The creators of the simulation have many interests.

Watching their characters do stupid shit is definitely one of ‘em.

As far as this goes humans are the biggest pay off.

Backpacking trips in particular tickle their fancies.

Nothing like a bit of deviant backpacking code to lighten their moods.


Usually the creators of the simulation are looking for a little pick-me-up when they watch us struggle.

For instance, when a blister forms on our heels.

Or we twist an ankle.

Or little Tommy hates oatmeal for breakfast.

Or some poor soul trips over a rock and falls into a patch of nettles.

It happens.

And when it does the creators of the simulation are pleased as punch.


These folks fawn over details.

Particularly when photography is involved.

For instance, when a Boomer takes a photo in the presence of a Gen Z-er, and the Gen Z-er is forced to endure watching the Boomer struggle with the camera.

Or when a parent lectures her kiddo about the difference between absorbing nature and selfies.

The creators of the simulation find these incongruencies to be a real kick in the pants.

Especially when culture and family are involved.

Who can blame them?


Free will is another topic that the creators of the simulation can’t get enough of.

They just love watching us suppose our futures are open and we choose this and that.

The other day on a series of switchbacks a kid asked his dad about being free and in chains.

Apparently the kid encountered this metaphor in English class.

“What does it mean?” the kid asked.

“It means you can be a real fuck up and go homeless,” said the dad, “while at the same time are mentally ill.”

The kid regretted asking this question though did gain clarity.


Apart from experiencing various pleasures while observing our mishaps and metaphysical ignorance in the great outdoors, the creators of the simulation have a real weakness for pointy objects.

Cacti, for example, or porcupines, or scorpions, or pine needles.

They just love watching us wince when we get jabbed by something prickly.

Maybe a little infection bubbles up, a trip to the hospital.

The creators feel right as rain.

Basically anything that punctures us at the campsite gives ‘em a real jolt.

Step on a thorn that draws blood, they’ll laugh for a week.


Human anxieties in general likewise crack the creators up.

You know, the forecast calls for sun but there’s rain.

The tent is leaking and you don’t sleep a wink.

The hip belt on your backpack rubs you raw.

A gasket in the stove goes bad.

You forget your Lexapro.

You can’t let go of work.

You get in a fight with your spouse on the trail over something trivial.

Talk of divorce ensues.

A dark shadow hangs over the whole trip.

The creators of the simulation find this funnier than hell.


Same goes for random questions and comments.

For instance, a young boy asks his father, a military man, “what would it be like to hike with Kim Jong-un?”

Later the boy suggests it would cool if an escalator took them up the mountain.

“Shut up, son,” says the dad, who feels guilty for this response.

The creators of the simulation chuckle.

Regrettable sentiments and dumbfounded looks tickle ‘em pink.


Interestingly, the other day one of the characters in the simulation sensed the creators’ true nature.

A Mark Twainish contemplative sort of fella, a poet you might say, was dictating humorous lines into his iPhone as he walked through a ravine.

The poet was talking about the imperfect nature of the creators of the simulation.

He speculated they were real assholes.

The creators didn’t care for this one bit.

These folks prefer anonymity and illusions of grandeur.

Not to mention the poet was right.


In response, one ill-tempered creator decided to whip up a bit of deviant code.

Typing fast, he sought to instantiate a lesson in the poet.

The whole thing’s uncomfortable to talk about but here’s how she blows.

Clear sky, perfect 70 degrees, everything was peachy.

Feeling relaxed, not paying any mind to natural bodily processes, the poet decided to release a simple fart.

“Not so fast,” typed the creator into the code.

Other hikers were in the rear.

All of ‘em looked the other way.

The poet knew they were just being polite because a mustard-colored stream trickled down his leg.

That was the last time the poet dictated lines into his iPhone about the creators of the simulation.

The last time.


Of course, sometimes backpacking trips go as planned.

Satisfying code as it were.

Which is tricky.

Because give it enough time something unfavorable will happen.

You know, your nephew cuts himself whittling on a stick.

Your stepdaughter forgets her water bottle at the junction.

Most of the time a nasty comment escapes your mouth.

Occasionally things get physical precisely because the satisfying code softened you up.

The creators of the simulation wait patiently like a pack of wolves.

Some of the best jokes take time.


In general, complexity tickles ‘em.

The blending of good with bad gives ‘em a real buzz.

Hardly anything more enjoyable to these folks than watching us interpret adverse experiences.

“Been driving awful fast lately, Maggie…that speeding ticket on the way home (after the hike) probably taught us both a good lesson.”

“Yep, mmm-hmm, mmm-hmm.”

“Losing my cell phone (on the hike) might not be such a bad thing…been spending too much time on the phone.”

“Yep, I think it was meant to be.”

The creators of the simulation spit up a bit of gin and tonic.

Yep, meant to be.


With that said, nothing tickles their funny bones more than watching us search for meaning.

Sunsets, for instance.

Note how the colors make us feel a sense of awe.

As do mountains and canyons.

Stare at a billowy cloud on the horizon long enough it just might give you all you need.

Humanism is powerful in this way.

And the creators sympathize.

They know such psychological gerrymandering ain’t so easy.

Same goes for religion though with a little different spin.

The humor piece is stronger.

To the creators, listening to Father Bijou invoke intelligent design to explain a beautiful sunrise is like watching Bucky Jr. flail about searching for Easter eggs.

“Warmer, warmer…almost there.”


At the end of the day, the creators of the simulation find us satisfying and simple.

A solid source of amusement within the greater code.

Our consciousness, our sincerity.

Our pitiful nature next to theirs.

Like a beagle or a terrier or a chihuahua who greets them at the door.

We yap a little.

They feed us.

We’re still hungry.

The entire cycle makes their eyelids heavy at night.