I have no idea who this gentleman is but he's a contributor on the www.backpacker.com message boards. He doesn't post often, but when he does it's either thought-provoking and funny as hell---as you'll see.
Without further ado: The best of Grizzly James---Now available in Word!
Taking to the wintery wilderness has been my passion for many a year. Deep and abiding, it dwells in my soul with the fierceness of a lion. And anything can set it off. A stroll through the local neighborhood, the way my wool jacket feels, the Black-capped Chickadee cavorting upon naked maple limbs. Ahh yes, the woodsmoke rising from yonder chimneys, rising high into a cold, blue sky, whilst my boot bottoms crunch and squeek over sub-zero snow - I reckon nothing riles me up more than that, to strike off at once, for the quieter place covered in soft and falling snow.
One of the joys, and the main reason I fancy the winter camp season, is that you need not travel far to escape the maddening crowds. As I sit hear gazing out the window of my den, looking upon a articulate drift of snow, refreshing bevarage at hand, I wax reminiscent of one winter camping trip several years ago, under a cold December moon. We were bedded down in back of the GMC Suburban, at a state park in northern Minnesota. Like I said, one doesn't have to go far to escape the crowds in winter. For 8 dallors, or what ever the price was, my brother and I rented the entire state park for the night, all to ourselves. I guess when it's 20 below, and 14 hours of darkness, thats not a hard thing to do. lol
But oh sweet mother of churning bellies, I had ingested some of the local cheese that night for supper, and let it be said, it did not sit well with me, deep in my gut. Disturbed my tummy was, wrought with feelings reminiscent of a yellowstone mud pit. It was two in the morning, when my stomach sang a little ditty, something like, gurgle gurlge slop plop! Immediately, as if savvy to these things, my brother sat up in his sleeping bag, lit the lantern, casually peeled open his book, and said calmly, " Go take care of it."
I knew he was right. We've all had belly aches before, and having them in the woods at 20 below always adds something special to the mix. So I slip into my pac boots, and make way for the outhouse, which was inconvienently located on the far side of the campground. I remember waddeling along in one of the tracks in the snow, made by the truck, clad in fleece and long underwear, under the glow of a cold and wild moon, set high in a starry sky. I also remember the feeling of dismay and humility, when at once I realized, that no matter how gallant my efforts may be this night, that I would not make it to the outhouse. The promised land was out of reach. I hurried my step. My stomach gurgled and plopped, talking to me in bitter tungues, moaning my name in vain. I tried, daggum it I tried, but in every belly ache there comes a moment when you know, as surely as you know anything at all, that the time has come, and your going to "let fly" right here, right now. Ugh.
My time had come, 75 yards shy of a beautiful privy, as I yanked down my long underwear, and dare I say, let the humility spew. Crikies, it was immoral almost. Suffice it to say, nobody would be camping at site number 19 that year. It was quite the juicy affair too, of which I dared not pull my patented synthetic underwear back over, despite it's claim to wick away moisture. My fleese was ungainly baggy as well, and I had to pull that up, holding it high to my ribs, exposing my bulbous white belly to the bite of an artic night. My drawers draped around my ankles while I considered what to do next.
I laughed. I mean you gotta laugh at times like this in your life, otherwise you'd surely cry. So, and with my shirt held high, and my skivvies shackled about my ankles, I waddled like a jackass penguin in a tire track in the snow, waddeling as if by instinct still, for the outhouse residing over there. T'was then, under that silvery moon, that conditions conspired yet again against me, what with the wicked and bitter wind chill, freezing the crude stew to my tender under-carriage. Gadzooks, I vowed never to eat the local cheese there again. Finally tho, I made a sweet rendezvous with a frozen outhouse seat, and accomplished the neccesarry paperwork, closing the door on this foul-smelling session.
Thank goodness it was winter, and we had the place to ourselves.
I lounge here in my den, quietly, as the last, golden rays of the day slip in through my window. Fresh out of the hither lands I am, boots still soiled in that sweet, April mud. Spent the better part of sixty dallors, on gas alone, skittering about the country-side, hither and yon, over gravel, and tar, straddling the potholes which are in full bloom right now. Cruise control on, hot fudge malt in the cupholder, fine stereo-phonic music, the hum of the tires against the road, and my ever-returning glance to the bitter-sweet gas needle. A watched pot never boils, maybe, but my gas needle harbors no such timidness. Yes, I thought about gas prices.
This morning, I found myself in an old, beat up, forest service out house, a way out in the hinters. The brown paint peeling off it's weathered flanks, the squeeky door not quite acheiving full closure. Was making my morning deposit there, giving back to the land, as it were, and listening to the wind outside, fluttering up old leaves, and cavorting in the pine tops on high. I cannot aptly describe to you, how pleasent it was. I was elated just to be there. 'Twas one of those very precious outhouses, that smelled nothing like the wrap their usually given. No, this one smelled of blue berries, maybe even raspberries, which was curious, considering that blueberries and raspberries were more than two months away yet. lol But thats not the point. It was an agreeable ambience, and one I must admit, I tarried in. If not so much for the unexpected olfactory pleasures, then for the strong, but gentle wind, a'blowin up out of my toilet.
Ive encountered a few such thunder boxes, in my travels a'field, these well-designed jewels, that have under-seating air flow. Hark, the stronger the wind blew outside, the harder it shot up through my toilet seat. Now, this must go no further than this thread, but I found it rather delightful, this cool wind against my bum. I tried to conjur how I could market the experience, maybe sell the notion to eager health spas, and other rejuvinators. But I couldn't think of any way.
Indeed, I spent a good part of my morning, in no hurry, in that little outhouse, in the middle of no where. And heres the thing, for better or worse, the price of gas never crossed my mind. Nor did the value of cucumbers in Spain. Or the rise and fall of the Japanese yen. Even the chores left unfinished at home, they all seem so far away, and not nearly so important anymore. Thats the curious wonder of pretty places, this ability of even the most cornfused individual to put things again, back into a proper perspective. When the urban rush is replaced by the simple joys of wind, and a well made outhouse. What ever the price of the gas, it was surely worth it.
And its still cheaper than milk.
I bid you toodaloo,
It is supper time
I often take to the hinters with a frequent farter. Oh who am I kidding, almost everyone I go with can blow uncanny gas with staggering consistency. Some better than others. Like Big Chief Running Bowels. A good camping cronie from back in the day, when we guided alot of canoe trips into the Boundary Waters, for the youth groups at our church. Oh he was a talented individual, with quite the gamut of south-end breezes. His signature fart, was the sort that snuck up on him, so-to-speak, when he quite wasn't prepared for it. Like shuving off in a canoe, or squatting by the fire to flip the pancakes. I coined this fart, the Humble Rumble, in his honor. He seemed to take it in stride.He had another, trademark fart, that I actually rather fancied. I called it the Vibration Fart. Suffice it to say, one can aptly feel the sonic inertia of a fart travel the entire length of a 17 1/2 foot, aluminum canoe, sometimes further, depending on diet. It is a giddy experience, one that you often wish you had a siezemometer handy. Perhaps a vulcanoligist. Ahh those were the days. lol
But what Big Chief Running Bowels was most talented at, what he could do better than any other would-be Ive hiked and camped with, was what I call, a Sniper Fart. A sniper fart is quite simply, the most effective way to fart and not reveal your position. Very useful for turkey hunters, super models, and well, snipers. The knack is in preventing your cheeks, from, shall we say, flapping in the breeze. 'Tis a silent flatulation. Ahh the Big Cheif made it look so effortless, still and even so, 'twas not that easy to appreciate when you had to share a tent with the man. Oh I remember those starry nights, encased like sausages, in tiny, little, nylon tents with him. The tent walls bellowing, the sound of grown men, hacking and coughing. His stealth farting was of no value, really, when there was just two of us in the tent. I could most night's, deduece who the culprit was. Some night's tho, we'ld both get into it, just popping little ones, back and forth. We had in-depth conversations this way, nary saying a word. A sort of primative tongue, as it were. Nice weather were having. Did you hang the food bag? Golly that was good chili
Ahh, youve got me blabbering preacher, bout things I ought not blabber about. But I dont feel guilty, cause you brought up. Your the one who ate the stew
Ahh yes, Botany. Nothing is quite so fine, than to engage in a botanical hike through the woodlands, meadows, and prairies. Of the sciences, few go better with backpacking than the study of plants. Oh, for hours, even days on end, I have been in pretty places, and completely occupied with but just the flora that grows around me. From infinate and detailed studies through a hand lens, of a Trailing Arbutus, to the glories of a well-placed nap in a Thimbleberry patch. Tis a world to explore, that is for sure. I remember one day, out in the hinter regions of northern Minnesota, the urge to, lets just say, "lighten my load" came over me like an Alberta Clipper. In great haste, I rummaged through my pack, in search of thy precious and copious roll of toilet paper. But alas, none was found, not even a napkin, nor shread of paper. Face to face with defeat now, tinted with a degree of pressing urgency, I sought refuge in the only option I had left - my woodlore. Scampering about the woods, waddling I dare say, like a pregnant Emperor Penguin, I came upon, in the knick of time, a fresh, green batch of Large-leafed Aster's. Woodsman's toilet paper for the layman. I cast a few glances about, to make sure the forest was devoid of onlookers, and proceeded then, to take care of business, so-to-speak.
Twas a lovely place, in dappled shade, neath canopies of Birch. A cool, northern breeze, and acres, it seemed, of Large leafed Asters. I must admit, the ordeal of using the Aster in place of TP, left me feeling somewhat refreshed, and a tickle curious. I pulled out my field microscope, went belly up on the forest floor, and studied a specimen of large leafed Aster, under a small magnification. To my horror, I discovered the leaf's surface, populated with little bitty, teeny weenie, orange, spider-looking, type bugs. I fairly quivered in my shorts. And I layed there on the forest floor, in the breeze, as it fluttered through the plants, and decided right then and there, that there was no truely adequate substitute, for a husky roll of toilet paper. lol
Well Ill tell ya, and Ill be frank, for my butt, nothing substitutes a good roll of toilet paper. Why Ive had occassion, under primative circumstance, to make rather intimate aquaintenceships with unruly, forest tatter. I have done my fair share of 'paperwork' with a vast variety of curious things, none of which I could whole-heartedly recommend to anyone, not even to mean people whom I'ld dearly love to see waddle with a kink.
I once tried, on a hill top south of Lake Superior, in the prose of Tigger, two, butt-puckering snowballs. It was OK, but it wasnt victorious. And pine cones, my goodness, what was I thinking. I learnt the hard way, wrought in the field of experience, that pine cones work only in one direction, and barely at that. Ive tried leaves and debris and that stuff too, but all that gets me is a butt gone a 'fowl, with leaves and debris. Thats no good. We have a ground floor plant up here, supposed 'woodsmans toilet paper', which I used to frequent as a youth. It seemed quite wonderful, leaving me feeling a trifle refreshed, and a better person for having done it. And I might have stuck with the practice had I not, that one fateful day, chosen to examine one of the leaves under my field microscope. Ahh, I remember laying on my belly, in dappled forest sunbeams, listening to the tweety birds on high, as I slid the leaf under magnification. I saw before me a world of unparalleled horrors. It was full of wee little, orange-colored spiders and mites. Vicious looking, savage, opportunistic. All running around through the infinately indented textures of the leaf. My butt cheeks clamped tighter than Bill Gate's vault. Never have I used a leaf nor wayward pine cone since. Which, unfortunately has cost me dearly, years down the trail. Oh what misery it was, I cannot deny, humbling myself behind a thimbleberry thicket, in a drizzling rain, in a TPless stooper, desperate I was, as I slowly ripped precious pages from thy journal. 'Twas a bidding I seek not to relive.
I have on occassion, dangled my feets in lovely waters, and I must say Miss Sequoia, it is indeed, a frolic to the senses, and a very quaint respite. Ahh the simple pleasures of an outdoorist. It is, however, to my dismay, humbling, when the fishies all float to the surface, and go belly up
The Winds blew bitter sweet, my dear. For on my campaign there, my trail cronies, good chaps tho they may be, had disturbing tendencies to release, shall we say, the South end breezes, in great multitudes. Now when your campin with just the boys, well, this is what they do, I wont kid you. Anywhere, anytime, the scenery was just a little spoiled, the mountain air not so fresh. We'ld look at each other, disgusted look on our faces, and one of us would almost always say, " Well, they don't call it the Winds for nothing". We'ld laugh a trifle, then get on about our day. lol
Now despite these periodic gas attacks, one could easily grow accustomed to life in the Winds. T'was a magnificent grandeur. Mountains peaks all around, and hundreds of shimmering,blue, alpine lakes, in which to play and tarry. I for one, made good use of my Wyoming fishing liscence, catching my creel limit of frisky , rainbows, almost every day. Ahh yes, sweet is the respite, to lean back against a boulder, with a crackling, little fire, dwindling down to embers, as you dine on your fresh, trout, shore lunch, and gaze off over a pristine lake, nestled like a jewel, in the shadow of the Continental Divide.
If you fancy mountains, and you fancy lakes, the Wind Rivers, is just about, the loveliest place in the world. For the mountain scenery, is pert near as good as any, and the the lakes, ohhh the lakes, the high mountain lakes, hundreds of them, cold and pristine, packed with trouts, surrounded on nearly all flanks by high, granite, cliffs and spires, - this is the song of the Winds. This is what sets it apart from other, backpacking locales. The lakes. And if you happen to smell a not-so-good, pugnence, a 'ridin the breeze, casually disregard if you will, for they dont call it the Winds for nuthin But that shouldnt happen to you. lol
Ahh yes, pooping in the woods. Strikes a shade crazy why a chap with a robust appetite would hold back, when upon virgin wilderness soils. Yes, he's a trifle different from one of my old camping cronies, Big Chief Running Bowels. Oh that old man, he liked the beef and green peppers. Made me stuff his bannocks full of them, whence on canoe trips on the Canadian shield. Specially spicy suasages, the ones that keep so well without refrigeration. Suffice it to say, camping with him was akin to hanging around Old Faithful. You never knew when exactly, but rest assured it would happen. In a brilliant flurry, like a bull moose crashing through the woods, it would happen. I could go into deail, about mad dashes made, and squirrels falling from trees, and other things, but I suspect I'd be banned from the boards afterwards. lol
And thats why, I suppose, backpackers should frieght and consume thy fiberous oatmeal.
My most intimate encounters with trees have been whilst barreling down a snowy slope upon a pair of skis. I'm not a very good skier, at least when there are trees around. Why I recall one time, many years ago, I came off the ski lift in striking fashion, looking for all the world like a Swiss ski model or something. And the females all gawked, openly at my form, as I snow-plowed down the mountain side, bent at the knees, butt shuved out like a caboose. I tried to stay in the middle of the run, doing my very best, until I saw a lone pine tree, a ways down the hill and off to the left. Instinctually I snowplow to the right, but then, and much to my dismay, a mysterious force tugs on my ski tips, pulling me back to the left. Great googly mooglies, there wasn't a thing I could do, t'was like I'd been snatched by some freakish tractor beam or something. Like a fly to flypaper, I was sucked in by the tree's gravity, until at last I made it's aquaintence with a mighty smack, followed by a bellowing moan.
Otherwise, yeah, I really like trees.
I remember years ago too, in one of your threads actually, I posted a little ditty about hats. As I think about it, and consider it more, I think that one would fit the noggin of this thread aswell. For theres more to a hat than at first glance.
Beloved, tho battered, oh how I do love thee, this hat O' mine. Let it be said, because it's true, a chap can search the better part of his life for the perfect, backcountry hat. Oh how many outfitting stores, of whom's hat aisle's have I tarried long and sure, trying on everything, from their most homeliest to their most costly hats, when upon everytime I returned to the mirror, I knew that once again I looked nuthing much better than a doofus. Oh to be sure, if you find that special hat, rapture and bondage are soon to follow. For a camping hat proper, is not just of unequivacal functionality. Oh no, it is much more. It is a statement of individuality, and of backwoods character. For no self rescpecting hiker, in his heart of hearts, wants a hat like everybody else has. He wants to be set apart from the crowd, and be made special. Thus the hat quest beginith.
