First of all, I’m not writing “noobs” to be derogatory. Everyone is a noob at something sometime. We’re all noobs the first time we get behind the wheel, the first time we use ebay or amazon, or try our hand at grilling meat. So being a noob isn’t a bad thing.
I’ve seen this on a wall in a hangar somewhere:
“You start with a bag full of luck and an empty bag of experience. The trick is to fill the bag of experience before you empty the bag of luck. Good judgment comes from experience. Unfortunately, the experience usually comes from bad judgment.”
Backpacking is like that. Sometimes you get lucky and learn from it. The time you almost step on a snake, or your water filter breaks and you have to drink from that mountain stream, or you slip and twist an ankle five miles from the car. The trouble with backpacking, is much like flying, you can have a lot of experience and still run into a problem with luck. Illness and injury being big issues; a hiker told me the tale of being two days from the car on the A.T. – and waking up in the middle of the night with a kidney stone. Excruciating at the best of times (according to science people, having a kidney stone lodged in your kidney ureter is the most terrible natural pain your body can experience) I can’t imagine running out of luck in the middle of the woods, and having to walk off a kidney stone for twenty miles. I had one in a mall, and under the influence of Loricet is was still horrible.
But part of our hiking group’s goal is to pair noobs with experienced people and help them gain experience without using up their luck. I think we are in for it tomorrow. By the time this gets published, I will be back in the woods leading my group of seven (I love the auto-publish timer on here…it’s freaky).
See, our leader has fourteen people lined up to go, and has decided that groups of 7 are much more manageable, so I get to be group leader B (Go Team B!) and take our little fellowship of no rings around the loop one way, and he will go the other way. I am hoping that we will be going the normal way, and he goes backwards, otherwise I’m liable to get really lost and confused.
But that’s okay, because we are intrepid backpackers and can spend the night anywhere. Much like a snail, anywhere we drop packs and pull out tents becomes “camp” whether it was the spot we picked on the map, or not.
This noob trip is a bit different for several reasons:
1. It is later in the year than normal. Usually we go in mid September. Mark decided to give the conference attendees a bit more time to get stuff together.
2. It’s butt ass cold. There’s no way around it. Thanks to Global Warming, winter has come early (I don’t understand it either, just play along with Al Gore, he knows what he’s doing, he’s getting rich off this thing after all). So, instead of lows of 45, we are staring down the barrel of 34 or so, which promises to be interesting.
I’ve hiked in the cold before. It’s interesting that you can hike in near freezing temperatures and still be sweating. But; I’ve not crossed a thigh-high stream the day after the temperature drops to 25 degrees. I’m seriously expecting there to be ice chunks floating through it. If there was another trail around it, I would lead them down a different path.
So – I’m hoping no one hurts themselves or causes poisonous critters to attack us. I don’t know much about first aid, and what do you do when you’re in a group? Point back to the cars and say, “Go that way, I have six others to care for – I’m not letting a little copperhead bite ruin it for everyone”?
I’m also hoping no one freezes. Hopefully everyone will have plenty of insulation for night time, and that they don’t think they need the huge winter coat while they are walking. You’ll know Sunday evening of course… because I’ll be publishing pictures.