ALTITUDE, NOT ATTITUDE, OR… WHATEVER

SCRAMBLES & SUMMITS

EPISODE #5

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Since comfort was a primary focus of my last post, I’ve decided to stick with that theme. In a round-a-bout way, I was poising to get to this post to put me back in line with the chronology of my New Mexico experience.

I’ve never had a more uncomfortable, miserable ascent than my first peak in Taos, which is also the highest point in New Mexico. I know there are plenty of hateful cunts out there who enjoy the thought of me in pain, so, for all ‘intensive purposes,’ this post is for you.

It’s this hike that has established much of my attitude toward how I’ll be living through the winter, and how I’ve chosen to confront some of the emotional obstacles I’ll face (knowing that I’m a complete and utter fuck-up) without getting triggered.

In writing this useless loser trash, I thought about all the golly-gee super-duper self-esteem garbage I heard through my time in secondary school.

It’s not quantity it’s quality…

I vaguely remember something about attitude and aptitude, maybe, but I had more pressing scribbles to pursue during my pre-pubescence, so those tidbits of clever advice were soon forgotten. However, the memory of those soggy, ‘you’re special’ phlegm-drenched hairballs emerged that morning while I prepared, in misery, to hike Wheeler.

I left work that morning in a haze, my new transition into an overnight shift had left me without the ability to sleep for more than 36 hours. By the time I got to the trailhead, I finally felt like I could get some sleep, so I parked in the farthest corner of the parking lot and climbed into my bed-fort with Kamani to sleep for (I’d hoped) at least three hours.

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Forty minutes after I’d parked, vehicles pulled in and parked on either side of me. I shifted to take a glance through the window, expecting a torrent of moving cars in the lot, their drivers desperately searching for a spot.

No. The parking lot was empty except for four cars. Mine. The Subaru parked near the information board, and the two cunts who parked on either side of me—a van and a hatchback. The guy in the van remained in his vehicle, but the hatchback princess dallied around his vehicle in his yoga pants before power-walking toward the trailhead.

I decided that there would only be more ridiculousness if I tried to go back to sleep, so I got up and put on my hiking clothes, trying to scramble out of my annoyance while I thrashed around the boxy cabin of the Nitro to pull on my trousers.

This process was not comfortable. Kamani can disperse her weight on a bed so that she feels like a 100 kilogram block of cement instead of a 25 kilogram, spry animal when you try to move her. When she does that, it’s like trying to get dressed upside down in a trash can.

It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, I said to her when I shoved her toward the front seats, which carried me through a string of other clever little proverbs that brought me back to memories of grade school.

Sticks and stones…

Your attitude, not your…

Don’t eat the yellow snow…

And on and on and on…

And now, social media has given us a plethora of memes to echo these profound sentiments. And I don’t understand the comfort that they provide. It’s all nonsense. They’re nothing more than closed curtains to temporarily keep us from feeling discomfort.

Nothing can prepare you for discomfort except discomfort.

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I’d already postponed the hike twice. If it snowed, I wouldn’t be able to get up Wheeler until it melted. I’d been waiting to climb Wheeler since my last attempt in February. I couldn’t face the day without trying. So, I laced up my boots and accepted the fact that my day was going to be uncomfortable.

I didn’t know how uncomfortable or that one of the most pressing emotional obstacles I’d face would be that hike. I didn’t know that I would bully myself into feeling like a complete bitch. And not only that, but I also didn’t know I’d have to carry more than the usual load in my pack.

Including, but not limited to, a bag of shit.

An elderly couple were making their way on the road in front of us, moving at a pretty good clip, and not just for elderly hikers. As soon as I passed them, Kamani decided to shed some of the weight she was carrying by stopping to shit in the road.

It was abrupt enough that the couple I’d just passed had to swerve around us. I’d forgotten Kamani’s plastic shit bags, so I had to use a plastic freezer bag from my pack, which was pretty fortunate because there was no receptacle to donate Kamani’s hot shit to, and I’m not the kind of asshole who leaves shit in a bag on the side of the road.

My delirium began to become obvious. I could feel my movements becoming more and more mechanical. The hazy fog in my mind thickened and my thoughts became nothing more than the mantra Kamani’s shit had inspired.

Moist anus.

I pushed on, trying to catch the lost boy in yoga pants who left the parking lot before I did. As the terrain made it a more difficult hike, I began to fart, a lot, which emphasized my delirium mantra. While some things might be hazy, I’m pretty positive that for at least an hour, I was walking through the forest farting and whispering moist anus over and over and over.

Cold began to make itself more present. A cramp began to stitch itself into my side. And then my p.p. started to hurt, which is how I knew I hadn’t drank enough water.

I took a piss, despite the whisper of dehydration, and I discovered that my penis was hibernating, crouched and knot-like–one of those chaotic pieces of artwork children make out of their shoelaces after they’ve moved beyond Velcro.

I took some time to drink some water and try to decide what my penis/lift-kit ratio should be on a truck if I had one.

Getting past the wood-line promised nothing resembling relief. The peak of Wheeler was nearly obscured by the sheer steepness of the hike. My legs began to cramp, locking my knees from time to time as I shambled along the switch-backs, moving uphill with the grace of someone on crutches.

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Kamani didn’t lack energy, and her enthusiastic scrambles made me feel even weaker, that a hike less than ten miles long was breaking me down into such a pile of wet paper towels (Viva excluded).

We made it past a bullshit section of trail where there were small rocks that kept tripping me up and making me slide everywhere. This was especially motivating to my nemesism, which had already completely diminished any sense of enjoyment for the hike.

My feet hurt, and my worn out Timberlands seemed like they’d be beautiful in flight if I set them free over the rocky slope of the mountain.

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And then there was only a few hundred meters left. I looked down the steep grade I’d just ascended to see other hikers hitting a portion of the misery I’d just suffered. Or maybe it was worse.

The wind did it’s best to make my face even more handsome in the dark as I meandered to the summit, where I spent a considerable amount of time wondering why I’d put myself through all of that, why I forced myself to feel like such a weak and fading life form for a mountain that would still be there on a day when I was more rested and prepared to get some enjoyment out of the hike than just the summit.

I realized the answer to this on the way down, while I stumbled and fell and slipped. The entire way up, with every step, I thought about how much easier those steps would be on the way down. As I made descent, falling over more trail than I walked, I realized that quitting is the worst kind of discomfort.

The only comfort in quitting goes to the people rooting against you as proof that they were right.

Fuck them.

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There was plenty of light when I finally got back to Nitro. Kamani was eager to eat, but I had some coordination issues and dropped her bowl of food on my first attempt to feed her. I finally got my shit together and Kamani pushed her face around her bowl without the slightest indication of appreciation.

I straightened out my sleeping bag and climbed into the Nitro bed-fort. And there, despite the sun in my face, I finally felt some sense of comfort. I knew I was going to sleep hard, and I partially hoped that I would slip into a coma.

Then I remembered that I still had a bag of Kamani’s shit in my pack.

Sometimes, it’s more than your own shit you have to carry.

*&*&*&*&*&*&*&*&*

Thank you for taking the time to read:

SCRAMBLES & SUMMITS     Episode #5

Please like, share and follow my adventures with Kamani on Twitter @ProfessorOpiate or Instagram @joericker.

You can also visit my Podcast.

 

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