May 23: What I Think About on the Trail…Part 1

“Since Little Bear Asked…”
A few days ago in Idyllwild, one of my fellow thru-hikers, ‘Little Bear,’ asked me a very sincere question. 

“Rawhide, what do you think about while you are hiking?” 

Being a good number of years older than Little Bear, I felt a certain responsibility to say something wise, since his query was a legitimate one, and my answer…well, hiking alone for hours & days on end I somewhat expected to be immersed in deep thoughts, illuminating introspection, and potentially earth-shattering moments of intellectual clarity. 

I took a moment to collect my thoughts, and was amazed at the answer that began to come out of my mouth:

“Uhhhhh…well…that’s a really good question…ummmm…uhhhhhhh…”


I eventually took control of the intellectual stick & pulled myself out of my embarrassing nosedive. I did share what my mind wanders to naturally, and I’m sure it’s very similar from one person to the next:

Family & loved ones…old memories of good times as a child…old & not so old memories of bad times…food…things you wish you would have said…things you’re glad you never said…food…places you’ve traveled, and places you want to travel…my cat Pittsburgh…food…the generosity if my sponsors for this hike…the fact that I’m even on this adventure in the first place…God & His place in my life…food…people I’ve met on the hike…what it will be like when I finally reach Manning Park in Canada…why do my feet hurt so much…a nice long, warm shower with 3 gallons of soap…and of course, food. 

But there’s also moments like this morning. This morning I must have occupied my mind for over 20 minutes with something very eye-opening, and it led to a very big decision. The topic, you ask? 

McDonald’s, extra condiments, and becoming “That Guy.”

It all started out so innocently. I was thinking about food, specifically a Double Quarter Pounder with cheese, no pickles, large fries, and a coke. I was craving one terribly. I’m not a big fast food eater (does In & Out count?), so I was surprised to find myself so caught up in mental Quarter Pounderville. But there I was. And it was vivid & explicit. My mind wandered…
I would approach the counter, and place my order:

“One Quarter Pounder with Cheese meal, no pickles, supersize it, Coke…and another Quarter Pounder with cheese, no pickles, large fries…no, not the meal, just by itself in addition to the first meal. And could I get two barbecue sauces & two ranch dressings with that?”

This is where I’m apparently in REM mode of food-thinking paradise, because I’m in deep. 

The server answers back, in my food dream, that it will cost 50 cents, per sauce packet, if I wanted extra sauce. 

Wait a second…this is MY food dream! 50 cents EACH?! No way! 

I know where this came from. There’s a McDonald’s where I live  that actually told me they were now charging an extra 25 cents per sauce packet, and I actually paid it. (why the price jumped to 50 cents in my own PCT food dream is anyone’s guess). I remember feeling like the 17 year old behind the counter just punched me in the nose & I stood there & asked for another, ‘please.’ 

Now, I understand the economy isn’t great, and money is tight. I get that. But 50 cents for extra  ranch & BBQ sauce packets? I’ve been feeding nickels, dimes & dollars into Ray Kroc’s food franchise since the sign outside our local McDonalds said “100 served,” and Kroc still lived on his Santa Ynez estate (it was easy to tell which one it was: there was a ginormous flagpole, with the American flag on top, California state flag in the middle, and the flag with the Golden Arches right below). Certainly they wouldn’t charge someone with my McD’s history extra for SAUCE?

That’s when my inner Clint Eastwood came out, when Rawhide went on a fast food penny pinching roundup. 

This travesty wouldn’t go on. Not with me! I would make a choice & stick to it! 

My choice is this: if any server at any fast food restaurant informs me that there is an extra fee charged for sauce packets, I’m going to explain to them their option: 

Either give me cash back immediately for the meal I just paid for (which is more than likely already prepared), and watch me walk to the competitor down the street and lose the $10 sale they had wrapped up…or give me the sauces I asked for, which more than likely cost them 12 cents tops, combined. Their choice. 

How do ya like them apples, fast food sauce Nazis? I wear the pants, I want my sauce, or I walk. Simple!

