Thursday, March 2, 2017

Party of Four

"Look, I'm not saying it's a character building thing, but--"

"No, you're not saying it isn't. The fact of the matter is that I packed my gear one way and you do it another. Just because your way was taught by your peers and superiors in the field doesn't mean it's inherently better or worse than my way, discovered and decided by what works best for me. If you want to train yourself to tolerate what worked best for someone else--though they or their students may have too much ego to realize we're not all built the same way--be my guest. I'm making the conscious choice to find my own way, and that may mean that I suffer through more trials of error than you do learning to love someone else's method, so be it. --I'm sorry, I didn't mean to go off like that."

We walked in silence for a few dozen paces.

"Don't sweat it." He patted my shoulder. "Logically, I know that doing things differently doesn't mean doing them wrong, but emotionally, it's harder to recognize that. We good?"

I nodded.

"Good. --Well, it looks like the guys have found us a place to call it a night. Shall we pick up the pace a bit and join them?"


Tim and Tom, the other two gents in our party, had found a small clearing and were setting up their tents under the sheltering boughs of a great evergreen. Phil paced out a section for his own shelter while I took a look around. Ten feet was the closest I could find a reasonable pair of anchor points, with an ideal set twice as far out.

"Well?" Phil watched me expectantly. He'd brought me in on this little expedition, and was already finding my methods a little eccentric.


"What? Surely you're not shy about setting up your gear. For all your talk of trial and error, I'd at least assume you'd done this before. Go on, I left you plenty of room."

I scowled and turned away for a moment, before spinning back. "I'm not shy," I countered, before sauntering off to my more distant ideal. The brush was thick enough I could only smell when they got the fire going, and though the woodsmoke was pleasant enough, their raucous chatter intruded on the green song around me--the reason I did this.

As dusk gave way to dark and the fire burned down, Phil wandered out to find me.

"Well, that explains a few things," he said, drawing my attention away from watching the sky and the woods. "You should have said something, we could have moved."

"No, Phil. If I were sleeping on the ground, a bed of needles is exactly where I'd want to be. They chose well. I tried sleeping on the ground for many year--one of my schools did camping trips and it was practically part of the curriculum--but I was never comfortable; I could never get comfortable." I looked at him. "The first night I spent in a hammock, I slept better than in my bed at home. That was it for me. I was never gong back to a tent after that."

He got quiet, than let out a small chuckle. "That explains your packing attitude. How much space does it take?"

I reached down to the gear between my legs, grabbed a drybag, and handed it to him. "Two more of those."

He gaped openly, handing the bag back. "You might make a convert out of me yet. Sleep well."

"You too."

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