Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Up the Arroyo, Part VII

"Okay, Laurie, we need to have a little talk."

               "What are those two standing back there like that for?? What the hell's going on?"

               Ignoring the question, Joel said quietly, "I've been assigned the duty of Ranger Rick and here's what we've decided."

               Laurie was immediately taken aback -- "what we've decided"? Oh, this is really sick, she thought to herself. Meanwhile, he continued, while Laurie felt deeply that she was being seen as a stupid child. Quite the contrary, she was lucid and livid. She could see clearly that no one was going to care one bit that she was worried for their own safety. She had to be punished, because they had been worried for her safety. It reminded her of a life perhaps 50 years previous, far away.

               "Nate and Takiya are holding back for now because they are very upset and they wanted to give me some time to talk to you."

               "At you" was what Laurie heard, not "to you." Voices inside were screaming obscenities; but Laurie was actually rather tired; and honestly happy that everyone was just fine after all, she said nothing. Just let it play out, she admonished herself. Yet all the time, feelings of an animal-like distrust seemed to be growing and taking on a life of their own.

               "Here's the deal," Joel began. He went on to explain to Laurie what the others had been doing over the past hour or however long it had been. Essentially how they suffered. No matter that they had the gallon of water, the oranges, the sun lotion, the GPS.
               Laurie felt bad for them, but had to resist accepting this request for a guilty plea. No questions were asked about how she herself felt or what happened with (or to) her at any point, ever. She noted this silently. Rage was pocketed while Joel finished his scripted lecture.

               "So, what you need to do" --

            "What do you want me to do, Joel?" Laurie asked, and if no one but the wind heard the violence and hate in her voice, she alone did. It was physically painful. The confusion was louder. Her compassion for the others and what they themselves may have gone through was not being accepted or addressed; it was all and only about Laurie's horrific and selfish transgressions and how she must repent.

               And these four friends had always chuckled about the silliness of traditional religious dogma.

               "Here's what you need to say": With carefully mapped out and documented words, delivered in a slow and measured cadence, he concluded,

               "You say to them, 'I am contrite and I have learned my lesson and it will never happen again.'"

               Speechless, Laurie could only watch upriver as slowly the other two wandered down and everyone turned toward the car. All three smiled, but without making eye contact with "the Wild Card," and expressed jovially (read: faked) great hunger and a wish for a pitcher of margaritas. Joking and laughing, just as the journey began, was the only way the three "adults" could allow it to end. No apology was made -- by either side. And the word "contrite" would never leave Laurie's lips as long as she lived.


               As the prologue to the story just told, there are a few important things to remember when out in any wild area of the physical world. This includes mountaineering; scuba diving; desert or any other kind of hiking in unknown or untraveled areas; and certainly many other adventures out in Nature:

1. Always, always use the "buddy system." This is standard; every experienced wilderness traveler, diver, climber, and so forth, knows this. If there are problems in the ranks, at the very least the most experienced member needs to stand forward and explain the dangers of acting in ways that could break apart the continuity of the buddy system.

               For example, in the case of wilderness trekking, each member must be responsible for each other member. No separation, in the existential sense as well as the more obvious geographic sense, can be allowed. This means that if one person balks at the company atmosphere, this must be communicated; then either a compromise on how to handle a temporary amount of time away from the group, or a discussion about why that is not presently appropriate, has to take place. It does not need to be hurtful, accusatory, rude, emotional, said with annoyance, any of that -- such is irrelevant. However, in extreme conditions, a subcategory needs mention:

               If there is a compromise in the physical/mental stasis of any or all of the members of the group, extra vigilance, sometimes extraordinary vigilance, must be taken on each individual's own behalf to be as responsible as possible for his or her own actions as a member of a group of frail human beings. In extreme conditions, if one member feels or acts "compromised," chances are the other or others may also be getting to that state, perhaps without yet knowing it. There can be no excuse for reactionary behavior; such reaction can have dangerous or fatal consequences.

               The most experienced member of any group, even if only two individuals, must accept a great deal of responsibility; not only for himself or herself, but more specifically, for others in the group. Whatever the chosen endeavor, that individual's responsibility is to explain the dangers of any activity a less-experienced traveler might want to exercise that is out of the range of what the experienced member considers prudent.

2. In the context of mountainous trekking, there will usually be high walls along one or both sides of the travel route. It may also have many turns and winding areas leading along the path. This means that if an individual is somehow separated from the other(s), yelling will be perfectly useless. The reason is that when a sound is emitted from the mouth, regardless of how loud or how cupped the hands may be around the lips, the sound will hit the nearest wall and stop or bounce off -- and go, randomly, anywhere. Sound does not usually go around corners, except by diffraction.

               Diffraction is a discussion to take place in a physics context, which the reader should look into. It is related to small wavelengths and big obstacles; or conversely big wavelengths and small obstacles. The former is most likely related to a single human voice yelling into a very large and high-walled canyon filled with equally large obstacles.

               Thus, when attempting to contact another trekker by yelling, it is merely sapping the physical and vocal energy reserves and is most definitely not advisable.

3. Communication. Trust. Understanding

Thank You for Reading.

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