Saturday, September 4, 2010

Days 244-246: Ghandi, John Muir and Chief Joseph

Got a call from work asking my assistance. Since Joni and I are living on financial fumes, I drove down to pick up some shifts. My walks have been solitary, angst ridden sojourns to some of my favorite vineyards in the Napa Valley.

You see there was just one Letter to the Editor in the Chico News Review. And not a friendly letter. I know this is a family web-site, so I apologize for the language in the letter that was printed:

"Let’s see if I’ve got this right. A guy takes a walk in the woods with a bottle of rum and a couple of his buddies, and that earns him the right to pontificate to those who read about his excursion on how to live right—“become a creature again and not just a nurse, office nerd, or cog.” Kinda condescending to his fellow two-legged creatures, I’d say.

What is it about Chico bikers and/or hikers that invariably produces such smug self-righteousness? You took a fuckin’ walk, man. That doesn’t make you Gandhi, or John Muir."

Jaime O’Neill


Jaime is a very good writer. He also is an English Professor. If you look at the web pages of the CNR, you will find no less than five pages of his features, articles and other pieces. He also has written for some major publications. I've seen his stuff in the Los Angeles Times.

And I like what he writes. So the only Letter to the Editor was a critical one written by the area's best known writer! I was quite discouraged. Told Joni I was never going to write anything again. I thought about closing down this web-site.

Then a few fan e-mails started trickling in. One guy wrote to tell me that he has added the hike I wrote about to his "life list". Others have asked advice on backpacking (if they only knew what a sham I am!). Others just wrote to say they loved the article.

And now this letter taking on Mr. O'Neill:

Re: What’s the big deal? Letter to editor by Jamie O’Neill: Jeez, Jamie, who does the author need to be before he can proffer a bit of friendly, useful advice on life, living, and the wilderness? John Muir? Chief Joseph? How about just a guy who has a newly found respect for the wilderness experience and wants to wax a wee bit philosophical? In all your editorial rantings, Jamie, I’m sure you’ve never pontificated out of turn! Take a chill pill, sir, or better yet, go take a hike.

And I think there might be a couple other positive letters in the next edition of the paper. I won't be able to read them: I'll be carrying my backpack up some mountain on the Appalachian Trail with a fine young man.


Woodswalker said...

Ouch! That hurts! And aah, that helps. I don't know why some guys just like to be nasty. Keep on walking, Alan,and don't let one meanie get you down. Happy hiking.

greentangle said...

Don't know the guy's writing but he sounds like he's either a putz with no sense of humor or someone whose values are very different from yours.

Have a great trip/hike out east.

Jackijo said...

I just read your hiking story today. I thought it was riveting! I love to hike, and yes, I've had my harrowing rattlesnake experience (we both survived to go our separate ways and I still love and respect them), but I don't appreciate sleeping outside in the open. At night. I like to be covered up in a nice tent or better a cabin. But there is nothing like waking up to a symphony of bird songs.

Your advice to get outside and try it is good advice. Even for an hour. There are all levels of outdoor people from those young skinny backpackers that walk Rim to Rim to Rim in the Grand Canyon in one day to roly-poly middle-aged people like me who like to spend an hour just using our five senses outside. (Sometimes I even spend a few hours or even a day!)

Perhaps, old Jaime has never had a harrowing experience with a rattlesnake or a bat in his sleeping bag. Might just do him some good.

Allan Stellar said...