Why You Will Never Be The Real Deal

real deal

 Why You Will Never Be The Real Deal

I am not a recovering alcoholic. 

Never have I needed to cut off an appendage with a “cheap knock-off multi-tool”. (Who buys those, anyway?)

I didn’t “find myself” in the wilderness after slaving for The Man on Wall Street for 20 years.

Dropped out of college to hike the AT? Nope. Nor have I scaled the Dawn Wall or set a new FKT.

I just like to do stuff outside. Clearly I’m not the real deal. How can I call myself a woodsman when I don’t even have sponsors?

It’s pathetic, really. Who do I think I am trying to present myself as a source of information about “physical and intellectual fitness in the great outdoors” when I’m not even named after an animal?

Hey, lay off; you’re no better! Have you even climbed the Seven Summits in 7 days? I didn’t think so. You are probably not all that different from me. OK, so you like to run on trails in the woods, but if you’ve never finished top ten barefoot at Badwater or Western States, don’t you dare to call yourself a trail runner. You are nothing but a poser.

Like me.

I’ve climbed mountains, but am I a mountain climber? Not a chance! How could I be when “belayed Ueli Steck with a broken ice screw and some dental floss” is not on my résumé?

It’s sad really. Just yesterday Reinhold Messner and I were chatting over solar-roasted organic coffee in a bombed out cafe in Afghanistan. He says, “You do know that one trip with me doesn’t make you a mountaineer, right?”

I just shrugged, wishing he would shut up.

“Climbing in the Karakorum is so passé”, he blathered on, “and you used oxygen and didn’t abandon anyone. It’s clear that you don’t want it badly enough.”

I choked on my coffee, protesting, “Yeah, but I rode my fat bike all the way here from Detroit, naked! Doesn’t that count for anything?”

He was about to start assaulting my legitimacy again when the burst of a Kalashnikov heralded  the opening of the cafe door.

We glanced up. Crap! It was that insufferable Brit.

“Hey mates”, he trilled, “I’m on a new microadventure, it’s grand!”

I tried not to let him see me roll my eyes. “That’s great, Al. Nice kit.”

“Yeah”, he enthused, “Just me bivvy and some hazelnuts. Adventure doesn’t have to be expensive, y’know!!” (I hate the way he always speaks with double exclamation marks.)

He glanced critically at my crampons and fat bike. “That’s overkill”, was his assessment. “I got my bike from a rubbish bin in Warsaw. Well, I’m knackered. Good thing a retired Taliban warlord said I could sleep in his hut. Cheerio, chaps!”

And he was off. Good riddance!

Anyway, it was that conversation with Reinhold that convinced me that I’ll never be the real deal.

Heck, the only grizzly that I have killed with my bare hands was  just a small female.

You might as well just give up too. I mean, if you haven’t circumnavigated the globe in a sealskin kayak by now, what makes you think you’ll ever be able to even start a fire on a wet day?

Sorry for raining on your picnic. It’s just best to call it like it is. Do you even lift, bro?

I’m going to have to cut this short, gotta go pick up my wingsuit at the cleaners. I’m so lame that I wear it as a backup when juggling kettlebells on my slackline over the Snake River Canyon.

I’ve accepted that I’m not the real deal. When will you?

At least my middle name is Tree.



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