Join Date: Nov 2003
I have to recount an anecdote. Indulge me, if you will.
The hardest thing I ever did physically was a spur-of-the-moment 12-13 miles hike down and back up the Grand Canyon on a hot summer afternoon to midnight. Why did I do it? Because it seemed very DIFFICULT and I was healthy at that point, and felt up for a nice challenge. I never need much water, as a kid I used to play sports all day and would pride myself on being the last one to drink. (As a side note, my behavior is common enough the park rangers know it as a phenomenon. It's kind of a masculine pride thing, and people sometimes die from it, or get exhausted/lost/left panting on the trail after the park closes and the sun goes down, leading their gf's to scream and shriek. The rangers have no sympathy for those who do this sort of thing, and they might even charge these people if they have to drag out the machinery to look for/rescue them. Anyhoot...)
I can't remember what trail this was, and I'm not going to look it up, but what it is is a trail from the bus drop off about six miles down to the river, and of course the same distance back, uphill. It's cool on the rim of the canyon. But as you are warned, and is in fact the case, you lose the winds down below the rim, and it quickly becomes extremely hot in the sun of a summer day where the temp is over 100 and the air is dead.
So, I set off down the trail, with only a one-liter bottle of water. I figured I would drink the river when I got there. Yeah, six miles is a bit, but it's downhill, nothing to worry about. Once I got maybe 2+ miles down the trail, past the point where the tourists have turned back to return to the rim and the bus and their cars, you only see an occasional serious hiker. Who is almost always carrying a big pack and a shit-tonne of water. And here's me in a mesh wife-beater with a lone bottle of water. An Italian (I guess) was horrified by what I had, and seemed to believe I was bound to die of dehydration. I later crossed another guy with a big pack who seemed to have at least two full gallons of water on his person. I was staggered by the weight he was carrying. Surely the fluid lost thru the sweat of carrying a full GALLON of water would more than make up for the value of its hydration. At least it sure seemed to me. I didn't speak to him, just nodded and observed his accoutrements. These trails are all over the place; you can walk wherever you want, and there are a number of paths back up from the river to rim, or you can walk along the river and explore.
So, I made it down to the river, and goddam, it was hotter and harder on the way DOWN than I had ever guessed. I mean, I was flat fucking tired, truly sun-whipped from the extreme heat and glare. I sat down on the bank, half in the river, and drank a bunch of river water, which they advise against. It tasted damn good. The Colorado is remarkably cold and fast-rushing compared to your milder eastern rivers. You could very easily drown in it. I was in no danger of that, just sitting in the enjoyable cold water and drinking it, throwing it on my face and body repeatedly. Oh man, how nice. And it's pretty scenic too. They have a mesh metal crossbridge where you can pass over and walk around and see a little cabin. Somewhere around there you can even camp for the nite. So I looked around, and then walked back over the river, and back on the even trail that jagged along with the river course, with no real end in sight.
At this point, altho refreshed, I was still extremely tired from a mere six miles...downhill...in extreme heat...with no wind. I was not at all eager to head back up. And the sun was within, say, two hours of going down. At this point I realized that my projection to my girlfriend that I would be back in 4-5 hours max was risibily ridiculous. I was that far in and had the entire, much harder trek back UP in the same horrible heat, and very much more tired out than I had started.
The point of this little story was that I passed this Glen Ellyn-type girl (that means upper-middle-class WASP type) just as I hit the river. Hers was the antithesis of my approach. She had the high-priced backpack, with the little gerbil suck thing that comes over your shoulder. I had rubbed mud on my face from the river, just to keep a little cool on my head, and to be accurate, to make for a little crazy visual effect. We stopped and spoke just briefly. I said, Actually I'm not really thirsty at all. She quickly returned, actually that's not such a good thing. Goody litte her knows off some Sheet provided by Legitimate Authority that whatever I was saying was one of the starter signs of advanced dessication. Undoubtedly it was something like that. Well, you know women. Many, many of them don't understand anything that matters - they're women. Their mind-heart-soul complex vests in Authority, and its high altar command that we be Doing Things the Right Way. WASP upper middle class women tend to lack spirit and love of freedom; they have no visceral understanding of anything that isn't coded up by authority - anything they would deem 'inappropriate,' one of the highest of their verbal holies. And the high intelligence they often exhibit merely reinforces their inner dessication. Just the uber slight snootyishness with which she good-doggily alluded to what All Morally Upright People Know About Hydration, and the way she just barely drew back because of my mud smear and, by her class' way of thinking, slightly too loud or too spirited, or in some tiny degree wrong way of interacting with her, like I was going to dirty her with my dehydrated corporeal anti-authoritarian indecency...just - it's the doting in this anecdote. That's just how this type is. You can't explain it to them. "I wanted to run down this anti-mountain and run a real physical risk just BECAUSE it's that - a risk. It's not insane. It's a legitimately risk-taking activity, and I need to prove that I'm tough enough that I deserve to edit VNN, have kids, do whatever I need to do in life." Women cannot understand this impulse, and that is one reason civilized societies don't allow them to make the deepest political decisions.
