Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Crazy White Folk

I do a lot of hiking. Because of my very weird work schedule, I almost always do my hiking and backpacking solo. I've always found it very difficult to find companions who can tackle my outdoors activities when I'm free to go. And people who have normal workweeks can't accommodate me no matter how many times they invite me along.

When I talk about my rather tame outdoors adventures to folk who don't go hiking and backpacking at all, these people think I'm crazy. They think I'm mad for hiking many miles from roads. They think it weird that I would backpack into a wilderness to spend a night all alone with all kinds of "dangerous" animals around. These people tend to look upon as strange my tendency to hike up steep mountains and down into deep gorges and off into trackless woods.

But I try to tell them that my activities are really quite tame. I only rarely do anything even as risky as bushwhacking. I try to tell them that only a total moron can get lost in the Eastern USA (with the possible exceptions of some of our swamps and low country). I don't really mountain climb. I'm not a technical climber and even my most rugged trips only involved what is known as light scrambling. Yes, I backpack overnight into wilderness areas that are home to bobcats and bears and poisonous snakes. But none of that stuff qualifies as dangerous.

My son took this of an easy rock scramble I took at Alligator Back Rocks near Sparta NC. I started well down the gorge and all-foured it up to the top.

There, are, however, some crazy people who actually do dangerous stuff. People who climb sheer cliffs that require great technical skills and extreme physical conditioning. That's dangerous. And how about those dudes who free climb (without ropes and anchors)?

But the craziest dudes I encounter are the extreme kayakers. These guys are just daft. I don't care how much research they do when looking at a particularly dangerous stretch of whitewater. When you tackle certain stunts...well, you're just tempting the laws of physics. As far as I'm concerned, the following wackjob just freaking got totally lucky. He hit that waterfall at the right place at the right time and with the right amount of water flow.

But damned if it ain't totally cool. This is my "Crazy White Dude of the Year":


Jack said...

Thank Kayak Run was Crazy!

As for hiking alone in the wilderness. I feel many times safer walking through the wilderness than I do walking around most city streets.

"I'd rather be lost in the woods, than found in the city!"

HemlockMan said...

I agree. But when I talk to most people about my hiking they tend to think it weird and dangerous. Sometimes I want to move to Colorado where it seems half the population are avid hikers.