Meet The World's Worst Hiker
Who’s to say what qualifies as a successful hike? After all, as we’ve learned from flowery script on the side of millions of coffee mugs and needlepoints, it’s not the destination, but the journey. With that in mind, you may be asking, “how can someone quantify whether someone is good or bad at hiking?”
Here is how I quantify being bad at hiking: you have to be rescued off the same trail two days in a row. A debate could exist on whether ending up in this situation is more of a reflection of poor hiking technique or whether it’s due to an injury (perhaps from a spill while hiking badly) to whatever part of the brain stops you from touching a hot stove over and over. Wherever the root causes lie, I feel safe in saying that anytime you call 911 two days in a row, you are not doing great.
According to the Associated Press, a New York City hiker named Phil was out in Arizona, attempting to hike the San Francisco Peaks, which is so confusing I almost give him a pass. Now, a bit of clarification. The use of the word “hiker” may have you imagining a grizzled veteran, traveling the country’s peaks in search of higher meaning. This is inaccurate. Phil is not a lifelong hiker living in a van that can identify mosses and carries flintsteel and has a survival kit. Phil is a 28-year-old independent contractor from New York City. This is a french bulldog with hip dysplasia attempting to herd sheep.
Phil had his sights set on summiting Humphrey’s Peak, the highest point in Arizona. He prepared his tools (a phone app called AllTrails and YouTube videos) and set off, light on his feet thanks to the complete absence of proper preparation. According to Phil, his “research” suggested the summit could be reached in 2-3 hours. I just googled “how long to summit Humphrey’s Peak” and the second result describes it as a “5-8 hour round trip” and “NOT your average day hike.” I’m not sure why Phil didn’t consider the trip back down. Perhaps he assumed there was some sort of delightful slide at the top.
Also, those times are by people who know what they’re doing, and aren’t in the heart of winter. This site also helpfully mentions to hopeful winter hikers that “the time needed to climb up and down is more than you would need in the summer months” and that “the climb is extremely difficult the snow and ice can be up to your waist.”
Unburdened by the stress of knowledge, Phil set off to summit this peak at… 2:30 PM. Late for brunch. Very late to attempt to summit Arizona’s highest peak. As you can imagine, Phil ran into some issues, mainly, that it got dark and he HAD NOT BROUGHT A LIGHT SOURCE. Yes, Phil, much like low-income neighborhoods abandoned by the local government in your native NYC, mountains do not have effective lighting at night.
His options exhausted, as they were from the first second of his hike, he did what every New Yorker knows how to do: called 911. Credit to the rescuers, they found and returned Phil safely to the base of the mountain, while I assume he asked what those weird glowing sticks they were holding were, and if he could buy one at Duane Reade.
Rescued from Mother Nature’s icy clutches, and put, perhaps even more dangerously, in his own care, Phil received some hiking advice from the rescuers. Namely, he was “provided with preventative search and rescue education about the conditions on the trail and the approaching winter storm and encouraged to not attempt the hike again.”
This advice was received with the grace of a raw egg on a brick wall, as they received a second chance to issue it again within 24 hours. At 5 pm the next day, they received a second call from Phil, who had fallen and injured himself. On the trail to Humphrey’s Peak. Where he was rescued again.
So here’s to Phil. Who truly personifies the dream this country was built on: pig-headed stubbornness, and wasting an incredible amount of public funds in the name of safety.
Top Image: Pixabay