Catawba Falls is one of those hikes everyone who’s been in Asheville for a little while asks me if I’m done when I inform them that I’m new in town and like to hike, but one I discounted, possibly unfairly, because I’m a self-admitted hiking snob and it seemed more like a walk in the woods than a proper hike, the kind of place so overrun with people on weekends that it loses its charm.
Catawba Falls is indeed more a walk in the woods than a hike, but a very pleasant one that does make you feel like you got in a half-decent workout afterwards. The falls themselves were also much prettier than most of the photos I’d seen do justice, and at just about a half hour out of town, it’s a hike I’ll be adding to my regular repertoire, although I think I’ll mostly be avoiding this one on weekends. I went on a Monday night around 6, and the hike was just short of being annoyingly crowded, which during this little global pandemic we’re in the midst of is only helping to support my thesis that people are inherently selfish, inconsiderate, and the worst.
I’ll be the first to admit that when the pandemic first broke, I was one of those people who thought others might be overreacting. I was one of those people who said “well, the flu kills xxx people every year and not everything grinds to a halt.” I’m also a bit of a self-admitted contrarian and whatever the opposite of a germaphobe is. That being said, I’m going to give myself credit where credit is due and say that I didn’t bitch incessantly about my cancelled plans or being forced to stay inside. I wear a mask when mandated, do my best to stay 6 feet away from others in public, and largely do this not just because more and more information came out saying masks work and I’m a science believer, but because even though I’m whatever the opposite of a germaphobe is, there are people who are genuinely terrified of this illness with completely valid reasoning, and I want to be respectful of that. Wearing a mask is the least you can do to show other people you give a shit. Now, I’m not one of those people who gets holier than thou on social media, shaming people for not wearing a mask, going on vacation, or getting together with small groups of friends and family, but I’m getting close…and I guess maybe that’s what this blog is for?
This is an incredibly long winded way to bitch about the fact that I was the only one on the hike who had a mask with him, and I’ll estimate I passed a good 50-60 people on the trail up to the falls. Here’s the thing too. I can even see how you could forget to bring a mask on a hike. There’s been plenty of times I’ve had to not stop and get gas or turn around at the grocery store because I forgot my own. It’s still new, and not super intuitive to be like “let me bring my face covering out in public.” I can even fathom someone who thought they didn’t need to bring one because they wouldn’t see anyone out “in the wilderness.” What I can’t fathom though, is if you’re not going to wear a mask, you could still respectfully distance from people. You can still show you give a shit. If I’d passed unmasked folks and they, like me, moved as far away from each other on the trail as possible, I wouldn’t be here writing a passive aggressive blog none of them are ever going to read. I’d just give them the old smile and nod, and think nothing of it. But people were walking 5 across, heads down texting almost running into me, and acting as if states weren’t going back into full lockdowns because of the very behaviors they were engaging with. It infuriated me, and probably mostly because I was hiking SPECIFICALLY to celebrate the results of my COVID test coming back negative after eleven days of self isolation (my rant about the shitty testing procedures can wait till another day!)
I checked Facebook while taking a little break between edits now that I’m home isolated again and found that one of the aforementioned folks who’s been holier than thou on Facebook, screaming about how anyone traveling, going out to eat, or leaving the house more than once a week is killing their grandmother just posted a five paragraph diatribe hitting all the familiar beats. The fun part is that if you scroll down his wall a bit, you’ll see the picture he posted just a few days earlier of he and 7 friends maskless at what’s clearly a beach bar. I guess the rules don’t apply to him. Preach away sir! Hypocrisy rules! People are awful.