Man vs. wild

Off the Beat

When most people remember the first time they visit Yosemite, they imagine the vast ancient sequoia forests surrounding the national park, the towering granite cliffs of Half Dome looming in the sky, and the beautiful misty Bridalveil Fall greeting visitors when they first arrive.

But when I think back to the first time I visited Yosemite, I picture the big swarm of wasps that stung me in the ass.

As a young 14-year-old freshman in high school, I wanted to find something to do during summer break other than staying at home all day playing League of Legends or Mario Kart Wii with my friends. I have always loved hiking in the woods with my family, so after scouring the internet to find something meaningful in my life, I stumbled upon an outdoors organization known as Naturebridge — a hands-on science association. The nonprofit promoted a nine-day backpacking trip through Yosemite as part of its Summer Field Research Course, and impulsively, I decided to give backpacking a shot.

Fast forward to a few months later, and suddenly I found myself in a Yosemite campsite carrying a tall backpack full of clothes and hiking equipment. I joined a crew of about 13 teenagers — ages ranging from 14- to 18-years-old — and spent the next few days preparing for the trip by practicing team building exercises, making bear food traps and assigning the various equipment every person had to carry.

One lesson I never forgot was the technique for using the restroom in the wild — otherwise known as the Literal Outhouse.

No. 1: Dig into the ground to create a small divot.

No. 2: Get the job done.

No. 3: Hide the evidence. Pile the dirt back on and return to civilization after you’ve washed your hands.

After a few nights living in a cabin with bunk beds and a clean bathroom, our group left for the wild outdoors, hiking along a trail mapped out by our nature guides.

We trekked about seven miles that first day, stopping every now and then to gaze at the picture-perfect view of the mid-afternoon sun glinting off Mirror Lake and the deer that cautiously scaled the unstable rocks along the mountainside. We stared at the strange mélange of snow and water sitting precariously at the top of the mountain in the midst of a hot summer day. The walk felt deafeningly silent, until I became aware of the clamor: The melody of the birds that wove through the steady rhythm of our footsteps marching along the dirt road.

Evening soon fell, and as the chirping of the birds turned into the chirping of the crickets, we decided to set up our campsite near a small lake. As night began to creep in, tents were pitched and dinner was served. After I dined lavishly on a gourmet meal of canned beans, the inevitable happened.

In par with the buddy system, I accompanied my friend as he walked into the woods with a shovel, flashlight, soap, water and a little bit of hope mixed in with a whole lot of gas. He went off to do his business, and came back with a smile on his face. Then it was my turn.

I strolled into a small clearing of trees and silently apologized to all woodland creatures — hidden in pitch black — that may be around me. I flicked off the switch on my plastic slowly dimming flashlight and proceeded to begin the tribute.

No. 1: Dig into the ground to create a small divot.

I never got to No. 2.

What I hadn’t realized was that I didn’t dig into the ground — instead, I dug into a hive full of wasps and they released their anger towards the closest target: my posterior. I waddle-sprinted back to my buddy, my screams providing vocal accompaniment to the cricket orchestra. When he saw my pants down by my knees, I became the butt of the joke.

In hindsight, I should probably be glad that I had gone number two and not number one.

Now anytime my friends bug me for my most embarrassing story, this is the first thing that pops in my mind — despite the painful memories it left behind. People ask me if there is a lesson or moral to the story, but I don’t think every anecdote needs to have a life-changing message. After all, that might just bee the point.

“Off the Beat” columns are written by Daily Cal staff members until the spring semester’s regular opinion columnists have been selected. Contact the opinion desk at [email protected] or follow us on Twitter @dailycalopinion.

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