You may tingle at first sight of your dream hat, but more often than not, the bond is forged over the seasons, and the slow-ebbing passage of time. When at last the hat looks like it's seen some miles, and wears it scars like badges of honor, you know your getting close. Oh hark, I pity the fellow with the new, neat and clean hat, which bares no indication of dirt, or stain, nor tales or adventure. Let him just as soon as he can, take his yuppy hat and back over it with his truck. Then maybe go pan for gold with it, and set it in the hot, desert sun to bake like a peanut brittle. Then at least he will have a tale or two to tell bout his new hat whilst he sits fireside with his mates.
Yes indeed, ones search for the perfect, backcountry hat, can become an endeavor of passion, and frustration.
In closing, I am reminded of an old Utah Phillips quote, that is most pertinent to the subject:
"Never wear a hat with more character than you."
I'm reminded of an outhouse, up way of the frothy shores of Lake Superior. Well it wasn't exactly an outhouse, it was more like one of them plastic, portable toilets, affectionately referred to as " The Biff". The kind you would likely see at air shows and outdoor rock concerts, lined up in the green grass like voting booths. Anyways, the one I'm thinking of now, was nestled tween two birch trees, who's leaves were aflutter in the cool breezes off the great lake, which churned and dumped it's turquoise waves upon the beach. It was a few miles out of the pounding throb of Duluth, but not out of reach of many a well-fed tourist, who tend to frequent this little, plastic pot box in staggering numbers. I for one, in my years of traveling the north shore of Lake Superior, do my absolute darndest to avoid this privy at all costs, for reasons I'm sure you can fathom.
But hark, there are times in one's wanders afield, where all is not happy in his shorts, and he will do anything to ease the condition. Such was the case one summer afternoon, as the wheels of the truck come skidding to a stop in front of this Biff. I was in desprate, dire circumstance, by golly, it was gastromically tremendous. I whipped the flimsy, plastic door of the Biff wide open, not even knocking, struggling against the intestinal clock to deknickerfy myself. Butt flaps slam onto the cool, plastic seat and I grip the walls, and remidy the situation. I sigh, and relax in the seat, oh what sweet relief hailed upon me, I could even hear the waves again, washing the shore.
Bare with me, there is a point to this ramble.
So I find myself linguring there, on the pot, because I soon noticed a rather odd, and disturbing thing, and that was the sweet, wonderful scent of cherry cobbler. I mean like fresh out of Gramma's oven. Hark, how could this be! I gumshoed a bit, and determined the wonderful aroma was wafting up out of the toilet. Great googlies! I stood up and looked. I had to look. You'd look. It's just instincts. So I looked. I peered down into the wretched pot and low and behold, it kind of even looked like cherry cobbler. I scratched my head and looked again. Some chemist somewhere, I dedueced, must have gotten a handsome raise, cause here was a pile of poop smelling like cherries.
A few minutes later, I stumbled out the door and stood in the breeze, gazing over the lakefront, putting the finishing touches on my zipper. I didn't think of it until now actually, when you posted this question. And that is that that Porta Potty, to me anyways, is very much like a political thread here on forums. I do my very best to avoid it, to not even open the door. And when I faulter, and reluctantly venture inside, I see that no matter what we do, no matter how we dress it up, no matter how sweet it may smell, one thing is for sure - it's still a big pile of crap :^O
Thank you for your time.
To answer this question, one invariably has to draw upon his greener years in the field, because no self-respecting and so-called, seasoned, practitioner of the hobby would admit to infallable gear. It's like admitting you voted wrong in the last election, or that your religion needs work. It doesn't come easy for a soul.
But to all who have taken to the field under the flag of newbism, there have been quandries found amid wretched gear not fit even for the neighbor's cat. Do you remember the old flannel sleeping bags, back in the days of yore? Many a dastardly night have I endured in one of those abominations, quivering, teeth a'chatter, moaning my name in vain. Waiting for the exploding sun. Misery was not meant for me, I decided, and great was the day I upgraded to a proper sleeping bag.
For Christmas I once was givin a little kickshaw; a device that was a binoculars, a magnifying glass, a compass, a whistle, a match case, a tweezer, a scissors, a bottle openner and I believe about a hundred other things, and in point of fact, it didn't do any of them well. It did make a good bait for gearheads tho, if I needed to draw any near.
The real problem with bad gear in general, is that you don't know it's bad until you try better gear. For years man, I have gone along happy-go-lucky with my external frame, pleased as could be, living a good backpacking life under the sweet shelter of ignorance. I was content. Then one day I made the dubious mistake of getting fitted for a Gregory Pro Series pack. End of ignorance. End of money too. So I want to say to all the rookies who scamper out of that trailhead, not knowing what in the heck your doing, I say, embrace thy ignorance. For if your gear is bad, but you don't know it's bad, and your enjoying yourself despite, then you have won.
My boots are irrevocably ugly. They are the constant butt of jokes and put-downs from my hiking cronies, who cast their opinions with great glee. They are heavy, and battered and bruised. Soiled, tattered and scared. They look as if they've scaled a thousand peaks, waded a thousand bogs. They are homely and beaten. They are ten years old. I have not the heart to retire them, for they are beautiful to my eyes.
On my recent trek in Montana last summer, my boots were falling apart. Torn asunder atop the rocky ramparts. Chunks of tread were peeling off like a that of 18-wheelers, who leave their own scattered hither along the highways. I'd march the dusty trails there, with flaps of rubber flopping and slapping with each stride. And my trailmates all laughed, saying it's time for new boots. I knew they were right, but it's hard to give up on an old friend. A comrade in laces.
How could I, I mean, they still worked. They still got the job done. I could still submerge my feets into a glacial stream, and wiggle my toes in a bone dry nirvana. They never once lent to a blister. They were stalwart. As tough as the the rockies from whence they've tread.
Abrasions which grace my leather, I wear like battle scars. For here is proof evidence, that I have been out, doing what I aspire. Oh how I do pity these folks, who strut the wildlands in their pretty, new boots, with nary a scar nor abrasion to be seen. For their boots know nothing of what is out there, over that mountain pass, yonder. They have no stories to recall, adventures to tell, when tarried around the campfire, with hot cups of cocoa in hand. A boot that is not tattered has not lived a good life.
Blessed are thee, who's footsteps fall, with the good embrace of a seasoned boot.
I remember my first trip a'foot, as a wee little lad with a bulging pack, striking off through a bountiful birch forest in northern Minnesota. My old man and I, footloose in the woods. He taught me early on the importance of leisure. Taught me how to properly while away the afternoon in a hammock, and not to worry about anything else. Of the lessons learned on that first backpacking trip, thats the one I seem to remember the most. Thats the one I aspire to to this day, and hope I never lose.
Leisure, if properly harnessed, is like the wind at sea, if we hoist our sails, and tweek them just right, they fill, and we are taken further than ever before, even if we lay perfectly still.
I also recall from that first journey, a pack wrought with a disturbing relationship with gravity. By golly was that beast heavy. But I didn't know any better at the time, so who cared. These days, if I'm on my game, I scarce even notice a pack on my back. So the gear has changed over the years, more so, probably, than me.
Well I have changed some. In my greener years, I used to be enamored with how many different materials found in the woodlands that I could wipe my bum with. That particular kink has dissapated over the years, particularly after my encounter with a spider infested large leaf aster. There are better things to wipe your butt with, I concluded, than things laying around in the woods. I use toilet paper now, harmedically sealed in a ziplock bag.
The superior hiking trail is some 200 miles of footpath ranging along the superior coast. It weaves among the hills there, through forest glades and Cedar groves. You walk under blue skies, amid endless white Birch forests, listening to your boot steps, the creak of your pack harness, and the gentle rustle of the breeze over the Yellow Birch leaves. You arrive, every once in a while, at the shores of a wild lake, or tumbling water fall, where if it's hot, you make the aquaintence of in the frenzy of a splash. Or in the flip of a season, an eternal gray sky prevails, and the snowflakes flutter down over the land. Ice holds over the surface of rivers, and waterfalls struggle to fall, whilst Chickadees cavort in the cold trees. Such was the case yesterday.
I've never tramped all there is to cover on the superior hiking trail, but by golly, I've nibbled away at it over the years. This last weekend, I nibbled some in Tettegouchee state park. It is about mid-way, I should say, on the trail, and home to several inland lakes, wild and free, as well as pretty darn good waterfall, some 60 feet high I should wager. I would like to say that the trail skirts along the edge of the mighty lake, but in point of fact, it does it's thing about a mile or two from the shore. You walk in the sublime forest, upon undulating hillsides, and nary even see the big lake save for occasional overlooks, which are worthy of a long tarry. Perhaps a lunch and a nap even. I was at one such promintory Saturday. Wretched scale it was, steep, iced-up, precarious assualt, but once atop, the view spanning 360 degrees was undoubtedly worth it. I slipped into my fleece and down vest, and leaned against a young Birch, arm on my pack, other hand pillaging the gorp bag. I sat there for some time, munching, just letting my eyes stretch. Superior churned about a mile off, mammoth and cold looking. I let my gaze roam, off over the swells which looked tiny from way up on the hill top. They were actually 6-foot, a fathom is sailor jargon, crest to troph, colliding with the rocky shore in thunderous fashion, sending an icy spray bursting over the land. Way off across the lake, if I were to confirm with my compass, were the distant and remote contours of the Wisconsin shores.
We were base camping this time, back in the Tettegouchee campground, of which we had all to ourselves, save for one weirdo sleeping in the back of his little car. Big Chief Baby Bladder and I had our rather comodious tent pitched nicely, patron to a lovely stand of Birch. I must say, I had myself a good time in camp. I was naughty! I cooked in my tent! Oh what a sweet pleasure it was too, whilst the winds howled and the snows fell over the tent, to swing open the door on my portable oven, and observe how my apple cinnamin muffins were comming along. Their sweet aroma wafting about the inside of the tent, hark, this was heaven to me. For it's always been my kink with camping in bear country, that I never get to cook in my tent in foul weather. But in January I thunk, I hoped, the ursis representives would be out cold in their dens and nary be a problem. I decided to take a chance then, for the sheer joy of cooking in the tent. Of which I took to the limit for supper that night, baking up a lovely garlic-cheese busquit thing, as well as frying up a top sirlion steak in the vestibule. If that dont attract old Yogi, nothing will. And we sat in folding safari chairs, under the bright light of the lantern, listening to the winter night, eating our supper, musing on the wonders we had seen that day. Good times. Times of which anyone can find, if they take the time, on or near, the SHT.
Ive blabbred enough.
Ahh yes, the fine art of BSing. The craft of flapping one's lips in a multitude of words, yet not saying anything at all. I have nothing to say about this. Not a pose nor fancy to be found. Like the sparrows which flit overhead, I am simple of mind, with a nary a care in the world. It's not that some things dont matter, it's just that most things dont matter to me. All I really have to do is to live and then to die, and maybe make the aquaintence of a coconut creme pie. Like the daisies which rise behind the barn, I mostly just reach for the sun, and yearn for a gentle rain. Like the cat a'nap in the drier, curled up in warm towels, that is me, tho I pray some yawhoo doesn't slam the door and hit the power. Yes, the fine art of saying nothing at all, there may be more to it than what we spy at a fleeting glance. But then again, maybe not
I'll go with the heart. Thats a muscle, right? You can have strongest legs, the trimmest midsection, the buffest back, but if your ticker don't work, your in for a short hike.
Even so, it's a total body affair. All muscles work in symphony together, as per design. I used to lift weights, back in the day. I dont anymore, but aspire to. I believe a regular regime of weight training keeps the ache and pains of backpackig to a minimum.
As far as abs, I have never even come close to seeing them in my belly! lol And Ive come to grips I shant ever attain the coveted rippling abdominal muscles. Its not in my future. My belly is my life-long companion. My compadre. My warmth and my survival insurance. When I sit down, it gives me a convienent shelf on which to place my box of donuts. A center piece of conversation. lol It has in time, developed infact, it's very own gravitational field. Things are drawn to it, like cookie crumbs and mayonaise that spill haphazzardly from my sandwiches.
I shant get into further, as it will only demoralize the boards.
Let us get one thing straight, any day spent fishing is a good day.
Last year I was liscenced to fish in 3 states, and caught fish in 4. (You don't need a fishing liscence in Glacier NP)Needless to say, I had many a good day last summer, wooing old bucket mouth, who tarried neath the yellow pond lilly. But the trouts have always been my favorite, but they are so dang hard to catch without a nap, and usually takes me the better part of the day to convince one out of the water. But it is glorious to try. If you are not going to catch fish, trout are the ones to go for. For trout almost always live in the prettiest places. In the clearest streams, which wind paradisically through soft, green, valleys. They are stubborn, and out right cantankerous creatures, who couldn't care in the least how expensive your rod is, or how seasoned your backhand in tennis. They dont care what car you drive, or how fat your bank account is. They respond only to patience, and quietude, and thats why I like fishing them so much.
I didn't always have patience, and some days, I wonder if I ever did. Years ago, I had not the patience to go fishing. Green and pretentious, I thought I was in a hurry to live this life, and didn't have time for idleness over tranquil waters, quaint as it may be. But a feller can only rush this life so much, before he realizes haste does indeed make waste, and suddenly fishing makes more sense than it once did.
To go fishing is to set your cares aside for while, and live simply. To say to yourself, and to who ever is looking, that your in no hurry. That today, your going to loiter by this fishin hole like you mean it, and wether you catch Ol'Sluece or not, matters not, for this is what you need to do. 'Tis the push of your heart. Wether a'float or on the shore, you take your time, because you can. And let the maddening urban throngs rush about the world, racing their race. And hark, you smile wide, with the sun on your face, because you are not one of them.
Like backpacking, theres more to fishing than the uninitiated may know. And time spent fishing is not deducted from one's lifespan. That is why, any day spent fishing is a good day
This was not a good thing to write in March, for my waters are hard, and the snowbank in my yard tops out at 3 feet. lol
Good question old boy. I have to harken back for this one, back to my very first backpack trip. It was to a humble state park around here, the name sake of one infamous, Jay Cooke. It's a quaint little tendril of realstate, I've seen it even in backpacker magazine once. I'd like to relive it, but not for the grand scenery, because in truth, it's not that grand. For that I'd go to some other places I've tramped, like Banff, and Glacier, or the Grand Canyon. Ive had much more exciting trips afield. Far wilder places have I tarried. Certainly much lighter packs. Why is it that greenhorns always carry more junk than they could possibly use? Anyways, it's not even because it was my first backpack trip, tho that is sentimental, that I'd want to relive it. But it's because thats the only time I've had ocassion to go backpacking with my old man.
Pop and I have gone camping 100's of times, but backpacking only once. He didn't much see the fun in sweating up hills with a sizable load on his back. I'd sit around our campfires at night, poking embers, and gaze off into bush, wondering what it would be like, to be out there this night, neath a crescent moon, in a camp I carried on my back. Then one April, Pop put all his notions aside, and we struck off into the woodlands, with packs on our backs. And it went about as he feared, he was miserable. lol
But I wasn't! My dreams came true. I remember huffin and puffing up a rather, cardiacally speaking, impressive hill, and watching Pop barely make the summit, then flop on his butt, panting, pulling out a blueberry pie from his pack. lol I postulate I got my joy of pies from him. We ambled about the backcountry, sniffing things out, frolicing, and I made a camp neath a crescent moon.
That was it. The backpacking life wasn't for Pop, and he never did it again.lol But I did
As I reminise now, decades later, on all of my trips infact, the things I appreciate most, are not so much the sights I saw, but the people I was there with. The wilderness is enchanting, and inspiring, and alot of the reason why I go, but, 'tis the people I remember. And what better person to share your tent-flap with, than your Father.
You know sometimes I think death wouldn't be so bad if we didn't love anyone.
But what is this life worth if you havn't loved. I guess in the balance of things, it's a fair trade.
After a while, it even seems worth it, and you realize, love is thicker than blood.
Im in your camp old chap. Let not the machines be latched to me, for I have better things to do!
I guess I wouldn't mind going aside some bueatiful alpine lake, with wildflowers in bloom. With any luck, maybe I'd get to enjoy one last piece of coconut creme pie. If not, thats ok too. I'm definately going to fart if I feel like it tho.
