Wherever I go, I do things authentically. I’m all about getting out there and doing what the locals do. I always get the genuine experience, not some watered-down, plastic imitation of the real thing. And that’s why I’m scaling this behemoth of a 14er with nothing but multiple bottles of Tincup’s genuine oak-barrel aged single malt mountain whiskey jammed into my backpack.
I don’t half-ass it when it comes to celebrating local heritage, either. You see this pick-axe that I’m carrying with me? Yeah, I made it myself. D.I.Y. all the way, baby. I’m here to tap the Rockies the Rocky Mountain way, and no one knew how to do that better than those old-time miners of the 19th century. When they were faced with the challenges of the mountain, they didn’t just give up and drive back to Denver to drown their sorrows in pint after pint of the banquet beer while watching the Broncos free-fall from Super Bowl greatness only two years ago. No, they buckled down, gritted their teeth, and powered through their low-oxygen, hard liquor hangovers while physically hacking away at insane amounts of mountain rock before dying in a massive landslide caused by a poorly coordinated dynamite explosion.
Do you think that when I visited Las Vegas, I didn’t get rip-roaring shit-faced, blow $500 in 10 minutes on a single slot machine, and then vomit all over my ex-girlfriend’s shoes while we were walking down the Strip in front of Excalibur?
Or that when I visited Walt Disney World, I didn’t ride Space Mountain inebriated and then cause a scene by refusing to purchase the photo of myself and my ex-girlfriend afterwards because Mickey’s overpriced alcohol had made me highly irritable?
Or that when I visited New Orleans, I didn’t partake in an absinthe-induced archaic voodoo ritual and proceed to stick multiple needles into the toy-doll likeness of my ex-girlfriend that I’d sewn together entirely by hand myself?
Then you better think again, because when I travel, I travel like I mean it, and that means not holding back when it comes to getting a true, genuine taste of the place in more ways than one.
And now that it’s starting to snow? Even better. Bring on the cold. And the pain from all this exertion? Pain is just weakness leaving the body. You think those miners didn’t experience lots of weakness leaving their bodies when they were shivering in their winter camps, desperate to find gold, and wondering why they had they ever left Saint Louis in the first place, only to come die a grim and frostbitten death in a dank, dark mine shaft hidden somewhere deep in these mountains? Well, they filled that void where their weakness had been with that authentic, special high-rye bourbon that I’ve seen so many commercials about, and that’s also the reason why I don’t have twenty different flavors of Absolut Vodka strapped to my back at this very moment.
And as for the burning in my lungs? Honestly, I don’t know if that’s from the high-altitude and rapidly dropping temperature, or all the second-hand pot smoke my Uber driver drove through just to get me here, but that’s beside the point. This hike isn’t about the privilege of experiencing mother nature and admiring the subliminal natural beauty of the Rockies. It’s about the privilege of putting yourself in the sorts of life-threatening, strenuous situations that past generations did their utmost to avoid and drank to forget.
And if this blizzard snows me in here, halfway up the mountain, well then just imagine all the badass selfies that I could post to Facebook. I’ll just be all like, “Hey, everybody: check out how intense I am when it comes to getting up close and personal with the genius loci of the Front Range!” I’ll get more likes than a goofy cat photo used to make snarky political commentary.
I got the mountain-blizzard death-threat combo for my backdrop, I got the pre-industrial miner for my mindset, and I got more moonshine glistening on my back than a Jackson 5 song and dance.
—but you know what? You’re right; I don’t have any food. And I don’t plan on turning back now. Would you have any interest in trading? I’d be happy to give you one of my bottles of this special 84-proof spirit-lifting spirit for…I don’t know—you got any Bobo’s Oat Bars?
No?…well, that’s okay, if worse comes to worst, I’ll give in and turn around so that I can catch up with you before you reach the bottom of the mountain. Then we can get your camping gear out, since I don’t have any because I chose to bring booze instead, while discussing the pros and cons of resorting to Donner Party-style survival tactics. That’s about as hardcore as it gets when it comes to authentic, rugged travel experiences in the great American West.
Hey, hey—I’m kidding! Where are you going? Come on, hey—I was just joking about the whole Donner Party thing! I mean, when they got snowed-in, they didn’t even have a solid year’s supply of genuine mountain whiskey to warm their souls with on those lethally frigid nights.
And besides, that all happened in California anyway for Christ’s sake.