2/23/2006

Hut, hut, hike

I can imagine no greater pleasure than reconciling oneself with Mother Nature.

I have a lot of free time on my hands. Resolving not to squander so much of it on useless crap, I went for a hike yesterday. Too much time has passed since I last hiked. A few miles from my home lies a desert monument with several hiking trails. Why not put some distance between my ass and my leather sectional and take in the natural beauty of the Sonoran Desert? And I could skip my daily workout – killing two Spotted Owls with one stone. A hike was the perfect way to spend the day.

I knew I'd work up an appetite on my big hike. I anticipated 2 hours of rigorous, outdoor activity. So before I began, I stopped at a McDonald's, threw down a #5 and topped off my urinary system with free-refill diet sodas. When I eat at a restaurant foolish enough to put the soda fountain in reach of the public, I commit to drink half my body weight in Diet Coke. Years of diet soda consumption have stretched my bladder to the size of a beanbag chair. Bottoms up, McD's!

The hiking trails are only a few minutes' drive. So when I arrived, I still had a half-full cup of diet soda. I wasn't going to dump it or let it flatten in the car -- sacrilege! I decided to drink it while I hiked. This seemingly superfluous piece of information will become important later in the story.

I began my hike. The elements conspired to bring me to a state of rapture: the air was crisp and cool, yet the sun beamed. The sky glowed electric blue. A mild breeze would occasionally wash away the sun's warmth from my skin. The mountains ahead were breathtaking – towering deposits of earth peppered with saguaro cactus and desert wildlife. The whole scene intoxicated me. I felt the instinctive well-being man feels when removed from the foreignness of his modern lifestyle and immersed in his ancient habitat, Nature. Then I began encountering people, which killed the buzz at once.

A certain species of Man dominates national parks: the nature-lover. One can identify these vile creatures by their Eddie Bauer wardrobes, walking sticks, and their ritual of saying hello to every fuckin' person they pass on the trails. These people are friendly to a fault. By the time I'd hiked my first mile I'd greeted a dozen people and had tired of the word "hello" and all its derivatives (hi, hiya, howdy, how's it going, how you doin', hope you fall down that cliff, etc.). I'd rather each of these people were a mountain lion, for they'd cause me less fret.

By now the physicality of the hike took possession of me. I felt alive. My heart was pumping. My lungs were cycling the desert air. Each of my feet shuffled over the landscape until it nestled into a groove of stone, thence my leg sprung me further up the inclined path. I had achieved harmony with my environment. Almost. Two problems currently presented themselves. My McDonald's soda cup, now empty, became an encumbrance. And I was gaining on a nature-loving couple.

I hadn't seen a garbage can anywhere, and I had no reason to believe that as I penetrated further into the desert wildlife, I'd find one. I know what you're thinking: just toss the cup under a bush and be rid of it. I like your style. Well, unfortunately it's not that simple. Bounding up the mountain trail, I had passed many nature-lovers, all of whom surely noticed my 44 oz. McDonald's cup. Should they find me without my cup when I passed them again – this time on the way down – they might surmise I'd littered their pristine ecosystem! What's more, this wouldn't be just any parcel of litter; it was McDonald's refuse – the arch-enemy of nature-lovers everywhere. Why, that little golden "M" on the cup might as well be a swastika. I'd cause less offense by "relieving myself" on a copy of Al Gore's Earth in the Balance then by disposing of McDonald's refuse in the desert. Anyway, by tossing the cup into the desert, I risked an earful and perhaps a visit from a park ranger.

I also had the nature-loving couple ahead. They'd surely want to chat. Luckily the trail forked about 30 feet before I'd overtake them. It would be close, but I could probably dodge them before they engaged me in conversation. Sure, I'd have to detour onto the smaller trail, but it would be worth the effort.

I darted down the other trail. It looked inhospitable, more like a desert wash than a trail. But it had the virtue of being people-free. Suddenly, I heard the aforementioned couple, the female of the species, yell, "Aren't you taking Painter's Trail?"

