“It’s Flat” and Other Nonsense We’ve Told Newbies

“It’s the desert,” I told my partner a few weeks ago, exasperated. “It’s totally flat.” Their eyes rolled back in their head so far I almost didn’t think they’d come back again.

“I’ve heard that before,” they sighed. I wanted to protest, but thinking back, I could see that they were right.

I’ve both cycled (east to west) and hiked (south to north) across the United States. I’ve biked 200 miles in one day and walked 58 miles in 24 hours, just for the fun of it. So my idea of difficulty might be a little skewed.

But I can’t be the only one overly excited to get their friends into the wilderness. Can I?

After asking the internet, it turns out there’s a lot of us. Here are a few of those phrases we outdoorsy folks have said to our unfortunate, new-to-adventure buddies.

Two hikers laugh, one pushes the other one playfully.

1. “The bugs aren’t bad this time of year.” —Logan Jenott

Said with hopeful optimism.

2. “Only one more switchback.” —Alison Solomon

It’s almost as heartbreaking as “we’re almost there” on long car rides.

3. “The ______ are more afraid of you than you are of them.” —Angela Batiste

Isn’t that what rangers always say?

4. “That climb is a 5.11, but it’s totally sandbagged.” —Ryan Storment

(Meaning the route is graded easier than what most climbers would say it should be graded.)

5. “It’s July—there won’t be any snow on the trail.”  —Jessica Iserman

As we end up postholing the last half mile.

6. From Beckey: “Take the obvious gully up to the summit block…” —Travis Logan

Where “obvious” actually means “obfuscated.”

7. “We’re almost there. I’m sure I remember this rock/tree from last time.” —Jim Weller

Yeah, I think I remember that pebble over there. Or maybe that one there.

Two hikers talk in a shelter, one in a red jacket, the other in a yellow jacket.

8. “My kids can do it.” —Tricia Jarrett

Which is true but really doesn’t mean anything!

9. “8 miles roundtrip means you only have to climb 2,000 feet for 4 of the miles!” —Naomi Lam

Somehow the math of it all makes it nearly comforting.

10. “Those shoes are fine, I climbed Longs Peak in Chacos!” —Julia Matakis

Fine is relative, after all.

11. “You’re getting closer.” —Mary Oleniczak

Technically the truth but also not terribly specific.

12. “It’s only supposed to rain a little bit.” —Ryan Anthony Brooks

It might have been true before, but the day is jinxed now.

13. “This is the best dinner you’ll ever have!” —Jackie Bayne

This being proclaimed while boiling water for a friend’s first dehydrated backpacking meal.

14. “It’s just a walk in the park.” —Kaden Sullivan

Which it is, technically speaking.

A group of backpackers laughs, one with sunglasses on is in the front.

15. “The view will be totally worth it, the summit is above this fog…” —Casey Schmidt

Touché, microclimate, touché.

16. “We are almost there, the incline isn’t as bad as it looks…” —Ashley Shanholtzer

Ways to not make friends.

17. “We aren’t lost, I just don’t know where we are at the moment, but we are OK, trust me.” —AnaMaria Gonzalez Bruce

We totally trust you. Definitely. Not scared at all.

18. “We’ll stop for an hour at the top and I’ll make a painting. It’s a small one, it won’t take long to create.” Three hours later: “I need ten more minutes!” —Claire Giordano

Yeah. We’ve heard that before.

19. Looking and pointing to a ridge: “That’s GOT to be the summit.” —Michael Eekhoff

Typically it isn’t.

20. Regarding a 5-day thru-hike: “If we do a big first day, then we can coast the rest of the trip.” —Scott Daniels

21. “There’s some bushwhacking, but it’s short and not very thick.” —Ken Russell

And bushwhacking is fun! (Said no one, ever.)

22. “Pooping in a bag isn’t as bad as it sounds. Trust me.” —Charlotte Austin

I mean, you do pick up after your dog, right?


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