The idea for this song, which is about some of our (mis)adventures in the backcountry, came from the incident described in the first verse. We had been out in the Yosemite National Park wilderness for four days, and after an extremely long, hot, and tiring day, were finally camped next to Lake Eleanor for our last night out. The other campers we saw, who had just arrived with their “country club” set-up, and the contrast between their appearance and ours, got this song started, and some of the events from other trips filled it in.
When we finally got to Lake Eleanor, we thought we had it made,
After miles of hot and dusty trail, no water and no shade.
But they ran us across the dam, and then halfway around that lake,
And when we finally fell into camp, we’d had about all that we could take.
But then we saw some other campers taking it easy, and here’s the rub:
They had lawn chairs, they had Tupperware – they had a regular country club!
We got no lawn chairs; got no Tupperware;
Got no hundred-dollar sleeping bags, no load of fancy tools.
We don’t worry about style at all; we’re in it for the long haul.
Yeah, we’re just down-and-dirty, way-over-thirty, backpacking fools.
From Carson Pass, down the Crest, they said would be an easy trail;
But somehow we found a hard one, once again, without fail.
Sliding down a rock-and-gravel slope that looked just like a wall,
Trying not to think what I’d look like if I ever took a fall.
Next day was no relief – that trail went nowhere but up;
We were feeling more dead than alive when we finally made it to our truck.
When we made it up to Clouds’ Rest, and down that steep and rocky trail,
We had no idea who’d be writing the next chapter in our tale.
Just sitting around the campfire, planning Half Dome the next day,
When a bear came out of nowhere and stole our food away.
He just grabbed up that whole backpack, and vanished out of sight;
But then he kept on coming back for more – he kept us up all night!
Now when you hear about the hard times, you might wonder why we go;
And if you’ve never been there, well, I guess you’d never know.
But to stand beside a mountain stream, or a shining waterfall,
And have that whole world to yourself, just seems to make it worth it all.
Oh yeah, I’ve seen a lot of places that most people never see,
And there’s not enough gold in this whole world to buy my memories.
Oh yeah, we’re down-and-dirty, way-over-thirty, backpacking fools.
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