Monday, August 16, 2010

the fifty miler

There comes a time in every little boy's father's life when he realizes that his boy is a sissy. At this point, the father is free to either:

A) Take the boy canoeing down a spring run-off-swollen canyon creek which almost immediately ends in sinking and a desperate swim through tree-ridden rapids,1 or

B) Take the boy on a fifty mile hike through the mountains of Utah, in order to earn a scouting badge for the boy proving the boy went on a fifty mile hike through the mountains of Utah.

Most young fathers will choose B, though I know at least one who did both.

The fifty miler is an important distinction in the life of a young scout, mainly because said badge does absolutely nothing to advance the young man towards the rank of "No Employer Ever Will Care About This So Why Do You Still Put It On Your Resume, Chris?"2 With this in mind, I'd like to publicly apologize to the woman I made fun of for using foursquare in an attempt to win a meaningless badge on one of our recent dates.

When starting a fifty miler, it's of the utmost importance that you purchase the newest hiking boots possible. When you read your scout manual instructing you to wear them to break them in, put them on and meander around the house for a few minutes the weekend before you leave for the trip. Momentarily walking around on soft carpet is roughly equivalent to what the scout book referred to as "two days" of walking. Using this tried-and-tested routine to weather your shoes, you too will have the joy of encountering blisters on mile two.3

Only forty eight to go on raw feet.

This is an enjoyable experience, one whose hilarity is only heightened by the complete uselessness of moleskin. Did someone seriously recommend that for blisters? Like, honestly? Has there ever been a substance more likely to not help with blisters? I would rather wrap my feet in sandpaper than put that sissy white fluff on my feet. Even worse, the stupid scout manual cruelly suggests you create a "donut" of moleskin, bringing into the scout's mind an image of the pleasures of home he is without, while he sits in the dirt and feral poop on the side of the trail, crying for a maple bar and trying to alleviate the pain.

Also, be sure that the boots you get look suspiciously identical to the women's hiking boots sold by the same company. That way, fifteen years later, when you're hiking with your buddy Jameson, he can laugh and laugh over the course of three days (and forty-ish miles) about how you are wearing girl shoes.

In a recklessly-optimistic attempt to provide food for yourself on your journey, be sure to bring along a fishing pole, this even though you hate fish, can't tie a knot of any variety, hate fishing, and couldn't catch a fish to save your life. Lugging this unused pole over miles of wasteland is sure to build that ethereal character you keep hearing about.

Though some of you will have the desire to break down and beg your brother to call in a helicopter to lifeflight you out of the backcountry, I'd urge you to reconsider that drastic of a measure, as it's not going to make you look any more manly to your ex-green-beret and vibrant outdoorsman father. Remember, he used to parachute into, and hike out of, Georgian swamps in the middle of the night with nothing but a compass and an eighty pound backpack. You sir, are carrying a toy backpack filled with oh-so-heavy items like socks and useless moleskin.

In a similar vein, in order to avoid any awkward situations in which you might appear gullible to the extreme, when you are walking over Rocky Sea Pass, and you see a large pile of stones (a "cairn" to the mountain peoples) engraved with the initials RSP, should your father suggest said pile of stones is marking the grave of one Robert Scott Pass, I would highly recommend you take a few moments to analyze the situation with a critical mind, before exclaiming how cool that is, and before going home and telling your mother how you saw a grave site.

For example, how likely is it that one would be buried on top of a ridiculously-painful pass? Also, why would said individual have the last name of Pass? And please, take a few moments to consider the initials engraved, and match them to the name of the location you are traversing. This is just a helpful suggestion.

In summary, fifty milers are delightful experiences, and I highly recommend you take some time to go on one.

1. This is completely autobiographical. I wrote a post on it recently and didn't think it funny enough to put up. Maybe someday more details will emerge. Until then, relish the image of me, my father, and two of my brothers slowly sinking into the river.
2. That is, Eagle.
3. I realize I exaggerate a lot here, but that is no lie.


J J Perry MD said...

It took a long time for you to realize your father was a scoundrel

Marie said...

this is my all-time favorite post. you'll never top it...