Previous Walk it Off entry: Everybody’s Different
Tagg’s Rule #2: Your Mileage WILL Vary.
It is perhaps the most understated and, at the same time, most understood rule out there. It is closely related to the rule about everyone being different. Not all of us are going to be yo yo hikers or back country peeps. Different people will have different capabilities and not everyone who goes out expecting something Gets that something while out there. It’s something I worry about on the trail and something I see a lot of lately.
This entry and rule are for everyone who’s ever read a book or seen a movie or heard a story and thought to themselves “Hey, *I* can Do That.” This is for all the Strayeds out there who thought that all that’s needed for finding oneself is to go drop a few thousand dollars at a gear store and hit the trails, brimmed with the expectation of doing something that will make the annals of humanity and be preserved for all time in idol worship. This is just your warning sign. Nature has other ideas..
I am not going to throw this out there as a “You Shouldn’t Go Out There” sort of message. I’ll leave that to my mother-in-law. What I will throw out there is that going on those epic hikes and memorable and writable moments is the end result of a LOT of work, planning, and then sheer guts and will. And you know what? Not all of us have that. You know what else? That’s all right. Your Mileage Will Vary.
Previous Walk it Off entry: No thanks for the Memoirs.
If you ran into me and Tenaya on the trail, what you’d see is two very different people. Clothing wise, we’re pretty much the same. Gear wise, we’re different. I have old, used, worn in and in some cases nearly worn out gear. It’s not top end. There are hikers and people would be embarrassed to walk into an REI with the gear I have. My wife looks like she should model for the catalog or that REI has already geared her out with her new Osprey day pack and Camelback Mk 2 bladder. The rookie hikers will think she’s the more serious of the two of us as she’s obviously spent a good chunk of change on that gear and those clothes, and that I’m a casual weekend warrior.
Oh, those appearances, they are deceiving.
Previous Walk It Off post: Trial By Error
My wife recently handed me another PCT memoir. And while her taste in books is usually much better than mine, I admitted to having trouble getting through it. The book in question was Gail D. Storey’s “I Promise Not To Suffer.” This is not the first memoir I’ve had problems with getting through. I told my wife that I was willing to give the book the benefit of the doubt and not pass judgment on it until I’d met the writer. One of the other memoirs I had the distinction of meeting the author and she turned my opinion of the book around. Storey was here at a local bookstore last night on tour, so I stopped in for a second to get a better feel for the writer.
What I saw was something I’m coming to see all too often in these sorts of books and it’s starting to annoy me. I saw the author, in attendance with two people wearing name badges for the PCTA. She was dressed very much as you see her on the cover of her book in skirt and brand spanking new shiny hiking boots. They were putting a cardboard box sign on her that advertised the book. It was a spectacle. It was a publicity stunt. And I left disgusted with the whole affair. I will not finish the book. I don’t think I Can finish it without formulating what I feel is wrong with the book, and that’s unfair to the writer. My beef isn’t with Storey specifically. My beef is with a theme that I see emerging with the memoirs of writing about hiking and the “famous” scenic trails out and about.
Today I’m going to talk about something almost every outdoors writer does. It’s the “Oh look at how I’m a complete Noob out in the woods and let’s all have a chuckle at my antics” entry. Except that a lot of the memoirs I’ve read about this sort of thing all have one thing in common; they’re all about Adults bumbling out in the woods. They are supposed to be an inspiration about getting out there to go and adventure and not to be afraid of your mistakes because we all Do make them.
The difference between me and a lot of the memoir writers is that my first camping trip was with the Boy Scouts and I was about 9.
Looking back, you’d think that at minimum, I would have had some training, somebody to take me aside and say “Hey, Tagg, this is what camping is, this is how you set up a tent, this is how you make a fire without burning down half a national forest.” You’d think if not my parents, then at least my Scoutmaster would have given me some practice at this. Every memoir writer has at least read a few guide books on how not to totally screw up in the woods. Not me.