Joan Arkansas considered herself an average hiker and because she loved hiking, had enrolled in classes to assist with the finer points and the instructor was good. He painstakingly covered a majority of issues they could face out on the mountainside, and how to prepare as much as possible in advance to combat those issues. His Preparedness Course course included inclement weather, responding to injuries ranging from minor to serious, a list of the best foods to carry, which gear was essential and how to properly pack your backpack. He had separate lists for specific hiking areas and lengths of hikes. He even listed edible berries and other vegetation you could eat in a pinch. She’d been delighted at the information and pleased she’d enrolled. Certainly, a lot of the information was common sense, and there was plenty available online, but this was credible hands-on given by a man who lived the life and knew what he was talking about. He realized half of the class would rush out and attempt treks they weren’t prepared for because they had a modicum of accurate information, would likely forget half of it in a serious situation and as a result, cautioned them about taking long treks alone at this point and encouraged them to find a support group to hike with at first which would help them grow in confidence and give them back up if an emergency occurred.

Confidence wasn’t her issue. Getting someone to trek, however, was. None of Joan’s friends were interested in what they considered hard work as opposed to sitting by the pool and relaxing which is what they’d all agreed was a true ‘vacation’.

She took the bull by the horns during their final class when they were given time to write down any last-minute questions or issues they wanted more information on. She’d simply asked if anyone was available for an upcoming trek the following month.

Joan waited and watched until he came to her note and grinned at his uplifted brow before he glanced her way. He began, “Glad to see some of you are already taking my advice,” he paused, “we have a classmate here that is asking if anyone is available between June 15th and 30th for a trek through the Rockies. Any takers?”

Several responded immediately, “Damn, I’d love to but I’ve used up my vacation time for the course, I don’t have time off again until Christmas.” Another said, “I have two treks scheduled already with friends, sorry.” Others silently shook their heads, no followed by several “sorry, no can do.”

“Listen, I hope you take what you’ve learned to heart. Climbing, trekking, hiking, are all wonderful activities exciting, worthwhile, beautiful and rewarding; just be careful out there folks, and have fun while you’re doing it. Enjoy!”

The rest of the group nodded, and those closest gave Jed Myers a high five. He responded in like and when they were nearly all gone, walked toward Joan and asked, “Joan, do you have anyone else you can tag for your trek?”

Joan laughed, “No one I’m afraid. They prefer lazing by the pool and consider this ‘work’. So I don’t have any other takers and that’s why I thought I’d try this group.”

He didn’t respond for a minute and said, “It so happens I don’t have any classes scheduled until the end of July. I’ll gladly accompany you. It would help keep my skills from getting rusty.”

Joan stared for a moment in surprise, “Wow, that would be great!” Although having her instructor tagging along felt rather daunting.

Jed laughed, “Hey, as of now, I”m no longer your teacher, just a co-conspirator, eager to trek and I am available. What do you think?”

“I say yeah, gladly!” She smiled and held out a hand which he took and pumped firmly.

“Great. I have your contact information on file. I’ll add it to my phone so we can keep in touch and make plans.”

“I’m thrilled. Really. I enjoy hiking, and I’ve done quite a bit of it and I don’t mind going it alone, but this is a larger endeavour than I’ve ever attempted and I think your sage advice about trying something ‘epic’ and this is epic for me, with a group or someone else at least is on target. This area includes precipitous and arduous stints I wouldn’t feel comfortable climbing alone and I’m relieved to be able to tackle the climb so thank you.

“Do you have another number, other than the business one you want me to use? If so, would you add it to my phone?”

Taking her phone in hand, he added his personal number and reiterated, “I’m looking forward to this. It’ll be great fun.”

“I’m hoping so. I love the great outdoors and I spend as much time in it as possible. So I’m really looking forward to this.”

Joan was excited. This was a real opportunity to do some seriously fun hiking with someone who knew what he was doing and she’d likely learn a few more tricks than he’d discussed in class. Yeah, it was good!

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