Wuss in Boots
Backpacking isn't for the feeble—so may I be excused?
As for the other miseries, I'll just list them: The hike required 130,365 steps (yes, I counted); we got soaked one afternoon; the food was unsatisfying; I couldn't sleep; I froze at night; I hate going potty in the woods; we had to do some nighttime bushwhacking; we had to do some daytime bushwhacking; we didn't see any elk; and the Mo Fo's didn't show up on Saturday night.
So, would I do it all again? No way! But ... yes. After the final slog on Sunday, we went straight to a restaurant and ordered steaks. I installed mine like a CD while thinking about the trip. As always happens, memories of the suffering started to fade while I thought about all the cool things I'd seen: some of the best mountain scenery in the country, bighorn sheep, a cute round-eared mouse, huge aspen forests, a dramatic waterfall, sparkling lakes, high-country horsemen, and ... the Mo Fo's.
Yeah, they eventually made it. On Sunday morning we looked up from our camp and saw them ditzing around on a ridge about a mile from where we were. We exchanged whoops, and then they vanished. We didn't see them again that day.
Later we heard the whole story. They got started on Saturday evening, about an hour before dark, loaded down with full packs and six bottles of wine—this for a 10-mile trip with 3,000 feet of elevation gain. (The Fo's are tough.) They called it a night around 10:30, unable to raise us on the Walkie-Talkies because the batteries on our unit had died. They saw us on Sunday morning but shrugged and decided to go home. Hey, it was daytime. We couldn't get drunk.
Pause to savor the stupidity here. During this resultless round-trip, they hiked almost as far as we did, gained nearly as much altitude, and got rained on, which was Mo Fo's original reason for wimping out.
In short, an insane, futile gesture. Can you really walk away from a sport that inspires that kind of greatness?
Alex Heard is the editorial director ofOutsidemagazine.
Illustration by Keith Seidel.