I've done many trips afoot with a chap in tremendous physical condition. An X-marathon runner, and general proponent of health and fitness. Never on my best day can I keep up with the dude, and often times he sets a wretched pace not suitable for thee. The smile leaves my face as I struggle in vain to keep up. When it gets like that, when I can catch him at the next vista, I sit him down and tell him, that I would rather be home doing my taxes, than to continue to march this way. And that I shall see him in camp! Then I slow down, and walk my walk, and the smile is back.
What is my pace? Ha!! I shouldn't even answer this, but I'm compelled to. If I'm on my game, and had a proper breakfast, and the wind is just right, I can achieve 0 miles per hour, for quite a while. lol Sitting for 5-hour stretches on a rock, with a beautiful scene before me, is not uncommon at all in my escapades. Few
individuals can keep my pace. Granted there are times, where even I can get that zen-like rythym, that hikers get, and sorta-kinda glide through the landscape, for hours on end, but those days are rare. I am a loiterer, and when I hike in the woods with pack and boots, I am more often than not, loitering on the move. lol I have no place to be and all day to get there.
Ahh yes, good times! It is well sometimes, to think and act on your own bent.
It is grilling weather. Leastwise here in Minnesota it is. Sunny skies, cool, birdies twittering. Patches of snow receding like an old man's hairline. It is one of my joys to flop down a porterhouse on the grill, and lean back in my chair, feet up, whilst reading a good outdoor narrative. Listening to the choice cut sizzling over a beautiful bed of coals, ahh yes, and the smell, oh what memories surge forth from the aromas of grilling. Memories more often than not fordged deep in the wilderness interior, neath tall, whispering pines. Maybe thats why I fancy a grilling so much. For the memories it evokes. A simple act, to light a fire and cook your meat over it, can, in the flip of a heart beat, echo through the pages of your life. Hmmm.
Well, I can't hire you, so I'll just go with the advice part, which would be to carry on. If writing is what you love, then write you must. Do what you love and eventually, the money will follow. Successfull people are the ones who dealt with rejection the best. But then you know this already, and don't need a pep talk. Stay the course, for in the end it'll be worth it.
I remember my first time published in a magazine, it was quite the experience, whence on trips across this mighty country, I could walk into any magazine stand, and see my words unfolded there. That will happen for you too, if you stick with it. But beware of a swelling ego! I found myself walking up to perfect strangers, grinning, waiting for them to recognize me because of my fame. lol In time you come back to earth again, knowing that your not much better than a doofus who can write a little, and certainly not famous.
Anyways, I say to you, write about what your passionate for. Anything less is a waste of time. For we read to improve ourselves. To inspire. To spark in us the passions residing at the end of heart-strings, glowing there in our souls. We want to feel what you feel. Love what you love. So go, and write these things down. Make it so good those magazines are fools for not taking it.
Dang you! You inspire me. I've been lax in this department as of late. I need to get after it again, and write about what I love.
Tho I havn't participated in any of the threads, Brooke has been in my prayers. It's good to see that the Big Guy is listening to folks Tho I wonder if He hears my request for a 50 mile-per-gallon ford expedition. Someday :x
Accept the facts, lass, your a wilderness nerd! lol I remember one time, you told me there was no such thing as a sea pickle. It's really a sea cucumber. You have moocho knowledge!
I myself take great pride on my wilderness survival knowledge, but I failed miserably on this quiz. I was told I'd die of dehydration :_| Which is fine. Rather go that way than get eatin by a maku shark, or choke on a sea pickle.
More than likely, yes. Heres my thinking. When you eat moon pies, constipation isn't far behind. Constipation is but a stepping stone for the hemmeroids. When you get the hemmies, all the world sucks in your shorts, hence you take them off. But you look funny shopping down the little debbie aisle, in the raw from the waist down. Of which the only viable solution is a kilt. Hows dat? ?:|
Having loitered in the wildlands through much of the country, amid varied ecosystems from desert, to rainforest, to mountains, to bog, and to swamp, and yes, even Kansas, Ive noticed one irrefutable commonality - poop is everywhere. Be it deer, beaver, lynx, marmot, you name it, everybody poops. Nothing says wilderness more, than stepping out of your tent on a crisp morning and seeing a steaming pile of bear plop. If we are better than a bear, so then is our poo? Enough so that I really need to bring it back to urban hole from whence I sprang? If we are required some day to haul along a porta potty, because some city slicker can't stand the site of poop, then same goes for the coon who just swiped my bologna sandwich.
Thats all I have to say on this matter. The whole thing gives me gas.
I foresee these same people collaborating in a music video with an Amish Techno HipHop band to raise money for mosquitoes who have lost their proboscis in the hardend buttock flaps of those fighting for the continued survival of stair masters in local health spas.
People are wierd.
I hear ya lass! It's an odd phenomenon I've noticed across this fruited plain, when there is a savory pot roast cooking in the kitchen, how is it that the clock seems to be idle? Some mysterious force has hold of the minute hand, and it does not move.
You remind me of a pot roast story. The September last, I was in the back yard, cleaning up some trees that had fallen in a big storm. Chainsaw buzzing away, woodchips flying through the air, oh I was the lumberjack I was, in my flannel shirt, hearty and robust neath a beautiful blue sky. I worked through the day, building up a commendable appetite that required no pampering. I purposely refrained from snacking, and even stood strong against the compelling urge to eat my weight in donuts, which I battle with each and every day. I chose to let myself get good and properly hungry, because in the kitchen, I had myself a portly pot roast a'cookin!
Long about into the later parts of the afternoon, I remember setting my saw down in the cool grass, and just standing there, savoring the sweet silence than comes when one shuts off a chainsaw. I wiped the sweat from my forehead, and dusted the woodchips off my growling belly. A tweety bird surveyed me from up top of a powerline. I was just thinking about laying down in the grass for a nap when I heard a modest explosion in the kitchen. I rush in like a fool, and discover the dang pot roast had exploded. I stood in the kitchen dumb-founded, jaw droppin lower than the blood pressure of a harmedically stuffed ardvark. Rich, brown, gravy dripped from the walls and ceiling, interspersed with chunks of brown meat which flew far from the epicenter. My boots oozed about on the linolium floor which sported a nice coat of garlic and onion flavored grease. I had to laugh. I guess thats what happens when you dont vent the lid proper on your pressure cooker. lol
This last weekend when my wife and I visited Brooke, we went by her Grandparent's house to say, help them with their taxes, start figuring out their health and life insurance (getting close to the end). Grandpa John decided that he no longer wants his motorhome. My wife and I were "given" it and can decide if we want to keep it or sell it for them. It only has 36,000 miles on it and looks to be in damn good condition. It is loaded with pretty much everything, short of satellite TV. I, uh....kind of like it. I could get used to "roughin' it".....ehem.
Take heart old chap, the two can coexist. Many a time have I combined motorhoming and backpacking in the same trip. It's quite lovely to return to the trailhead, after days of sweat and grime, to a motorhome heaped with the good things of life, in your case a refrigerator full of cold beer.
You should really think about getting a custom liscense plate for your rig. "I'd Rather Be Backpacking" It'll amuse some and astound the rest.
Well the sourdough will most always lean to the safer side of things, when on a wilderness campaign. To use a line of Capstick, there are better ways to go home after an expedition, than cargo class with a blue tag on your big toe. lol But remember, you only get one go at this life, so reach high if thats what your wantin. Fruit, it seems, is always way out on the end of a limb! From the brief details you given, it looks to me the worst that might happen is that you get confused for a couple days. Route finding will be your challange, aside from the usual mountain trials. But then, even so, so what if you get lost? That would give some of us a good excuse to mount a search and rescue trip of our own, and come find you.
Classic! Of sun and rain, I'm no stranger. I cannot begin to tell you how many times, whence gray skies threaten, and rain drops begin to spatter over the land, that I've pulled my rain gear out of the pack, and only at that very moment, to have the barometer rise, and a shaft of brilliant sunlight fall upon me. lol Sometimes I think God likes to toy with me by these means, cause He knows how much I paid for that rain gear. lol
I can play that game. I let the rain clouds gather, and I let them start to spit, but stubborn-like, I refuse to deploy my rain gear, knowing full well if I do, lizards will jump out from under rocks and begin sunning themselves. I proceed to get uncomfortably wet, before I finally give in, and put the gear on, then of course, the rain stops. I try not to abuse these powers by wearing my rain gear often, for if I wore them with any frequency, think of the droughts, and low crop yields that would be on my conscience. I can't have that.
Sounds like a worthy trip, old boy. I love the rain.
For reasons beyond me, I am confined to the civilized world today. On a day of grand, sweeping blue skies, and cool breezes, I can stand in the sun, and it feels good on my face. The trees, still nakid, tremble at the buds now, waiting, aching to explode into foilage so green. The tweety birds have returned, so has the dove, who's managed once again to take up residence on my step ladder. I have not the heart to ask her to go else where. She does this to me every spring.
My thoughts are out on the trail, upon the aromatic soils of a remote campsite. I day dream of a green valley, with trout and white tails, and the clear stream which runs through it. Steaks sizzling over a beautiful bed of coals, a crescent moon hoisted high in a blue sky. I should like to repair in my folding safari chair, fireside, and gaze upon the valley, lovely beverage in hand, taking up the posture known to gentleman of leasure. And here I will tarry, watching the rays of light shift and fall softly through the forest primevil. Then, when I feel like it, and nary a moment sooner, I shall ply the rippling waters with trout rod and patience, and with any luck, woo the unwooable rainbow. Well now that I consider it, this is a day dream, so anything is possible. In that case, I will catch a veritable floatilla of fat, trophy-calibre trout, with no luck involved, but merely a modest clinic of my fishing prowess wrought from years in the field. After maxing my creel limit, I will likely happen upon a golden patch of sun, in the wanning parts of the day, and curl up in the grass there for my ordained, post-fishing nap.
Thats my day dream, thats what Im thinking about today. In a couple weeks, daydreams will come true, as the warm light of another trout openner will dawn, on a green valley, with trout and white tail, and shimmer on the restless stream that runs through it.
Good times in the snow, eh mate? Looking through the pictures, they brought forth memories of this winter and winters past, of my snow camps dug out across the precambrium shield. I've tramped the winter woods for several presidential administrations now, and I will say this, that the best all-around means of self-propelled winter travel for the camper has got to be on snowshoes pulling a sled. It may be slow, but it will get you there and get you there with enough junk to live gloriously comfortable.
I tote a cheap blue sled, much like yours, that I picked up at the local hardware store. The clerk wanted to sell it for 8 bucks, but I bargained him down to 5 bucks. It was an investment well placed. I have numorous fine memories of that sled. The fondest being those where I crest the top of a long hill, big grin on my face, as I screw my hat down good and tight, and saddle-up. It is to be 10 again, careening down a hillside scattered with ill-placed spruce trees. For a few moments, at the charity of gravity, you think of nothing else. You are alive, as the wind spoils your cheeks a rosey red, the sound of the plastic sled slipping fast over cold snowflakes. Ahh yes, you even scream aloud like a schoolboy, laughin the whole way down. And on another, more practical level, you relish this freak occurance in the backpacking spectrum, this gaining of territory seemingly free of effort. That is a sweet notion to those who know the contrast of things; to those who have endured ascents of sun-scorched swithbacks, or the death marches that would never end.
Good times in the snow, for you and for me. In many ways, its my favorite way to take to the woods.
Theres alot to be said for a sled. There was a day when I'd go at with the alternative huge pack, but as soon as the cheap blue sled graced my winter outings, I've not done it any other way. Might aswell harness all that snow for one's own selfish gains, right. So a sled/snowshoe combo it will be, although, there is one faster self-propelled means, and that is sled/skis, but skiing down a steep hill with a sled is not something I look forwards to, if you know what I mean. Snowshoes are slower, but their akin to a 4x4, and will get you where you wanna go. Plus I just like snowshoeing, and never was in a hurry in the first place.
Most of my sledding happens on frozen lakes in the north country, where I don't have to deal with hills all that much, but I do occasionally strike off for the inclines and always have a good time. Uphills tho, are quite literally, "a drag". lol The effect, I'm sure, is only intensified in the mountains. Tho Ive never had occasion to try.
As I scanned the responses above, I see that folks have their heads screwed on right, for better or for worse. 'Tis the priorities in life, and how we rank them, that determines our time spent in the hither lands. What man could put backpacking above his wife and kids and job, and still be considered a responsible and upstanding family man? If there is such a chap, let him show us how. lol.
As I write this minute, the fresh scent of spring filters in through the window of my den. I long to strike off for the quieter places, and lay belly-up in the sun, and listen to the grass unfold. A documentry of the Tetons plays off an old VCR here, which doesn't make it any easier. The fellow who made it, Gordon Eastman, he was one of those souls who was able to get out there more. It was his job to strut the wildlands and film it. One summer he even managed the slam dunk of the outdoor experience, to spend it with his wife and kids in the wilds of the northwest territories, living in a tent, the whole summer long, 800 airmiles from the nearest doctor. Now that man had it made. He's also dead, but aww well.
Tho we shouldn't put backpacking above our family and our duties, 'tis not to belittle our twinkle. For we take to the woods because it sooths our soul. To immerse ourselves in the quiet beauty, is to feel something deep inside, tugging gently on tender heart-strings, melded to things deep in our souls. It is good for us. It is our medicine. It keeps us well. Amen.
I remember one time, in the high Tetons, under a beautiful Wyoming sky, my trail cronie and I sat down to supper. We both were having freeze dried. He, a chicken stew, and I, my usual, beef stroganoff. We each had to boil but two cups of water. The only real difference were our stoves. He had a canister, and I had an international. And so, as cloud shadows raced over the ramparts, we lit them at the same time, and tarried there, whilst our pots heated over blue rings, and contemplated the scenery like one does at supper time in the mountains. And our tummies growled, oh what demanding travel companions they were. I noticed the whisperlite wasn't going at it's usual inferno-like gait, because of altitude, and being the impatient chap that I am around supper time, I gave it a few pumps, increasing the pressure inside the tank, of which the stove responded slightly by slipping into a higher gear, so-to-speak. My campmate had not this option, and was at the mercy of the mountain. My water soon came to a boil, and 5 minutes later I was stuffing my pie hole in vigorous fashion. By the time I finished supper, the other chap's water was almost, but not quite at a boil. He loves his canister stove, and by golly, I'm all for the love, so I didn't say anything. One shouldn't be in a hurry in the bush anyways.
To me, I kinda look at the two stoves as automobiles. The canister stove is not unlike an automatic transmission, while the international is a might like a manual. I've always driven manual transmissions, because I feel it puts me at one with the road and the machine. This is much how I feel about whisperlites too. But either way, either stove will still get you down trail. So it really doesn't matter I suspect. I just like options is all. Like a Nasa engineer, I like to see my equipage sport as many options as it can. He who has the most options in the bushveld lives the longest. Think about it.
Toodles and happy cooking!
Well if ever a chap could pull such antics, I suspect it would be you old boy. You have a disturbing fondness for misery, and in that lies your edge. If I were to try it, I would most likely quiver the night away, curled up in a ball of quaking flesh, teeth a'chatter, sucking my thumb and moaning my own name in vain.
Reminds me of one freak I meant, up way of the Superior highlands. T'was early April, in the Superior national forest, and I awoke that morning in a wretched state, colder than a 20 year old chicken pot pie thats never been taken from the freezer. For reasons that are beyond my understanding, it was still winter there in April. Must have been below zero that night. I packed for April, not January, thus, I was miserable. Anyways, long about the time I got my toes thawed out, walking circles around my frozen camp, a fellow emerges from the woods, wearing a very small pack. He was chiseled, as if from the molds of Norwegian ballet dancers, casting an impressive shadow on the glittering snow. He had no snowshoes, said he'd been working his way along the SHT, post-holin' the whole way. Been out 3 days now, and he wasn't even carrying a sleeping bag. He was tough. My eyebrow raised if only to mask my pity for him. lol For sleeping, he said, he'd just lay down anywhere, like a dog, and sleep till he got too cold, then get up and walk some more. To each his own, I thought. He was tough.
Later that day, as we web-footed through the forest grandeur, I spied the chap, off in the distance, curled up in a patch of sun.