What the hell was she talking about? Painter's Trail? Huh? I soon realized what was happening. The nature-lovers, all-too-familiar with these trails, saw the path I'd chosen and knew I was heading into a wash. Dammit. Now I'd have to talk with them. I needed a quick, witty response that wouldn't invite further conversation.

"No. I'm up for a real challenge today. I've opted for, uh... Satan's Poop Shoot. Bye!"

And with that bit of repartee behind me, I was off.

Two-hundred feet later I encountered a fence of rusty barbed wire. Dead-end, dammit. I had to double-back and pass the nature-lovers after all. Dammit!

I still clung to my soda cup, which was leaking Coke residue onto my hand with each step. I reconsidered tossing it at the dead-end, but I feared the nature-lovers would beat me to death with their biodegradable walking sticks. So I clutched it my hand. My cup was like my Islamic beard, or perhaps a burka – proof that I was not an infidel. If I kept it, I might make it out of the park without being sacrificed at the altar of Environmentalism (peace and blessings be upon Him).

The trails carve through a mountain range, so if you persevere, eventually you can turn back and take in a view of the valley and the city skyline. It's beyond beautiful. As I paused to look across the desert basin, I realized how blue the sky is, how big the earth is, how wondrous the mountains are, how precious the environment is -- and just how many more condominium complexes we can still cram into the valley. Damn, I should have gone to real estate school. Those things are selling like PlayStation Portables!

I could have stayed in this little niche of desert forever. Then something strange happened. As quickly as it struck me, the novelty waned. The majesty of the desert became an uninviting plane of prickly cactus, jagged rock, poisonous scorpions and snakes, arid air and a lack of climate control, television and toilets. Only 25 minutes into my hike, I longed for the artificial environment of my gymnasium, where Man can take exercise as God intended: harnessed to a cold, electromagnetic machine with little, blinking LED lights. I hiked back out of the canyon, hopped in my car and drove to my gym. I dumped the cup in the trash.

This was my last hike ever.

41 comments:

Melonie said...

I cannot believe I am first! Satan's Poop Shoot is the bastard cousin of Satan's Spincter here in WV.

As always... Rachael said...

Pour out the soda residue - feed a few bees, or ants or whatever drinks fake sugar - then crush the cup and put it in your pocket! Then find a comfy place to sit, whip out your six foot bong, and judge THEM for awhile. Laughing at other people is just as good for the abdominals at crunches and provides a greater intake of oxygen!

phlegmfatale said...

"Years of diet soda consumption have stretched my bladder to the size of a beanbag chair. Bottoms up, McD's!" I think I LOVE you!

This was a fantastic post. Thanks for the laughs.

tornwordo said...

Was that Mount Lemon? I know what you mean about the "helloing" on the trails. I hate saying hello.

If there's ever a next time, put on some headphones to avoid conversing.

And I loved the whole Mickey Dee/ swastika bit.

Stacy The Peanut Queen said...

"Satans Poop Shoot"???

Priceless...;)

nongirlfriend said...

What a great story!

Try smoking on a trail...you'd think I was giving the devil head or something, the way the nature people look at me!

kari said...

Hi. So that's why you haven't been posting. You've been hiking. In any case I'm glad you're back. You make me laugh 'til I pee myself.

Dave Morris said...

Oddly enough, Satan's Poop Shoot is my nickname for ex-wife #1.

Laurie said...

I'm surprised you didn't run into my dad. He loves that hiking bullshit.

On second thought, maybe you did.

Did anyone try and talk to you endlessly about plant life?? If so, that was him.

Elaine said...

You like killing Spotted Owls with rocks too??? And here I thought I was the only one....

"Satan's Poop Shoot."

TEE HEE.

Oh great One said...

"where Man can take exercise as God intended: harnessed to a cold, electromagnetic machine with little, blinking LED lights."


What is the exercise stuff you speak of?

honkeie2 said...