So that was what I was thinking about for about 20 minutes today, Little Bear. Nothing too deep. But, it helped me come to a crossroads and figure out what happens next time a clerk asks me if it’s ok if they charge me extra for a packet of sauce. 

Oh…and the REALLY sad part? I think I actually drooled when I was thinking about the burger.


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13 Responses to May 23: What I Think About on the Trail…Part 1

  1. barbara Merrill says:

    hmmmm, aren`t you the guy doing the hike in inspired by something you witnessed that you wanted to bring attention to…? i keep waiting to hear you talk about that! loving everything you are posting, and loving following along on your hike, and even thinking, wow! i think i want to do that! but really starting to want to hear you use this forum for what you were originally inspired by… unless i’m confusing you with someone else? could be possible…. anyway, happy trails, stay safe!!

    • thf2 says:

      Hi Barbara!
      Yes, I’m probably that guy 🙂
      Still hiking for the cause, just not wanting to over-mention it. My feeling is that my website has some good content already posted on the cause, and I’ve been amazed at the number if visitors that are coming to the site each week since my hike began. It’s humbling! According to the website stats, more & more people are reading those articles than ever! I’m stoked! But it’s a LONG hike, many months left, and many more opportunities to talk about it. I had actually been planning to talk more about it this week, so don’t worry :). Thank you for your thoughtful concern and please keep following along!

  2. Dan says:

    Hiking really can be a very spiritual experience, whether you are religious or not.

    You could write a PHD on the phsyical and spiritual mindset of the hiker.

    I think one thing almost all through hikers say is that it takes more than just a body to get you to the other end.

    Of course, hiking for a good cause certainly isn’t a bad motivator either!

    Keep at it!!

  3. matt emrich says:

    i live in san jose now but will b moving to washington next month and doing a hundred miles or so of the PCT in august. when will you be passing by the bay area on the PCT? (I know you’ll be a ways from the bay area, but i mean hwy 120 or 108)

    I can probably bring you some lunch or whatever u need, and I’d like to pick your brain about the PCT. I can also meet up in Washington, at Government Meadows or something.

    Let me know, thanks!


    • Devon says:

      Hey man! Snow storm–nice. When do you hit Big Bear? Teig watched the viedo with me and he said,”I know his pain”. My only question is why are you breathing harder than everyone else in the video???? lol

      How are the new shoes?

      • thf2 says:

        Cuz I’m OLD, buddy! :). Tell Tieg & Con hi, & the shoes are doing alright! A few blisters but nothing bad!

  4. Little Bear says:

    I love that post! It made me laugh, and I now wish I could make it into an episode on the television. But I believe the specific question I asked you at the time was, “Where does your mind go as you walk?” You essentially just said you didn’t think about much and kept your mind on the trail because you were worried about rattle snakes, or maybe listened to music when you had people ahead of you to fish out the snakes for you. I think you may have listed off some of those things you mentioned previously, but my mind wanders when people get into long spchiels. Anyways, I’m glad to know that I’m not the only one whos mind goes to strange places when they walk.

  5. Lauri Callen says:

    Dug, I am so inspired by watching your videos! Three years ago I decided to do the PCT in 2012. Watching your videos makes it all so real. I’ve begun getting the gear together (slowly). Although I’m not through your entire PCT library, I look forward to every video in order!
    A few questions:
    What type of camera are you using? How do you upload so quickly? How are you editing on the trail.

    Thanks so much for posting so consistently for your viewers. Good luck. Hope to run into you someday.


    • thf2 says:

      Hi Lauri,

      So glad you’re enjoying the journey via videos so far! I’m stoked to hear they’re fun & helpful. I was hoping they would be for someone! I’m using an iPod Touch (4th Generation) to shoot the video. My Pre-trip video editing was on Splice (really like it!) and my other editing is with NexVio. Both programs are capable of much more than I’m putting in to them, but with time so limited on the trail, I just go for some of the basic aspects they offer. WiFi is sometimes rare on the trail, so updating every 5-7 days is about average, and in the coming years will be better. If you have an iPhone or Droid, you might be able to send someone your updates/pics, and they can update your blog for you. I’d love to follow your journey next year!

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