At age 35, it would be nice if I finally understood how time works. Instead, this is what it looks like when I try to take a late afternoon hike:

90 minutes before sunset: Intend to go hiking.

50 minutes before sunset: Actually leave to go hiking.

40 minutes before sunset: Arrive at destination and proceed to walk original intended distance, due to inflexibility.

10 minutes before sunset: Run to cover more ground until darkness makes this an unwise course of action.

Sometime after sunset on the line between dusk and night: Arrive back at car with no dire consequences having befallen me, thus reinforcing that I can get away with this, whether or not I actually like it.

Now that everyone and their Uncle Bob has taken a sudden, pandemic-motivated interest in hiking, my hiking pole is also my social distancing pole.

Always remember that a social distancing pole is no substitute for choosing an unpopular trail with difficult parking and little to no markings either on the map or on the ground.

And no, I haven’t poked anyone with it–I would have to sanitize it.