This is funny stuff lol. I fell ya on hating those grape nut eating unwashed tree humpers. They make me want to liter and dump toxic sludge on every panda bear I can find lol.
Dont give up on the nature walks, they are a fun way to break up the workout when tit becomes stale.

Jess Riley said...

Bravo. Also, your entry about ungrateful grandparents was brilliant.

And it looks like Mickey D's has found a new way to make us smile

pissed off patricia said...

LOL, I am one of those nature lovers and you made me laugh till I was crying. However I do not speak to every person I meet because I would rather not run into anyone when I'm enjoying being outside. Don't have the cane and the gear either. There are nuts and then there are people who just enjoy the beauty of the natural world, kind of like you did. That was a great story. It was fun!

earlylight said...

What is that old saying....Save a tree, wipe your ass on a Spotted Owl...

PBS said...

Wow, That's quite a tale. Now I remember why I don't really like hiking! Especially liked the "Why, that little golden "M" on the cup might as well be a swastika" but it would be difficult to choose a favorite!

LaunderLust said...

Okay, I couldn't believe it when I read this post! You see, the same thing happened to me in Patapsco State Park in Maryland. I decided to take a hike and had a 7 Eleven Super Big Gulp of Mountain Dew with me when I set out on the trail. I, too, became utterly irritated by all the granola eating helloing going on. So, after having drunk all my Mountain Dew and being well tired of carrying the cup around, I stopped to strike up a coversation with the latest nature loving helloers. After a minute of small talk, I asked the female nature lover if she would hold the cup for a second and then I ran like hell back down the trail. Good times.

Billy said...

I must also ask what is this excercise you speak of, electromechanical or otherwise.

and I was waiting for you to say you had to pee, didn't consider you having to carry the damn cup all that way.

Webmiztris said...

I thought for sure this story was going to end with you having to pee in that McDonald's cup...I have NO idea why...lol

Riss said...

What an awesome well-written story. To be expected of course which is why I come here. I must confess I knew where the story was headed, because it's what would happen to me should I ever decide to do this thing you refer to as "hiking."

OldHorsetailSnake said...

You just proved how easy it is to get hiking out of your system: Take one.

Lisa said...

I am out of breath just thinking about someone else hiking. Can you imagine what would happen if I actually did it myself?

Weary Hag said...

I went hiking exactly once in my life. I truly savored all the wonders of nature for the first three minutes and spent the remainder of my trek tripping on tree roots and embedded rock, getting stung on the elbow by a white-face hornet, and sobbing quietly when I realized the distance I had put between me and my car. Nature - gotta love it.

I very much enjoyed this story LBB. It's comforting to know that at least some of the people who write those sappy personal ads aren't lying. For a time, I wondered why there was so much traffic on the city roads - what with everyone and their mother out hiking, camping and enjoying long strolls on the beach. I guess some actually DO partake in these activities - at least the sadists, that is.

poopie said...

I was waiting to see how long it took you to have to pee in the desert after all that Diet Coke. I guess you left that part out ;)

Spinning Girl said...

Great tale!
I thought for sure the cup would end up stowed in some unsuspecting hiker's pack.
You will hike again. I know it will. Someday, the urge will again seize you.

Forty_Two said...

A few months ago I read a Tom Clancy novel titled Rainbow Six. It involved a group of extremist tree huggers who also possessed considerable technical expertise in the area of biotechnology. They plotted to spread some sort of plague, kill virtually everyone on the planet, (except themselves of course) thus saving the environment from the collective evils of mankind. The militaristic hero types who populate every one of Clancy's novels, and end up saving civilization from the tree huggers finish the story in a particularly delightful manner. In the middle of the Brazilian rain forest, the tree huggers are forced to strip naked and are abandoned to the kindness of mother Earth.

I love the true gifts of mother nature, especially things like mosquitoes, predators, sunburn, disease, and aging.

StringMan said...

I'll bet you watered quite a few cactus after all that diet coke ...

Pirate said...

