I am going hiking and camping with two friends this Saturday. That is the plan, at least. The three of us rarely get together anymore and the years of empty promises that “yeah, we’ll definitely do that some time” finally chapped one of them bad enough to insist that we go this weekend.
So last Thursday at 4:18 a.m., the one I’ll call Friend #1 who got all this together, sent an e-mail (something unusual in itself) entitled “hello keep sending incomplete sorry.” In this e-mail was a list of 37 items, many of which were multi-part or paragraph-long explanations of alternatives, of what he felt we should bring. The list included:
- locator beacon, etc.
- Purell sanitizer
- bear spray
- “a lil rope”
- “I have a whistle for me and you” (meaning me and himself, Friend #1. Not sure why Friend #2 was not allowed to have a whistle), and
- bathing suits “for the way up” (for a mid-October hike in the North Georgia mountains)
Like pretty much everyone else raised in ITP Atlanta (inside the perimeter, which refers to Interstate 285 that encircles and protects Atlanta from the rural hordes), I have little experience hiking or camping. This is because metro school systems limit the education of students about “the rest of Georgia” to only what is included in James Dickey’s Deliverance and the movie based on it. This is to dissuade us from ever traveling OTP (outside the perimeter) or, god forbid, if we ever went WOTP (way outside the perimeter) we would at least know how, when commanded, to “squeal like a pig.”
In truth, the list also included necessities like tents and backpacks, socks and shoes, and lots of toilet paper, but nonetheless it seemed a bit over-enthusiastic.
In the e-mail, he also encouraged me to come over to his house to try on an arctic jacket that he wanted to sell me for $50. The jacket would have been too large for Andre the Giant and I imagined myself tripping over the sleeves dragging along the ground and falling off the side of a mountain, so I turned him down. Next, he showed me his own backpack that he insisted I borrow, refusing to consider my comment that I’d be fine using my son’s Spiderman backpack. He had, in fact, already packed it for me and gave me the tour of where all the essentials from the e-mail were.
“What’s this Christmas ornament for?” I said pointing to what looked like the lost bell on Santa’s sleigh.
“That’s a bear bell,” he said, getting annoyed.
“Why do we want them to know we’re coming? Aren’t we supposed to avoid bears?”
He went right on showing me all the other special pockets and their contents – one for the bear spray, another for the headlamp that I would need in order to look for bears while getting up for late-night pee, and which I would have to wear while sleeping. etc.
On the way home I called Friend #2, hoping to get some confirmation about what to bring. Maybe #1 was right, that we really did need all this stuff. How the hell would I know.
“I’m not taking all that. Just a tent that we can all sleep in, a small stove, and some socks,” he said.
Hopefully I will have an entry Part 2 after the trip. If not, it’s been real, y’all!