails and will definitely engage in conversation if someone else starts one. If I’m headed a National Park, odds are I’m with someone and become even less outgoing because we’re focused on our time together. All in all, I think this topic of discussion has inspired to me to make it a point, or objective, to be more outgoing and take the time to have the random chat with other public land lovers.
I have a series of moments I do remember, that were brief, that I’ll share.
Arches - After hiking up to Delicate Arch, we were making our way back to the car and had a chat with a family from Michigan that noticed my friend’s shirt that had our alma mater displayed. I’ve had many conversations with people in Arches, actually, but nothing too lengthy overall. Always brief, but always friendly. I talked to a guy about taking morning photos, talked to an old couple about all of the places they’ve visited, and talked to people who saw my shirt (usually something about Michigan) and made an initial comment.
Clothing related - I have had more interactions based on the hat, shirt, or jacket I am wearing. I wear a LOT of Michigan gear, in fact it’s probably annoying to many at this point, but I love being from there and it is certainly one of the most recognizable states. I LOVE meeting people from Michigan, learning about their experiences there, and ultimately if they love it or not. I’ve been called out to from across a parking lot and stopped on a busy sidewalk. I love it.
Time related - I love being asked “what time did you start today?” when I’m coming back from an in/out trail as swarms of people are headed out. I’m an early starter, and I LOVE watching all of the people head in as I head out because I not-so-secretly love being asked how the trail was. I always love to give an opinion and try to read what type of hiker the person is, without being judgmental in a negative light. I love to give little tidbits to look for and point out great spots to take it all in. I love to share about any animals I’ve seen or flowery meadows. I love it.
I’ve had excellent chats with rangers at the various parks and monuments in the US, but I don’t count those because that’s more their job. I have had endless chats with hotel and campground staff, but again, it’s their job to engage. I generally don’t mind taking time to chat, and I would love to do it more often. So, if you see me out here, ask how the trail was!