I once was acousted by a nature lover freakazoid for throwing a styrofoam cub in a camp fire. I have thought of going back and checking on the body for some time.

Junebugg said...

Desert? Here we have forests but other than that I have lived your story many many times. I go to the mountains to get away from people and damn it, there they are. Pesky persons, go away.

Greg - Cowboy in the Jungle said...

Dude! I would give my left nut to go hiking like that! I love the out doors and having been confined to the tropical forests of East Texas, I'd welcome the desertscape and the chance to hike with out humidity. You know I'm moving to AZ as soon as I can find ample employment for Anonymous Shannon and I.

I can really lose myself in a hike - even inthe city. I cant run or lift monumentally heavy items but I'm a solid endurance walker. A 5k is like eating a candy bar for me.

I love to get lost in my own mind while trekking about. Give it another shot. You might solve some of life's tougher questions!

NWJR said...

I'm disappointed in you, Mr. Butt. Come on, embrace your inner Republican and DITCH THAT CUP! Any good Conservative knows that Mother Nature can't complete The Circle Of Life™ if you don't give Her something to recycle! I can't believe you wussed out like that. I expect better from you! My God, next thing you know you'll be voting for Hillary.

CaCaBoy said...

Gyms have trash cans, too. And spandex, can't forget the women wearing spandex...........

Peter said...

Hi Bugs, welcome back to posting, good story, I must admit the finish wasn't what I expected.

Bennet said...

very well written...

I thought this story would somehow end up with you using the cup to pee in, and trying to find a place to rid a smelly urine filled cup by hiking miles of trajectory only to discover a group of nature lovers all pissing in groups....Kind of like a Seinfeld episode...

Yours was less predictable..Very nice

kcterrilynn said...

Hmmm, what is this word, 'hike'? Gimme a car anyday. Yeah, I know, blah-blah-blah-bad-for-the-enviornment-cakes, but 'hike' is not in my vocabulary.

It's Me, Maven... said...

I saw this cross linked at CP's place, and thought you might dig it...

http://beautyandthebeer.blogspot.com/2005_09_01_beautyandthebeer_archive.html

chosha said...

Hiking essential: one of those small, light, floppy backpacks & a small plastic bag for rubbish. Backpack just big enough for water, snack and camera (+ cell phone if there's any chance you're going to get lost), plastic bag to stop rubbish making your backpack all gross.

SugarHigh said...

don't make me come to AZ and smack you on the head for that last sentence.
i enjoyed this post, although i am one of those environmental junkies who would take the cup you just dropped and not kindly hand it back to you, but rather throw it at your head. I won't hold it against myself though. heehee. I do however, understand the need to not be hi'd and howdy-ed every damn second. the reason i go into nature is to not be bothered. too much conversation and the point of the trip is ruined.
i also love my treadmill, but if i had views and weather like yours, i'd probably alternate gym and the great outdoors.

Amandarama said...

Hiking means going outside. Going outside means fresh air and/or sunshine. And those are things that, in my world, happen to other people.

Toni said...

Sorry your didn't enjoy your first hike Bug. My bf and his family are carzy hikers, especially his parents. They're in their 60s but in a whole lot better shape than me (I'm only 29). Their hikes are insane, and I often pray for death when I go on one with them. At the same time though, I do feel great afterwards.

One time we went on a hike in Utah, and unfortunately there was a huge group in front of us. I think it was composed of 2 or 3 families, and they had about 15 kids with them, AND a fucking boombox. It was bad enough that they were slow as hell in front of us, and that their brats were loud and obnoxious, but ALSO they were blasting that stupid boombox the whole time. When we finally got to our destination (the top of the mountain had a really nice lake), the idiot group continued to play their boombox while having lunch. So much for peace and serenity in the wilderness.

Libra said...

Hi, As part of some work I'm doing for a client, I need to talk to people who are interested in Hiking and who often search the web for related information. The research is mostly based around keyword ('field and trek' for example) selection. I've contacted people using field and trek but I need to contact more. Can you suggest where else to look?
TIA