A friend and I were told that we are top-notch sweepers. I’m not talking curling or tidying up, but the act of hiking at the tail-end of a hiking group. We’re so good that we’ve swept for more than one hiking gaggle at the same time. And how was that? Keep reading and you’ll find out.You see, a sweeper’s job is to follow behind a line of hikers and make sure there are no injured stragglers, hungry bears or bad guys following us, that sort of thing. And, at the entrance to the trail-head was a big sign that said, ‘BEWARE OF BEAR’. So, as you can see, we sweepers aren’t just hood ornaments.
So, a few Sundays ago we were asked to sweep. It was a bright, silvery, ice-covered day. We’d brought our snowshoes, but we didn’t need them.
Why, you might ask? I’ll tell you why. Because there was hardly any %^&*() snow. That’s why. So, the other professional sweeper and I swept while sporting pointy things on the bottom of our boots, so we wouldn’t slip on the ice.
We swept right to the edge of the mountain where we all stood on the viewing decks and stared at the gorgeous view out over the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Watched a bald eagle glide over-head. Looked down at the black string that was the Cabot Trail and at the vehicles which looked like dinky toys.
Anyway, when we were close to turning into icicles, we figured it was time to sweep our way back. On the way out we passed a small hiking group. They were heading toward the cliff. They asked if we could sweep for them. We apologized and said we couldn’t and, instead, we gave them a professional sweeper’s email address.
Then we swept and swept and swept behind our official hiking group, until at some point I looked down and realized I’d lost one of my boot’s ice grips. So my sweeping for the group had to stop, because I had to hike back and find my grip.
The other sweeper also turned back. Sweepers look after each other. She swept for me while I walked ahead. We had to hike back about half a K before I found my ice teeth.
At some point we stopped at a giant gate. It is the entrance or exit, depending which way you are sweeping, to a large enclosure that protects newly planted trees from hungry moose. I opened the gate and as we stepped through, my fellow sweeper said, “Oh #$%^! I dropped my hat.”
So… we turned back. She searched and I swept until we found her hat lying on the trail.
Eventually, we swept ourselves to our hiking group. We then explained what had happened, apologized profusely, promised them they would get some of their sweeper’s costs back and then we all parted for our separate vehicles. And as we walked back to the truck, my sweeper mate suddenly said, and I quote, “Oh $%^&! One of my ice-spiky things fell off my boot.”
So…we grabbed our brooms and swept for nobody as we searched for her stick-into-the-ice boot thing on this beautiful day on the Skyline Trail.