The very fact that they are playing is a good sign for the team. I've had occasion to partake in a couple Wild games this year. The Xcel is really a beautiful hockey venue, as stadiums go. Last time I was there, I sat way way way up in the top, near the back, the boys on the ice were pert near as big as my extended thumb,loll, but that was fine by me, for some architect had the foresight and great wisdom to put a Divani's Pizza shop up there, right within 30 feet of me. Needless to say I made the acquaintance of an over-priced personal pizza which was delicious
It doesn't matter how much food you tuck into your pack, nor how good it is, you will always be famished upon return to the trailhead. And I think thats why people go backpacking, just for the comming out meal.lol I can't begin to tell you how many wonderful times Ive had, at cafe booths across this country, sitting there in my soiled duds, admiring a table top spread full of steaming hot comstables. Hark, what yonder slab of pie tickles my culinary libido so, than the one waiting for me after much toils on sun-scorched switchbacks!
I would roominate more on this, but it's making me quite hungry. I'm off to lunch!
Nothing quite so fine indeed, as the home hole. I say, it amazes me, astounds me, how it is I can go all day, without the slightest bowel pressure, but if I get within a 1/2 mile radius of my house, my butt all at once announces it's intentions. I can barely make it to the boom boom room. Ahh yes, the hole knows.
Two summers ago, on a balmy August noon, one week before embarking upon a wilderness sojourn in the boundry waters canoe area wilderness, my two trail cronies and I were having this discussion at a quaint cafe booth, over a table of burgers and fries. They boldly proclaimed that they were going to go bagless in the boundry waters. I nodded my head, took a slurp of my Coke, and queried,
"Well, what if you get cold at night?"
To which they both replied in a confident manner, " Oh well, then we'll get cold".
A knowing grin etched across my stubbled face. You see, there are times in one's outdoor career, when he sees his trailmates about to stumble, and he knows he should offer a hand, but something dubious in him says, no, let em learn! Besides, they were both so sure of themselves, it was only right to let them carry on, savvy?
So, the hot august sun bore upon the boundry waters, sunburns entailed, and sweat dribbled off our brows, and my bagless trailmates, hark, their chests were sticking out in full confidence, feeling sorry for me, that I had to freight a sleeping bag over the miles. The sun slid behind western pines, and the cozmos unveiled, and after a dip in the cool, clear waters, I repaired to bed, refreshed, and snuggled up in my bag, listening to breeze in the red pine, and the distant echoes of loon. My cronies they sprawled, comfortable enough, at ease upon their tent floor, free of all worry, and all covering. The hours wax through the night, moonbeams shift in a celestial arch, dropping through pine tops on high, and my campmates, it is to be noted, have curiously made attempts during the passage of night, to reduce their body surface areas, as they are now found curled up into pathetic balls of shivering and disgruntled miscalculation! They quivered there, as I thought they might, waiting for the morning sun. I remember sometime during the night, I got a little too warm, and unzipped my bag. I did it slowly, and on purpose, just so they could here my zipper unzipping, tooth by coveted tooth
They dreaded going to bed the rest of the week.
They've never gone bagless since.
Thats the toughts from here.
Well it's June, pert near anyways. Isn't often I poke my head in this room, but perhaps I should tarry more, for I find it rather inspiring in here. A place where fat people come to compare their girth, and nurture their resolve.
You see, once upon a time, I was fat. OK, I still am fat, but thats not quite what Im getting at here. I remember about a year and half ago, encamped up way of the Chippewa national forest, belly-up in the tent riding out a November squal. I was gnawing on a frozen snicker bar, listening to how the wind-driven sleet tapped over the tight tent fly. Then I noticed how my belly rose like some anatomical rampart, jutting up into the stratosphere. Gadzooks, it was huge. It wouldn't have suprised me if scientests showed up some day with their instruments, and wanna run tests on my belly. Tell me perhaps it had developed it's own gravitational field or something. It was then, whilst the tempest raged, that something clicked, something deep down within me, something that basically said I had had enough. That something was resolve.
Resolve. If you don't have it, you can forget about shedding fat off thy body. There are many ways to reduce body fat, but all of them require a great and unwavering resolve. And thats what I had, after that November trip. Dag gummit, I had had enough of the protruding ponza, and I resolved to get rid of it. I proceded to lose about 50 pounds through the winter, and I emerged that spring, lean and trim, svelt and sleek, hark, I expected underwear model scouts to stop me more on the streets, but that never happened. Regardless, I had accomplished the task. I felt good.
Tho I was lean, and maintaining OK, there was something about not seeing progress that seemed to dampen my once burning resolve. To round off the story here, today my pants felt tight, and I know why. Because 20 pounds are back! To this end, I've drawn a lesson, and that is that it matters not how much fat you lose, if you have not the resolve to keep it off, your wasting your time. Resolve is everything. It is a life time commitment to yourself.
So I putter here in the health and fitness board, thinking about the time I was in my tent, listening to the sleet fall, thinking about fat, and fortifying the resolve to deal with it.
Well, I've always viewed packs not unlike golf clubs - a different club for a different task. Or like tools if you will, for what master mechanic doesn't have a fine assortment of toolage! Perhaps this is but just a means to justify having lots of packs, but in the end, I'm happy, so it was worth it. lol
With that said, as I repair here in my den on this steamy, Memorial Day afternoon, I am surrounded by 6 packs I actively keep in service through-out the year. 3 of them are rucks, frameless sacks, of assorted capacities. They are lite, versitile, backcountry companions, of which I deploy their services for most weekend trips in the milder climates. For more ambitious treks, into altitude, or winter, and otherwise the longer wander, a couple work-horse Gregorys await in their stalls, eager to be set free. And finally, we have the classic external frame pack that almost every backpacker has started out with, and eventually foresaken. I however make a point to pull it out and reactivate it to field duty at least once a year, for no other reason really, than it's inhernet, nastalgic value.
On packs, I am much in love. For a backpack proper, and effeciently stocked, is a joy. It caters to your every whim. Keeps you full, and refreshed. Tucks you in at night. It is your most perfect backcountry companion, perfectly trained just for you, by you, to raise the bar of your wilderness experience. In closing, let it be said, that a backpack is not unlike life, in that you only get out of it, what you put into it
Gadzooks, but wasn't that a pleasant romp? I had a magnificent time belly-up in the long grasses, listening to the breeze and the call of the meadow lark. And the solitude, that was perhaps the best part of the badlands, except for how it inspired your ever-reoccuring complusion to hike naked. The world is not ready for that old boy.
It don't much matter to me, just let it burn. For campfires are at once a handle to memories past. Oh they say memories are strongly linked with smell, and I'd say their right, iffin the aromas of a campfire are involved.
Oh how many camfires have I tarried by, neath shimmering canopies of stars, gazing into orange flames, whilst partaking in the trail tales of foot-sore travelers. Ahh yes, campfires are where the stories are found. Where memories are forged. The fire crackles and pops like a bowl of rice krispies in hell, and you lean in, listening, caressing your camping cup in your hands. The soft, warm, light of the fire flickers in time on the faces of campmates, and dances on fragrant pine bows overhead. The aroma of the burning wood mingles with the moment, and sets firmly the memories there of, there in the recesses of our mind. Tis subtle, and maybe over-looked, but one wiff of campfire brings back a hundred more, and has you wondering when the next one is, and just where that might be.
One can't help, whilst at ease round the campfire, to reminise of campfires past. Perhaps this is because of the smell. I'd like to think it is.
Come on now, who here hasn't at one time in their outdoor career, takin a long, copious, wee wee on the campfire, if only in efforts to help extinguish it? More over, who here has the guts to admit it? If you are at all a curious creature, you will have tried it once. Twice if your solo. Even so, and regardless, if we ever go camping together, remind me not to roast my marshmellow over your coals!
Ahh yes, nothing like a well-placed ice axe to scatter your plans. lol
It's been my experience, that limits are often drafted in the field during the span of the trip. Some days I can climb that mountain, and other days, I can barely flop my arm out of the tent. lol Most days I just think about food. As anyone whos tramped the hitherlands in frequency knows, the wilds are a shifty lady. It can be all honey and nuts one moment, and the next, your face is slapped, and you are beatin like a step child. I remember one lovely jaunt through the Wyoming backcountry, 4 days of magic and wonder, of supreme contentment amid majestic ramparts, erased in the span of what it takes to reconstitute a freeze-dried dinner. It was a quaint degrading of morale, about as fine as you'd ever wanna see, involving: bears, lightening strikes, rock-falls, gale-force winds, driving rain, sleet, blizzard, and leaky tents. Plan for these things as you will, master what ever techniques, the mountains have a knack for expeling it's waste. lol After cracking our way out of frozen tents in the morning, we were out of there, making way for the nearest pizza parlor. lol
My limits flex with my mood and the mountain, and more often than not, are directly tied to my pie hole.
As I tarry here in my den, enjoying the sweet scent of young lilac waft through the window, I am amused and amazed by the contents of this thread.
When in the hitherlands, I am as sure-footed as an alpine shami. As graceful and economic as a three-toed sloth, at least when I'm napping. My falls are really for no good reason. I'm reminiscent of one trek in the porcupine mountains of upper Michigan. My trailmate and I were making our way through an old growth forest there, weaving through and amid impressive spires of virgin timber. I was throughly enjoying the walk, relishing the aroma of pinus strobus, when for reasons that escape me, I found myself flat on my face.
"Whatcha doin down there?", my trailmate said, chuckling.
"Nothin", I croaked, "Just inspecting some fungus."
Generally I'll lay there for a while, figuring it was God's way of getting me to slow down a might. If the mood is right, I'll make the best of it and maybe, just maybe, squeeze off a nap. This is not easy to do along the well-troddend trail, mostly because good people eventually show up and ask if your dead.
Once, when I was a wee lad, in the Ontario bush, I was embarking on a great right of passage inherent to all aspiring bushpeople - taking my first wilderness poop. It was something I thought about for years, and even planned down to the nearest square-inch. I remember vividly, I dug my cat hole, 8x8x8 inches, stuck my 6-inch sheath knife in the tree, and thought for all the world it was just like home. I peeled my britches, leaned against the tree for a backrest, and proceeded to watch my feet slowly slide out in front of me. Felt the textures of bark ripping off the tree as my back plowed down the trunk. This, followed by the humilitous engendering, "KaPlunk" of my bum landing in a hole exactly 8x8x8 inches. lol Good times.
I say, it's been a while since I've saddled up to this old log, here in the reflections of a cyber campfire. New faces I spy, and some really old ones I see, too, in mind's eye I guess. Anyways, to your topic...
It is my firm presuasion, a belief held dear to my polypro, that misery on the trail is but for one reason only, and that is to brag about round the woodstoves and campfires later on down the road. For what is the point of being hardy, and enduring such wretchedness, if not upon a frosty thanksgiving eve, gathered around the fireplace, you can't launch into the epic of how you ascended Mount Winnabooby one morning in your underwear. Of how the gales pounded you, and the heavens spat upon thee. Of how the carbide-tipped mosquitoes lanced your savory buttock flap. These toils afield aren't really of any earthly good unless to tell someone about it. Likely they wont believe you anyways, so you might as well brag it up. Stick out that chest, expose your scar if necessary. Show them what frostbite can do to a set of toes. This your time. Time to cash in on the misery endured. For moment, and maybe even more than that, your cronies will cease to doubt that you are indeed nuts. Givin time, so will you.
Ahh yes, t'was a weekend of glorious respite. I just got back from a lovely trip to the upper pennisula of Michigan. With full packs we wandered along the Superior coast, the lake a'froth in foamy white caps, crashing up on the rugged shoreline in thunderous fashion. The seasons first snows have fallen there, 5 inches worth, blanketing everything, and we hiked slowly amid the towering white pines, watching the chickadees cavort across the trail. In the day, warm sunbeams fell through the forest canopy, and felt good on your face. At night, starlight played through the pine needles on high. It was enchanting. I ate dehydrated refried beans and I liked it!
Yes, I found the food this trip to be particularly entertaining. Big Chief Baby Bladder, my trail cronie this time around, kept handing me ziplock bags at every meal, telling me to add some hot water, knead it, and stick it up my shirt for 15 minutes. Now Ive been eating out of ziplocks for at least two presidential administrations now, and havn't really tasted anything good from them yet. But alas, what he gave me tasted quite good! Let me elaborate.
On friday night, standing about camp neath a black sky of lightly falling sleet, he told me, whilst watching his breath hang like cigar smoke in the beam of his headlamp, that his wife got herself a food dehydrater, and was "goin crazy" with recipes. He handed me a bag of dehydrated apple crisp, still hydrating, of which I grabbed quicker than a lab monkey to a beer, and promptly shuved up my shirt, savoring its warmth. Savored that is till it's aroma wafted out of my shirt, and soon there after made the aquaintence of my nose. Seduced, I gobbled it down whole-heartedly. The stuff, shall I say, fairly tickled my culinary labido! He told me his wife got the recipe from Sabar's cook book. "No kidding!" I croaked.
For breakfast the next morning, whilst sunbeams fell gently through the forest, he fed me a conglomeration of coconut and rice and pineapple, and maybe a few other things, that proved a lovely way to start the day, and was right out of the Sabar cookbook. For lunch, amid making first tracks on a high ridge, he treated me to some ziplock turkey and vegitable thing, I dont know what it was, but hark, t'was what hit the spot, I'll tell you that. And for supper that evening, camped aside a tumbling stream, and virgin pines, he handed me a yet another ziplock bag, this one apparently one The Griz invented. Griz's BBQ Bowl. I dined on it in his honor, whilst listening to the stream gurgle past camp, licking my chops, wondering why the portion was so small.
I slept well that night, neath stars so shimmering, as a light breeze spoke softly in the old pines. In the morning, Big chief made me what is perhaps the very best thing I ever tasted from a ziplock bag, chocolate brownie goo! I cannot hold this concoction any higher in culinary esteem. Not even the finest resturaunt spanning the globe could serve something better in a ziplock bag than this. It was the answer to the backwoods chocolate craving. It was, it turned out, my kyrptonite. It tasted so wonderful, I nary could remove my thoughts from it the rest of the trip. I became a blabbering fool, wanting nothing more than just another taste of this addictive goo!
Sabar, you push your goo, girl!
Ive blabbered on. But it was a good weekend in the bush, needless to say, living out of the ziplock bag.
One often over-looked tinder, that Im rather fond of, is belly button lint. Indeed, that stuff flames up about as good as a pair of kerosene soaked underwear. The only hitch is, you need a sizable quantity of it to start a fire, and Im sorry, no one belly button is that gifted. So you invariably need to "harvest" the lint from the navels of your friends and trailmates, who are usually unwilling to donate, and that, I'll tell ya, can be an interesting experience. But get a nice little tuft of belly button lint, no prejudice on color, and throw a hot spark on it, and...you've got the forth of july. You are one of the few, the proud, a navel firestarter.
Originally posted by grousechaser:
First snow of the season for the U.P. We're even getting some accumulation on the West end (Ironwood/Bessemer). Worst case predictions say we might have a foot come Friday.
Indeed, 'tis an invigorating time of year. Why just today, I was putting some odds and ends in the back of the truck, and hark, what did I spy but styrofoam-like flakes of snow descending from a gray Minnesota sky. First flakes, as I like to call them, have always enchanted me so. They sort of usher in the new season, if you will. The season of cold, snow and ice. It has been like this for many years. You'd think, wouldn't you, after suffering through umpteen winters, routinely camping in 20 below and 14 hours of darkness, you'd think a soul would grow weary of the stuff, and buy a beach house in the Grand Cayman, but that is not the case. For once the love of winter gets in your blood, it stays there, like malaria, sort of, and you are at it's unabiding mercy. Never has the first snows of the season failed to enchant me with a longing for the winter trail. I revel in the keen wind, and spruce dusted in snow. For cold, starlit nights, and a hot cup of tea. To wander webfoot through frosted forest glade. Ahh, to flop in the soft snow, and make angels there, if only because you can.
Many do not enjoy winter as I, and I can see why. Its cold! And its dark. Pack loads become unruly. And it is decidely miserable at times, even tho your doing every thing right. No, those who hang it up for winter, and pursue other things, I can respect that. But mine heart will always tarry near the ice, and the snow, and the cold.
