About two weeks ago, two friends sent out the group text message: “We’re headed to the White Mountains to go hiking.  Anyone else want to come with us?”

Although many expressed interest, they all had to work.  Because of COVID, the two planners were determined to avoid the weekend crowds (not that anyone would likely call the expansive mountain ranges of New Hampshire that congested anyway).  So it turned out that only I could join their trip. 

The fact that I wanted to go hiking amused them both.  Just two years before, I had confessed to being completely baffled by the apparent sudden enthusiasm of many female friends who seemed to be taking up mountain climbing by the droves.  I noted very plaintively that “just because a mountain is “there”, it doesn’t mean I have to climb it.” 

Their communications to me came back, “We are delighted you want to come!  But, you do know that this is really climbing a mountain, right?”  I assured them that I wanted to go—hiking with friends is not the same thing as ticking off a list of long trails and elevation points. 

Besides, I know that I will likely not be able to do this again.  At least, if the world does return to its pre-COVID realities, I will not have the time to.  I am still one who believes we will see some type of normal, and hopefully some time soon.  

But for 2020, heading out for three days of being with friends, going hiking in the White Mountains for the first time in my life… this is an unexpected silver lining.