May 7, 2008

something I wrote a long time ago

Are you interested in going into the wilderness to find yourself? Don't be like this guy. Dude quits his insurance company job and "went into the woods [to] find a way back to my roots and creative intelligence."

Signs this is going to go badly: dude goes by an Egyptian word for phoenix. Dude takes a queen-size air bed with him. Backpacking. With a queen-size air bed. On his back. Dude knows nothing about backpacking but decides to fast during his adventure. Apparently including minimal or no water.

Predictable result: dude has to get rescued by a helicopter and taken to a hospital.

Don't be like this guy. If you want to go on a backcountry trip, ask some people who know what they're doing how to be safe. I guarantee you know someone. Especiallly if you live in Berkeley like phoenix-man. I hereby offer to answer your questions about backpacking and canoeing, and anything more technical than that in the backcountry probably means you want someone with some experience with you.

The whole point of wilderness is that it's not controlled by humans. So if you're a city person, it's got a whole new set of dynamics and resources, and until you understand those pretty well you should be careful. Ed Viesturs climbed 12 of the 14 highest peaks in the world without oxygen. He's never climbed Annapurna. He said that he's never seen coming home as optional, so he's willing to walk away from anything that's too dangerous. This is a man who takes risks that for most of us would be off the charts, but it's the exact same mentality as [safe, reasonable] people who go out on weekend backpacking trips.

Second thing: the people rescuing that guy in California. Some of them are volunteers - I can't tell how many, but at least one organization that got called out. This is part of what burns me about people who recklessly put themselves in a position to be rescued. Most of the search and rescue people in remote areas (maybe less in Monterey County and other more densely populated areas) are volunteers. They give up their weekends to go to trainings, get familiar with the area, and pick people up who get lost; they buy most of their own gear. You'd be surprised how many search and rescue groups are volunteers: if you get lost in the Tahoe resort, you get rescued by paid people, but if you get lost skiing in the backcountry where it's a lot more dangerous it's Tahoe Nordic S&R that'll come look for you, and they're volunteers. I mean come on. You're going to ask volunteers to put in many hours for training and rescue because you didn't do some minimal research?

No comments: