Today was the monthly meeting of the Louisiana Hiking Club at the Bluebonnet Library. I really want to get connected with other backpackers so I can use my new skills to travel to cool new places, so I decided I’d better suck up my social anxiety and go to dinner with the group before the meeting at Brew-Bachers.
I arrived at about 5:20 and saw a big table of folks near the bar. I assumed that was the group and walked up and asked if they were the hiking club.
“Yes!” a blond-haired woman said.
“Are there any seats?” I asked as I looked down the long table that seemed to be overfull.
“We’ll make room,” a gentleman added.
I made my way to the end of the table and introduced myself to the folks that were sitting on the end. I was instructed to order at the counter, so I made my way over and ordered a bacon cheeseburger. I didn’t get fries because the cashier said the burgers were huge. I got onion ring envy as a guy named Kirk sat down with a plate full of the most amazing-looking onion rings I’d ever seen. No fear … he shared them with me, and they were just as good as they looked.
I finally met Deborah – a woman I’ve been chatting with on Facebook for about 3 months. The speaker for the meeting also joined our group at the end of the table, and we talked about the club’s recent Grand Teton backpacking trip and a proposed trip in 2016 to Acadia National Park. I’m totally going on that trip. I have been dying to go there for years, and now I’ll have the chance to see it up close and personal backpacking.
Me and my new friends made our way to the library to hear a really interesting presentation about the forming of the Grand Teton National Park and Acadia National Park – two parks we had just talked about at dinner. I’m still amazed at how big and how active this hiking club is for a south Louisiana hiking club. As they scrolled through the events for the next two months, I juggled my calendar trying to fit it all in. If there’s not a hike planned, there’s a trail maintenance weekend planned which promises lots of good food, camping and apparently loads of fun. And if there’s not a hike or trail maintenance planned, there’s a party followed up by another day long party the next day. This is my kind of group. They are going to keep me busy.
So what I love today about Baton Rouge is the Louisiana Hiking Club. I joined 3 months ago, and I’m already in a backpacking class and my November and December calendars are jam-packed with hiking dates and camping weekends. And, to top it all off, I have the amazing opportunity next year to backpack in Acadia National Park. I’m looking forward to knowing these folks … one trail at a time.