Sunday, December 11, 2011

Claud the Water Guy

This picture was found on a blog post written by photographer/"footballer" Jason Johnson.

Jason, a U of A grad who's from Seattle, runs into "Claud the Water Guy" and hikes to the summit with him. Claud juices up Johnson's short and entertaining description of the hike. Especially nice is his use of dialogue. He mentions how Claud tries to hand out water to "everyone he meets" has Claud saying, "It's a dangerous hill ... These city-slickers forget how hot it is. People die here... in the summer it will get to one-sixteen and they don't even bring water!"

Johnson surmises that all regular Camelback hikers have met Claud -- I certainly have, though I've never chatted with him for as long as Johnson did and didn't know his name was Claud. He hikes Echo Canyon a lot, that's for sure; he's in the top 10 of regulars I've noticed, probably because of his outfit. He's asked me several times if I needed water.

I suppose every mountain needs a self-appointed savior of foolish and unprepared hikers. Claud takes his job of Trail Police seriously.

About a year ago, I departed from Echo Canyon Trail to explore the base of some 40-50 foot cliffs above the saddle between hump and head. The gully turned bushy and I began scampering on a sidewall, having fun, when I heard a concerned voice far behind me shouting, "HEY! HEY! THAT'S NOT THE TRAIL!"

I tried to ignore him for a moment, hoping to climb out of his sight, but he kept it up: "TURN BACK! YOU'RE GOING THE WRONG WAY!"

I looked up at Claud, who was several hundred feet back and up at curve in the trail, wearing the same hat and having the same general appearance as in this picture, but appearing less than an inch high to me from that distance. "IT'S O-KAY!" I yelled back. "I'M NOT LOST!"

Then I turned around and resumed traversing. He yelled one more time before giving up. I found a great spot to free solo in the class-four range for about 20-30 feet before coming to a section that I didn't want to do without protection. The downclimb was just tricky enough to put a smile on my face.

I passed Claud on the way down.

"Nice rock-climbing there," he said graciously.

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