Backcountry bungler hoping for a big-bucks adventure | SummitDaily.com
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Backcountry bungler hoping for a big-bucks adventure

I need some extra cash. With this in mind, I’ve developed a plan to net myself a healthy sum of greenbacks without, I might add, having to work.

I’m going hiking in the mountains.

My mountain trek will take hours of preparation. In my pack I’ll stuff a small bag of trail mix, maybe a quart of water and at least one outdoor magazine.



Topographical maps, matches, compass, flashlight, signal mirror, whistle, bear spray, rain gear and tarp I will forget in my basement, and when my rescuers ask me why I abandoned all this important gear, I will simply explain I packed for a day hike.

I also am planning to haul along a cell phone, but tragically, the place I’ll roam won’t get reception.



My outdoor clothing will consist of Teva sandals, shorts, tank top and ball cap. I think I also will take along a windbreaker, but one with plenty of holes. When they make my made-for-television movie, I wouldn’t want people to think I had it too easy.

Then I won’t tell anyone where I’m going – though I’ll leave a few hints with family and co-workers. And I won’t say how long I’ll be gone either. Specifics, it seems, make for poor dramatic tension.

I’ll ignore weather reports, and once I’m in the backcountry, I’ll diligently move away from tracks, paths and trails before putting myself into an incredibly dangerous situation by climbing up a rock face or maybe trying to forge a river swollen with spring runoff.

Wouldn’t it be great if it snowed, and I lost a sandal?

Once my plan is set in motion, there will be nothing left to do but suffer and wait. Hopefully, when I don’t appear at work one Monday morning, friends will start to wonder, and then, as days pass, panic.

I sure hope the press interviews my more photogenic friends. I also hope my family members think up some memorable quotes.

With all my preparations in order, I’ll face my uncertain future with the knowledge that, if I survive my made-for-television ordeal, the money I make will be enough to pay off my mortgage and put my daughter through college.

God, I just pray I lose a few toes to frostbite or a rattlesnake bites me. How cool would that be?

Come to think of it, if I really want to make a splash, maybe I should take my daughter along. That always translates into great headlines.

“Father Loses Nose and Toes Saving Daughter from Wilderness Woes.”

Or better yet, If I could teach my 14-month-old daughter to crawl five miles through the woods, snow and rocks to find help for her trapped dad, and then she could somehow explain my precarious position to rescuers using a series of goos, gaas, da das, ma mas and shaking her head “no.” I know I’d make a million dollars.

If my scheme seems a bit far-fetched, just remember the same thing happens about once a week to plenty of bunglers just like me, especially during the spring and summer months.

As proof, I can almost guarantee that in the near future we will be watching a two-hour movie about Aron Ralston. For those of you who live in a hole deep beneath the earth’s crust, Ralston is the guy that cut off his hand when it became trapped by a shifting boulder and still managed to make it back to civilization.

I’m sure there will be even more Datelines and television shows as groups of tourists head to the most dangerous places on earth, like Mt. Everest, where every year a long procession of visitors climbs to die.

Granted, Ralston wasn’t a tourist or a casual hiker. He did have some training. He should have, however, known better than to head into the canyon lands without telling anyone where he was going, which, after he became pinned down, cut his chances of rescue to almost nil.

If people continue to visit the wilds of the world without so much as a nod to the dangers they will face, there will be an abundance of stories of survival.

Unfortunately, the stories will ring a bit hollow when we see Bill and Sadie Bumpski from Kansas City wearing Bermuda shorts and Hawaiian shirts, struggling to overcome their almost fatal frostbite from a failed trip to Antarctica.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go and teach my daughter how to point out my location on a topo map using the slimy finger she puts in her mouth when teething.

Columnist Andrew Gmerek writes in this space every Friday, hiking to his computer fully prepared with food and drink, to get the job done.


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