It was about 12:30 p.m. when I started up Flagstaff Mountain Trail, perhaps my favorite close-in hike, just to the west of Boulder. I’d eaten a quick lunch of leftovers from yesterday’s family celebration of Christmas because I wanted to get on the trail early, knowing that, this time of the year, the sun dips so far to the south and west by even midafternoon to shade parts of the trail. It is a gorgeous warm day, but shade can still be chilling.
Hiking midday I thought that I’d likely have the trail to myself, reasoning that most would still be in the midst of their Christmas feast to be hiking. Perhaps later, bundled up, some groups and couples would be ready for this mildly strenuous hike to work off the lethargy of tryptophanic turkey and a few calories. Even as I had parked my car this idea was altered as a woman, I’m guessing in her late 30s or so (though I’m terrible at recognizing age), parked her SUV behind my car and hoped out to head up the trail a few yards ahead of me. The trail was actually more populated than usual, yet, with mostly single and mostly male hikers. I did encounter several couples that I’d guess were either empty nesters or childless couples.
My attention was rather strongly focused on “the vitality factor” or “the vitality life” and all the things I could write about this topic, yet, I began to realize that while all the hikers made the usual courteous greeting to fellow hiker when paths cross, not a single one of us acknowledged the day, by saying “merry Christmas,” “happy holidays,” or “feliz navidad.” We constituted a silent conspiracy to avoid the obvious, that we were all spending Christmas alone.
December 25, 2010