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nature: meh

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.

scott and tom hiking in banff

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.

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19 Comments Post a comment
  1. My husband once took our family on a hike from hell, during which both my children, including my adolescent son, CRIED. When I finally gave out and was on the verge of tears myself, he told me . . . wait for it . . . “Don’t be a titty baby.” Then he failed to understand why I failed to speak to him for the next 7 days and only became verbal again after a dramatic speech in which I explained to him that he should NEVER again call his wife a titty baby in front of his children if he expected to live through it.

    The Koreans got it right, sister.

    January 18, 2012
    • comments like this are why i enjoy blogging. really, really funny joan. thanks for posting.

      January 18, 2012
      • my husband is laughing in a manner that leads me to believe “titty baby” will soon become his invective of choice

        January 18, 2012
  2. oooh funny! You poor dear. i love nature too – but not much of a hiker… just like short walks in the forests – that’s enough for me. & being chinese, i’m completely with you on the food thing.
    & I’ve nominated your blog for The Versatile Blogger Award. Please visit http://trippingdifferently.com for details.

    January 17, 2012
  3. Lori Eberly #

    Let me know when you’re ready to brave backpacking with the kids and I’ll give you our trade secrets.

    January 16, 2012
    • lori, this might be soon. went hiking with the kids at tryon this morning and tom mentioned he wants to take finn backpacking this summer.

      i have a feeling you have some good tips…could i prevail upon you to post them here in case others are interested?

      January 16, 2012
  4. Ian Burgess Photography #

    You had me at Korean BBQ…

    Hilarious post – for the redo I wonder if there might there be some middle ground?

    A day hike with BBQ and build up from there? 😉

    January 16, 2012
    • here’s my idea of middle ground: korean bbq, at a restaurant, with the door open so we can get some fresh air.

      thanks for commenting, ian.

      January 16, 2012
  5. I taught English in Korea and there was a whole page of conversation practice about hiking. The first question was, “Do you like hiking?” and most of the students would say, “No,” and the conversation was ended. My (white) husband began to understand that it was not just me, but a genetic thing. He had tried to take me on a seven hour hike but it ended with my dad rescuing me in his 4WD.

    January 16, 2012
    • love this. although, older koreans seem to love their day hikes. went for a hike outside seoul once with like 20,000 of my brethren, all of whom were dressed in lederhosen and carrying hiking sticks. crazy fun.

      January 16, 2012
  6. Cafe23 #

    LOL!! Hilarious! I mean, hilariously written. Not that the torture you underwent was hilarious.

    I guess I’m not very Korean since I absolutely love camping! Not even car camping — I actually dislike car camping — but full out backcountry canoeing-portaging camping trips! I was born, raised and live in the city, but I love those those moments where there’s no civilization in sight 🙂

    Anyways, I hope one day Tom takes you somewhere not humid where you can camp and cook some kalbi. Bring some tetra-packs of wine just in case you need to numb the pain! =P

    January 16, 2012
    • i do enjoy camping when the conditions are exactly right. meaning, my therma-rest is inflated, i have my pillow from home, and it’s between 55 and 65 degrees at night. tetra-packs of wine…yes! and you can drink them during the hike and lighten your pack. brilliant. you’re not alone: my cousin, also korean, is a new yorker, and she loves coming out to oregon to commune with nature. thanks for reading, cafe23!

      January 16, 2012
      • Cafe23 #

        Haha I can appreciate that … Lol we played Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader on our last camping trip for vodka shots, first time bringing alcohol on a trip actually but it was such good fun .. Ah, good to know I’m not alone 😀 … My pleasure!

        January 17, 2012
  7. K How #

    I think that picture of you after the proposal is just gorgeous. You look so radiant in it.

    January 16, 2012
    • i think i was just happy to have the pack off my back, to be honest. but thank you!

      January 16, 2012
  8. Grayson Dempsey #

    So funny. You could sub in the names “Grayson” and “Jack” and this would be our story exactly, although the jerky and triscuits would be a mango and some water and the story wouldn’t end with a proposal (not that day at least). Glad to know there’s someone else out there who would rather spend her time in civilization where there’s good coffee and plenty to eat 🙂 But our kids DO love car camping, and we have found some beautiful spots in recent years, so if you’re ever up for it we could do a not-too-strenuous family camping trip! xoxo

    January 16, 2012
    • the things we do for the people we love…

      let’s do it! we went to suttle lake last year and had the best time, except for the constant monitoring of tate to make sure he didn’t fall into the water, or the campfire.

      January 16, 2012
  9. I love that old school pic of Tom with big hair.

    A friend of mine wrote a very chilling story about the dangers of the Napili Coast — you’re hardcore!

    January 16, 2012
    • i wish i knew tom when he had that hair, and those glasses. and the hefty bag for outerwear.

      January 16, 2012

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