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I’m Hiking with Stupid – A Buddy Story

The last time our author took his buddy camping, they stopped speaking for a year. A decade later, they still haven't hit the trail together. Which means there's only one thing to do: Try again.

“Why would I ever want to go on a hiking trip with you again?” Jeff said when I called him last October to inform him of my plan.

“C’mon, it’ll be fun,” I said.

“You almost killed me in Colorado,” Jeff said. “You enjoyed watching me suffer.”

“I didn’t enjoy it,” I said. “I was just trying to get you to exceed your self-imposed limitations.”

“Bullshit,” Jeff said. He had always had a way with words. Maybe that explained the Pulitzers.

I tried a different tack.

“You’re the one in shape this time. I’m the fat hog.”

“That’s a good point,” Jeff said. “But I still don’t see why I would want to spend two nights lying on the ground next to you, and two days dying of thirst.” (I had dropped one of our two water bottles in a river on the way up the mountain on our last trip. And the water filter I had borrowed was broken and pumped only a liter every 30 minutes. And I had selected a campsite that was a 30-minute walk from the nearest water source, which sat in the middle of a thicket of vegetation that was home to the largest colony of mosquitoes west of the Mississippi. Also, I had forgotten insect repellent.)

“Do you want to get soft?” I asked. “Just because you’re married and won a few contests, you just want to slide into middle age?” (Jeff had just turned 51. I was 52.)

“I’m not sliding anywhere,” Jeff said. “And didn’t you just admit that you’re the hog?”

I told him that I’d been working out some personal demons 12 years ago, that I had changed, that I was sorry for making him walk after he puked. I promised I’d bring insect repellent.

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