Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail Map

GEAR UP AND GO THE OUTDOOR GEAR SHOP

Welcome to the place where even dedicated hikers find themselves bluffing at times. Outdoor gear shop assistants fall into two categories: those who thought they were applying for a Saturday job at a bird-food shop (Millets), and those who live, breathe and eulogise about everything to do with the outdoors. It is the latter that the bluffer should be wary of. The former don’t last long and quickly move on to the nearest pizza-delivery business, realising that in order for them to survive in the great outdoors, they need a crash helmet and a 50cc bike.

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Outdoor gear shop assistants are a fearful bunch. They are not just healthily fit, they are embarrassingly fit. They all act as if they’ve done the Three Peaks Challenge – that’s Snowdon, Scafell Pike and Ben Nevis – before clocking on for duty.

You can always spot one of this fraternity, especially if you’re in an outlet located in the ‘outdoorsy’ regions of the Lake District, Wales or Scotland, because:

• They are always kitted out in walking boots, even if the entire shop is on the ground floor.

• They wear T-shirts and shorts, even in winter, despite the front doors of the shop being wide open to the elements.

• The T-shirts have ‘Hikers do it with their boots on’ written across their chest, and ‘I’m in front of you – slowcoach’ across the back.

• If they need to open a piece of packaging they’ll ignore the scissors on the cash desk, and slice it open with one of the Swiss Army knives they have chained to their belt.

• Trainees are easier to spot because they are always roped to a more experienced member of staff for safety reasons. You should know that the recruitment process for most of these employees is unlike that for any other job. Interviews tend to take place at the top of mountains. Bad weather doesn’t stop recruitment from taking place. Thick fog merely means that the successful applicant and new boss don’t know what the other looks like until they start work, despite having shaken hands and shared hip flasks to seal the deal at the summit.

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