Ivone and I have been walking and hiking with groups for over a year now. It’s a different dynamic than when it’s just the two of us. Our last one was Sunday, in a woodsy area in Dover, Massachusetts.
I discovered the walk announcement on MeetUp.com, and told Ivone about it. She signed up just after I did. Twenty-six walkers in all agreed to go. Fairly large group. But better to have more people than too few, we’ve found.
We left Ivone’s house in Watertown around mid-morning and made it to Dover with time to spare. There we met the group, standing in a semi-circle around the organizer, Kevin. He was a large man, and had a smile for everyone. He had us “go around” and tell everyone our first name, and town.
“Don, New Hampshire” I said, leaving out the town. I knew if I said ‘Concord’ people would think I lived in Concord, Massachusetts, even though I make it clear that I don’t. It happens a lot.
All 26 were here, a motley group of men and women from a sixty mile radius. The weather had been springlike in recent days, but this morning it was cold and windy. The sun helped. Someone did a quick head count, and we entered the Noenet Woodlands.
It was an easy trail at first, but we soon ran into our first challenge. A wide stream, full with the runoff from last night’s rain. A couple of logs seemed to give some footholds, but one log was just floating there.
We all made it across except for an older gentlemen named Joel, who trusted the floating log and pitched headfirst into the brook. He came out looking pretty wet but not unhappy. We resumed our trek.
I mostly walked with Ivone, but the nature of trail walking means that sometime I pulled ahead, and sometimes she did, and we would find ourselves chatting with the others in the group. Something about walking in a common direction with a common goal made this easier than it would be in another place or situation.
At one point I was walking next to Joel, who introduced himself. He asked where I was from. “Concord, New Hampshire” I called out in a clear voice. He then started to tell me of the other groups he knew in Concord, one of them for retirees.
“I’m not retired,” I said. He seemed surprised, which in turn surprised me. I’m not that old! Also, it turned out the groups he mentioned were in Concord, Massachusetts.
Yup, it happens a lot.
We found a small rise and posed for a group shot. It was lunchtime, but all Ivone and I managed to eat was a granola bar in the short rest provided.
Along the way we met hikers and walkers not in our group, many of them with dogs. Ivone always stopped to admire and greet the animals; I on the other hand could be counted on to walk right by. I’m a cat person, I guess.
We somehow managed to travel in a loop, so we didn’t have to traverse Floating Log Brook again. After our walk of roughly two hours and four miles, we came out into the parking lot, tired and hungry. No one really knew the area, but someone had heard of a restaurant called Three Squares. Ten of us were game to try it.
A short drive away, Ivone and I joined the remains of our walking group for wine, beer, and brunch. Good company, laughter, and a little gossip. A great way to end any group activity.
Especially the gossip.