There is an old saying the purports if you give a guilty person enough rope they will hang themselves. Thankfully, this has never applied to any outdoors enthusiast – mostly because for an outdoors enthusiast, there is no such thing as enough rope. Or, if they are telling you a fish story, guilt.
The typical outdoorsman owns a great variety of ropes and collects more as the years progress. These include anchor ropes, tarp ropes, game hanging ropes, canoe tying ropes, boat ropes, pulley ropes, dog ropes, tree stand ropes, pack ropes, dock ropes, camp ropes, general purpose ropes, towing ropes, and ropes for dragging ice fishing sleds or for hanging food caches, to name just a few.
We collect ropes the way some people collect postage stamps.
Furthermore, we will gladly use thick rope and thin rope, and ropes of all designs, twists, braids and materials. So long as it is a rope, we are in. Outdoorsmen love rope.
Despite this, in my house, Jenn frequently points out, “You have way too much rope.”
And I tell her it will come in handy one day – which causes her to laugh hysterically.
This is also to say that Jenn has no clear understanding of rope – nor the outdoorsman’s sacred responsibility towards it.
I would venture to say, if not for outdoorswomen and men, there would be no rope industry at all. This would make for a very different world. One in which cartoon villains would have to duct tape the damsel in distress to the railway tracks. And no one wants that.
Yet, despite our affinity for it, rope is, at the same time, an outdoors enthusiast’s best friend and worst enemy.
It is the former, because, if you give an outdoorsman enough rope, he or she will spend the rest of the day untangling it. It is the latter for the exact same reason.
The nature of this relationship doesn’t really enter into it, however. You see we outdoorsy types cannot resist picking up and feeling the heft of a good rope. We have no choice. An appreciation of rope is basically in our DNA.
That is because, from an incredibly young age, we are taught that rope is an essential part of every outdoors trip – especially if you forgot your belt. Among its many important uses are the role they play in creating a clothesline around camp for people to walk into and for its pivotal part in the trip hazard formed between tents and tent pegs. Also, they come in handy when you need to restrain the person that has discovered both.
Equally important, without ropes we could not practice tying the knots that we can rely upon in the outdoors right up until we need them most. For instance, when we are tying off our rope belts.
Ropes also play an integral part in a secret fantasy every outdoorsman harbours. Of course, I’m talking about the deep-seated desire to pull off a dramatic rescue using nothing but the rope we happen to be carrying.
Needless to say, if you are only carrying three feet of rope, the drama suffers substantially.
Why the rescue fantasy?
This is not because every outdoorsman wants to be a hero. No, it is more like he wants to be able to look into a news television camera and tell the reporter, “My wife frequently complains I have too much rope, but I told her it would come in handy one day…”