Posts Tagged ‘how to be a hiker’


We have become hikers. We haven’t become the hikers who have the shoes, knitted socks, and professional style walking sticks. We haven’t become the hikers who forage off of the land as we hike through it. As hikers, we are somewhat novice, but the cool thing about hiking is that you kind of practice for it every time you walk, because hiking is just a walk. Except, hikes are a walk where you constantly worry about snakes, your hydration, dying from the elements, an accidental wrong turn and subsequent three day search for your hypothermic and near lifeless body, and in my case, you have to worry about your wife trying to murder you.

If one was to get overly technical, the murder was probably warranted, but nonetheless, it added a new and somewhat unsuspected dimension to hiking. Like I said, we have become hikers. It wasn’t the result of a process of thought and in-depth research, it was a spur of the moment decision that hiking is what all the cool kids do, the realization, that we are also cool, and therefore should be hikers. So last weekend, we hiked, and what I want to relay to you in this edition of LifeasIKnowit is what hiking is all about. Maybe after reading this, you will all feel so inclined as to start off on a more active lifestyle. This entry would go down in the category of self-help, and it will be well worth your time to continue, trust me, I wrote it, I know how it ends. Plus, I went hiking with Whitney, the reoccurring character who plays my wife in previous blogs.

Hiking starts off with a bunch of happy hippies on a trail eating granola to carboload for the impending trek into nature’s bowels. Hiking probably actually starts off a day or two previous to the hike in question. I picture people preparing by packing their little hiking packs with water, snacks, compasses, random survivally things. Hiking probably starts with the hikers drinking water to prepare for said hike. All of these things are important for those interested in hiking, and as is to be expected, none of these were things we decided to do. I am being less than truthful, we drank a lot of beer and wine in preparation for the hike, which may have covered the carboloading portion of preparation, but defeated the hydration portion of prepping. (Although, Whitney believes that drinking is a great hydrator as it leaves your pee clear).

Everybody is happy at the beginning of a hike. There is much to be excited about. The trail is pretty, and you feel so productive that you can’t stand it! You walk about three hundred feet and you happen upon your first group of hikers who are finishing up the same hike. You try not to notice that they look like undead versions of the same group of hippies starting at the time you did. They walk, dragging their left legs along beside them. They do not talk; instead, they mumble and grunt loud guttural booms of sound from their respective diaphragms. You try not to notice the dog that probably started out walking with them, but whose lifeless body is now being dragged just behind their left legs. You are blind to this, and you quest on.

You are given one more seemingly innocent, yet foreboding warning of things to come when Whitney, who is walking like a professional walker–hands up and dangling, while breathing in a perfect rhythm who-who-hee-hee, says, “Do you think we should have brought sandwiches?” All you can do at this point is continue to fall in love with your own plan, or lack thereof. “We will be fine with what we have brought (which consists of a Nalgene bottle and, well that’s pretty much it.)”

You walk another half mile and the trail starts something alarming. The trail begins to go from a nice, flat and enjoyable walk, to an alarming incline and group of switchbacks. To give you a point of reference, the incline is the same incline Sisyphus was forced to push the boulder up in mythology, or more simply stated, the incline is the same walk you would have to walk, perpetually in hell (you can keep going, but it generally sucks). There was no gradual increase in incline, nature just reached out and smacked you in the face with itself. Softly and sweetly, in the back of your head you can still hear Whitney’s question echoing, “Do you think we should have brought sandwiches?”

You are now halfway up the mountain. You have stopped to rest and the pleasant blush resulting from the increase blood flow has turned into relentless panting and random words in between. Where once there was loving conversation between two happily married people, there is pretty much only the sound of contempt ridden scowls. People walk by you and for just a split second, you make it look like nothing is breaking you, like this is easy.

Another hiker on her way down passes and does it. She plants the time bomb. “Be careful,” she says. “I just about stepped on a snake. They disguise themselves so well.” So now, what was a quick moving pace has slowed to the exact same pace that those poor soldiers who search for land mines must walk. Our eyes never leaving the ground, dismally marking every square centimeter of the trail–this would be a part of my hell. “Do you think we should have brought sandwiches?” Still echoing.

What seems like four hours later you reach the top. Some experienced hikers are looking out at the view–it is beautiful. You smell marijuana. Some kids are smoking it while philosophizing over life’s meaning. You pan around the area and realize the problem with a hike. When you hike, once you get to the top, you still have to go back. You look to your left and see a group of jerks doing something just to rub their planning in your face. They are eating sandwiches. You turn Whitney around quickly and we start back down. You think you can hear something about sandwiches coming from Whitney, but you just press onward. If you ever thought down can’t be as hard as up, you are dead wrong. Down becomes a torturous near free fall that shoves your entire foot into the front one third of your shoes. You are like a Chinese woman with bound feet. Down sucks.

You find that you are about thirty feet ahead of Whitney. You stop and wait for her to catch up. She nears, and you notice that she is wearing kind of an empty look, like no one is home. You start to talk and before you can get out three words she says, “Unless you have a sandwich, I don’t think you should say a god damned word to me!”

As you near the end of the trail, you are both dragging our left foot behind us and grunting nightmarish sounds from our diaphragms. The group just starting, shoving sandwiches into their packs, still joyful and excited asks, “How was it?” You grunt at them and continue your zombie walk. There, just ahead of you is your truck. You have accomplished what you set out to do. Your marriage is stronger because of your lack of planning, right? Whitney looks at you and says, “I am godawful miserable right now.” Yes, you answer yourself. Not planning for the hike was a great decision for your marriage. But we are hikers now. Tested in the flames of hell.

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