Strollers and Notchers: An escape from east Idaho

Living the Wild Life

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Battling a snow storm between Rexburg and Idaho Falls with slush pulling multiple vehicles off the road makes one wish to be a migrating bird headed south. It was potato harvest in the Upper Snake River Valley and my family was not the only homo sapiens following the birds. Slowing down allowed us to work through the slush and auto-maze on Highway 20.

St. George and Zion’s with their 80 degree days and 68 degree nights were my wife’s dreams of enjoying the first snow of the season. Eating breakfast at our St. George hotel, we ran into a neighbor family that lives less than a mile from us who were on their way to spend the week in a beach-front house in California.

Monday was dedicated to hiking trails in Zion’s National Park with the first hike to the Emerald Pools for our mixed family group. This short hike was enjoyed by all of our group in part or in whole with no pressure from others to go further than they desired. The pools were a little shy of water but had enough H2O to cause dripping on our heads. I looked for the famous Canyon treefrog but found none but enjoyed listening to the Stellar’s jay and Cedar waxwings.

Here again I found another Upper Valley family escaping the wet and cold looking for the dry and warmth. Also I found two types of hikers – those out for a stroll, enjoying the wildness which I will refer as “strollers” and those with an agenda to rush through, around and over others in an attempt to notch another hike on their walking stick; called “notchers.”

Half way between the second and third pool on the way down I met a group of strollers coming up. They were from a tour bus, mostly my age and not in great hiking shape, but were enjoying every small step. Behind them came four notchers trying to push past the strollers, cursing the “foreigners” and the “feeble.”

After a leisure lunch on the wet grass by the Zion Lodge, we took another short hike to Weeping Rock. Everyone on this hike appeared to be strollers as it is much too easy and short for serious notchers and everyone I stopped to visit with were pleasant.

Last hike of the day for us was very enjoyable – for us at least. We had struck up some friendships of different people during the day as it seemed everywhere we went they were also there. We were on the Riverside Walk to the Narrows.

I was the slow one of the bunch because I was taking pictures of squirrels, flowers, deer and cliffs when I heard someone say, “I know you.” Several families from my hometown of Rexburg were enjoying the hike also, enjoying the lack of cold and wetness.

People can be more interesting than you can imagine. A couple were coming down the trail; she was hurrying and he was dragging his feet.

“I’ve had enough; I am done!”

“We are not done – we have two more hikes to do today!”

“I am sitting on this rock while you go do those and you can come back and get me!!!” he said as he sat down.

I am sure I smiled as I passed him because he winked at me as I strolled by. Not a hundred yards up the trail I met the four notchers from the Emerald Pools coming down the trail with wet leggings from crossing the Virgin River at the Narrows. Another smile came across my lips.

“Hey guys, how far up did you go?” I asked the first one as he passed.

“None of your d— business,” he snorted.

“Where are you from?” I asked the third one.

“You writing a book,” he sneered back.

“Yip!”

I found the rest of my family group wading and playing in the river where the Narrows begin. They and many other strollers were enjoying the deepening light, taking pictures, visiting and generally enjoying the experience. I even got some notchers to stop and visit with me. They had spent six hours on the hike up the Narrows.

We all hike, and walk, run or drive, for different reasons. Our needs are met by what we enjoy and need out of this life. The stroller was still sitting on the rock, waiting for his notcher to come back for him – maybe he is still sitting there.

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