I'll be passing through Ironwood on Friday. I look forwards to what I might see there
Well that doesn't suprise me a bit. For if squirrels all hail from the same gene pool as the ones in my backyard, it's no wonder more folk arent attacked. I cant tell you how many times my bird feeder has been pillaged by a thoughtless, punk gang of squirrels. Or how many times, they've breeched the wall of my shed and ate my ant poison. They are bad bad bad squirrels, with no conscience nor good will towards man.
I remember one day, a squirrel and I got into a bit of a fight, a tangle if you will. He was up on a branch in my basswood tree, taunting me as I mowed the lawn. He'd sit up there and heckle me, yapping away, telling me how fat my Mom was or something, I dunno, I dont speak squirrel. But you could tell by the tone in his voice, he was being a boob. I shut off the lawn mower, put my hands on my hips, and yelled back at him. He shot up the tree like the coward he was. I proceeded to mow my grass in peace until I spied the enemy, way across the yard, raping my bird feeder. That did it. I looked around, and found a nearby tennis ball, and engaged in a throw that would have out done Joe Montana in his prime. It arced through the blue sky, long and sure, some how navigated through low hanging bass wood branches, and collided with the squirrel in a frenzied thrash of screams and flying bird seed. He high-tailed it for the relative sanctum next door. A big grin etched across my face. A small victory in the squirrel wars.
He was a determined sort tho, and came back a bit later, and we got into more scuffles, but I wont get into that. I will say this tho, he impressed even me, when I got up the next morning and discovered my phone line to the house had been chewed through by you know who. Very impressive.He effectively took out my communications!
I dont like squirrels.
Ahh yes, songs on the trail. Where fort tho travelest, a tune beats within us all. Some of us are not singers tho, and it is of dubious value that they sing at all on the trail.
I remember one trip, years ago, away up yonder in Minnesota's famed North country, on a cold, winter's eve, my trail cronie and I were making our way through the frosty woodlands by ski and headlamp. We came around a bend in the trail, our ski tips shuffling back n forth in the glow of our dimming headlamps, where we slid to a stop patron to quaint view of the full moon mantled over a forest glade. I smiled, nay, I grinned, for t'was a long day in the bindings, and the sound of my pack buckle unbuckling on a cold still night, made all my intentions clear. I plopped down in the snow and unsheathed my trail thermous, and had a bit of a mug-up, right there along the trail. I sipped the hot brew like a gentleman of liesure, and observed how the moon cast a blue hue over everything. It was lovely. My cronie followed my lead, and soon, we both were sitting there in the snow, hands wrapped around hot cups, admiring the tranquility.
"Sing to me" my friend croaked.
"Huh?" I bellowed, watching the steam rise off my tea.
"Sing to me", he repeated.
"Dont want to"
"Cause my singing is terrible, thats why"
"Oh come on, sing to me" he persisted.
To shut the lad up, I cleared my throat, set down my cup, and raised my gaze to the heavens and belted out a few misguided lines of On Top of Old Smokey. Now if you've ever had ocassion to hear a wilderbeast sit on a howler monkey under a full moon, then you have a small inkling of how my concert went. My trail mate slowly put his fingers in his ears and looked down at his lap, shaking his head, as I rather got into it, letting it rip with hand gestures and everything.
After old smokey lost his true love, I stopped, and silence returned to the forest. I picked up my cup and took a sip to sooth my pipes, and looked at my trail buddy who was rummaging around in his pack.
"Whatya need?" I asked
"Tylenol", he groaned
Let me tell you about a time my singing did some good instead. Why it wasn't too long ago infact, out way of the might massifs of Montana, in the park affectionately named after it's retreating glaciers. They should really name it after its 437 grizzly bears, but they havnt gotten the hint yet I guess.
Anyways, the day I got there, after a considerble drive from Minnesota, the park ranger informed us that there had just been a mauling yesterday, out yonder way of a particular trail in the mountains. Just what 4 guys with Fargo accents wanna hear. They were good guys, my trail mates. Friendships forged in the field, on switchback, and under tarps in all day rains. We knew each other, what we could do, and more importantly, what we could not do. They all knew, all to well I guess, that I couldnt sing. All our trips together, they never once asked me to sing. Oh, they heard it tho, now and then, whilst I was sitting on the privy in the mornings, but I guess that was enough for them, cause they never put in any requests, unless you count throwing rocks a request of some kind.
Needless to say, but I will, things were a wee bit different this time around, whence the blood from a grizzly mauling was still fresh on the rocks. Why they couldn't be happier to let me sing to my heart's desire. They even let me sing country, and none of them even liked country music! Funny how things work out sometimes.
So as you can see, songs on the trail have their place, even if you cant carry a tune.
Indeed, I've been a student of the long rod for several years now. There is just something inextricably right about where trout live, and the process of wooing them.
I am not a good trout wooer. Never claimed to be either. Why just last weekend, my eldest brother and I were plying the cool waters of the Rush River, out way of Wisconsin. I was belly-deep in the stream, working a particular hole with the patience and determination of a Great Blue Heron. If you ever want a good teacher as to how to properly hunt trout, take a gander at a Great Blue Heron. They are the epitome of efficiency and stealth. For trout are, as we all know, easily discouraged from making our aquaintenceship, by the slightest blunder. Perhaps this is why so many favor trout hunts than any other type of fish. Anyways, I was making a good stalk of it, working my way like the fore-mentioned heron through the cool and gentle flowing waters of the Rush, which just crested the upper most curve of my belly. The pressure of the water squeezed cold and tight on my rubberized chest waders. Now, it should be mentioned, the inherent joy of wearing chest waders in a trout stream, is that you can openly fart under water with no fear of tell tale bubbles revealing your postion. Wether or not trout are disturbed by the aqua-acoustics of underwater farting is something for another study, but the point in fact is, that bubbleless farts can be had if need be. I didnt have to fart, infact, I dont know why I even mentioned it here, other than it just came to mind, like farting so often does when I stroll these cyber pages.
At any rate, fishing for trout is something that speaks to me. Tho I manage to woo only a few per year, from their beautiful environs, I do enjoy it so. Most days spent on the trout stream invariably find me, belly-up on a sand bar, or laying on the bank with my wader-covered legs bobbing up and down in the cool current, just doing what I do, loitering at the end of sunbeams. At such times, I scribble some in my trout journal, or crack open the aluminum fly box Ive carried for years, and admire what lies inside. What lives inside is usually an modest assortment of flies rounded up from the shelves of fly shops hither, and of course, my own, homemade flies.
I am just about as good at tieing flies, I think, as I am at sewing. Suffice it to say then, I know not even how to thread my sewing machine. No, I dont know what Im doing, but by golly, I have a good time doing it. I'll take a late winter day, whilst the blizzards rage outside my frosted window, and I'll settle down at a well-lit table, with a hot cup of tea, put a Jacques Cousteu video on, and proceed to spin and ravel unearthly creations of thread and feather. In the end,the result is ugly, I dare say unruly,I doubt even if the cat would play with them. But they bring me joy. I show other troutists my homemade flies, and they all laugh at them. The trout later that spring always seem equally unimpressed. Ahh but thats why God created sunnies, fish rank dumb enough to make a mature fly tiers feel special. What joy it is, upon placid waters and ponds, to cast your own custom fly, on beautiful flowing line, laying it over a school of panfish who graduated not from what ever uptight campus trout hail, but from the school who's inate doctrine and teachings go something like - eat anything that moves. Bless the fishies who are too dumb to be trout, for they give us hope.
Well I've rambled, which is nothing new. In so many words I've said nothing. Nothing that is other than I love to fly fish. How bout you?
Nice! I've had occassion to wander that route a couple times. The Tetons remain one of my most beloved backpacking haunts. Alaska Basin, is also known in my world, as the Valley of the Bears. By golly, around every corner they were. Impressive beasts when you wake them from a nap. But then, so am I I've been told.
To roam the Tetons is at once a dance in majesty. No mountains are so sculpted, as if by an artist's eye, than the Grand Tetons. They are awesome and beautiful to behold. Massifs rise into a blue Wyoming sky, and ice cold streams tumble down them. I'm reminiscent of those streams, and fondly so, because they were the first streams I ever partook of with a water filter.
I remember that day many years ago now, I had my brand new PUR Hiker, and found myself in the Tetons, up the same Granite canyon you camped in. I had never used a filter before, saw them mostly as a kickshaw and a gimmick. Another thing to break in the field. I had brought it along mostly cause I was walking with marathon runner that trip, and the chap liked to put on the miles. Ive never been one for that, so my plan was to use the water filter as an excuse really, to sto at every water source. My trailmate was a proponent of wellness and health, so he could never in his heart of hearts discourage me from hydrating, you see
So I would stop at each creek crossing, and have my fill of water, whilst the marathon guy would pace back n forth like a predatory cat. I just grinned with water dribbling down my face. After few "water stops", I truely came to adore that little water filter, aswell as the ice, cold, copious amounts of mountain melt, washing over my feverish palate. T'was as good a drinking as water ever could be, and boy did I guzzle it down. I drank so much water, my belly sloshed as I hiked, and I developed a bit of the cotton-mouth, but ahh, it was worth it. Ive never gone filterless since, save for winter work.
Anyways, nice trip report, mate. Brought back some memories of one of my favorite locales. Good times.
What makes us the hikers we are, you ask? Why it's freedom of course! What pray tell is the fun in going backpacking if you cant do as you fancy. For backpacking is at once an emancipation, a liberation from the governship of our daily exsistence. From the moment the boot hits the dirt, to the time it leaves the field of play, we are free. Free to hike to the pounding of our own heart-beat, amen. In this vent, hiking styles are formed, and polished.
I had to laugh, you made it sound in your poll, like I tarry by the trailside all the trip long. Well somedays I do.lol Other days I enjoy a good stroll. Strolling, is basically loitering in motion, and that tends to suit me pretty good. I do take it easy on myself out there. I dont fancy pain, as you do Tigger. I dont understand why you seek out misery. lol Every heart pounds out a different note, a different tune, I guess, in the symphony that is backpacking. My chosen path in the woods, my instrument in the orchestra, if you will, is anything that wanders. I have no place to go and all day to get there. It's not that Im terribly out of shape or anything. I can climb those mountains if I want. I can do a 15 mile day if theres a cheeseburger waiting at the end of it for me. My slow-going approach isn't a physical thing. I guess my style is largely based off my infernal disgust for being in a rush.
The human race seems just that, racing. Always in a hurry. This has never impressed me much about our species, which, in point of fact,is probably why I often develope a rather low tolerence for our species, and hence, go backpacking.lol Many of the sweeter moments in life are missed when were in a rush. Because when were in a rush, our minds are always somewhere else. Who has time to take their kid fishing, or relax on the porch with their sweetheart? Savvy are those who make the time. When in the backcountry, tho wanderlust can be a good thing, I do honestly believe there is greatness to be had in sitting still and absorbing where you are. Why must we be in a rush to get from vista to vista? When we come to the most beautful spot in the world, why is it then, after a while, we think theres a prettier spot, just over the hill?
In the end, I suppose it matters not how we take to the woods. Long as how we do it is well with our soul, I dare say we've won. May our stride go with our heart, and our pop tarts go uncrushed.
Well, I don't know much about forecasting the weather, but then, I don't need to know much, because it seems I have the power to control the weather. You see, for years, nay, decades, I've longed to hike in the rain with my umbrella. A noble gesture, one fanciful, yet, reasonable. So, and without haste, I slip my umbrella into the pack most trips, especially when the weather man says it's gonna be wet. But every time I then strut my stuff on trail, and through forest glade, hoping for the rain, hark, it suns on me! I once even went to the rain forest so I could hike in the rain with my umbrella, and all the place could muster was a mild dew.
So then, in motivations of a lighter load, I sometimes, leave the umbrella at home, and sure as taxes, the gray clouds gather, and spit copious rain down upon me. I shrug my shoulders. My trailmates laugh. But it gets even more interesting. So it's raining good now, pitch forks and hammer handles, and as usual I'm slow getting at my raingear. So I duck under the relative shelter of a Norway pine, mmm it smells good at low pressure, and rummage through my pack for my rain suit, which is a beautiful creation, that thinned my wallet by 400 dallors. Oh yes, and the gales scream, rain drops sting against my face as I struggle valiantly to "suit up", as it were. Then, no sooner do I flip my hood up, than the tempest stops, and at once, the clouds break, and a brilliant shaft of sunlight descends from the heavens, illuminating me like some hideous spot light from jokers on high. lol
And that you see, is why I don't need to know how to forecast the weather. By subtle manipulation of gear, I can actually control the barometer. 'Tis my gift, I guess. I take my powers in stride, and use them only for good, most times.
Well, I for one shall do my best to avoid it. A 15 mile day under foot and pack, hark, I need a nap now just thinking about it. I did one of those days once, in the Tetons, 15 miles of wretched mountain trail. Oh it was beautiful, every step of it, but I was in misery, which at least for me, erases most of the fun from it. The last few miles, ugh, nary a footfall did I not moan my own name in vain for being this set on making miles. But you see, I had motivation that day. I had had 5 good nights in the tetonic backcountry, and some one, I believe it was me, had the nerve to utter the word, "Cheeseburger", and "Coke" in the same breath. I should have known better, than to talk of these things in a locale far, far away from these things. A rookie mistake. And that was it, that was all we needed, we had to have a cheeseburger and coke for supper. Simply, had to. Nothing would stop us, either. Come mountain pass, nor blizzard, no, not even the Swedish womens lawn bowling team. Oh we a driven breed that day.
Food - the coming out meal, that is the only thing under this fair sun that could get me to hike 15 miles in a day. lol
Well, you need that motorized cooler thing that hoosierdaddy stumbled upon in a recent thread. I love cycling tho. I like to strap my fishin pole and hammock on my bike, and lash a pannier full of food on, and wander off for an afternoon, and see what I see. I also am sure to pack along a couple bucks, so's I can roll up to the ice cream shack, for a rootbeer float in the shade. Ahh, good times.
It is a rather beautiful device, but, from what I can see, it is lacking one very important modification - a cup holder! Later models Im sure will have this necessity licked, perhaps even equipped with a small charcoal grill, and a 12/120 volt power supply.
Well it's like this, I was once loitering on the north rim of the black canyon of the gunnison, out way of Colorado. If you've not had ocassion, it is in some ways comparable to the grand canyon out in Arizona. Suffice, it is one big hole in the ground. I remember edging up to it's lip and peering over the side, my toes gripping the insides of my boots tighter than JimmyC to a twinkie. I remember looking straight down the sheerness of the canyon, a drop that exceeded one half mile. T'was a giddy experience, to be sure. I backed up a couple steps and regained myself, and it was then, whence a Magpie lit on a rock next to me, that I had one of my patented brain-thrusts.
Grinning to myself, I cast a glance over each shoulder, making sure I was in the clear. I tip my cowboy hat up slightly, and looked at the Magpie, and he looked at me, and I proceeded to inch myself up to the edge again. T'was then, in the late afternoon sun, the ten-year old boy in me returned, untamed, and fancy-free. Oh how does one discribe the following moments transpired. Well, I anyways, think it was a beautiful site, the long, arcing, copious stream, glistening in soft sun-beams, dropping eternally into the single, deepest, hole I've ever went wee wee in. It was a little bit like Yosemite Falls, but a tad dehydrated, and not quite so photogenic. And in retrospect, it was quite stupid, and more than a little scary. What a way to go, I thunk, literally! Man dies by pissing off a cliff. At any rate, and to the point, indeed, t'was one for the record books, something to be proud of, to have peed over a half mile.
I stepped back, and zipped up shop, grinning still, immensely pleased with my accomplishment. I looked over at the Magpie as if to see what he thought of it all. He clearly wasn't impressed, as he was more content biting on his butt, or what ever it is you do when your a Magpie. So I left him there on the rock, and walked back to camp, enjoying how the sun fell through the trees, and how good the earth felt under my feet.
Well, I can tell you what not to do. I remember one evening, way way way up in the hinter regions of northern Minnesota, as the salmon sun dropped its final rays of the day over the tops of black spruce and tamarack. T'was bog country, and the cool air smelled of up north and things wild. Long about then, I came across a homely looking moose, skinny, and not looking all that moosey. Now moose are not the sexiest animals in the gene pool. Not exactly known for their handsome looks like some of us. This moose was about the ugliest living thing I'd ever seen in the woods. I doubt even moose hunters, who only get a permit to hunt every ten years, would bother raising their sights on him, he was that wayward. I felt sorry for him, and thought I'd cheer him up, perhaps boost his confidence a bit, with one of my patented, well-placed, moose mating calls. It got a little wierd after that.
