My track record with dating as been quite the ride of exciting adventures, escapades and in this instance, a spine quivering, bowl loosening ‘come to Jesus’ moment.
I found Scooter while fishing around for a ‘First Friday’ art walk date. I love checking out the galleries on the first Friday of the month, clutching my slightly warm plastic cup of white wine, if only because the people watching is extraordinary and I once had a discussion with a mortician who showed me photos of a cremation.
FYI: not recommended viewing and has me reconsidering being shot into space upon my death. The process of burning people looks horrific.
Anyhow, I found Scooter online and he seemed up for the challenge of a chick who can’t handle her mouth or her alcohol, so we met up and had a great time. He was the right side of quirky (like me, he’d spent his teens and twenties jumping up and down in a nightclub, and his thirties with a headache), his last girlfriend was a dominatrix and he had a wicked sense of humor. There didn’t seem anything too visibly wrong, so we started dating.
Scooter was Mr. Outdoors. He rode everywhere, decried my ‘lady rides’ of 40 miles and dragged me across the Front Range , trying to whip me into some kind of enthusiasm for a 100 mile ride or a 100 mile run, or some kind of uber challenge. He talked about his love of camping, his outdoor enthusiasm for hiking, backpacking and even multi day mountain bikes rides. I mentally planned our next few years of travel and overlooked some of his lesser attributes. So he talked with his mouth full, he held his utensils like prehensile man and called me ‘buddy’… I’m not that fancy that they were deal breakers. We hiked, we biked, I looked away when he ate,… it was a fun summer.
So I never actually saw where he lived, he always got a little fuzzy about his ex’s and he had the organizational skill of a newborn kitten… but nobody’s perfect.
Then I made the mistake of mentioning my desire to take a multi week backpacking trip up to the Tetons and into Montana. I figured that Scooter would be a fun companion, had experience and he didn’t make me want to stick a fork in my eye after a few hours in the car. My friends were horrified – ‘but you’ve only known him 3 months!!!’ – but calmed down when I mentioned his vast experience chasing mountain lions, bears and creating fire with little more than a Luna bar and some vodka. Skills important in the wilderness.
We prepped for the big trip, laying out our hiking plans, scheduling permits and laying in the dehydrated meals. Bears are a big problem in the wilderness so no fresh food for 2 weeks – it seemed a small price for 12 days of uninterrupted hiking, silence and unsullied nature. My excitement clearly addled all logical thought such as ‘do you want to spend 12 days with a person you barely know, miles from anywhere, surrounded by wildlife that could, literally, eat you?’ Nope, I was more worried about whether we’d be too stinky to have sex after a few days. Priorities in order? Not exactly.
The morning of our departure was ominous. Scooter arrived with several suitcases. Yes, suitcases.
With my mouth agape, he quickly assured me that his pack was broken and we needed to stop at REI or Sierra Trading post on the way so he could get a new pack. The suitcases were just ‘staging’ equipment. Ok, not a good sign when we’ve been planning for weeks and you didn’t think to check your pack until the night before…. but… okaaaay? We headed up I25 and into Wyoming.
Montana is actually a straight drive, something I know now, but we decided to break the trip in two and stop in Wyoming first. Scooter had a place in mind where he’d camped before.
I quickly realized that Scooters idea of ‘great camping’ and mine might be slightly different as we bumped along a dirt road past oil wells and deserted gas stations. Hmm. ‘Edgy’ but not really what I look for in a camping site. Never mind, it was nearing dusk and I just wanted to crack a beer and figure out our kit.
I’m a seasoned camper. I can throw up my tent in about 2 minutes and have hot water for tea going a minute after that. Scooter… well… he seemed a little overwhelmed. As he started unpacking his suitcases to find his sleeping bag, I noticed that he seemed to have packed, well, everything he owned. A creeping nausea developed when I saw him put aside a pair of dress pants and yank out his sleeping pad. I started to feel that maybe Scooter’s ‘camping’ wasn’t the same as my ‘camping’. I’d never been to Montana, but I don’t think there is a dress code on the trail.
But, ever the optimist I ignored my gut and dived into trying to help the poor sod organize his kit. Maybe he was just super disorganized?? Maybe this was how people from Michigan camped? We rearranged his suitcases (!) and tucked in for the night.
We arrived at the Ranger station in the Tetons for our first 5 day trip and I headed inside to pick up our permits, leaving Scooter, his new pack and his suitcases to sort themselves out. 40 minutes later, I returned to find the entire contents of his cases strewn across the parking lot and an empty, tags still on, womens Osprey pack. Why he’d bought a ladies pack I didn’t even bother asking.. at this point, Scooter was becoming quite the mystery to me. But I figured we could wing it. I helped him sort out his ‘necessary’ from ‘unnecessary’ items and left him in search of coffee and a well deserved Valium.
