The Story of One Scout, His Rifle, and Four American Lungs

The man himself

En route to the national park on Friday, we picked up our scout whose name I unfortunately could never remember and who spoke perfect Amharic but not a single word of English. About three minutes after he hopped in the captain’s seat, we stopped on the side of the dirt road and he suddenly dashed across the street and around the corner. As he reappeared and ran back to the car, I noticed he had picked up a new friend: his trusty rifle. It was go time.

Based on personal observation, I think he was a mild mannered man accustomed to spending large amounts of time in complete silence and solitude especially in the presence of other people. On our last day, he was sitting on a park bench as we waved goodbye to him and went off to explore the area around the campground.

One such mountain sprinting youngster. It gets cold up there.

When we came back hours later, the sun had gone down and he in the exact same position, scouting away. It’s possible he may have moved but I prefer to imagine that he was sitting sentinel-like over the grounds for the entire time.

Our scout and his rifle were our constant companions. He was our living trail marker and a continual reminder that we

were not built for those mountains. He never tired, never lost his breath, never rushed, and never stumbled. Regardless of how fast I felt I was going, he was always at least a few paces ahead and never noticeably changed his speed.

In contrast to his easy movements up and down the slopes, I always felt like I was trying to keep up with him, panting ridiculously on every uphill, and collecting bruises on my right knee from falling down. Children who lived in the mountains would sprint to greet us as we trudged uphill and I wondered if they would resist if I tried to switch our lungs.

You’ll be seeing this picture in the next North Face catalog

Part of the stumbling business might have something to do with the fact that I decided use Chacos as my trekking shoe, because I had gone on a 3 hour hike in them once. Unfortunately, I learned the hard way that their incredible arch support does not make up for the complete lack of ankle support. They are sandals and should not be used for trekking. To make matters even better, after about two hours of hiking on the first day, I began to get blisters on my feet and donned thick wool socks for the rest of the journey, because functionality beats fashion every time.

My main concern before leaving on the trek had been to purchase Snickers.  Sun protection, for some reason, was not on my radar. In fact, I remember making the conscious decision not to pack sunscreen, bringing my SPF 15 face lotion instead. It was like fighting a wildfire with glow-in-the-dark water balloons and at the end of the first day we were crispy. Though we were more cautious over the next few days, the sun’s roasting was still impressive.

Note my position…note how you can barely see the scout.

My mother’s worst fear of bridesmaids with unsightly tan lines is coming true. I would implore her, however, to consider the fact that my farmer’s tan just might work within the context of my sister’s “rustic” themed wedding.

No time to talk about the animals today but I promise they’re coming up soon and very soon. Don’t get your chacos in a tizzy.

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18 thoughts on “The Story of One Scout, His Rifle, and Four American Lungs

  1. girlforgetful says:

    Oy! Crispy, with aching feet, does not make for fun times … yet it sounds like you enjoyed yourself, so goon on ya’!

  2. One of Three, this story brings a little tear to my eye, as I made much the same decision once in Mexico, thinking that because I had a fairly decent tan already that the sun down there would not be of much consequence; silly me. I should have got the sunscreen they had at the store there. I didn’t know you could get that shade of red from the sun. I felt like a poached salmon. As for the hiking, I used to think I was pretty good in the mountains until I went hunting with my grandson last year. I figured by the end of the second day that if all else failed he could maybe reach a rescue helicopter on my cell phone if I had a heart attack. That kid was like a mountain goat. Thank goodness he saw I was struggling and slowed down enough to make fun of me. At least he made me laugh, which did nothing but complicate my attempt at breathing. Glad I am not the only one that makes those mistakes, I am only hopeful that we learn from them.

    • edrevets says:

      I learned valuable lessons from this first experience in trekking: sunscreen is good, hiking shoes are also good, physical fitness is a plus. So simple, yet so simple.

  3. E., You are truly a seasoned trekker.
    Good snot.
    Love it.

  4. Snickers, sunblock… you’ve got to prioritize.

  5. Very cool photos, and a great description of your scout. Looking forward to the next chapter in your ongoing adventure here.

  6. Yes, remember to put candy bars further down the priority list. I wonder what people from other countries who are silent most of the day think of us blabbers. I guess they don’t write blogs either.
    Nice photos!

  7. Pleun says:

    I did go hiking in Nepal once. The story is the same. Me not fit, the guide and the kids extremely fit. I felt like a tall, big, fat westerner (I was 1.72 m and only a size 38 at the time). But I really, really loved it and it was definitely worth the farmer’s tan 🙂

  8. tomwisk says:

    Loved the post. I wish I’d spent more time travelling instead of wasting time trying to climb a never-ending ladder for some unattainable goal.

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