I always thought I grunted pretty good, and apparently so did this moose. I grunted with such authenticity, that the homely chap soon raised his head in wonder, and, as I discovered, pissed himself. My eyes shot bigger than frisbees, so did his, as I watched the animal urinate in copious fashion. My thoughts harkend back to biology class, where I learnt that deer, and moose are just the largest of deer, when they get the hots for someone, fancy to urinate pherimones onto the tarsul glands, which are rather ill-placed on their hind legs. So now you can see my prediciment. Im in a sphagnum bog with a pissing moose who wants to father my children.
Needless to say I was out of there faster than a cheeseburger through a lab monkey.
Greetings and salivations,
Tis a daily battle, orygawn, to flip your flab forever. Orygawn, you and I have similar body types I think. Im 5'11 something aswell, and I used to be 225. Years ago, I lost 50 pounds. The tactic was not to eat fat. The body, I knew, still needed fat, but if I didnt eat any, then where was it to get it from, I postulated. From my ample reserves of course! Over the course of a winter, I became a skinny grizzly.
A decade or so passed, and like all true blooded Americans, I got fat again. lol So, and with great determination, I eliminated the sugar/bad carbohydrate technique of losing fat. This worked beautifully, and over the course of another winter, I got skinny again.
So what I learned, is that there are many ways to lose fat. There is no one right way. But if there is one thing anyone successful at it has in common, it is an unwavering resolve. If you havnt the resolve to stick with it, you might aswell go back to your donuts, cause you'll stay fat.
One way to get resolve is to realize in your brain, that if you keep to your current eating/excercise habits, you'll die young. How many 300 pound 70-year olds have you seen? Thats pretty good motivation to resolve.
Another way, is to keep a fat picture of yourself by your bed, so you can wake up each morning and see what your capable of.
If anything else, get healthy for the money. Medical bills have a way of fortifying resolve.
Your friends and family won't tell you your fat, even if you tell them too. You'd think they would, but for some reason its beyond them, so it is up to you alone to recognize your folly.
Sure its tough, to discipline ourselves, but if it were easy then everybody would do it. Here is your opportunity to shine. Raise your glass to health, and wellness, and let the waistlines of your cronies expand daily, for there is nothing you can do about them, as there is nothing they can do for you. It is up to you and you alone. Imagine yourself sleek and sexy, putting out an other worldy vibe felt by the entire female populus with a 50 mile radius. You can do this!
First tho you must wade through the muskeg, through the mud and the rain, as your body tries to fix itself of its sugar addiction. The first few days of a fat lose campaign are always a test to the resolve. You've got resolve, right? You will crave sugar and processed crap like an an alcoholic wants a drink in a german beer garden. But hold strong, as soon as the body rids its sugar addiction, the cravings in very large part evaporate, and you will see positive results. This will be the motivation you aspire to. Then you will get on a roll, gaining healthy momentum, and your on your way to victory.
On that note, Im gonna go have a donut.
It's OK to vent your winter frustrations, upon these cyber archives. You are by far and wide aligning with the popular opinion of the masses concerning winter. Indeed, your assessment of the season is rational, and you are surely not alone.
I just can't bring myself to join you, for I fancy a good, deep, cold winter. I'm not sure why. My windshield gets fouled up too, and my wipers are always icy. I get just as cold as the next guy, and that wretched salt stuff they put on the roads eats my expensive car with cold indifference. Winter is really a rather uncompassionate season. It could care a less that your miserable, and if given the opportunity, will gladly extinguish you like an old man putting out a cigar butt. Yet, and with even this, I love it so.
The trick to embracing winter is not to fight it. If you try to fight it, it is a battle you will never win. Same with the rain and the bugs and the heat. If you fight any of these enduring forces, they will only wittle you down into a worthless pulp of a once thriving human experience. Enjoying winter is like a dance, and your partner, old man winter, always leads. So I say to you, dare to take the beast by the hand, and do a little jig. Accept winter, and all it's funk, on its own terms, and misery will soon wax into victory.
I suppose, however, no matter how much I like winter, there are always folks who will despise it. Who just dont wanna dance. And I guess the ulitmate solution for them, and like you alluded to, is why God created the desert.
Anyways, Happy New Year to all.
Some of my stuff is so sentimental...just from years of use and the comfort factor.....It is like it doesn't want to be replaced yet.
Your right, it doesnt want to be replaced. I feel your quandry. Good gear is not unlike a comrad who has bled with you on the field of battle. A true companion, stalwart to the core, who was always there for you, and never let you down. Why, pray tell, would anyone abandon such a relationship. Just because a newer crop of equipage surfaces in your sea of thought, doesnt mean your old standbys should lose their field status.
Yes, I suppose it is good for us to eventually adapt, and get the newer stuff, but that doesn;t mean it'll be easy. I had a heck of a hard time saying goodbye, this a last summer, to my Rocky hunting boots. Oh they had seen better days, thats for sure. Battle-scarred, and beatin. The abrasions of a thousand trails embedded into it's weathered leather. Chunks of sole flopping valiantly with each stride, these were boots of tremendous pride, with many a victory under it's laces. They were still hanging on, still somewhat servicable in the field, but I had to let em go sometime. They were the subject of many a joke by various backpacking cronies, and well, a man of traditonally good boot stock can only take so much of that sorta attention. I had to let em go.
I still have my first external frame pack. True, I have long ago joined the masses with the new wave internal frames, and I'm glad I did, but there will always be a spot in my gear closet for the old E-frame, up on the sentimental shelf, if you will. I still dust it off, once a year usually. It works as well as it did the day I got it, with all the comfort of a piece of plywood strapped to my back. But at the time, of course, it felt nothing short of exquisite. Go figure.
There is nothing quite so fine, on a frosty winter's day, than a steaming hot brew in your favorite mug. I'm not all that sure what it is, but there is something articulate about it. Something poetic.
For me, a hot tea, just sitting there on the desk, doing it's thing is enough. I don't really even need to sip it. It's poetic ambience, rises with the faint curls of steam, and lubercates within me vast wells of creativity.
A hot brew in hand, is a natural addition to the art of storytelling, whilst gathered around the fireplace with family and friends. For the hot mug feels good to wrap your cold fingers around, and gives you and your audience a moment of pause, whilst you take a sip. All good story tellers pause for a bit, to let you think about things. Then, with story muscles properly lubercated, return to the epic, unabridged.
In my opinion, a proper hot chocolate is very difficult to beat. But tea is better for you, so I try to drink that.
Empowered by a good nap, I come to you now, live from the frosty 45th parallel. A quaint cold snap has come through town, the first real inclination of wintery things to come, as the average tempature in Minnesota today has been 15 degrees.
Now theres something stirring about the cold, winter air, always has been, that penetrates and articulates memories deeply recessed in my soul. As if the cold it's self has the key to the vault, so too do the aromas inherent to a winter's day. Like the timeless waft of woodsmoke, from yonder chimney tops, spelling forth the aromatics of birch and oak and pine, mingling with the cold, clear, December sky. The smell of hot chocolate neath a foggy pair of glasses, and the aromas of Christmas cookies belching forth from the ovens of loved ones. Maybe it's just me, but I look forwards to winter. I always have.
As I repair here, the warm side of the frosted window, hot cup of tea steaming at my side, I'm reminiscent of one December, a few years ago, whilst encamped with my brother on the shores of a lake near the boundary waters canoe area. It was dreadfully cold, maybe 20 below, and the starlight fell like poetry over the moonless night. The lake heaved and moaned, like lakes do in the deep cold, and my stomach gurgled and plopped. I squirmed slightly in my sleeping bag.
"Gurgle gurgle slop plop!" My stomach said.
I remembered the cheese burger I had in Ely earlier. Must be the cheese I thought. The cheese in Ely always does this to me.
"Gurgle slop-ploppy, gurgle-plop!" Said my tummy once again.
It said it so loud and so clearly, that it woke up my brother, who then, being wise to the ways of such matters, promptly sits up, lights the latern, grabs his paperback, and simply says,
"Go take care of it".
To any one who has felt impending doom to their drawers in the middle of the night, you know all too well what it means to "go take care of it". However, only a few fools have had the misfortune to know this acute toil twenty some degrees below the zero mark. So I stumbled forth from my warm sleeping bag into the artic night, which clamped down hard on my red-bloodedness. I was in my long underwear, pack boots, and a big, fluffy, fleece - not the most glamorous of fashion statements, but sexy Im sure, im some countries.
Now we were camped at a state park, which will remain nameless in these cyber archives for good reason. The joy of camping in winter is that only idiots do it. Which explains, I guess, why we had the place to ourselves. At any rate, and back to the point of the matter, the outhouse was a good 100 yard dash across the campground, through 8 inches of snow. It was going alright until about the 50 yard mark, when I knew, as surely as a man will know anything in his life, that I was going to, well, how shall we say this - humble myself, right then, right there. Suffice it to say, campsite number 19 would not be camped at again for the next four years. Orange tape would be strung up around it, and keep out signs planted.
It was terrible, but only the beginning. Beethoven has never conceived such a movement. With a butt gone afoul now, it was paramount, I dare say pivotal, to keep my fleece pulled up to my armpits, and my drawers down by my ankles. I wobbled hastily through the snow, like an emperor penguin exiled from the rookery. Mumbling to myself, I was thankful at least there were no other idiots camping here tonight, cause if one caught sight me me wobbling past their tent in such a fashion, I'd probably had been arrested.
Wobbling through the night, through eight inches of snow, with my underwear at my feet, and my pale, white belly exposed, was not the worst thing in the world. What did slightly bother me however, was the twenty-something below tempature, having a field day on all that is sacred to me. Not to mention a disturbing gravy freezing to my under carriage. All was not right with the world. But I eventually made it to the privy, and rendezvoused with a bitterly cold toilet seat, and managed to make amends with the cheese in Ely.
So it has been many moons since I've last set keystroke in here, and like many things in life, I see that it's changed some. New brain thrusts here and there, changes for the better, from the powers that be. Some will resist it, others will embrace it, but the elements of what makes it worthy are still here. The people.
For to sit around the cyber campfire, like we're doing now, is to and for a moment anyways, to say to those who are listening, that you are here now, to be with them. To commune around the flickering, virtual flames, legs crossed like a disciple of leisure, a metaphoric hot brew in hand, you are set now with all that you need, to say howdy, and perhaps swap a tale or two.
Many here are trapped momentarily, to their urban confines, feeling the noose of society tight around their necks. There are much better feelings, residing just over the horizon you know, on distant trails, weaving like tapestries through fragrent forests. We long to cozy up round that campfire, neath a beautiful spread of stars, and banter the night away, free and in the moment. And thats why we are here now, to pine with those that know how sweet it is in the quieter places. Thoses who feel what we feel.
For many of us Im sure, myself included, what we feel is passion. Passion is what will get you up at 4 in the morning, to go camping. It is Passion that will make you spend thousands of dallors on gear, so you can go play hobo in the woods. When you feel the sweet sting of wind-driven sleet on your cheeks, and like it, thats passion. When your legs burn on cardiac switchbacks, and your lungs gasp for more of the "sweet-tinted air"- which swirls around the snow-clad ramparts, and your OK with it, you hereby are a passionate enthusiast of the wild side. If the sound of thousand and one falling drops of rain, pattering over your tarp, sounds like Beethoven to you, and a hot meal out of a ziplock bag excites your salivatory glands to the state of drool, then you my friend are passionate for this game we call backpacking, and we know precisely why your here.
So although it has changed in here, and by all accounts will change again, and although we may not like that, some things havnt changed. And that is the unabridged passion for the outdoor life, tied by tender heart-strings, to souls of those who have been there, and feel what we feel. Amen.
I heard a story last night, whilst polishing off the last of the halloween candy. It was of a man, up in the woods, on a beautiful peice of realstate. He lived with his family in a quaint little log cabin, with a crackling fireplace, and an privy out in the back. His great pleasure in life, was to fish. The lake his cabin was on was heap full of fish. And each day, he would lazily float his row boat out on this lake, enjoying the sweet pine-scented breeze, whilst catching fish. He'd only catch enough to feed his family that day, and the rest he'd put back. This was all he needed in life. He was decidedly content, and very happy. He lead the simple exsistence that many of us wonder if some day we could.
Well, a good while passed, and a friend came up to visit with him. The man took him out on the pristine lake in his row boat, and they enjoyed some fine fishing together. They got to talkin' in the boat, like fishermen do. His friend was from the city, a business man and a man of action. His friend told him that he might want to think about building a little resort there, a fishing resort, for city folk to come up and spend a week or so. He said to the man, "You can hire on another guide or two, and make some good money, and get a new boat." "You can", he added, "with more money, build some more cabins, hire more staff, get more boats." The man nodded slowly as he held his bait caster in his hand. "Oh then,", his friend bantered, "Then as the business expanded, then eventually you could get top-of-the-line boats and fishing equipment, and build some really nice condos and such, and really start raking in the money!" The man smiled. "And then", his friend continued", then with all this money you've made, you could retire and do what you really love, like live in a little cabin, with a fireplace, and a privy out back, and float lazily all day in a row boat, on a little lake, and catch lots of fish!"
The point of this wonderful story, is to recognize how very little we need to be happy and content. Backpackers are among the very best at appreciating this perspective.
I found out the Grand Canyon is the Holy Grail of lost and abandoned gear. One nary even need to fill his pack much at the trailhead, for he will surely find all that he needs within the canyon walls below. I found on my last hike there, a 100 dallor pair of sandals. A 250 dallor tent. A sleeping bag of about equal value. Numerous sunglasses and water bottles. Granola bars. Pots. And various other articles of gear left for the rats. And I can see why, when climbing the eternal switchbacks there, the day has a way of sucking the life out of your soul, along with your common sense, and folks will dump almost anything over board to make their load a might lighter. Pain has a way of encouraging the litter bug in a chap, I guess. At times there, it was like hiking through a swap meet. Of course they could have been caching these things, but that would ruin the story!
Ahh pots! As I mill about on this cold, November afternoon, and the canadian geese cavort in the pond yonder, under gray skies, I'm reminisent of the old days, back when I had a trifle more hair, and my pots were clean.
Perhaps my first love affair with outdoor gear was fordged within the pot aisle of the local camping store. For some reason I'm not all together sure of today even, back when I was first aquiring camping gear, I had a disturbing fascination and lust for pots. I craved them in their many forms. I bought them at a frenzied-pace, like a women set loose in a shoe store. Thusly, and over the months, my gear closest swelled to a disorderly and unruly shrine to the pot gods. Stacks of steel and aluminum glimmering in the warm light on a 100 watt bulb. I had more pots than a first rate Italian kitchen, and no idea why. I only needed one for backpacking, maybe two if I was feeling ambitious.
In time, and all good relationships take time, I took a fondness to one pot in particular; a one and a half quart, Open Country sauce pan with folding handle. It was with dubious pleasure, on it's maiden voyage into the northern environs of the Superior National forest, that I took the brand new, shiny, pot proudly from my pack, and held it up like a trophy in the high, summer, sun of northern Minnesota, then, and without any regard, hurled it skywards with all my might. I smiled as I watched it arc through air, rotating slightly right to left in a gentle cross-wind, and come down with a migthy racket on the rocks below. I retrieved it, and examined it closely, then after a short reconsideration, flung it up against a boulder, putting a nice dent in it's steel flank. Only then, did I consider the pot properly, "broke in" for field service.
You see, tho it may seem as harsh punishment to an innocent pot, to me then, it was a right of passage into the profounder catagories of pothood. For I had seen the pots of my heros, rugged individuals who crossed ice caps, and ascended mountains, and their pots were always dirty, always dinged up. They wore their pot abrasions like metals of honor. Their pots had class, and character, and infinate stories embedded in each scratch and dent. Them was the kind of pots I wanted. Whoa be it unto the poor dude who's pot is shiny and new, who's pot told no tale of adventure, no story from the hitherland. You can tell the prowess of an outdoorist by the nature of his pot. Indeed, the pot says alot!
