It happened again. Just when I thought I’d seen it all, I saw something new.
It was the beginning of my fourth season on the mountain. The Big Boss Man had asked me and The Man to come up the mountain early to make sure nothing bad happened to the precious yurts in the time between when they were put up and when the hosts of the campground arrived. The Man and I needed money, so The Big Boss Man put us to work immediately. We were preparing campgrounds for campers, collecting access fees at the parking lot on weekends, and picking up the self-pay envelopes stuffed with money visitors were dropping in the iron ranger during the week.
The first weekend we were back, I worked the parking lot on Saturday and Sunday while The Man raked and cleaned fire rings. I was surprised by how busy the parking lot was on both days that weekend. I parked nearly 100 cars on each day, and the season hadn’t even officially started.
With cars came people, and I had a lot of folks to talk with. The most popular question of the weekend was about the most recent fire on the trail. Later in the week when I walked the trail, I saw why people didn’t want to believe they were seeing the aftermath of a prescribed burn. The fire had left a large portion of the downed trees along the trail looking really ugly. It was difficult to believe humans would create such an eyesore on purpose.
The new thing I saw happened on Sunday.
Throughout the weekend, I’d noticed several instances of two young women in a car together, probably on an epic lady road trip. Some of the pairs seemed to be American and some seemed to be European.
On Sunday, a pair of young European women arrived. I could tell they weren’t American because only one (the passenger) spoke while the driver looked past me with a glassy stare of complete lack of comprehension. The talker used choppy sentence with an unusual syntax, but she made herself understood.
I had the young women park right in front, near where I was stationed with my dilapidated chair and my purple backpack. The lot was busy, and it was easier to put them up front rather than send them into the depths of the parking lot and hope they’d find a spot.
It took the women a long time to prepare for their stroll through the trees. I was busy, so I wasn’t watching their every move, but I noticed they didn’t hop out of the car and head immediately towards the trail like most people do.
Finally, I noticed the driver heading across the street. She had her blond hair pulled up into a high ponytail, and she was wearing a close-fitting black jacket and black hiking tights. She managed to appear hip, fit, and sexy all at the same time. Then I noticed her butt, or rather what she had strapped across her butt. It was a thick foam rectangle, the sort of thing a gardener might kneel on to protect the knees from the hard ground. The pad covered both of her butt cheeks; a strap circling her middle held it on.
Of the thousands of visitors I’ve seen cross the road to the trail, this woman was the first I’d ever seen with a cushion strapped to her bottom. I don’t think it was simply a fashion accessory; it seemed too drab and utilitarian to be mere decoration. If the woman had been walking into a sports stadium, I would have guessed the pad was to provide some comfort while sitting on hard seats, but she was going out on a trail. Was she afraid of falling and bruising her tailbone? Maybe. Did she plan to sit for a long time on the cold, hard ground looking up at the trees? Maybe.
I didn’t try to ask her about her butt pad. I don’t know if she would have understood my question or if I would have understood her answer. Besides, if a perspm wants to strap on a butt cushion, it’s not really my place to question her.