I camped a lot as a kid, but it was always with a car and three coolers filled with Korean bbq for the campfire. Koreans camp for one reason, and that is to eat outdoors. My family always stayed within a 10 yard radius of the campsite, and marveled at nature from that safe remove. Any deeper in the woods and you might find hicks, and we, like most minorities, were scared of hicks.
Tom is not a hick, but he is white. And by and large, the white people I know really dig on nature. Tom has a long history of backpacking and building fires from twigs and licking bugs off tree bark.
When we started dating, Tom convinced himself that I must love nature too, since I grew up in Oregon. And once he made that assumption, I tried it on for size to see how it fit, because I’m a giver, and that’s what givers do.
The fit, needless to say, was terrible, like high-rise jeans that give you pancake ass AND camel toe. In hindsight, I blame Tom completely, because he set me up for failure by taking me to the Napali Coast for my first backpacking trip. To describe that three-day hike as steep, humid, and unending would be to unfairly emphasize only the high points of the experience. Here’s a photo of me, in purgatory.
Remove the tropical vegetation from the photo, and it’s not a huge stretch to imagine that it was taken during a forced death march. I look preoccupied because I was busy planning my own suicide. In all seriousness, here’s what I was thinking in this photo: 1) there is no way that this backpack weighs an ounce less than 172 pounds; 2) hot DAMN these hiking boots are ugly; and 3) dear God, please don’t let me get a sock tan.
At the end of this first day of the hike, we put our packs down and dug into a dinner of beef jerky and Triscuits. Imagine if your only prior experience with the outdoors was completely food-based, and then you had to go through that ridiculously taxing hike, and then end the day with TRISCUITS. I am proud to say, dear reader, that on that bleak night, the tears welled, but they did not overflow.
Things got better on the second day, when we pitched our tent on our deserted beach. Tom broke out the freeze-dried chili and I was able to jolt myself out of my despair by dunking myself in the ocean. See below: the relief on my face is palpable. Although I guess that could also be happiness, because Tom had just proposed.
Anyway, that was 12 years ago, and proposal aside, I was so traumatized that I haven’t been backpacking since. Tom keeps talking about taking the kids for a backpacking trip, but whenever I picture it, I picture myself on that same grueling hike, except this time, there are two kids behind me throwing sticks at the wildlife, falling off cliffs, and whining in two-part harmony. But I relish the idea of a redo, so that I can do that hike again and take the time to actually wallow in the nature around me. Only this time, I’ll remember to pack in some Korean bbq.