Now, lots of people write stuff near in form to what I've written, but it always ends in celebrating rebellious for its own sake, or some bogus spirituality, or proles over bourgeois, but that's not what I mean here. I merely mean to show that this girl's type is deeply uncomprehending of the spiritual need to make your own way, and not rely on authority at all times. Sometimes not only to go off the track, but to commit literally illegal criminal acts, even if small ones. What these girl-mindeds never get is that while they are perfectly happy doing something that has been cleaned and sanitized and routinized by 10,000,000 before them...there's nothing wrong with trying to get a tiny piece of how things were before all that, which is all I was trying to do. I think their judgment says more about them than the ones they judge. I mean, they really think you are nuts because you're not carrying literally gallons of water, and you don't have an Officially Approved Hiker's Backpack. I don't think girls like this are nuts, I think they're kind of sad and unimaginative. They're spiritually dried up like they've taken a suppository of the spirit. Fuck your stupid $200 backpack, and your gerbil suck, and your sheet-says volume of water, and your appropriately constrained expression of distaste for anyone who deviates an inch from what Authority has delivered about hiking from on high.
And that's my story. I can say the hike back up that inverted mountain was the hardest physical thing I've ever done, truly and genuinely exhausting. The heat finally left when the sun went down. There were no lights, and the wind came up. It was actually getting nipply. I only passed one other set of persons on the trail, and they asked if I needed them to call emergency. I said no. I knew I could do it, but it ended up taking me past midnight. Multiple times I had to lie down in the trail and rest. I was a little afraid of being butted off the mountainside by a goat, but that's the kind of extremely unlikely thing you think about when you're tired in a strange land in the dark with the stars out and wind picking up. Finally I made it to the top, and my gf was of course nowhere around. I wasn't sure what to do, as the park was shut down. I decided to jump in the dumpster of aluminum cans, since I was cold. I started thinking, trying to remember where the cars were, which way the bus had taken us. I hate just waiting, so I picked a direction and went with it, and another 1.5 miles, as I recall, and sure enough, I found the main parking place and eventually my car, with my gf inside.
She had gone to the park rangers, and the feminist there said what I said above - that my actions were typical of the behavior of a sector of the male population. And, according to the gf, she seemed awfully like it would be no big loss to her, and perhaps even a modest pleasure, if I were to die in the Canyon. Well, you can see it from her point of view too, I suppose, and I was never in danger of dying unless that goat came along, or a mountain lion. I was just bone weary.
But the real reason I did it was not just that I wanted a challenge, it was that these goddam national parks now jew you for $20 to get in and look around, and I, jewily enough, wanted to get my full $20 bucks worth of experience, and the Griswold rim railing rubbernecking wasn't enough to satisfy me.
If you're ever at the Canyon, you might give it a try yourself. Contrary to government reports, there's nothing wrong with drinking out of the Colorado river, and you don't need to carry fifteen gallons of water and a giant backpack to get down there and back. But it is a goddam hard thing to walk all that trail and back in a single day. I would say I did about 15 miles total, from a standing start, with no equipment and a single water bottle. Thirst was never a problem, but the trip was absolutely exhausting, and I felt it in my muscles even two weeks later, and it took 3-4x as long as I estimated it would. THE END.
Last edited by Alex Linder; July 28th, 2011 at 12:50 AM.