[pct-l] WAS: Story of dead hiker NOW: Insanity

Deems losthiker at sisqtel.net
Wed Jul 19 17:21:37 CDT 2006

A very well written expose on one's own view of another's insanity , but I 
didn't see any insane thruhiker passing thru...Last year a Yosemite visitor 
died while getting that perfect picture on the top of Yosemite Falls. I 
wonder how it turned out... I've jumped out of an airplane, disappeared into 
the wilderness for weeks, don't  start my truck for weeks, and I ride my 
bike to work. Many locals think I'm insane..  Thanks for sharing it Mike!
That Badwater/Whitney run is (IMHO) the height of insanity....

But insanity is relative:
(Note: This story appeared in the July 2006 issue of Mammoth Monthly
magazine. It's bit of a read for an e-mail, but I saw this last week in
Lee Vining and thought this was an awesome article! BTW- If you ever get
to Tioga Toomie's Whoa Nellie Deli, you GOTTA try the mango fish tacos!)


Everybody's Crazy!
by Moz Coast

A petite blonde girl was driving her lime green hybrid through Yosemite
National Park, sulking over the thirty bucks it had just cost her to
fill up her vehicle. She tailgated two oversized men in a red Hummer and
did some quick math to determine they were paying about 1 cent for every
pine tree they passed. She felt somewhat redeemed.

"They're crazy," she muttered to herself.

The two guys in the Hummer had been lapping the Yosemite Valley loop for
a couple hours, taking in the sights from the plush comforts of their
climate-controlled vehicle, marveling at how much they'd seen for only
forty bucks in fuel.

The passenger had heard about a hike from his grandmother, to Lower
Yosemite Falls, where she assured him of an Ansel Adams-esque photo if
he could only make it so far. They parked within sight of the Falls, but
since the "bugs would be bad," they opted against the hike.

He set his point-and-shoot digital on the "B&W" setting, and took the
requisite photo. After the fake shutter sounded, two hikers-outfitted in
knee-length khakis-walked quickly by, starting up a steep trail into the
forest. The driver puffed his cig and remarked, "They'll probably walk
five miles today," then crushed it in the ashtray and pulled away,
"that's just crazy."

The two hikers, Japanese nationals living in San Jose, headed up the
trail to Yosemite Falls. With hand-sculpted walking sticks in hand, they
proceeded deliberately uphill until their wraparound sunglasses began
fogging, and they were both nearly hyperventilating when they stopped at
a lookout.

They ogled their GPS device, getting readouts on their speed, heading,
distance traveled, and couldn't deny that unless they started running,
they weren't going make it to the top of the falls. They were expressing
mutual sadness when a man came down the trail with a hydration tube in
his mouth and ran swiftly by, in what appeared to them a near sprint.
"Lunatic!" they called out in unison, then cursed wildly in Japanese.

The trail runner never even saw them. He kept on running to the valley
floor and ran to a meadow where he began his post-workout stretches. He
considered his mileage for the day, which was somewhere over 20. His
breathing relaxed and he was just about to feel proud until he entered
into an "Exalted Warrior" pose, which revealed a skyward group of
climbers up on the seemingly blank face of El Cap. His reaction was not
so warrior-like. "Those people are nuts," he decided.

The two climbers were done climbing for the day, setting up camp on a
good- sized ledge. They'd been climbing together for years, since "the
day," when they used to do things they called hard. Now they climbed for
a break from their families, and chose "easy" routes they would do in

They had plenty of time before sunset, so they were sipping gin and
tonics and smoking a euro while they prepped a gourmet meal when a
lanky, and rather pungent man popped onto their ledge from the very
route they had just taken three days to climb.

Ropeless and without a harness, he gained his footing on the ledge and
froze. In a trance-like state he said flatly, "Don't touch me," then he
closed his eyes. The two climbers looked at each other quizzically as
the guy stood there, catatonic. He breathed deeply, and slowly.

Three breaths later, he opened his eyes and stepped over their bottle of
gin, retrieved a water bottle from a crack in the rock and chugged it,
then tossed it off the edge. He moved onto the first holds of the next
pitch and disappeared over a roof without a word. In virtual disbelief
and only slightly insulted, one raised his plastic cup, "To insanity!"
and they drank to the man and poured another.

A few hours later the soloist reached the top, checked his watch and saw
that he had indeed broken his speed record. He was delighted with
himself, and stood there breathing deeply, when a cute girl with a small
backpack walked by, looked over the edge and checked her watch, too. She
nodded at the free-soloer (who fully expected she was a student of his
legendary ascent) and walked away from the edge. He sat down
cross-legged, crossed his arms, closed his eyes and waited for her

She reached over her head and pulled a small piece of fabric from the
top of her pack, held it tightly and ran past him, toward the edge of
the route he'd just climbed and straight off the edge.

He heard her mysterious steps and opened his eyes, and seeing she'd
disappeared, he walked to the edge and looked over. He barely saw her, a
spread-eagle rapidly shrinking from view, and just before it seemed her
flight was going to end in the meadow below, a chute popped above her
and she lightly touched down in the meadow, gathered her chute in ten
seconds, and calmly walked to a lime green hybrid and put her chute

Without a twinge of emotion he concluded, "crazy."


Michael Saenz 

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