This a weird thread.
Ahh yes, good move. Tho I dont know hurricanes that well, I do know blizzards. Many a time during a last minute phone call, gear packed up at my feet, weatherman on the TV quietly warning folks to stay inside, I've mused and postulated with a trip cronie on the merits and considerations of heading out into a raging blizzard to go camping. Being the seasoned boobs that we are, we 9 times out of 10, go camping.
What then transpires usually stays out there. For tell your loved ones of how you suffered so, and if they're not of the right spore, they will frown upon you, and nary let you go again. Truth be told however, cold tho as you maybe, huddled with your buddy like two reluctant yetis in the lee of a boulder, as much as you vow never to engage in such idiosy again, for time there in the field of play, you lived life to the bloody edge. You accepted nature on it's terms, took it's hand and danced with the beast. And this you've come to learn feels quite satisfying, somewhere deep down in your gizzard.
Tho I'm sure you would have enjoyed hurricane camping tremendously, there comes a point of maturation in an outdoorist's career, where, like a gambler, you know when to hold and when to fold. If for any reason to go on a trip you know you'd feel guilty the whole time, it is better to stay home, than to have your heart shackled with guilt. Admittedly, there arent too many things in this world better than backpacking, but family is one of them. Keep your head up, and enjoy the storm with your wife and girls. Hurricanes arnt all bad. Now may be the time to go outside and pass big wind with out being detected.
Oh you'll have an enchanting hike. I recently just returned from there, blisters still fresh on my feet. The landscape is other worldly, and the trail taxing. A bigger hole in the ground I do not know of. This notion of hiking to the river and back up again in time for supper is point blank nutty. You can try it if you want. In fact, you probably already have as I write this. I suspect tho, if you tried to do it one day, the canyon has hence forth whipped you like a step child, bringing you to your knees in the fashion of some worn-out type of misery not suitable even for the neighbor's dog. I commend you if you made it out, limping up onto the rim in time for supper. That was no easy task. There are slightly better ways to see the canyon, however, and all of them involve taking your time.
Interesting query. I've been told I am much like a brown bear, wandering through the forest glade, happy-go-lucky, investigating things, and otherwise eating and napping my way along. I have no where to go and all day to get there, and am not above pillaging an unattended food bag.
I'm reminded of a couple weeks ago, bivied out under the stars, down in the grand canyon, 4 days into a rim to river to rim campaign. I was in a satisfied mood I'd say, wriggling my toes in the warm sleeping bag, gazing up upon the star fields patron to an October sky. All was right with the world, or should have been, had not the over whelming urge to piss urgently on a cactus not bartered for my attention. Not one to say no in the wee wee hours of one's life, my plan was to clamber out my bag and let fly over an escarpment, watching how the streamline arched nicely in the silver moonlight. But this was not to be, not for any particular reason other than I couldn't get up.
You see, hiking the grand canyon is not something my trail style is used to. Or my body. To hike the canyon, you need the headspace of a warrior. The eye of the tiger. Both of which I'll wager I have in line at the old country buffet, but not on the cardiac switchbacks of the Grand Canyon. Part of my style tho, evolved through the eons, is to morph into the kind of backpacker I go with. To hike the canyon, I went with 3 guys in extremely good shape, endurance people, who loved to rack up the miles. To whom a nice napping spot was merely an opportuntity for traction under foot. To hike the canyon, I figured I would just morph to their style for a while, and thusly gain victory over the ramparts there. This was a mistake. What transpired eventually left me horizontal, worn-out, haggard, stiffer than a beef jerky in January. I fairly hobbled up onto the rim several days later, beatin, but proud. I had made it.
You see, if left to my own devices, if I went totally off my style, I never would have completed such a hike. I doubt if I would have even tried. But going with someone on the opposite end of the hiking spectrum, we were able to strike a balance. I would show them the joys of stopping and loitering. Of the little things, and the simpler pleasures. While at the same time, they would encourage me to walk further, and see new places. They would run ahead of me dangling snicker bars, if you will. And by the end of the day, I would be some place far, far away.
So whilst I fancy my brown bear-like exsistence in the woods, and it will always be my default style, it is well for me to adapt to the style of others, that is if I wish I go with others. For although solo backpacking is a powerful endeavor, in my heart of hearts, deep down where things circulate in their purest, I suspect it is better to share, than to go it alone. It is well then, when styles compliment each other.
Well, that post truely sucked. There are worse things in this life, I know, but ticks really get under my skin. I have little tolerance for them. My respect for their species strikes a shade better than maybe horseflies or possibly sporting event streakers. Tis my great joy, whence encamped upon tick infested soils, to grab the little twits and press them into the frypan-like surface of my gas latern, and listen to them sizzle and pop. They are a determined creature, with no sense of moral, nor goodwill towards others, but thinking only of themselves, and to them I return the gesture in equal measure.
Summer backpacking, in my estimation, is the hardest season to stay comfortable in, yet, for some reason that is beyond me, it is the most popular season. Why is it the urban masses fill the woods at about the same time the mosquitoes and the ticks do? And to the heat and the wretched humidity so oppressive, people are drawn. Hiking in riverlettes of your own sweat, spanking at frisky mosquitoes. Your underwear at days end resembles something like a sweaty ziplock bag with a strip of bacon in it. And all the campsites are full of blokes in the same condition you are. But they love it. There is something beautiful in the utter misery of it. A dubious joy to be had in the bugs and the heat, that surely the natives of jungle lore could appreciate, but no city slicker could articulate.
A thousand ticks in nine days...Thats not bad. Thats almost epic.
Fare thee well, Prosocuter.
Sometimes I hesitate to post my updates for that very reason. How interesting is some old f@rt's exercise regimen after five years?
But then I figure that's the point. Finding ways to keep it interesting enough to keep it going for a lifetime is what will separate us from the majority who hop on and off the bandwagon throughout their lives.[/QUOTE]
Ahh yes, keeping it interesting! Upon considering the task of a permanent and healthy, life-long, life style, I've recently made a command decision. And that is I can do away with a vast variety of not-so-healthy things, and I can even excerise every day, but I'm sorry, I will not give up ice cream! lol Because, lets face it, is life even worth it without ice cream in it? I wont eat it every day, thats strikes a shade glutenous. But once in a while, as a supreme treat, why, hark, in moderation it is probably good for you. Let the health and fitness gods say what they will, but I shant relenquish my precious, beloved, most hallowed, bowl of ice cream. That just aint right.
Originally posted by 4wheelbob:
An older homeless gentleman in Oakland, CA once told me what he considered the most remarkable invention since man became civilized - the Thermos.
I asked what he thought about computers or cameras, maybe the auto or telephone. He said, "those are all cool, but a Thermos, you know,it keeps the hot stuff hot, and the cold stuff cold". He winked as he gazed thoughtfully up at me, finalizing with, "but how do it KNOW?"
Simple thoughts of a simple man. I came away with more respect for the unsung technological marvels of our time. Good thing we didn't talk about paper clips or Scotch tape...
Ah yes, the thermos! Im not the philosophing type, save for when Im perched on toilet, but I can relate with the chap about the thermos. I have a stanley thermos, age unknown. I figured if your gonna have a thermos, why not have the best. I knew I didnt want a new thermos, but one that was seasoned and old, the battle scars of a thousand field trips and such. So I picked one up at a swap meet in Wisconsin, for a couple bucks. It was desprately old, beatin and abused, green paint chipped off amid dents and abrasions wrought in the field. It was perfect. It takes 20 years to even break in a stanley thermos, so I felt like I was getting a head start. Such thermoses last a life time, you see. So I brought it home, cracked it's cap, and inhaling the aroma of coffee inherant and abiding in used thermoses. Washed it out the best I could, and immediately filled it with my own brew and went fishing.
I love that thermos. It's heavy, green, chipped and dented appearance appeals to me, for depsite its cosmetics, it is stalwart, and such it has earned a place in my heart. That thermos infact has many of the same characteristics as my faded green truck, of which naturally, I named Stanley...
Ahh yes, tis good to dream. A well and healthy thing for the soul to do, to stretch and to yearn, to reach for things enchanting to thee. Ive been lucky enough to have pressed in a tent stake in a vast many a beautiful locale. Ive learned that there are just too many inpspiring places I want to go. So many infact, that I can't reasonably hope to see even a tenth of them in my life time. My dream list is as deep as a Himilayan crevasse. It is a humbling thing to dwell on a planet so magnificent. So for me, the dream I dream, is not so much of location, but of time. Time to spend freely and as I see fit. Not to be restrained, nor governed by the fast-ebbing passage of the clock. All too many mountains have I sat at the bottom of, dreaming of whats on the other side, when like a shadow the ever present noose of society is draped over my neck, tightening with each passing minute I stay. For the city and society inevitably want me back, to do its bidding, and to that I always must obey. So give me time. Give me all the time I need, to loiter and to nap, to wander and to explore, the valleys and the peaks, and the cool trout streams that flow through amid them. Ah I could go on, and maybe I will, but not today. I dont have the time. lol
Reminds me of some birds I had last spring. Tis my joy, iffin I can, to sleep with the window open, partaking in the fragrant evenings the mid-latitudes afford. A week or so into my open-window excerise, an industrious little wren established a beachhead in the crack between my window and the screen. As with most bird nests, I didn't have the heart to dismantle it, plus I figured we could co-exsist for a while, as it were. Not to mention, here was an opportunity to study a bird close up, from the vantage of my own bedside. How fortunate was I!
Thats when I found out a bird's life is for the birds. It was endearing at first, I must admit, to have a pet bird, but after a couple weeks, I could have wrung his neck. She wasn't into my favorite hobby of sleeping in o'mornings, and that got us off on the wrong foot right there. She was always doing some sort of home improvement, I had to admire her ambition, but she was always dragging various sorts of tatter into my window sill. But perhaps her least-becoming quality was her curious joy in taking a dump right on my window sill. How she got so many turds pressed into the fine mesh of my window screen is beyond me, but is apparently the status quo for a window-dwelling bird full of poop.
The spring sprung onwards, and the mercury levels they did rise, until the muggy nights made way to my open window, increasing in me the sinciere desire to close it. But I just could'nt, I couldn't you see, lessen I squish heartily about 5 baby wrens, who they seemed always to squak about 5 seconds before I fall back asleep.
In the end, I had to abandon the room all together, and just give it to the birds.
A full year passeth...
This morning, a familier flutter greeted my window sill. I sat up, pulling the shade open slighty, and peered out. Sure enough, a creamy white anatomical token of a certain bird's affection, resided on my window sill. This months rent, perhaps, in birdville. I smiled. Then I shut the window...
Well, this thread has waxed down-right apocoliptic...I like it!
Worst case - civilization goes down the tubes, and we get to go camping full time. Thats not so bad.
On the way to lunch today, we drove past a large, wind generator, the kind you se out on them wind farms. There was just one tho, right in the middle of town almost. My sister-inlaw who was along said that belonged to that building over there, pointing to a large multi-level office building about as big as a major metropolitan hospital. She then said, all the electric needs of that building were supplied from that wind generator.
I smiled. I figured out what I want now, for Christmas.
Indeed, I've been doing some experimenting on my own. I discovered just by coasting in nuetral when ever I can, for example, when no one is behind me and I'm approaching a go light that is red, I use a gallon less gas per week. Thats 208 bucks a year at 4 dallors a gallon. Thats enough to fund my donut addiction!
It's good to see a man who knows the medicine of this life. Fishing is good for us. I've always subscribed to the wisdom that says, time spent fishing is not deducted from one's lifespan. Henceforth, for many decades now, rain or shine, I am faithful to purchase my Minnesota fishing liscense every spring, and wet a line there through-out, the summer and the fall, at least once a week, until the lakes and rivers give way to snow and ice.
I always get an annual liscense for Wisconsin aswell. Not only do they have a better professional football team, but it seems their fishing is better too. The lakes close by, are far removed from the industrial stench of big cities, and harbor frisky quantities of old bucket mouth, of whom I am particularly fond of making the aquaintence of. Why last summer, on a tranquil Sunday afternoon, afloat up these placid, Wisconion waters, I caught 3 bucket mouths, on ultralite equipage in as many casts. Each well over 3 pounds, which is a respectable fish in these areas. Ahh, nothing quite so fine, as it was that afternoon, baseball game one my wind-up radio set in the bow, the serinade of loon song echoing over the still waters, warm sun beams panning cross a delicious blue sky, and the riotous tug of a bass online, draping my rod tip over, with abandon and fury. I landed him, and admired him for a moment, like anglers do, then returned him to swim again with his aquatic brethern from whence he came. I was not in to keeping fish this day, tho sometimes I do. What I really wanted to do was take a nap. And that I did.
It's not the kind of napping that people are used to, tho, I found out. Well into my slumber, drool dribbling from my left lip pit, the boat gently bobbing in the cool water, I am awoken and disheartend by a welll-meaning chap in another boat, who saw my seemingly abandoned vessel bobbing there, and came to investigate, only to discover a grown man belly up on the floor in a posture suitable for a coranary thrombosis or something. He asked if I were dead, to which I replied, no, Im just fishing
Spring is at once my most favorite time of year. It's a time, naturally, for new beginnings. As well as a time for quiet retrospection neath the lovely blooms of a crab apple tree. I personally, very much, love the smell of spring. Of the Lilacs and the green grass and the aromas of the rain. The grass turned green yesterday, shortly after I smelled the rain. The lilacs are no where to be seen.
It was a beautiful day here, and I fashioned it worthy to do a little spring cleaning around the grizzly homestead. I started first with my car, out in the driveway, and that was about as far as I got. I was in the back seat, cleaning out stuff, and like so often happens to me, I was feeling a bit of a nap coming on. Ever prepared for such opportunities as these, I grabbed the pillow that always resides in the back of the car, and threw the token picnic blanket over me, and henceforth was out cold, sleepin' like a hammer in the grass. Neighbors strolled by with the children and dogs, and the sun slowly migrated across a beautiful sky, whislt I whiled away most of the afternoon, napping.
I suppose that such acts are a flagrant waste of a lovely spring day, but I've never seemed to have much of a problem with it. I sat up, my hair tossed like a bad salad, and I tried to think of what I missed out on this day for having having spent a good share of it napping in the driveway; but I couldnt think of anything.
It's slightly ridiculous, isn't it, to go from balmy, sunny days, with tweety birds and the smell of grass, to blizzard and white-out and accumulated snows, all within a day. I know many folks here in Minnesota of whom this winter has been quite enduring for, and henceforth have gone to peices mentally. They've cracked. The winter was just too long for them. Many of them will fancy the idea my neighbor did once. He wanted to move some place not like Minnesota. So he loaded up his snowblower in the back of his truck, and declared he would drive south until some one asked him what it was...It was there then, that he would live.
Reminds me of a few years ago, when I got way-layed in Wapsucker. The name of the town has been altered to protect the Wapsuckerites from needless ridicule and toil. Grab yourself a lovely beverage, for I'm about to digress...
My elder brother and I were in the motorhome, making our way cross the eternal, Wyoming plains, enroute for the enchanted environs of Yellowstone. A searing sun hung like a god in the high, Wyoming sky, as the asphault road ribboned ahead, shimmering in a thousand mile mirage. Of all the places in the country to have your transmission fail, I guess you could pick better places than the Wapsucker, Wyoming.
Luckily, and road trippers are often lucky, the motorhome was able to hobble into this little one-pump town, coasting to a stop at the filling station, bleeding cherry-red transmission fluid from it's underbelly. I stepped out of the motorhome, greeted promptly by the 103 degree heat, and two little, yelping dogs resembling summer sausages with legs. Then along came an afro of tumbleweed, indeed tumbling, cross my path, going where ever it is that tumbleweeds go. We checked in with the grizzled dude at the filling station, and he said they could fix our transmission. Only catch is it would take 3 days.
Three days in Wapsucker. How can I convey to you, in these mere cyber archives, what its like to be sentenced to cruelity of this sort. They had one little cafe run by Mexicans. One gas station. One motel. And one bar. I guess thats everything you need for a transmission waylay. We made do.
We established first a beach head in a booth at the cafe. This became our headquarters for the next 72 hours, where upon each meal we would return to said booth, and quietly work our way through the menu. The rest of the time was spent at our motel room, which naturally, had no air conditioning.
