Tuesday, July 2, 2019

About This Hike: Hear Me Out

Photo by Carmen Becker
I’m breaking one of my own rules. Normally, I post about upcoming events or things I’ve done in the past that will happen again. Today’s post is about an event I attended Sunday that isn’t scheduled to happen again. But I hope it will.

Sunday’s event was Take a Hike – Tremont: The Immigration Story, one of the final activities of this year’s Cleveland History Days. The guided walking tour isn’t part of the regular Take a Hike lineup, but our tour guides said it’s under consideration as an addition.

Based on our group’s size — about 50 people — I’d say the demand is there. I also saw requests on social media for another Tremont hike after Sunday’s “sold out.” That’s in quotes because the tour, like the regular Take a Hike tours, was free. But there was a limit on the number of hikers.

The tour began at the Lincoln Park gazebo, where guides Tom Yablonsky and Tim Donovan briefed us about Cleveland History Days and what we would see on our tour. Tom remarked on how quiet the park was and hoped the same would be true as we walked through the neighborhood. 

Unfortunately, it wasn't. I have been on several Take a Hike tours and each of those guides has used a microphone. Neither guide had one on Sunday. Maybe they had to make do because the tour isn’t an official Take a Hike tour — I don’t know. 

You can’t avoid noise in an urban setting, but a tour guide without a microphone is no match for loud motorcycles and cars with bad mufflers. In addition, our hike took us under an overpass, where many of us were unable to hear the narration because of the traffic overhead. Our group was too large for everyone to gather around the guide who was talking, so I heard about half of what Tom and Tim said on the 90-minute tour. At times, we stopped at a site and I saw one or both of them pointing at something, but all I could hear was the surrounding noise. Whatever Tremont’s immigration story is, I missed it.

Full disclosure: My friend Carmen and I left the tour shortly before it ended, but not because of the hearing problem. I was having severe foot pain and just couldn’t walk any farther. Carmen noticed that several other people had split off from our group and were walking toward their cars before the tour ended. I don’t know why they cut out early, but I’m guessing at least some of them were frustrated that they couldn't hear the narration. Had we stayed until the end, I would have talked to the guides about it.

Despite its shortcomings, the Tremont tour should be added to the Take a Hike lineup. There is a lot to see in one of my favorite Cleveland neighborhoods, especially when you’re walking instead of driving. Now organizers just need to make sure there’s plenty to hear as well.

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