First, let me say that I'm an experienced hiker. When I was in residency I'd hike all over, regardless of time of year. I've hiked pretty much all terrain short of tundra. I've hiked to mountaintops in temperatures of 110 degress. I'm well aware of what precautions have to be taken, supplies carried, amount of water, and other emergency precautions.
So I recently took my son on a boy scout hike. I'm not a member of the den or any of that stuff. I'm just a parent who went on the hike with my kid. They told us to bring water, so I grabbed 2 of my old hiking bottles and we each took one, and some other junk, and took off.
The hike in total was a 2 mile round trip in a well maintained, ranger-patrolled, trail area.
We got to the meeting place, and I was AMAZED at what people were carrying for this pissy little hike on a surprisingly nice Winter's day. Water by the truckload. Cases of granola. Two people had backpacks with tents in them (no, rain was NOT forecast, or even suspected). Another guy was carrying a little coleman stove with a gas container (but no food to cook on it). There was a lady dragging a cooler with wheels on it, loaded with water (even though everyone had their own water bottle). Another bozo was even packing a BB gun, assumedly in case we ran into some dangerous, aggressive fauna, like a rabbit.
The leader was a guy in his late 50's with a beer belly, wearing a boy scout uniform. I have to say that nothing could possibly look more dorky on an adult male. They say women love a man in uniform, but I don't think that's the uniform they mean. If you wear it into a singles bar you'll be leaving alone (at least a STRAIGHT singles bar).
So the leader introduces himself, and says he'll take the front of the line, and his grandson, who had been an Eagle scout, will be the back of the line. At that point he gestured to his grandson, who was a sullen, glaring, teenager with multiple piercings, a few tatoos, and a pack of cigarettes in his pocket. He was mumbling into a cell phone and exuded a sense that he would rather be having his nuts chopped off than following his dorky looking grandfather around on a hike.
And off we went. 40 people and enough supplies to survive a nuclear war, for a 2 mile hike (NOT a "3 hour tour"). It was scenic and fun, and took about an hour. The only unexpected happening was when we wandered out of the grandson's cell phone range and he began screaming bloody murder. The ditzy woman with the cooler actually tried to offer him a bottle of water to cheer him up.
I was walking ahead of 2 dentists, who spent their time discussing different drilling techniques, the most pus they've ever seen in a dental abscess, and other interesting topics.
And so, at the end of this, we had to fill out a form for my son to get his hiking badge. As I've learned in the last year, the Boy Scouts award badges for the most mediocre of accomplishments, such as a 2 mile hike, attending a rodeo, or breathing. I think the badges would be more meaningful if they were for more challenging things, such as swimming the amazon, kayaking over waterfalls, and hand-to-hand grizzly combat.
And that's the way it is.