Brace yourself, outdoorsmen: The newbies are coming.
The Coronavirus pandemic is teaching America lots of new things, from the true value of toilet paper to the fact that staying inside the same four walls is truly unnatural to the human condition. Slowly, the nation is realizing that it’s a lot easier to practice social distancing in the outdoors than it is in the cities…and we now have a lot of people desperate to get away from the couch that has now developed a permanent butt-shaped divot. Experienced hikers, hunters, backpackers and campers know what that means: a huge influx of idiots. Here are the three you’re most likely to meet during your backwoods adventures this spring…
1. The Woefully Unprepared Idiot
The Woefully Unprepared Idiot may or may not look woefully unprepared. We all know that it isn’t necessary to be decked out in special technical clothing and REI’s hottest assortment of doodads to have a good time in the wilderness, but this guy takes it to a new level. He brought a flashlight, yeah, but he guesses the batteries musta run out. Uh, yeah, he’s got some beef jerky here, but it’s sure making him thirsty and the canteen he’s had since Boy Scouts 20 years ago has been empty for three hours…he’s thinking about a nice long drink from that fresh-looking stream. It’s in Nature, so it must be healthier than soda pop, right?
And do you think the Woefully Unprepared Idiot brought enough toilet paper to deal with the resulting giardia infection? No, of course not, but in all fairness there really isn’t any such thing as enough TP for a bout of giardia.
2. The Woefully Overprepared Idiot
The Woefully Overprepared Idiot is a lot easier to spot than his underprepared brethren. In fact, you may be able to smell him before you see him, because his gear is so new it still smells of the Chinese shipping container it came over to America in. His enormous backpack, which you wouldn’t bother with for any less than a two-week wilderness camp, creaks and groans as he galumphs along with the gait of a prospector’s pack mule. His spotless shoes are busy rubbing the hot spots at his heels into blisters that will rise, burst, and rise again, but when he gets to his campsite and proceeds to build an entire Air BnB from the 80 pounds on his back, he figures he’ll have the last laugh.
And do you think the Woefully Overprepared Idiot has actually tested or broken in any of that gear? No, of course not, but he’ll have the fanciest outdoor shower on the planet…and if Woefully Unprepared Idiot is lucky, Overprepared will let him use it in between bouts of giardia squitters.
3. The Instagram Idiot
This is a brand-new kind of idiot, one that’s only appeared in the last 10 years. This idiot turns the concept of “leave only footprints, take only photographs” up to 11 by taking approximately one photograph per footprint. On some level, the Instagram Idiot is aware that they’re ruining the whole point of being in the outdoors by experiencing it entirely through a camera lens, but such concerns have long since fallen by the trailside like so many crumpled wads of toilet paper. The Instagram Idiot believes that unless they have not only documented and posted every moment of their journey to the Internet, but also received sufficient “likes” and “shares,” their outdoor experiences don’t count.
And do you believe that the Instagram Idiot won’t trample every field of wildflowers, scribble over priceless and irreplaceable aboriginal art, and block every scenic overlook with their dumb photo shoots? Of course they’ll do that…but hopefully they’ll put the camera down long enough to keep from falling off cliffs and taking up Search and Rescue’s time.
Of course, we all started out as “idiots in the outdoors,” and most of us have learned what to do–and not to do–from our mistakes. And the fact that the woods and fields are about to start seeing more visitors is, in the long run, good for all of us. The more people realize that our wild spaces are necessary to the health of our nation, the better it will be. So, when you run into one (or all) of these Outdoor Idiots, help them if you can…of course, from 6 feet or more away.
What idiots have you met in the backwoods? Tell us in the comments!