[And a whole lot of stupidity!]
I wonder what it was like for them.
A young couple out for a mountain adventure. Hiking through the high elevations of the Bridger Wilderness in Wyoming, miles away from where the nearest vehicle can reach. Enjoying each other's company and enjoying the beautiful, natural scenery of the mountains, lakes, streams and forests.
They probably heard us before they saw anything. When hiking that far away from civilization, people usually try to respect the privacy of their fellow hikers. (You don't go up in the mountains to have some yappy strangers talk your ear off.) So, when they heard us they probably figured they'd just give us a polite wave or an obligatory head-bob.
I really doubt they were expecting to see two butt-cracks and a penis.
It was the summer between our junior and senior years of high school. It was our last chance for a big High Adventure campout. (We called it a "High Adventure"if we had to hike in at least five miles from where we could park the truck.)
|Another exciting day in Arimo.|
The town I'm from, Arimo, is so small that there were only four boys my age in the entire town. For the sake of some slight anonymity, I'll be referring to the other guys as Chuck, Sparky, and C-Dog. We liked to call ourselves the "Arimo Mafia" because we thought it made us sound funny and tough.
For our High Adventure that summer we went up in the mountains of western Wyoming to a place just out of Pinedale called Bridger Wilderness. I'm not sure how it worked out, but as we were planning, it was decided that some guys from the nearby town of Inkom (rhymes with "stink 'em") would make the trip with us. Our adult leadership consisted of three men, led by our scout leader Jimmy. Jimmy was a grizzled, experienced veteran of many mountain excursions. The other two adult leaders were a grown son and a son-in-law of Jimmy.
The first day of the trip consisted of a lot of hiking. Usually we would get most of the hiking done on the first day, then set up a base camp from which we would go fishing and hiking to other lakes. At one point Chuck and C-Dog got out ahead of the rest of us. When Jimmy decided it was time to stop and set up camp for the night, there was still no sign of Chuck and C-Dog. So, while the adults and the Inkom boys set up their tents and such, Sparky and I were sent to go up the trail to find Chuck and C-Dog and bring them back with us.
We eventually found them, and just as we did, Chuck had a "brilliant" idea. He wanted to get a full-body tan. So, he attempted to do just that. He put down a blanket, took off his clothes, and lay there with his derriere in the air.
We raced to get back to Jimmy and the others at camp before the storm hit, but we were unsuccessful. It rained, and it rained hard. While everyone else had their tents up to provide some shelter from the storm, the four of us were unable to do so because of the downpour. We couldn't put our tent up, so we used it sort of like a blanket to keep some of the rain off of us and our sleeping bags. It rained most of the night, and I got little to no sleep. It was one of the worst nights of my life.
It stopped raining and we tried to dry out as best we could in the morning. But, we were pretty soggy. And moist. And damp.
|Drying out the morning after the rain storm.|
High Adventure waits for no one, however, not even the damp Arimo Mafia, so we were soon back on the trail. After a few more hours of hiking we reached the spot where we wanted to set up camp for most of the week. We set up two camps, with the Inkom boys being near but not immediately adjacent to us.
Having set up camp, the leaders and the Inkom boys were eager to get out and do a little fishing. The Arimo Mafia, on the other hand, thought it was a good time to rest, relax and dry out.
We put our sleeping bags out on a big rock, and we laid on our stomachs with our faces in the middle so we could do what we always did when we were off in the wilderness camping: we played cards and talked about girls. (Our leader, Jimmy, always joked with us that when we were down in civilization and could actually do something about the girls, we always talked about camping, and when we were camping we would only talk about girls.)
It was then that Chuck again thought it would be a good time to try to get a full-body tan. I asked if he was sure that was such a good idea, because when he tried it the day before we were met with a rain storm of biblical proportions. But no, Chuck was undaunted. He pulled off his pants and laid on his sleeping bag on his stomach as we continued to play cards.
I didn't understand it, but I was then even more flabbergasted when Sparky and C-Dog decided to join in. Soon, there were three bare bottoms playing cards. Me? I went so far as to take my shirt off, but I kept my pants on.
My friends may have been seriously lacking in good judgement that day, but they were good enough friends that when I told them I could think of no discernible reason why I would want a tan bum, they didn't make fun of me or try to pressure me into joining them in their nudity.
After a while, Chuck had another "brilliant" idea. If he was going to be tan, he wanted to be tan on both sides of his body. So, he flipped over to get a full-frontal tan.
Sparky and C-Dog weren't sure what to make of this. While the idea of a full-body tan intrigued them enough to the point of them taking off their pants, the slightest possibility of a burnt wiener kept them from joining Chuck in flipping over. They continued in their bottoms-up position.
I can't remember if it was me of Sparky who saw them first. I just know for sure that one word was spoken in terror: "Hikers!" Never before have four teenage boys moved so fast! Each of us instinctively grabbed our sleeping bags and pulled them over ourselves. (Yes, me too, even though I was only shirtless.)
We were embarrassed and en-bare-assed, so much so that our blushing faces were probably as red as our soon to be blistering bodies.
While the social norm would be to give a polite wave or an acknowledging head-bob, the hikers walked through our camp with their eyes straight ahead, acting as if they had seen nothing out of the ordinary. But, I think I saw a laughter-suppressing smirk on the face of the woman.
The invasion of the hikers put an immediate end to the nude sunbathing session, but it wasn't soon enough. Another thing we learned that day is that at greater altitude the sun is much more effective. The higher the elevation, the quicker the sunburn. (And we were over 10,000 feet in elevation.)
By the time Jimmy and the others got back from their fishing trip that afternoon, Chuck, Sparky and C-Dog were already feeling the effects of the sunburn.
When he found out what we had done, Jimmy, the experienced mountain man, shook his head at us and exclaimed, "For the love of cat sh#t!" Looking back now, I still have no idea why he said that, because it is a pretty silly phrase. I just know that a couple of us thought he said, "For the love of ketchup!" Of course, neither saying makes much sense. I just know that, in the context of his chewing us out, "For the love of cat sh#t!" was his way of saying, "I thought you idiots were smarter than that!"
|Our leader, Jimmy. ("For the love of ketchup!")|
For the rest of the week, Chuck, Sparky and C-Dog were absolutely worthless. All they did was lay around and moan in pain. I got so tired of their moaning that one day I went off on a fishing/hiking excursion with the Inkom boys.
It seems a bit unfair since the whole thing was his idea, but Chuck was actually less effected by the sunburn than Sparky and C-Dog, probably because he spent a few minutes flipped over sunny-side up. (He was just very lucky that the hikers came through before his front side got sunburned, too.)
Looking back, it's not surprising that I was the one who kept his pants on. It's that overly cautious part of my personality that helped lead me to become a 40 year old virgin.
And, I still don't understand what those guys were thinking. A full-body tan? Really? What's the benefit of that? It certainly makes me think, "For the love of ketchup!"