Apart from salamis and tubes of Desitin, we’re going to need further diversions to pass the slow afternoon hours as we camp along the trail. For one thing I’ve been gorging my iPod on music CDs to load it with every imaginable musical craving I may have over the next month. But that only covers 6 days of continuous listening (trust me, I can do it), and at best the iPod will fill out to 10 days. What will I do with the other 20? Richard is packing a good stack of books, and it wouldn’t hurt for me to bring along a few of my own (but I can still read and listen to music at the same time, as well as walking and talking at the same time, but not driving and talking). A few titles I have in mind are: The last 3 months of Wired magazine (I’ve lapsed a bit), Harry Potter (I promised I would read them within my lifetime, but you can trust I’ll cheat and watch the movies where I can), “The 7 Habits…” by Covey, Jon Stewart’s “America (The Book) “, and oh, I should include something to feed my paranoia about having my own Himalayan tragedy, “Into Thin Air ” by Krakauer.
However, this calls to memory a haunting scene from the 1986 movie “Platoon” about the Vietnam War. An infantry squad (my old unit the 25th ID) is gearing up for an overnight jungle patrol, and the squad leader looks through the gear belonging to the new recruits. One of them has his pack half-full of books and other junk to keep him sane, but the sergeant dumps it all out for the practicality that he’s going to be doing a lot of hiking and his pack has to be as light as possible. Now I know that I won’t have to carry the weight of the entire Harry Potter series in hard-cover on my own back, but how much gnawing can my conscience take for a Sherpa porter to bear the burden for me? I can compromise and take only paperbacks, or load them on disk and read them on my computer. Peshaw! That scene about packing light in the Army is thoroughly bogus anyway. The real policy is that they’re not happy with you unless you’ve packed an absurd amount of junkyard waste (a.k.a. government issue radios, lithium batteries, rocks, field manuals, lead fortified iron casing for the above, Jerry cans) in your rucksacks so that you yet again regret volunteering. Maybe I can apply that latent, repressed resentment and delude myself into thinking that our porters have a “more is less” philosophy. Maybe I’ll just wait it out and watch ALL the Harry Potter movies when they eventually come out and save everyone a little grief.