(Catching up: A version of this appeared in The Sault Star Sept. 20.)
Some of us hiked up the trail to Robertson Cliffs the other day, something I heartily recommend for anyone able to make the effort.
I also recommend hiking back down.
By the way, many thanks to that teenaged girl (actually, I believe it might have been several teenaged girls) many years ago who suggested I take a hike. Good advice.
From the brink of Robertson Cliffs, north of Sault Ste. Marie and about five kilometres east of Karalash Corners, you can see more of the Goulais River valley than you ever wanted to.
I say that not to disparage my neighbours the Goulaigans. It’s just that I have vertigo, so some of what was visible over that precipitous drop set my innards a-shivering.
Anyway, partway along the trail we stumbled upon a discarded takeout coffee cup, even though we had not yet rolled up to the rim of the cliff.
The environmentalist in us was suitably outraged.
Why would someone make the effort (the trek can take more than a couple of hours, not to mention the drive to get there) to bathe in nature’s grandeur, then defile it by littering?
Beyond that, why would even a Tim’s freak want to down his or her double-double whilst dodging roots and feeling for firm footing on rickety rocks?
Especially a cold coffee. The nearest chain coffee store would be a long drive away in the Sault.
But soon flights of foolish fancy set in and we began to hypothesize that Canada’s favourite Brazilian-owned coffee shop had opened an express outlet at that scenic vista. Tim’s seem to pop up overnight, as ubiquitous as toadstools.
And just a few aging hiker perspiration drops farther up the trail lay another puzzle: a plastic bag holding Styrofoam containers for take-out food.
Discarding anything, let alone non-recyclable petroleum-based non-reusable products, didn’t seem to fit with the traits of the demographic who might embark on a Robertson Cliffs hike.
What kind of hiker would eschew the traditional trail mix for room-temperature takeout tacos (or whatever) in any case?
And why stop to nosh at an undistinguished point along the path when you could enjoy a sit-down meal with a coveted view at the summit?
But once again imaginations began to outstrip our pace along the path.
Could this be evidence that Skip the Dishes, the dinner-delivery service just now finding a foothold in the Sault, has already taken root in the backwoods of Goulais River?
I’m not a hiking purist. My attire looks like it came from the thrift store rather than one of those places where moisture-wicking undergarments cost $300.
So I’m not about to look down my sweat-dripping nose at anyone who won’t forgo the North American habit of constant food and beverage consumption while taking in some natural beauty, even if it isn’t the traditional way of hiking.
Sometimes it’s a good thing that times change.
Like, wouldn’t it be great if the hiking world adopted some of the comforts enjoyed by golfers.
I’m thinking a beer cart would seem mighty welcome to many of those who finally make it to the top of Robertson Cliffs?
I’d even pack down my empties.