Mountain climbers dissuade mountain man from climbing mountain

I was recently part of a “guy’s weekend” hiking trip in Sedona. It wasn’t long ago that, in this very space, I made light of the lack of things to do in Sedona. I guess I stand corrected in that you can definitely walk around there in the dirt.

I kid, of course, although I’ve always been intrigued by how “hiking” came to be. Hiking is just walking, no, but on slightly different terrain? Like, if you’re walking on this, it’s walking, but if you’re walking on THIS, it’s hiking, and you’re going to need some super ugly shoes, a giant stick, and a safari hat. I suppose I’ve never felt that such a distinction was justified.

Also, the more treacherous hiking becomes, the more closely it resembles mountain climbing, which is definitely the activity we were doing. We climbed three mountains in Sedona, and it was no doubt an invaluable bonding experience, spiritually enlightening, and all that jazz. But that’s not what you want to hear about. Because I think we might have saved the life of a local yokel and his family.

We decided to watch the sunset from Doe Mountain because that’s the type of manly men we are. We began our trek down before the sun officially set, however, because it sets fast, and that’s when the dark and cold set in. Not surprisingly, we were the last people on the mountain that day, and it was nearly dark as we approached the base.

It was there, however, we ran into an interesting gentleman who was, with his 4-year-old daughter, making his way up the mountain.

The man had the type of look that, even removed from the context of what was happening at this very moment, made you think, This man does not make good decisions. As for this very moment, he was wearing a T-shirt and his daughter was wearing a dress (!). The temperature was fast approaching freezing. I should reiterate that they were going up the mountain.

Well, we couldn’t not say something, a fact made more indisputable by my father-in-law’s presence. We were basically like, “Yo, uhh … what the heck are you doing?”

He was completely oblivious, and was going up to the top, he said, because his daughter wanted to. This seemed, to us, like a decision that shouldn’t be dictated by a 4-year-old.

We said, “My man, it takes about an hour to get up that mountain without a child in tow, and it’s almost completely dark and below freezing now, and you are both dressed for a spring picnic, and there are spots on the side of that mountain where you are three feet from death, and just … no. No. Don’t. Please turn around.”

To our relief, he actually listened. I suppose someone who can be convinced to do something death-defying by a 4-year-old is generally receptive to being told to do the opposite by rational adults. We felt as though we saved their lives, and that was before, while conversing with him on our brief walk back to the parking lot, he asked us if it was Friday.

“Saturday,” we said. “Today is Saturday.”

We also discovered that he lived in the area. It amazed me that five guys, all of whom were from Jersey or Brooklyn, were schooling a guy on when not to climb the mountains he is surrounded by every single day.

When we reached the parking lot, his two other kids were waiting for him. So, this guy’s plan was to embark on an hours-long hike up and down a mountain with his dress-wearing 4-year-old in cold and total darkness while his other two adolescent children waited in the parking lot, in the middle of nowhere. While we felt even more relieved than before, something told us that more bad decisions were right around the corner. Like, I pictured him dejectedly getting in the car and saying, “Welp, might as well take you kids to the gun range. Not much else to do on a Tuesday.”

Anyway, I guess you can add “potentially saving the lives of its oblivious locals” to the list of things to do in Sedona. I stand corrected.


Note: This column appears in the 2/19 issue of The Glendale Star and the 2/20 issue of the Peoria Times.