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The Old Men of the Mountain by John R. Williams

On Tuesday the 14th of August, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Blue Star Restaurant in Schoharie only this scribe was not there. This is the one time of the year this OF scribe is legally excused because it is the Knox Reformed Church’s Vacation Bible School and the scribe helps out with that. You might call this a higher calling than the OFs. Well, maybe there is one more high calling and the title of that one is wife. This higher calling the scribe can argue with but rarely does the scribe win. Logic and demands don’t seem to mix.

The note from the OF that took attendance said the OFs around him spoke of hiking and the new acreage purchased by the state in the Adirondacks. The addition of the land to this state park this scribe cannot allude to because he wasn’t there, but this scribe has many notes on the hiking dialogue because some of the OFs are hikers and the subject has been brought up before.

Some of the OFs wondered what is a hike and what is just a walk in the woods? One OF said that he was with a couple who said they hiked a lot so one day they decided they would go for a hike and hike to the ocean through the woods from their camp on the ocean. The couple took a least twenty minutes putting on shoes, getting their sticks and “hiking” gear ready. The OF said they had nothing just what they wore when they came, i.e., regular shoes, and a baseball cap and that was it, but anyway off they went. The path they walked on was pretty well defined though rocky and a little damp in spots but no more than a lawn after a rain.

In less than half an hour they were at the ocean. To their OF friend it was just a walk in the woods but to this particular couple they had been on a hike. So this OF was confused as to which is a hike, and which is just a walk in the woods.

Apparently, the OF thought they would be walking at least a couple of hours and it would be an adventure. To the OF a hike is something planned with backpacks, maps, and a compass to a prescribed meeting point and hiking back, or being picked up by transport vehicles once the meeting point is reached. A walk is a walk along a well marked trail with maybe a destination to rest and walk back or a planned long loop that brings the walker back to the starting point.

One OF told him that is a definition of a planned hike too. So the OF replied, “I repeat, if you are out with friends on a marked trail and you are going to follow that trail aren’t you just walking along until you get to where you started, stopping occasionally to take in the views if there are any along the way?”

“OK,” another OF said, “It goes by the matter of difficulty. It is a hike when you need hiking boots, a staff, rugged clothing, insect repellent, food, a compass, a good hat, and maybe a gun. The terrain is tough, the hills are steep, and the black flies are nasty; fording streams may be involved. Then it’s called a hike because it sure isn’t a walk.

“A person walking across the country is on a real long walk, but not a hike. A long walk may be longer though than a shorter hike.” This analogy seemed to make sense to the rest of the OFs… hiking and walking would be the degree of difficulty. A different OF said that may be a good point because with a heart condition long walks are good but a shorter, strenuous hike might do the ole ticker in, so at least put nitro in the pocket because that’s a good thing to have with you on a hike.

That, in a way settled that, and the OF’s went on to something else. This scribe is digging up old notes he had and he had enough trouble tying this hiking/walking business together so he will let it go at that and go out for a walk.

Those OF’s attending the breakfast at the Blue Star Restaurant in Schoharie and not walking or hiking to get there were: John Rossmann, Duane Wagenbaugh, Jim Watson, Roger Fairchild, Jay Taylor, Miner Stevens, George Washburn, Roger Chapman, Robie Osterman, Art Frament, Bob Benac, Harold Guest, Joe Loubier, Frank Pauli, Henry Witt, Mark Traver, Glenn Patterson, Dave Williams, Roger Shafer, Don Wood, Jack Norray, Mace Porter, Gary Porter, Jim Rissacher, Ted Willsey, Mike Willsey, Harold Grippen, Gerry Chartier, and not me.