Tag Archives: personal responsibility

Am I a spoiled hiker? (Probably)

A couple of weeks ago I broke one of my most sacred rules of hiking-Never, ever, ever, ever hike to Anthony’s Nose during peak hours on a Sunday. Having not done so in a very, very long time, I forgot just how congested this wonderful hike can be. Usually on  beautiful day like today I would seek out another place to hike where I know I wouldn’t see many people and be subjected to the congestion and mayhem that comes with everyone having the same idea as me.

Not thinking, however, I made the drive to the AT as it crosses South Mt.Pass and headed to the Nose. Everything was fine as I meandered through the woods, noting how the last time I was here we were still in the throes of winter and now, the trees were green and the ground was still wet from rain that had fallen the previous evening. And although the wind was blowing, the temperature was in the low 50’s and it was lightly raining, it felt good to be out in a  familiar place.

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Little did I know that my solitude would be short lived…

That good feeling lasted, of course, until I reached the point in the trail where the AT intersects with the Camp Smith trail. You see, whenever anyone writes about Anthony’s Nose and its virtues of being one of the most popular hikes in the Hudson Valley, the directions that they give everyone to get there are from Route 9D near the Bear Mt. Bridge.

 

Now keep in mind that until I reached the AT/Camp Smith intersection, I had not seen one person, not a single soul. I was being lulled into that mental happy place that I love to go to when I hike, especially here at the Nose, my Holy Grail of hikes. My most favorite hike of all time. Have I mentioned how much I love hiking to Anthony’s Nose? So imagine my shock and surprise when I crested the small hill just before the trail heads up to the Nose to see no less than 15 people coming off of the AT!!

As I worked my way past the group, I thought, “ok, a small group is here, it won’t be so bad. I can’t always expect to be here alone. Just get far enough ahead of them and they won’t make it to the top before you spend some time resting before you head down.” I really need to stop thinking. It only got worse. Working my way up the trail, I greeted three large groups that were headed in the opposite direction as well as two others headed to the view point.

When I arrived at the Nose itself, I can honestly say that I had never seen so many people at the top before. Now before I go any further, I have to  make a few things clear. First, I fully believe that  anyone that wants to hike should be able to do so whenever they want and wherever they want. With that said, however, as with everything else in life you have responsibilities, even when hiking.

Noting that, I am also a firm believer in proper trail etiquette. That goes for everything from leaving trash to listening to music to the volume of your voice (or your groups). As noted in the previous paragraph, the number of people, young and old was staggering. I literally had to weave my way through several groups of hikers to get to my favorite spot overlooking the Bear Mt. bridge.

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Who wouldn’t want this all to themselves?

I can tell you with certainty that today, the folks that I was out on the trail with were lacking any form of trail etiquette. Here is a short list of what I encountered:

  1.  People dropping trash on the trail and at the viewpoint. Young and old, male and female, I saw people dropping wrappers and leaving water bottles where they sat.
  2. A conversation between two woman (I was probably thirty yards away and I thought it was thirty feet) where one said to the other, “Doesn’t hiking to Anthony’s Nose make it easier to relate to Bill Bryson’s “A Walk in the Woods?” Really??
  3. A group of at least fifteen people who had just made it to the Nose for the first time. Although I applaud the fact that they made it  to the top, they way they were carrying on about it, you would have thought they had conquered Everest. Sorry folks, not even close.
  4. One gentleman, probably around 60 years old and listening to some form of techno pop (without the aid of ear buds or headphones) noisily making his way down the trail, oblivious to everyone else hiking.

Not feeling the love, I decided to head back down to South Mt. Pass and call it a day.  So,  my first question is this-Am I spoiled and entitles hiker? To a certain degree I suppose that I am. I will admit that I prefer to have the viewpoint to myself or just a few other people, and for the most part over the years, I have. My next question is this-Do I expect to much from my fellow hikers? To this I offer a loud and resounding-I don’t think so. I fully expect everyone on this trail, and every other one, to exhibit the same courtesy that my friends and do.

My last thought will be this: Common courtesy should be a common virtue. Our hiking trails, especially in an area this close to NYC, should be considered sacred ground. I always go back to  this variation on a theme- Treat people and things as you would want to be treated or you may lose them.

 

 

 

 

 

“It’s not my fault.” Thoughts on taking responsibility when no one else does (or will).

“Cut the crap and stop whining. Put your big boy pants on and suck it up.”

-The Zen Hiker

I am, and always have been, a firm believer in personal responsibility. I believe that everything that happens to us, and doesn’t happen to us is a direct result of choices that we have made and continue to make. This true in every aspect of our lives.

In our personal lives people to often bemoan the life situation that they are in by blaming everyone and everything else in their lives. The reason why they don’t live in a bigger house? The bank wouldn’t give me a loan. No new car? The dealer wouldn’t give me a good enough deal. Why is my marriage failing? My spouse is the problem. Why are my kids a mess? It’s the schools fault. It is this type of thinking that is killing us as a society. It seems as though no one assigns blame to themselves for the trouble that they may be having.

Sophocles said that “It is a painful thing to look at your own trouble and know that you yourself and no one else has made it.” A truer statement could not be made. We live in a society today where it is ok to not accept responsibility for anything. Unfortunately this type of behavior starts all the way at the top. Our President has spent the last seven years blaming the previous administration for every single failure during his term. What are we to think when the President of the United States can’t even take responsibility for anything that he has done? Since he does it, why shouldn’t we?

At work we hear the same mantra:

“It wasn’t my fault.”

“I can’t do that because it won’t work.”

“What do you expect me to do, the administration tells us what to do.”

“They have always done it that way.”  

“They expect to much from us.”

When was the last time that you actually heard someone say, “I messed up and I will accept the consequences for what I have done”? I would venture to guess that it is probably not in the recent past. This is a societal issue that needs to be addressed and until we do we will continue to sink lower and lower as a people. This runs across all ethnic lines and income levels.

For those of us getting older, time is running out. For you folks who are younger and yet again much younger, consider making a change in your life that could not only produce better results for you, but would certainly make you happier. What is it that we can do to produce change in ourselves?

First, don’t think that you are entitled to anything. If you want something, go out and earn it. Here’s a shocker-you can’t afford it? Guess what? You can’t have it! Hard work has never killed anyone. Our society is riddled with those who believe that due to their circumstances, they are owed something. Not true. Ken Keyes jr. said that “you are not responsible for the programming that you picked up in childhood. However, as an adult, you are one hundred percent responsible for fixing it.”

Second, If you spend all of your time blaming others for your problems, they will never change. Accepting responsibility for what you have done empowers you and allows you to change things that may occur in the future. You won’t be relying on others to change to help improve your situation. If you want change, you have to be the one to make it happen.

Lastly, I refer you to the quote at the top of this blog. “Cut the crap and stop whining. Put your big boy pants on and suck it up.” Do I really need to say anything else?

Some other quotes to think about as you choose the path to change::

“The victim mindset dilutes the human potential. By not accepting responsibility for our circumstances , we greatly reduce our power to change them.” -Steve Maraboli

“This is your life. You are responsible for it. You will not live forever. Don’t wait.”  -Natalie Goldberg

“Take your life in your own hands and what happens? A terrible thing: no one to blame.” -Erica Jong

Eventually we all have to accept full and total responsibility for our actions, everything we have done, and have not done.” -Hubert Selby jr.