Apr 092012
Authors: Allison Sylte

It’s always weird when you realize that among your friends, you’ve got a “reputation.”

It’s not a good reputation. My friends cringe in fear when I ask them about their weekend plans, and they abruptly think of excuses to avoid my malicious intentions and supposedly bad influence, all the while twiddling their thumbs and avoiding eye contact.

No, I’m definitely not the slutty one, nor am I the biggest drinker or even the wildest partier (shocker, I know). I’m kind of an asshole, but I like to think that’s one of my charms. But even that doesn’t have anything to do with how much my friends fear me.

Instead, my reputation lies in something seemingly inconsequential: I’m guilty of constantly trying to drag my friends on hikes — something that, for many of them, is equivalent to getting their teeth extracted, one by one, by someone not trained in the art of dentistry.

Most of my friends have been on exactly one hike with me, and after that single hike, vowed to never do it again. Some of my friends have taken pity on me and gone on a second hike, just before realizing that they’d rather be at the dentist or watching CSPAN while simultaneously listening to Enya’s greatest hits.

Now, I’m pretty darn obnoxious, but not that obnoxious.

I’ll never forget the time I dragged one of my friends from high school on a hike in Rocky Mountain National Park and the affronted look on her face when I told her we still had eight miles to go after I forced her to slog up a giant hill just to see a waterfall.

I’ll also never forget sheer anger on another friend of mine’s face when we rested at the keyhole on our way to the summit of Long’s Peak. I was 90 percent sure she was going to push me off the mountain when I told her that we had a mile and a half of fairly vertical terrain left before our seven-and-a-half mile descent back down to my car. Granted, this friend is also prone to rage blackouts.

And finally, I’ll never forget the mutiny I had on my hands after I dragged three of my coworkers on a 10-mile hike through Arches National Park and then up to Delicate Arch at sunrise the next morning. It’s the first time I’ve seen fellow Collegian columnist Colleen McSweeney, a.k.a. the sweetest person any of us will ever come into contact with, genuinely angry.

As a mode of punishment, I had to spend the next two days in Moab either shopping or tanning.

Hiking, an apparently peaceful activity, has caused my dearest friends to fear me. But I guess there are worse reputations to have than “the bitch who drags people on long hikes through the desert.”

After all, I’d rather appreciate everything that Colorado (and the world) has to offer than let it pass me by. And although they secretly hate me for it, I wish that more people would take the opportunity to get out there and explore.

I can’t count how many trails I’ve been on where, despite a chocked-full parking lot, it’s basically empty once you get a mile from the trailhead. It’s incredible how many people drive to the lookout area for Delicate Arch rather than brave the relatively short hike across the slickrock to see it up close (I never told my friends that there’s a lookout point you can drive to… whoops).

It’s amazing how many more people choose to drive through national parks rather than get out of their cars, actually get outside and take a walk to see what the park has to offer. It’s more work, but there’s also a greater reward.

Call me a pretentious hippie (a totally accurate assessment), but if you’re not an idiot about it, hiking is one of the best things on Earth.

And as we enter these spring and summer months, I’m going to use my columnist powers to give you one simple bit of advice: Don’t let the world pass you by. A 10-mile hike might be miserable, but I can honestly say it comes with a bigger reward than simply sitting at home and watching TV.

Get outside. You seriously won’t regret it.

Content Managing Editor Allison Sylte is a junior journalism major. Her column appears Tuesdays in the Collegian. She can be reached at letters@collegian.com.

 Posted by at 3:35 pm

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