Phil-Osophy on UL hikers, Bridger Wilderness Wind River Range, Maroon Bells

Howdy all!

Like I’ve said many times, you really need to have something to say on these blogs.  They (the blogs) take a lot of time to do right and to make half way interesting.  I thought I’d be writing more than I have, heaven knows I’ve been backpacking at least once a month for the past 2 years or so.

Buff sent me a link to a rant some guy posted on youtube the other day, the rant was about UL hikers; that’s ultra-lite hikers.  Here’s the link

And here’s my rant.

This guy kind of nailed what I couldn’t put my finger on.  For whatever reasons, these people, the UL’ers, sort of make themselves out to be socially dysfunctional in a setting among other backpackers.  They do this with an arrogance deriving from their quest to lower their pack weight to almost, well, not almost, unsafe levels.  They come up to you and ask how much one’s pack weighs, say 30lbs, then brag that theirs only weighs in at 12 lbs and insinuate that anyone who needs food/shelter/first aid stuff/stoves/fuel/extra clothing/maps/camera, etc etc etc is somehow a loser.  Their main goal in the backpacking universe seems to be how low they can go, not about having fun with friends, enjoying the beauty of the natural world, creating great memories among new friends.

The reason this irritates me, is that it could make a person who is trying to get into backpacking and all the wonderful doors to nature that it opens, feel somehow inferior, or embarrassed, inadequate, and then they drop the whole backpacking thing. Backpacking is hard enough and expensive enough without this bullshit!

Another common link that this vid nails is that these people seem to lack normal social skills, keeping a distance from the group – especially in camp, lacking basic conversational skills, hiking alone, and maintaining an unfathomable air of superiority.

Anyone who has hiked with me for anytime has heard my observation on this; at almost any social venue, there are a group who have bonded together to be the ‘experts’ or upper clique of the venue; it seems every bowling ally, skating rink, hiking club, climbing club, golf club, you name it, have a clique of regulars who want you to know that they are the social elite of that venue; this is no less true for the day hiking/backpacking/rock climbing/mountaineering communities.

Here’s another of my observations; an off shoot of the UL are the fast-hikers.  These idiots pride themselves on literally (I think I’m using that correctly here) racing down the trails, and brag about that they hiked 20 miles or so, while you only hiked 8, and they do this every trip, all the time.  Hiking with people, making conversation is not their goal, and in my opinion, within their ability.

It seems that people who lack social skills, in the backpacking universe, who find their niche in having a strength in UL or long mileage, something or anything they can excel at, then exploit that ‘strength?’ to a point of conceit and use it as a subtle hammer whenever possible.

I for one enjoy the camaraderie and companionship, although I don’t deny that I can hold my own on being quite the ass.  The camp, the camp chores, fishing, making a fire, telling stories around the fire, just a wee bit of the fire-water, the navigation skills, first aid skills, cooking skills, fine meals, and meals not so fine, swimming in the creek, taking pictures of fantastic vistas are a huge part of total experience and shouldn’t take a back seat to how much ones pack weighs or how many miles and how fast you walked that day.’

whew! take a breath!

just saying

I’ll talk about what happened in the Winds & Bells later, I promise!

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