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Backpacker Magazine – November 2008

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.

by: Steve Friedman, Illustrations by Ronald Kurniawan


"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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READERS COMMENTS

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Dear Canadian-john
Jan 25, 2009

Does anyone else see the irony of Canadian-john's post complaining about the author of the article's lack of writing skills, and then using "than" instead of "then"? What a doooooooooosh.

I don't think the story was award-winning, but reading it was a good way to spend ten minutes.

nick in Cinci, OH
Dec 25, 2008

Great story, thanks. When trips go like clockwork you miss all the fun. It's always good to get out with some people who aren't used to that kind of thing, don't get out often, or don't get along perfectly with you. The backcountry is the best place for making friends.

C'mon John, did you study lit at Oxford to move back to Canada and tell people their modern, casual articles should be made tedious for the reader to show off their "literary and writing" (look up literary, check for redundancy) skills? Anyways he's been published in the Times and the Post, John, he doesn't care about your comment.

And, Wiki says a soft or hard "G", but the Mongolian sound clip sounds more like a "ch" or a "dg" like in "edge". Regardless, he only spoke Mongolian, maybe Turkic. Different language and different sounds than ours, probably no writing or letters at all...

Honora
Dec 19, 2008

It's Genghis with a soft G.

Canadian-john
Dec 13, 2008

I must say, it quite clear why this writer hasn't won a Pulitzer. A great story with some deep thought and sentiment was ruined by a lack of literary and writing skills. Although this may seem profoundly rude to comment about, I feel as if the readers of backpacker deserve a little more talent behind the pages of their magazine/website. If this article is a fan submission, than I am sorry.

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