I was out on the nordic trails recently, cruising on my skis, taking my time, poking around a lovely trail called "Far East". Now I'm not great with directions, but I'm pretty sure it heads east. As you come to the turnaround point in the trail you capture a breathtaking vista of snow-filled hills backed by the Johnstone Strait behind it, with the Coast Mountains dusted in snow snugged up at the end of your sight line. It's gorgeous. Something to smile about.
This day though, a rolling series of clouds were coming through and you couldn't see the vista. Fair enough, I've seen it many times & it will be there again. Interestingly though, I noticed, people were still full of smiles every time I passed them on the trails. Now, if all you ever did in your life was cross country ski, I suppose you would think this is normal. I'm here to tell you this is actually something pretty special.
I'm an endurance athlete. I spend a lot of time training and this means I spend a lot of time encountering other people coming in the other direction. Where I live, it would be shocking if someone said hello to you (sometimes people I actually know are too 'in the zone' to recognize & acknowledge each other - and to be fair, I've been guilty of this too). And there's a place for that - when you are training so hard you are using every useful braincell of yours to maintain upright stance & not run into any innocent bystanders, I think you have a pass.
But there are a lot of people that just never acknowledge each other, period. And when I found this abrasive at first, eventually you sink into the pattern, because it's disheartening to always be saying hello only to receive silence in return. But today, and so many other days I've had up the mountain, de rigour is to smile, say hello, make a witty joke about how you meant to stick that pole between your legs so that you would have a chance to practice face planting, etc. It's nice - and it's contagious - once you start, you want to do it more - make more people smile. It's just downright fun.
And if you occasionally end up oxygen deprived, seeing a blur of stars or just wishing you would fall so that you could like down on the nice, cool track, I think it's also fair game for those who can spare the oxygen to speak, to have free commentary, all in good humour. I often reach the top of hills with my great friends that I ski with, only to have them chat about how lovely the view is & how terrific life is, while I hold onto my poles for dear life as I hang over them gasping for air. I love that they're still happily chatting while I'm searching for oxygen.
And if you want to run into some really friendly people, then you have to meet some of the Hosts that patrol & encourage all the nordic skiers in and around many trails at Mount Washington. They are terrific people & they're there to make your day better - so do say hello. You may not have even known that they exist - but they do! And I'm sure they're willing to impart advice on anything you'd like to ask them about (hint hint: I'd ask them about your ski technique as they are great skiers themselves!). They're there to make you smile.
There's a theme here. Miles of smiles.