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Post-backpacking trip rant

2010 September 15
by John

As many of you know, my wife and I recently returned from a 3 week backpacking trip on the John Muir Trail in California. It was glorious. One of my favorite things about backpacking is the absolute quiet you can get. I wouldn’t say my life is full of chaos and sound and TVs or radios always on, but if you really just sit and listen you’d be amazed at the white noise all around. My second favorite thing is being absolutely alone. Well, Elizabeth is there too, but essentially alone.

Suffice it to say that after three weeks of amazing peace and solitude, keeping your own schedule, and walking wherever you like for as long as you like, it can be an adjustment coming back to civilization and dealing with people. At least that’s what I tell myself. I’m a generally up-beat kind of guy and what I’m about to express doesn’t really fit my personality, so it must be that, right?


There’s a reason I keep advice to myself unless asked: it’s annoying to get advice if you don’t want it. Unfortunately, there is a contingent of "helpful" hikers out there that have the perfect remedy, or a great way to do something and want to convert other people. And they do so actively.

As we stopped and talked to people about "where ya been?" and "where ya going", it always came up that we were heading off the trail because of Elizabeth’s blisters. EVERY hiker has a cure for blisters. One of the guys we talked to actually had something we hadn’t heard of, but wasn’t willing to share. Super useful, dude. Thanks.

Our first post-trail encounter was on the bus into Yosemite after our Mobile Station experience. This guy had just finished the entire trail (so that already put him in our annoying column), and he was not-so-humbly extolling his fishing and cooking skills:

Yeah they said there was a ton of brown trout up there, but they can’t be caught. No one can catch ’em. But I did. I caught like 7 of them the first night. It was amazing. Then I built this fire, and found a nice flat piece of granite and laid that in there to heat up while I mixed some salt and pepper, Tabasco, and lemon juice. Seriously, no joke, people would have paid $20 a plate at a regular restaurant for the meal, let alone out in the back country like we were.

Yes seriously.

People in general

So after being out in the back country, people in general tend to kind of annoy me. We got back to Yosemite and being the popular place it is AND the end of summer, the place was pretty busy. I just kept saying, “This place is PACKED! There are so many people here!” But then when we actually compared it to two weeks ago when we were there the first time, it was actually not even as busy. It’s funny how your perspective changes.

Anyway, here are some of the crazy things “car campers” do that you don’t notice until you’ve been away from them for a long time:

  1. They smoke right next to no smoking signs, then argue and complain when asked to put out their cigarette. We’re in the middle of a forest dude. One that hasn’t had a decent rain in years. One in which a 90-acre controlled burn got out of control and burnt over 2200 acres.
  2. They wear a shocking amount of spandex. Granted most of them were European, but come on…
  3. They clean their dishes, pots, and pans at the community water spigot and dump the gross soapy water right there when they’re done. Right under the posting that says “gather water only” and a picture of dishes being washed with a circle around it and a line through it.
  4. As if to one-up the previous, we actually caught a lady cleaning her kids training toilet there, dumping it out the same way! I filled my water bottle hovering precariously over some kid’s turd!
  5. They bring gas generators to run their various ”gotta have it” accessories. I can understand that for things like an inflatable mattress, but please plan ahead and don’t kick it on at 11pm!
  6. They use their gas generator to power other things that I would deem less of a necessity, like … oh, say… their karaoke machines? No joke we listened to country karaoke in Yosemite Park until we finally fell asleep!
2 Responses leave one →
  1. Krista permalink
    September 25, 2010

    Oh my word! Laughing so hard. Some people… SO ridiculous! WOW

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