Anxious Ambler

Johnny Certo's picture

Hiking with total strangers. 

I felt silly typing “Bozeman Hiking Groups” into the search bar. Is this necessary, or am I overthinking my dilemma? Do I even have a dilemma? Before answering any of these questions, I punched the return key.

Recently, I'd become frustrated with my friends' lack of hiking enthusiasm. Every time I wanted to go, they had an excuse, so I sought the next best thing, and after five minutes of perusing a few sites, I joined the Bozeman Adventure Club. I'd never done anything like this before so I was bit nervous. I felt as though I'd be labeled a newcomer and suffer a cruel initiation ritual. But I swallowed my pride and signed up for the next scheduled activity: a hike up Triple Tree.

A few days later, I pulled into the crowded gravel lot at the Triple Tree trailhead. I parked as more cars pulled in, and several people gathered near a Subaru. I grabbed my backpack out of the back seat and looked at the small crowd. They hadn't noticed me. Now was my chance to bolt up the trail and make my escape. I could make it, if I went now. “Get over it,” I told myself. Clearing my throat, I walked over to them as I blinked at the sun. They continued talking despite my presence. “Hello. Are you guys here for the adventure thing?” A few nods, a yes, and one outstretched hand. “Hello, I'm Callie,” she said. “Johnny. Nice to meet you.” I stood back adjusting my arm straps as others gathered around me.

Group hiking, Bozeman hikes, Montana hiking groups

Soon enough, we headed up the trail. Before I knew it, I'd talked to three different people about this great playground we have in Bozeman. From floating the Madison, to cliff jumping at Ennis, to hiking up Sacajawea, there wasn't a thing these people hadn't tried. I was delighted to learn that there are so many like-minded people only a click away. Eventually, I caught up to one of the organizers and asked about the group. She said anywhere from 15 to 30 people regularly attended the meet ups and that it was almost never the same crew, making a dynamic atmosphere each time.

Triple Tree Group Photo

At the top, as the sun set over the Bridgers, I could almost smell the spring fields in the valley below. Hands unzipped backpacks in search of snacks, and the group fell silent as we chewed and stared. After taking a few group photos, it was back to the trail. I felt content and light on my feet as we headed back down. I was happy to get out, enjoy Bozeman, and “find a bunch of other people who were bored, too,” as one of my newfound cohorts put it.

This spring, while your lazy friends veg out on the couch, head out on your own and join one of Bozeman's outdoor clubs. You won't regret it. 

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