“Chaps, enjoying your motivated nature walk?!”
Mile Six of a nine mile march through the Central Training Area on Camp Hansen. We’re marching along in heavy boots, sweating through our uniforms, and carrying packs that weigh as much as some of the smaller Marines.
All you can do is smile, grunt, and trudge forward, because if you look around you will see it is – in fact – “freakin beautiful” out there (I was told today that the word “beautiful” does not translate to Marines without the qualifier “freakin” or its more explicit lexical cousin).
We set out on the hump at 0530 (hump is the noun that refers to hiking with large quantities of gear strapped to one’s back). Orion was looking down on me (I know this because its one of the few constellations that I can identify).
One mile. Too easy. What are the Marines always complaining about?
Two miles. The bottoms of my feet hurt. Insert another expletive. This is going to be a long trip.
Three miles. A discussion of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off – referred to by one officer as “Ferris Bueller’s Big Day” - ensues amongst the officers in the rear. This officer is hit in the head by another officer. General consensus: good movie, though the contempt for elders and those in authoritative positions is not condoned by this Corps.
Four miles. The sun is coming up. The birds are chirping. We enter the CTA, and we look out on the rolling hills that lead toward the mountain. The ocean sparkles in the background. It is freakin beautiful.
Five miles. “Can I ask you a question, and I don’t mean it to be racist or anything like that?” “Sure, any question is a good question.” “Why does it seem that Jewish people always vote Democrat.” Uh oh.
Six miles. Curse those freakin rolling hills. I miss flat land. My freakin feet are freakin killing me. The freakin nerves in my freakin shoulders are freakin being pinched. We have freakin 7 ton trucks, MRAPs, and Humvees. We’ve got helicopters, planes, and whatever you want to call the Osprey. Landing craft and amphibious vehicles. What are we freakin doing humping this far?!
Seven miles. “Sure the blue jolly rancher will make your mouth turn blue, but the watermelon jolly rancher is by far the best.” Gunny is saying something wildly inappropriate that he heard on Rush.
Eight miles. I see the end! I see the end! Why are we not turning?
Nine miles. What a beautiful way to start the day.
They called it a “conditioning hike”. We are working our way up to a 15 mile hike in the not-so-distant future. Our company commander asked the Marines why we did such a thing? Why not just take the 7 ton truck, or the Humvee, or a Honcho (taxi).
He gave the usual Marine Corps answers: It builds endurance. It motivates us as a team. The Marine Corps heritage is built on humping it from place to place.
But if I were giving an answer: to be motivated by nature. Have a freakin beautiful Navy/Marine Corps Day.