My son has taken to using acronyms as actual speech. Oddly enough backpackers, specifically long distance hikers, have done the same. HYOH. It means hike your own hike. No shit, I guess I will since I’m the one doing it. It normally follows a long sermon concerning gear or methodology.
“Well, you could use the Osprey Atmos 65, but really do you need all that space in a pack? I find the ULA Catalyst to be more than sufficient to carry what I need on a thru-hike. If you consider you will be passing through a town at least every three days you won’t need as much food. You shouldn’t really carry a heavy tent, just use a tarp, or forget it altogether and sleep in the shelters. They’re spaced out every ten miles or so, and I hear the mice enjoy the company. As far as stoves, you could use the MSR Pocket Rocket, but why contend with all the weight of a canister. What do those weigh anyway? Like almost five ounces. Make your own alcohol stove out of an empty can of (insert food product that comes in a very small can, such as olives or cat food, or potable meat for fairies). That’s really light, and doesn’t take up much space at all. Or you could really do it right and not cook at all. No stove! Yeah, that’s what I’m doing. I like peanut butter and tortillas. Starving children in third world countries would consider that a feast. But, anyway, HYOH.”
HYOH is the hiker version of “Whatever Bro. Don’t take my advice. You’ll probably do it wrong regardless.”
If you would endeavor to peruse the enormous selection of websites dedicated to hiking, and lurk in the forums, you will find no shortage of people willing to dispense their wisdom upon you. If you do end up with a question, and have the cajones to post it, somebody will answer, most likely in a snarkish manner. I have not posted any questions as I have a strict rule about posting in forums. Don’t do it. If I have a question that needs answering I go to credible sources (Wikipedia, the elderly).
The internet has become what God intended it to be. A conglomeration of blips, beeps, dits, dots, dweebs, dorks, dolts, and dullards, all mashed together in order to deliver information to masses at the speed of monkey turds hurled over a fence. Where I used to find information I now gaze upon videos of puppies giving solace to crying children (awww, that’s cute), rants about Obama, and stories I just have to verify through Snopes.
When I was growing up our phone was connected to the wall. It didn’t have buttons either. I could not watch Netflix on it. If we could go back in time and tell ourselves in just few years “hang on man, you are gonna have your friggin’ mind blown, that thing,” pointing to the Sports Illustrated Football phone you got for a years subscription, “That thing, right there, in your hand,” shakes head, “No. Gone. Don’t have those. They sell them in antique shops. You carry a phone with you, only it’s not a phone. It is, but it isn’t. It’s also a television, and the internet, and music, shit I forgot! That stereo goes too.” No way! That’s what we would have said. But then when we told ourselves we would be able to use the phone in the middle of nowhere, and play music, and a movie (as long as your battery was in decent shape) what would we say? No way! Way. Yes way. Which brings me to this (see below).
We will be bringing smartphones on our thru-hike. I debated it, mostly with myself. My wife did not participate. The usual crap leaned the scales in favor of technology. I will need to communicate with home, and pay phones are nonexistent. We are bringing a camera to document our trip as well. How else could I post footage of bears attempting to get to our food bags dangling from tree branches? I’ll slap it up on the YouTubes and everybody will giggle (silly bear, isn’t he/she cute?). And don’t forget the Grayson Highland Ponies! Uber-cute. All thru-hikers have videos of them (they look like regular ponies, only for Hobbits).
We’ll also do the ubiquitous thru-hiker gear strategy video. A painstaking clip of us going over each and every piece of gear, its weight (in grams or ounces?), and why we chose it. I promise (hand on the Douay Rheims Bible) to bring a microphone so you can hear us as we narrate the weather conditions during our hike to the top of Clingmans Dome (wind never figured into some peoples planning). Let’s not forget the food video. I’ll break it down for you:
1. Bailey will narrate and demonstrate packaging of Ramen.
2. I’ll show you the brand of beef jerky we will use (very particular about my jerky).
3. We’ll both go over our choices of stoves (you are sure to find the vienna sausage tin stove mesmerizing).
Emma Gatewood (God rest her soul) thru-hiked the AT in 1955. She carried that sack, something to make a fire with, a couple of cans of food, a shower curtain (tarp), a rain jacket, and a blanket. She did it again in 1963 (she was 75 years old). Should I feel ashamed of my kick ass Osprey backpack, Warbonnet Blackbird hammock, down backpacking quilt, and fashionable trail runners (see all of this and more in the soon to come gear selection video, and prepare to be amazed)? Are we doing it wrong, just because we have 4G phones and a Netflix account? Come on! What are we supposed to do at night when the hiking day is done? Listen to the sounds of nature? Hey Grandma Gatewood, you’re the O.G., I know, but seriously, HYOH.
This post is dedicated to former scoutmaster “Droop”