Leigh - if I may, can you have your discussion openly so we all can learn from this?
I recently found that meetup.com site locally and there are a few groups for hiking. One group is definitely more hard core (they go light, fast, and far) than another other group. What is interesting--and appropriate for this conversation--is that in order to join that more serious group, one first must join the other group and do those outings until they see that you 'are' capable of those more strenuous hikes. They admit that it sounds elitist, but also explain that folks have gone over their head and misrepresented themselves, as suggested above; it's the safe and smart thing to do, IMO.