Adventure Etiquette = Life Etiquette

December 23, 2015 § Leave a comment

I love camping with my best friend Arnold. Here he is building a tiny snowman:

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We’ve spent approximately 3% of the last 8 years camping together. Caves, mountains, bikes, sharks, horses, kayaks, fish, and fires. The adventures have been grand. He’s got a measured temperament in stressful situations. Lost on a snowy peak? No problem. Snorkled into some sharks? It’s cool. Lightening storm on your float trip? Land ho! He’s flexible when it comes to the plan – both in suggesting detours and following off-route – and pushes his adventuring to a level that I’m comfortable with. Plus the dude is strong and lift some heavy shit. Pretty helpful to have around.

His adventure attitude is great. His camp etiquette is even better. Tent and personal belongings in the tent first. Wood collection second. Fire and food preparation simultaneously third. Once dinner is going, then personal time. Dishes are split. In other words, shared camp tasks first. Personal tasks second, unless you’ve really gotta pee. The guy is totally selfless and minimalist. He once took just two towels for sleeping for a two week bike trip. I’m sure he would have given me one if I had asked for it.

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Going camping / adventuring with someone is a really good way to get at their character. Are they calm under pressure? Are they risk averse? Do they help out with shared tasks or do they do their own business first while you set stuff up? Are they totally oblivious to the work you’re putting in to keep up camp? Do they ask if you want help or do they just jump in to help if you’re doing something?

It’s all pretty basic stuff that comes to light when you’re living a pretty basic existence.

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So I dragged my girlfriend camping in November without any of this in mind. I just wanted to go camping after a long summer campaign with no respite. It seemed like a good thing to do to clear my mind, and great with my favorite person and partner.

It happened to be in Florida. On a swampy trail that looked like this…

 

Except that we got a way late start and it was dark already climbing through that muck. And did I mention that we were covered in mosquitoes and that the campsite was 2 miles out and primitive? Oh, and also we passed this sign –

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She’d had a tough week (the Supreme Court made a shitty decision on one of our campaigns) and wasn’t too stoked on the overnighter, but knew that I’d had my heart set on it.

We set out into the darkness.

And it was totally awesome. We got off trail in the swamp and she put her foot down on not splitting up in a totally stern but respectable way. She offered to switch packs and encouraged me chill when I wanted to muscle my way there with all the firewood attached to me. She prepped the food as I started the fire in simpatico. We got to zen out in the wilderness together and it was just lovely.

Apparently, (I just Googled this to confirm), they say you have to camping with your partner before you really know them. This probably isn’t true – all of these things arise in one way or another in normal life – but it is a very concentrated situation where all of the things come to light in a short period of time.

So there you are. Go forth and camp with your betrothed, folks.

Bouldering.

December 23, 2015 § 1 Comment

Indoor bouldering is a body puzzle in a bubble. A game of balance and strength, of virtually endless attempts and cushy falls. If you get freaked out, you just climb down on some juggy holds or tumble roll on an endless mattress. It’s a community of helpful athletic hipster nerds cheering you on and giving you beta.

You can pee in a toilet and buy Cliff bars and eat them on a couch. It’s a constant 65 degrees.

When you’re done you do some finger pull ups and jump kicks for good measure.

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Outdoor bouldering. Outdoor bouldering is an adventure.

You’re lost on the approach and your map isn’t helping because it’s a picture of a bunch of boulders and trees and everywhere around you is boulders and trees. You’re surrounded by endless boulders to top and you want to cry because you want to climb THEM ALL but you know that that’s not possible and that just makes you so sad. You got fixated on one boulder for an hour making up problems. You’ve been working on one problem all day. You’re trying to top all the 15 footers. Your buddy got diarrhea from the tacos yesterday and you’re stuck at camp.

The rock is gritty but it takes. It’s chossy and wet. It’s smooth as a baby’s butt and it grips like a vice. It stabby and all the crimps suck but the slopers are awesome. It’s heinous and you suspect someone has covered it in butter. It’s covered in glorious, beautiful jugs that feel like total cheating. It’s covered in dried mushrooms because it rained last week. It’s got cactus growing out of half the holds.

You can’t make the next hold because you’re off route. You can’t make it because you’ve been there for three days and your arms don’t work anymore. You can’t make it because you’re bleeding. You can’t feel your fingers because it’s 50 degrees. You can’t make it because you only slept for four hours. Because you drank too much around the camp fire last night. You can’t make it because you’re fucking terrified. You go for it anyways because you’re too high up to fall now and the only way to go is up.

You stick it and float through the crux and you feel heroic. You stick it and slowly calculate the rest of the way, full of fear, trying to get it over with. You stick it and it’s totally the wrong beta and you feel around to see what you missed.

You’re a few small people in a large expanse. You go home and agree that it was all pretty epic.

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