Lessons learned & heavy guns can make You deader-n-hell

 I learned a few lessons out on that long ass hike. Lesson one….getting old ain’t for pussies. Lesson two: heavy stuff sucks when you have to carry it.

 Nothing I could do about number one, but I could sure as hell fix number two. That dirty bastard. I was hiking along, mile after mile, when I realized, HEY DUMBASS…(that’s Me) You aren’t as young as You used to be, this heavy Camelback water thingamajig sucks ass. Well, I can’t go without water, so I ignored that voice that kept calling Me a dumbass as long as I could. Eventually though, that voice said something that made a little sense. Hey Dickhead…(that’s Me again) That damned .45 You are carrying is heavier than a small foreign car. WTF Well, I had to give the voice it’s props there. Despite being a rude and abrasive sonofabitch, it had a point.

 My Springfield Armory 1911-A1 was a fine piece of lead slinging hardware, but at 42 ounces unloaded, damn was that thing heavy.

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It was heavy, & with an extra 8 round magazine, it was even worse. Now…a lot of hand wringing wussies about now are probably wondering why someone would need a .45 auto on a hike. Well smartass, I’m going to tell Ya.

The world is a tough place, & the back country of the Utah canyons is the toughest in the lower 48 states. If You go into that part of the country without a weapon, then You are taking Your life in Your hands. Everything in the desert wants to eat You or kill You. The most dangerous thing out there…? Other people. That’s right folks, other damned people. The back country of Utah is a perfect place for the criminal element to hang out, without the scrutiny of Law Enforcement. So yes, having a weapon is part of desert hiking. Get over it.

The Springfield Armory is a damn fine weapon other than being heavy as hell, & in reality, it’s no heavier that other 1911s of the same design. So a little research was in order.

What I found was by longtime gun maker Smith & Wesson. Smith has a line of 1911s out with an alloy frame made from Scandium. That is a metal mined in Russia that is added to aluminum to make is strong as hell. I looked them over at the LGS (Local Gun Store) & I liked what I saw.

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Now at almost a pound lighter than the Springfield, this is the weapon to take on a hike.

Why not take a Glock You ask? Well to keep it simple…fuck Glock. Actually, Glock makes a damn fine weapon, & if that is what You choose to carry on a hike, then they will work just fine. I don’t care for the thickness of the Glock slide, & frankly, they are ugly, so I don’t own one.

OK, so I have shed the weight of that Springfield Armory .45, & have been on a few hikes since then, & let Me tell You, that weight loss made a hell of a difference. If You are looking at buying a weapon just for hiking, there are lots of good choices out there. Just do your research, & most of all, have fun, cause life is too fuckin short not to.

Jamie

 

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The desert, Zen, & the art not becoming dead.

It was 6 AM, & My goofy buddies & Myself had decided to hike into Salt Creek Canyon in the Utah desert, to find an ancient Anasazi cave painting known as,”All American Man.” My buddy Tim, the instigator of all this foolishness is a former Marine, & crazier than John Belushi on a 10 day coke binge. Scott, however, is a full blooded Indian (He prefers Indian to Native American), and is a pretty down to earth guy, but does suffer from believing anything I say. That sometimes doesn’t work in his favor, as I have had Him believing that Mr. Rodgers was a stone cold killer in Vietnam, with the 5th SF Group, along with countless other whoppers. I’ll have His rapt attention, to which He will eventually reply…,”Really?!” to which I’ll say,”No, you doofus, not really.”

In the interest of full disclosure I’ll tell You, that if My Doctor had any idea that I go hiking in the desert, with minimal supplies, & a Springfield Armory .45 1911, She would have a shit fit of no equal. You see, I lost a lung to a blood clot a few years before, & to hear Her tell it, You would think that My head got cut off, & all they could do was put a tourniquet on My neck to fix it. Well, to hell with that shit! I’m havin some fun!

We set off on the trail to go down into the canyon. That’s right…DOWN. What’s wrong with down You say? Well, when You go down at the beginning of a hike, that means You have to go up at the end. All that after a hike, when you are already spent, is pretty tough for folks of some athletic ability, but when You are impaired in some way, it’s even tougher.

On the trip down, We stowed our cold weather gear under a rock, cause the temp had already climbed from about freezing, to somewhere in the seventies.

Salt Creek Canyon, above.

Stowing the coats is a good way to shed weight on a day hike, if You know you can make it back before nightfall. You still should have a space blanket in Your pocket or backpack pack, in case You get injured or are out after sunset.

All American Man is an ancient pictograph that was painted around 800 years ago. Folks wonder if the Indians that painted it could see the future, because of the colors that were used.

As You can see, they must have known something. I wish, We had known what they knew, because You see…all our maps were off by about 40% on distance. That really isn’t much if You were hiking a mile, & it turned out to be a mile & a half, but We were expecting a hike of six miles one way, & six miles back. Do the math on that shit!  That’s right folks, thanks to the USGS, we had to hike a total of 18 miles to find the Man, & make it back to camp.

I’ve always been the type of guy, that if some dickhead says something wise like,”You think You’re a tough guy, don’t You?” I would answer them by seeing how far under their right eye I could move their nose. So…yeah, I consider Myself a tough Guy, & I don’t apologize for it. If more folks acted that way, there might not be so many useless fucks with bad manners out there. I would however, had I known that the hike ahead of Me was 18 miles, not have gone. I know what I’m capable of, & even though, I know I can hike 18 miles, the last time I did it was a long time ago, & it sucked big time.

Hiking down into that canyon was a 1400 foot vertical drop, within the first mile of the hike. That is pretty extreme, but going down was a piece of cake, & the trail was well marked. I had a GPS, but at the time, the technology was pretty new, & it was mostly just extra weight. There was a lot of cool stuff to see along the way, & we arrived at the alcove that the pictograph was at, in about 6 hours. Not bad for a 9 mile hike.

After spending about an hour there, We headed back. That is when things got a little dicey. I ran out of energy about half way back, with about 5 miles left to go, along with the climb back up the canyon. Now, I had My buddies with Me, & they were a big help, but they are both older than Me, & I’m a stubborn bastard. No way was I going to stay down in that canyon overnight.

I climbed that fuckin canyon step by fuckin step. I had no energy left at all, & I was running totally on will of mind. I got tunnel vision at bout 3 miles left to go, & started hearing flute music at about 2. The flute music freaked My buddy Scott out a little, when I told Him about it the next day. His Indian spiritual mumbo jumbo whatever, said that the,”Flute Player or (Kokopelli)” is the spirit guide that leads You to the other side when your spirit leaves Your body. Well to hell with that being dead crap. Wouldn’t You know, I don’t remember climbing the last mile up that canyon wall at all, but My buddies still talk about it, & to this day it is probably the toughest physical thing I have ever done.

My buddy Tim, asked Me the other day, if I would like to go back & see All American Man? I asked him,”We renting a helicopter?” He said,”No.” I replied with,”Well…fuck off then.”

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