My brother and I had just set up our tent, gathered water from the nearby Kootenay River and were heating up dinner with my tiny alcohol stove when this friendly guy walked over from his camper trailer about 50 yards away. We were all camping in free “sites” along the river like hobos trying to save a dime.
“How far are you guys going?” he said. It was a common opening question we often heard this past summer during our week-long bike ride in British Columbia. We told him we were on our way to Radium Hot Springs and into the national parks about 100 miles away.
“I’ve been on a few tour bike rides myself,” he told us. “Once rode all the way across Canada.” He looked over our set up. “You boys are traveling light.”
He told us he once worked as a bike mechanic and still had all the tools.
“If you got any problems, just come see me, I’ll fix you up.” He looked to be in his late 40s and in good shape. We thanked him for the offer. “I’m kind of between things. Waiting for this job to become available.”
He wished us luck and returned to his camper and started gathering firewood, even though the night was warm.
One of the fun things about my job, my interests and life in general is meeting new people. People are goofy, weird, screwy and wonderful. I think I fall into the same category.
About 95 percent of the people in the world are interesting and generally pleasant. The other 5 percent are people you don’t want to meet or cross paths with. I try not to let the 5 percent scare me away from meeting the other 95 percent. During our Canadian and pretty much all year long, I’ve only bumped into the 95 percent. It’s been a good year so far.
During a day hike up Teton Canyon over the Teton Range to Jenny Lake this summer we met a group of backpackers from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on Hurricane Pass. They were hiking the Teton Crest Trail. Within minutes we were all exchanging cameras to take the iconic photo of the Grand Teton in the background. Fortunately, they spoke great English, because our Portuguese stinks. The outdoors, especially the backcountry, seems to eliminate barriers to friendly conversation.
Back from far flung adventures, I was recently rock climbing at a local crag near Heise and met a group of college students. Within minutes we all knew each other’s home towns, majors, favorite places to climb and even recommendations on where to buy the best tacos.
Perhaps it’s a recipe for world peace: Take everyone on a backcountry adventure or hike a trail together. It’s humbling when we see a world bigger than us all.