And another thing…

Posted by Ken Campbell June 30, 2009 0 Comment 827 views

If you look up the History of the Olympic Mountains on Wikipedia, you’ll be hit with a long – albeit deceptively shallow – writeup of all things historical and Olympic. From the days of the Spanish explorers to the time of Lt. O’Neil and the mountain men… and then talk turns to the Press Expedition. For some reason, and I have no idea why, trash-talking the Press Party is cool, at least for some.

To wit: the judgmental bastard who coughed up these lines ought to be flogged. “The team was assembled by a foolhardy Scottish explorer named James Helbold Christie. Christie wanted to make a name for himself, and he knew if he waited to make the crossing until spring that he would be competing against a bevy of similar teams.” The writer goes on to describe the Press Party’s hardships and mistakes with the clear hindsight of a half-bright Monday morning quarterback. As if there was something untoward about Christie’s desire to be first. As if going along with a bevy of similar teams was a better alternative than the one he chose. As if the wiki-critic has ever really done anything.

Tell me, anyone. When have you ever gone off the map? Christie and the others had their faults – they did enjoy their whisky – but once they passed the last homestead on the Elwha and continued upcountry, they were in a place that no one had seen before. The local tribes knew nothing of the interior; if others had previously been through, they had never come forward with their stories. The Press Party went where there were no maps, and it may be entertaining to quibble about whether they should have built a barge or whether starting during one of the worst winters on record was a good idea. But they went somewhere first, and you can’t take that away from them.

And this is what’s bugging me: those who make their claim to greatness simply by critiquing the performance of their betters. By comparing the real deeds of others against the imitations and imaginations of their own sad mental milestones. Those feeble hacks in their garrets, conjuring up in words what they could never hope to accomplish by their actions, not that they would be likely to try.

I don’t know what has set me off this time. These days, I am resigned to the inevitability of my someday becoming a curmudgeon. I just hope I don’t snarl, you know, like Dick Cheney.

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