We weren’t alone as we jaunted along the steadily rising path high above the rushing creek.
A steady stream of hikers was getting an early start on the three-day weekend.
I like my hikes in solitude with Nature. No such luck on the Eagle Creek trail on this Friday, but the five-mile hike brought a different joy.
Smiles. Hundreds of smiles.
Human beings are a bit goofy and susceptible when it comes to smiles. We even talk about “infectious” smiles.
How rarely family snapshots are without smiles. We have to suppress smiles at the DMV office. We present ourselves photographically as smiling, though we spend most of our off-camera hours in a smile-less state.
This may be a media literacy moment worthy of a brief detour. Bear with me.
When you think about the famous, pre-photography, oil portraits, how few have smiles. Face it: it’s hard to sustain a smile in a mirthless artist’s studio. Try saying “cheese” for a two-hour sitting.
Old portraits are remarkable when they do offer smiles — as remarkable as Mona Lisa’s smile.
Back on the trail, smiles are everywhere. Happy trails!
We meet a family coming ‘round a bend, and we smile at each other and say “Hi!” “How you doin’?”
Try this on downtown sidewalks or on MAX trains at your peril.
On the trail, two women ease their mismatched dogs by us, with a smile. Even the tongue-lolling dogs smile slobbery grins.
Children didn’t really smile. Hiking is work on short legs. But you can tell it is fun — the adventure of it all.
The only other group exceptional for not smiling was the photographers, intent on “capturing” nature. I’ve been one of them. What a different experience a camera makes of a walk in the woods. Surrounded by beauty, the photographer, intent on preserving it for the future, is somewhere else. Composing, framing, cropping.
One hopes the smiles come later.
So what’s with all this smiling among hikers? Unlike the “cheesy” smiles of posing, these were the real thing, the uninhibited reflections of joy ... of being in the forest, above the rushing waters, along a canyon wall, beneath the sheltering mountains, and, yes, among fellow elated hikers.
It wasn’t until later, thinking of those smiles that I was reminded of “Happy Trails,” an ingrained tune from my youth. I’d associated it with Gene Autry, but an on-line search set me straight. The song was composed by Dale Evans, Roy Rogers’ matrimonial sidekick.
It’s a ditty worthy of an ambling ride into the Great Sunset:
Some trails are happy ones,
Others are blue.
It's the way you ride the trail that counts,
Here's a happy one for you.
Happy trails to you until we meet again.
Happy trails to you, keep smilin' until then.
Who cares about the clouds when we're together?
Just sing a song and bring the sunny weather.
Happy trails to you 'till we meet again.