“If anything goes wrong, I will cut you up and eat you!” I had never threatened to eat someone before. In fact, the thought had never crossed my mind. I’d always pegged myself as one who would forage wild edibles and catch fish (or frogs, snakes, snails) with my bare hands in a wilderness survival situation. While others panicked, I would be the voice of reason – the sane one. What culminated in this brutal threat?
You need to go back to the beginning… the beginning of the backpacking trip I prepared for so well…
Tension. Awkwardness. Puppy dog eyes. It’s inevitable when you travel with an ex-boyfriend who is still in love with you. Resisting the urge to pat him on the head, I shifted slightly to gaze at the moss-laden trees, rocks, other hikers, anywhere but him. It was going to be a long seven days. Most of me exulted in finally being on West Coast Trail, a trail I’d be preparing for and reading about for months, but I lamented my present company. Nothing untoward had been said, we were getting along fine, but I felt irritated by the glimmer of hope in my ex’s eyes.
As I watched wind and rain lash the forest and crunched on a granola bar, I gave myself a silent pep talk. “You’ve got this. You can do this. It won’t be so bad. He can’t smother you if you keep the walls up.” I didn’t need encouragement to continue hiking; I needed encouragement to stick with the group and not run screaming down the trail.
My inner dialogue was abruptly interrupted with, “Where’s my snack?” What happened next is a bit of a blur (as I kind of lost it), but the general conversation went something like this:
Me: You have your own!
Ex: No, I don’t.
Me: I packed you a whole bag of food! Where is it?!
Ex: It’s not here.
Me: What do you mean it’s not here? I packed it for you to bring!
Ex: I thought it was too much food, so I left it.
Me: And you thought now would be a good time to tell me?! Seriously?! You don’t have it?? What the f*ck? We passed a F*CKING GROCERY STORE on the way here. Would’ve been a good time to tell me you left HALF OUR FOOD at home. WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU?!?! We NEED that food! That’s why I f*cking packed it!
The rest of our group was now eardrum shatteringly aware of our plight. If I felt awkward before, now they did too. The rage emanating from my body was palpable; all of hell’s fires could not compete with what was happening in my brain. When I could finally speak without shouting, I hissed, “If anything goes wrong, I will cut you up and eat you. I am SO mad at you right now.”
Thanks to buddy’s incorrect assumption on how much food two hikers need for a week, we were now obliged to make do on half rations. Not ideal when one person is hypoglycemic with a tendency to get viciously hangry, but we managed. All we had to do was make it 45 kilometres to Chez Monique’s, an oasis for hungry travellers. There, we would get a burger and beer, raid the give & take box, and stock up on snacks. Turning back was not an option after all the preparation that had gone into the trip (though I admit on any other trail, we would have turned back).
In a strange but wonderful twist of fate, a woman came to our fire that night seeking to offload extra food. We ate our new friend’s leftovers the next two suppers and made it to kilometre-marker 45 in good spirits with all body parts intact. The awkwardness, which had transformed into resentment, melted away after the first bite of a juicy cheeseburger. I couldn’t forgive my ex for his stupidity, but I stopped telling him I wanted to kill him.
Thirty kilometres later, the trip was done and I felt relieved. He could go back to the city life he preferred and I could return to backpacking without babysitting (or threatening to eat someone). Being prepared takes the angst away and makes for a much more enjoyable trip!
Has a hiking buddy ever put you in a potentially dangerous situation? How did you cope with it?