A guy I work with told me once he liked to take his dates to Castle Rock State Park. I was already married when I took up the habit so I don’t bring a lot of direct experience on combining hiking and dating, but I do know a few things from taking my wife on hikes. To wit:
- Stay on trails you know by heart (wow, a pun!) and don’t do anything stupid. Nothing says “loser” like having to call in a search and rescue team.
- Ask about allergies ahead of time and be prepared to change all your plans on a dime if an allergic reaction happens (if she has pine-related allergies, stay out of the redwoods, for instance). Put some Benadryl in your first aid kit.
- Single-track trails are terrible for conversation — avoid till you get to know each other (there’ll be plenty for single-tracks to tune out annoying chit-chat about her best friend’s outlaw biker boyfriend after you’ve been dating a few months).
- Walk at your companion’s pace (good advice for any hike but especially when you’re trying to prove you might be worth hanging out with on future hike).
- Five miles is a long walk for a rookie — as long as you’re demonstrating your capacity for compassion and empathy by asking about allergies, ask probing questions about fitness (think of the payoff if you have a leg fetish!).
- Unabridged version of “no means no”: “I don’t like to hike” means “I don’t like to hike.”
OK, so that feels like a good start. Please weigh in with your own insights — dates from hell are especially welcome. Include some locales if they spring to mind.