Are there any places in your town that you pass by on a regular basis that you would love to see more of but it is private or inaccessible? The type of place that promises beauty and fun on the inside but you are stuck on the outside because you are not one of the privileged! You are not a member.
There’s a place like that near me, it’s called Hudson Farm. I drive by this private hunt club every once in a while and I can tell by the property that I can see from the road that it is a beautiful spot! But it is private. You have to be a member to use the property and in order to become a member you have to pay and in order to pay the membership fee you have to be filthy rich. In fact I’m pretty sure that’s a question on the application, “Are you filthy rich? Please circle yes or no.” So, I look at it from the outside and wonder about the inside. As my friend who lives down the road from the club put it, the only hunting she can ever expect to do there is hit an escapee pheasant with her car!
Then, last week, my friend called me up and said that the farm was actually going to be open to the public on Saturday! As a charity event, the property would be open for people to participate in a 4 mile hike. The event was free, all you had to do was complete the hike and they would give you money to give towards the charity of your choice (there were 5 or so choices). Our day was full, but I knew I had to squeeze in the hike. So, we planned our Saturday out and woke up early to fit in the hike. We all got ready and hoped in the car and pulled out to leave. Realizing we were missing a kid, we pulled back up the driveway and were on our way again! Realizing we had forgot a lacrosse stick we turned around and again returned home. We finally arrived at the farm a half hour behind schedule, which for us can be considered on time, and hopped out excited to start the hike!
The place was absolutely packed! The day was gorgeous and all of us non-filthy rich were excited to see the grounds and contribute to charity without actually spending any money (we’re so philanthropic!). We got in line and signed up and were each given a wrist band and a sticker with a number on it. A young girl then informed us that we were going to be hiking in nature and there would be rocks, dirt, bugs and ticks! We laughed, but she said that there were people who were upset when she told them that because they had not expected bugs!!!???
We began the hike and immediately came upon a beautiful waterfall! The grounds really were gorgeous. We hiked up a hill, rounded a bend, and came to a lake with an island in the middle of it. Another very pretty area. But a hike of peace and solitude this was not! There were people everywhere! All ages and sizes enjoying the day. Soon we came to our first checkpoint and a huge bottleneck had formed. Every person had to give their number to a single volunteer who would record the time that each hiker had reached the checkpoint. There were a total of four checkpoints along the hike. I think the purpose was to ensure everyone was accounted for and that each person actually completed the hike.
At the second checkpoint we realized that we were going to be late for our next event of the day, my daughter’s lacrosse game, if we kept up this pace. It was time for aggressive hiking! Think driving in heavy traffic, only with people and dirt (I’m sure there were bugs too!). We told the kids every man, woman, and child for himself and we were off!
I have a few pointers for the times you might need to employ aggressive hiking. The first is do not stop! At one point my 3 year old was way back, stuck in a large family crowd, but there was no time to stop, she would have to catch up! Old ladies may or may not have to be pushed aside, just don’t stop! If someone in your party goes down, just keep moving, they will catch up. Stop and you become overtaken with the masses! Secondly, use your kids to your advantage. We told the kids to rush ahead and then my husband and I would excuse ourselves past hikers while commenting that we needed to catch up to our children. Works every time! Finally, learn to recognize the signs of a large group. Our crowning achievement of aggressive hiking was passing a group of 30 boy scouts! Pass a group and you in are in the clear for quite a while!
After we used our aggressive hiking skills to pass the masses, the trail took us around a pretty little pond entirely bordered with duck blinds. Water fowl do not stand a chance in that pond! Our final leg of the hike took us past more shooting practice areas and finally to another beautiful pond filled to the brim with huge trout. We had completed our four mile hike! Hamburgers and hotdogs awaited us at the end and we were able to place the money we had earned in the charity buckets of our choice. All in all a fun hike in a beautiful area. An area we would not have been able to see any other time.