What makes a great hike?

What distinguishes a good hike from a great hike?  Which hikes do you bring up around the campfire?  Or on the drive to the trail head?  Trips in common with other people, common places?

A ‘great’ trip is one where something memorable happened, not necessarily pleasant.  Getting lost, epic climb, great food, great laughs, frightful weather, crazy ass hard trail, survival of some situation – these, I posit, are what we remember and the stories we tell, and water and grow over time:-);

There I was, on the side of the mountain, when…..

I’ve got about a million of them…

Many many years ago, Cliff and I went backpacking in Big Bend National Park, no tents, no pads, canteens like gold miners, old boy scout and K Mark packs. We hiked for a few days, our last campsite was unfortunately at a dry stream bed.  We had to dig down about a foot, water was very mirky and dirty, and then….wait for it……strained the water thru an old cotton gym sweat sock…oooh!  yummy!  But it worked, and it’s a great story, although the hole seems to get deeper and the water dirtier with each retelling.

Like this one, While I was climbing the Matterhorn, Zermatt, Switzerland, my crampon came off my boot while on a particularly narly class 5 rock section.  I had to climb about 20′ with the damn thing dangling from my leg before getting to a section where I could re clamp it…..this was classic (for me!), don’t you know I was thinking about this at the very exposed ice field/ledge just below the summit.  Great story, now that it’s over!

A footnote to the Big Bend story; we picked up a hitch hiker on our way home driving along the texas-mexico border, on a whim we drove into mexico, del rio, I think, not sure, anyway, coming back across the border, our hitch-hiker was on a watch list, So Cliff and I wound up getting stripped searched!  True story – now keep in mind we had been backpacking and hadn’t showered for a week or so!!  Made for a great laugh (after they released us)

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