An hour later I returned and the pack remained empty, Scooter struggling to figure out the straps on his pack had decided that kicking it around the floor might make it work better. Clearly the Valium was working because I sailed over, started stuffing his pack and told him to ‘take a hike’. The guy couldn’t organize a piss up in a brewery, good job he was good in bed.
Yes, I should have turned the truck around. I should have called quits on the trip and I probably should have seriously have reconsidered Scooter at that point. But I’m British at the core, and that would be rude. So instead, we headed off to the trail head.
At the very top of Wyoming, at the top of the Teton National park, is nothing. To the north you can see Montana, the Gallatin range, the distant Glacier range, and behind you Yellowstone, the Tetons and pretty much nothing for miles and miles and miles. Except me and Scooter. And his suitcases.
Thanks to the packing drama, we started down the trail late, trying to reach out first campsite before dusk fell. Striding quickly, I could hear Scooter’s pack clanging as he jogged behind me, exclaiming as things dropped off his pack or straps started to chafe. After a couple of miles he whined, ‘Can I get some of your water?’ I swiveled so fast my neck cracked;
‘What about your water?’
‘Oh I left the Nalgene bottles in the truck. Along with the bear spray. That shit was really heavy’
‘I figured we could share?’
‘For 5 days??????’
I’m not sure where Scooter thought we were refilling our bottles, but he obviously hadn’t thought this through… and he clearly had never been backpacking before. My stomach knotted.
‘So we were going to use 2 water bottles between two of us for 5 days? How often do you think we’re going to be filtering water?’
‘We have to filter the water? We’re in Wyoming…its clean’
No matter than we’d just seen a huge moose standing in the stream alongside the trail. Apparently Scooter wasn’t too worried about moose feet sweat in his liquids. I finally, finally got the message.
‘Yep. We’re done. Trip’s over. Back to the truck’.
I turned around and started heading back up the trail, mentally calculating how long it was going to take me to drive back to Denver with my bozo liar boyfriend while gritting my teeth. Maybe 9 hours???
Except a mile later I spotted a large wet paw print in the mud. LARGE. Bigger than my hands and fresh. With really big claws. Bear paw sized.
‘Scooter, start talking. There are bears around we don’t want to surprise them’
‘Oh now you want to talk?’
Scooter took out his camera and stopped on the trail,
‘I’m getting a picture of this, Man, this pawprint is huge!’
I turned away, trying to avoid the urge to kick him in the head. Every single irksome thing, every masticated burrito, every lie flooding back into my brain. Just as I spotted the grizzly bear to my left.
‘Scooooooooooter. There. Is. A. Big. Grizzly. Right. There. ‘
Scooter took one look at the Mini sized fur ball and took off running, his pack bouncing on his shoulders, his sleeping pad dragging along the trail by a single strap. Leaving me, with the bear.
‘So Bear… I guess I’m meant to talk to you since the ranger said you need to know that I’m here and I don’t want to scare you and I’m about to piss my pants but I’m keeping on talking because my numb nuts of a boyfriend who I’m going to dump as soon as I catch his sorry ass just ran off up the trail and are you sure that you don’t want to chase him please Mr Bear?’
The bear stood watching me spout off and continued chewing his bark. He didn’t move, just stared.
‘Bear please can you go away because I really really need to pee now and if you’re going to charge me can you just make it quick and maybe chase Mr Numb Nuts too he’s further up the trail probably lying to a moose about his extensive camping experience and mountain lion wrestling days…’
The bear looked at me nonplussed, and kept on chewing.
I told that bear everything I planned to do to Scooter as soon as I found him, my past dating history and how I wasn’t going to online date anymore.
He stopped chewing and started to walk towards me.Oh shit, now I’d really pissed him off.
‘Sorry…I’ll just do match.com but no more sketchy weirdos and I’ll definitely make sure to vet them first and I won’t be going on any more camping trips with anyone who doesn’t have a vagina just please don’t eat me ok?
That seemed to appease him and he slowly backed up and lumbered off. A furry Mini, the bringer of the truth to my latest ‘relationship’. It did get points for originality.
As the feeling came back to my knees I started back up the trail. Pissy (literally), furious and sad that this time I literally had put myself in danger due to a bad date. I really should know better by now. Well, never again.
I caught up to Scooter about a mile from the truck. He was sitting on a rock and rubbing his ankle.
‘I think I twisted it when I was running.. where have you been??’
‘Lets just get to the truck and head to a motel or something’
‘AWESOME!!. We can have sex‘
It took 12 hours to drive back to Denver that night. I didn’t say a word. Scooter took the time to tell me all the things he didn’t like about me, my dog and camping. I’ve not seen him since.