There was a plastic mountain dew bottle in the parking lot there, that had been smushed by the tires of passerbyers, surely a hundred times. It was in a wretched way, and on it's last days, as far as plastic bottles go. Every once in a while, a gust of wind would come through the parking lot, followed tightly by swirls of gravel dust, and if you were luckly, and the stars and the moon aligned just right, the bottle raise up a tickle, and scuttle a foot or two across the parking lot...That was the extent of entertainment in Wapsucker, Wyoming.
Such days are part of the gig of travel and adventure. Sometimes the best layed plans cant account for broken transmissions, and flattened mountain dew bottles. Some day I wanna go back there. I'm not sure why.
Nothing inherently wrong with a quiet spot of car camping.
i fancy to do it myself, from time to time. Just a couple weeks ago, infact, up on the shores of Lake Superior. Had the place to myself, as is custom in March camping up there, and I set up my car camping tent. A 45-pound monstrausity of nylon and aluminum, affectionately knick named "The Alamo". I hate everything about it until it's set up, then I love every thing about it.
It is, in my world, and the world of backpacking from whence I frequent, a flagrantly, upward raised, middle finger to the go lite philosophy. It'll sleep five I suppose, does 4 folks very well, but I like to set it for two. Safari style, I call it. It is my great and unwavering joy to first unroll a piece of carpeting over the floor, to give it that cozy," lived in" feel. Then to flip up a couple cots and a table inside of it, and a couple of small folding chairs. Out the front door in the cavernous vestibule, big enough I found out one day, to do jumping jacks in, I like to set up what I call my backwoods coffee shop, complete with another table and two more chairs, and a stove all set up for a quick brew of some kind. Some day, if I ever figure out how to put WiFi in there, I'll do that too!
Yeah, yeah, I know many people would tell me, if they could, "You pathetic panzy, that ain't camping!". But many inhabitants of the captive urban audience have the misguided notion that to go camping you have to rough it. To which the seasoned camper is quick to dismiss as hogwash, and monkey drool. For to lay in the dirt, and eat bugs, and otherwise be worn out and miserable, well, any greenhorn can do that. The true skill of campcraft is not in roughing it, but indeed, as some have discovered, resides in smoothing it. How comfortable can you be, with a limited amount of equipage. Thats what takes some doing. A backpacker, if he's in good form, has taken this concept about as far as you can go.
In the end, I suppose none of this banter matters much. It doesnt really matter how we take to the out-of-doors, nor should it. For at the heart of camping, there is freedom. Freedom to do it however you wanna do it. Just be out there, grinning, feeling the sun, the wind, and the rain on your face. To see the sun rise over misty waters. To watch it set over quiet bays, and crackling campfires. To smell the pine-scented breeze. To here the tall trees squeek, and the eagle speak. Amen.
Well, it's a lovely problem to have. I do believe I should fancy to upgrade the Grizzly Home Theater. It would only go towards supporting my New Years Resolution, to watch more movies. The home theater has been my pet project, and there seems no end to the tinkering and puttering you can do. Nothing quite so fine after an epic in the hinter regions, returning to the homestead, desheveled and footsore. To refresh in one's shower, and then slip into one's snoopy pajamas, and repair on the sofa with a bowl of steaming popcorn, and an ice cold beverage in hand, whilst viewing a cinimatec presentation.
On the other hand, it would pay for just about any piece of camping gear I should aspire to short of the Bibler tent Ive had my eye on for the better part of a decade. Unfortantely, Im at the stage in a gear addict's career, where I have in my gear shrine, 3 or 4 incarnations of every sort of camp equipage developed by mankind. I really do not need another tent. The seven I have should suffice, I would think. hehe
Well, I've tramped the desert a time or two, and you can forget about any aspirations of having a light pack. Tis not included in the price of admission. Im a bit of a camel it seems, and Im able to keep things operating on about a gallon a day, regardless of tempature. In part, I think to my ciesta rule, where upon like the Mexicans, I go belly up in the shade for a few hours during the hottest parts of the day. This is a routine I can easily become acustomed to even at home, so it is of no hardship when in the bush.
So, I pack a gallon a day for desert travel afoot, and cache if at all possible. This is not to say, when I get back to the trailhead, that I aint mighty thirsty, cause I am. But thats OK, because to belly up to the nearest Coke machine is one of the single greatest simple pleasures known to exsist, after a taxing desert hike. Amen.
Hmmm, very interesting. I will say this, iffin I was deep in the outback, having a tranquil moment to myself, and I caught a glimpse of this technology loping into my camp, more than likely, the odds are high, I would liberally shat myself before I figured out what it was.
Call me old fashion, cause I guess I am, but a campsite proper isn't a campsite at all, without a crackling, campfire. To sizzle one's meats over a beautiful bed of coals, and smell that enchanted waft of woodsmoke, memories fordged and drawn all at once, from whence yonder campsites you once tarried neath twinkling star fields and the shadows of ramparts.
The smell of the smoke, and the soft illumination of the flames is not just of heat and light to cook and to see by, but of unequivical , camptime, memories, released from thy treasure cove of experience, like the soft curls of smoke from the smoldering embers of your own personal campfire. And it is personal. Like an individual in a crowd, no fire is completely the same. It is unique, and in most respects, a relationship. It takes time and effort, and constant nurturing to grow a good fire, tho some highbeams seem to be able to do it all at once with one casual flip of their cigarette butt.
I have a lovely bottle of bear spray setting on the shelf in my gear closet. Every time I gaze upon it whilst reminiscing through my equipage, I am transported upon mental rainbows, a thousand miles to the West, under a high, Montana sun. The 4 of us had just crested the continental divide, descending down the west side on trembling legs. Weary we were, and wanted nothing more than to go belly-up in camp somewhere, and consider the merits of antique shopping, and bed & breakfasts.
Not to be, however, for a well-placed grizzly, bout as big as John deere riding lawn mower, was ambling up the trail to intercept us. Hark, this is never good news on a backpacking epic. Theres no good way to describe being on the teetering edge of soiling yourself, whence a mammoth beast with fangs acquires you visually, and makes a decision to come and make your aquaintence. There is no happy way to word this. None-the-less, in one's life, when we comes upon moments of great peril, we tend to reveal our true character. In our group of four, one arose as the undisputed leader, trying to keep everybody calm. There was no place to run, the bear was approaching fast, good luck. Another guy started praying. Seemed like a good move. The other two, one got real quiet, going to his happy place, and the other one broke out into jokes. But everybody got out their cans of bear spray.
They say, when a big bear is coming, to gather yourselves together to make yourselves look bigger. That wasn't hard to do, as we were pretty much clinging to each other like school girls already. So we amassed together, taking on the resemblence of a 4-headed beast, with 8 arms. That had to put something in our favor. The griz kept coming however, 50 yards and closing. This wasnt too funny anymore, as we morbidly pulled the pins from our pepper sprays, thinking, this is it. What a way to go. The bear got within a good rocks throw, and our sprays were ready to fire, which, as it turned out, would have only back-fired, seeing that the gale force mountain winds blew with an ironic fashion, right up the mountainside and into our faces. Indeed, what a way to go.
Then, and for reasons were still assessing to this day, the grizzly veered to it's right, and up into a boulder field, and we never saw him again. Our pulses lowered, our breath returned, and we checked the condition of our shorts before getting the heck out of there.
This is just some of the things I remember, every time I see that bear spray sitting on my shelf. Why is it the bears seem to get all the good places?
Ahh yes, many times, neath beautiful canopies of pine, have I pounded stakes with quantities unknown. From a glance, unruly men, with appetites and the body odor of mountain gorrilas. I guess I'm slightly gregarious by nature, and when a fellow bush traveler needs a place to spread out his thermarest, I can oblidge. And why not, for anyone Ive ever met in the back country, there is an instant comraderie. Seems we all share in the toils and the tasks of what it takes even to get into a place so remote as this. Plus, it's not all that uncommon that they have in their position, chocolate. A fair night's rent, for a pine-scented cathedral under the stars.
I remember one chap, up way of the superior highlands, in northern Minnesota. He was a good guy, or tho he seemed at first, until that is, with dubious, personal, erosion, I discovered he was from wisconsin and supported the green bay packers. That blimish was quickly erased, however, when he produced from his pack a tin of cookies his wife made with "real butter". Bless all such, good, women. We had a good time round the campfire that night, cooking our steaks over a mutual bed of coals, and bantering the night away with tales of the trails. Neither one of us had heard the other's stories before, so we got along fine, flappin' our lips, whilst the firelight danced on the pine bows. In the morning, we parted ways. That Christmas I got a card from him in the mail. Never heard from him again. Good memories tho, and community in the woods.
Ahh yes, your night in the cold reminds me of the heady days of yore, where no night was too cold, nor stretch of ego too vain. To at last, and with great jumbalias, zip one's self shut into a frosty tent, and lay there wrapped in down, watching your breath fill the confines there, and wonder why. Wonder at this pause in life, what makes a grown man forsake his artifically heated home, and strike off instead into a land so harsh and bare. What makes a chap roll this way? What decision process in his brain makes him revel in pissing copious quantities of warm wee wee into cold, plastic bottles.
Great googlies, I remember my first subzero piss in a sleeping bag. Shant forget it soon. T'was many years ago, I had purchased one of them anatomically correct pee bottles, on the recommendation of my long time trail cronie, Big Chief Baby Bladder. It was a lovely creation, a monument to the urinary fates of any person daft enough to buy one. It was volumeness in capacity, and had a rather flattering size mouth for the local crop of pee bottles.
Gone are the days and inclinations of peeling yourself out of a warm cocoon of down, to go expose your jumbawhumba to the penatrating cold of a winter night, when it is you first let loose in your very own piss pot. At first it feels all wrong, for to relieve yourself in bed goes against everything your mama taught you, and, I do say, against your better judgement. But as soon as you hear that5 hot liquid hitting that cold plastic, your thoughts veer at once to the present moment. Listening with contagious enthusiam as the vessel fills. And for a moment, and maybe even longer than that, you feel like a blindman listening to his cup fill up. You pray it's large enough. But your commited now, arent you, and you just let it flow. Let it fill. Whence activity lessens, and you bring it up for a look, your ego is checked. It is only half full at best, even for a Swede.
Then comes the moment of humility, when you hold your own piss in a bottle, admiring what you've done, you notice much to your disturbing pleasure, what soothing heat eminates from the plastic jug. And in a few, short moments, you embrace it, cuddle it, enjoying the radiation of your own heat, thinking some about from whence it came. After a few moments of this, you then realize you've lost your marbles, and flip the thing out side the tent. Only then to note, it'll surely freeze solid by morning, and be very bothersome to clean out. So then you end up dumping it in the snow just outside your tent flap.
4 hours later you do it all over again
GoBlue, I know all too well from where you toil. And it is my experience that seldom can you force yourself into "the zone". One day you just realize your in it, and the words simply flow, and you can nary keep up with yourself. This is the state in which we all aspire to be, in what ever we do. A state in which things seem to come easy, and we fire on all cylinders. All the best writing burbles out of these moments.
For me, writers block is something you just need to grit through. There is little sense in forcing out an essay, but if you have to, then do it. It will likely be sub-par, and not what you know it could be. But at least it is done, and out of the way. If you have time however, wait, because eventually, iffin you keep swingin' the literary sword, one day you will find yourself back in the elusive zone. Here then is where you must make your move. And what you do is write until exhaustion. For you must keep this state of victory going as long as you can, especially so if it's your job. If that means writing till sun-up, you do it, because it may be a long time before your back in the zone again, as you know.
I wish I could tell you how to get into the writing zone, but I do not know how it's done. I do know it is fueled in large part by passion. If you love what your writing about, you've come along ways in delivering your best stuff.
Ahh yes, a question worthy of a cup of tea, and a knuckle crack.
You know, as big sloppy flakes of snow fall this moment, from a gray, November sky, I'm reminded of all the trips afield this year, and years past, and what made them memorable. To be honest, I forget most of my trips. This is why my most memorable trips are interestingly enough, the same ones I've taken the time and the efforts to document, and record, via journals and photography. I seem to remember better the shadows climbing the ramparts that way, and how the rivers glittered at the end of a sunbeam. Perhaps some of it is because to take a picture or to write something down in a notebook, you need to stop, and look, and think. All my best trips, hither and yon, are the trips where I stopped, and looked and thought.
The best trips are the ones you remember.
So I encourage wilderness travelers to avoid the tragedy of haste. Slow down. Whats your hurry? Ten years from now around the woodstove, who cares how far you tramped. What matters resides not at point B, but in all the magic along the way. And you only see the magic, when you stop, and look, and think a little. Amen.
Indeed, nothing quite like a squadron of geese on the wing to engender thoughts of frost and thermal underwear in the hearts and minds of northern soul. I love it. I love to see a goose fly. To hear it labor through the sky, their big wings whooshing in crisp air, along with their cavorting honk, as the warm sunbeams wash over their undersides.
I cannot watch a goose strafe overhead, without feeling a giddy sense of anticipation, for winter and for life. To see those birds in formation, I have to wonder how many sleeping bags they would make.... I remember one time, years ago, I was walking my dog Butt through the parklands here. I was investigating some interesting leaf scars or something and Butt was off squating in some long gass when he spied a mass herd of geese congregating in a large open field. He shot off like an alcoholic to a German beer garden, his toes digging into the grass as he ran a long, sweeping arc right through the middle of the geese, which now were in a mass frenzy, a hundred wings flailing, riotous honks that Im sure where goose swear words. Butt loved to frolic this way, tho Im not sure what he would do if he got a hold of one. I rose my head from my studies, and watched him live it up, sending a flurry of wing and feather into a blue, Minnesota sky. The flock ascended like a tornado, some how managing to assemble itself, and flew away over the tree tops. Butt watched them dissappear, looked over at me, tongue hanging out like a hunk of black forest ham. Then he did what I can only postulate was a victory roll, like only dogs seem to be able to pull off, rolling happy-go-lucky in the soft grass. I had to admire him, because not even I would want to roll around in that particular grass. I just shook my head. And yup, he later walked up to me, with a new fur dew, adorned with tokens of goose crap and other assorted tatter and debris.
Just another day in goose paradise.
I remember once, back in the Clinton administration, driving about 10 hours, for one night's sleep in the badlands of North Dakota. At the time, I must admit, it sounded a might ridiculous, but my eldest brother, and Big Chief Baby Bladder really wanted to do it, and I had nothing better to do, so I tagged along.
Henceforth, down through the years, the trip has sort of taken on a token memorial, of what I call a wine celler trip. These are the sorts of trips that have sort of a bad taste at the time, but once your done with them, and let them age quietly for a few years, in the wine cellar of your mind, they end up being, upon restrospect, a very sweet trip. Indeed, they get better with age.
I've camped in the badlands on numorous ocassions, in much more reasonable parameters, and no camp quite so stirs my soul than that one that made the least sense to do. Don't ask me why. I should like to digress on the trip it's self, but that is for another post. The point, however, I aim to make here, is that any distance may be worth it, to travel for a weekend respite. Long as Im back in time, I guess it matters not how long we must drive.
One reason for that is the road trip portion of a backpack trip, is almost as enjoyable to me as the actual reason for going in the first place. I love to be on the road, and revel the ambience of it all. Some will know what I mean, others will not. There is a joy inherent to the gypsie, explorer, and road traveler. For a time, you leave most everything you have behind, and strike off self-contained over the horizon, just to see what you see. You are detatched and beautifully free, to wander the lovely contours of the land, much like backpacking at it's best. The car is organized just like a pack, and takes you places you've never been. There is great joy to be found, after all, in stopping at the seven 11 for some slim jims and a big gulp. There is a wonder in the cab whilst crossing the endless, grassy, plains of South Dakota. There is joy in cup holders, leastwise when there are hot fudge malts there. And there is the joy of getting out of the car and stretching, whilst your eyes roam over an alien land.
Blessed is the soul who enjoyes the trip before the trip. The trip home always takes forever tho.
Well, I guess it is this...When I return from a good trip, one with much loitering under stately pines, listening to the soft breeze stir amid the scented needles, and the lake lap gently at the shore. When there was long campfires, and bannock baked, neath the shimmering stars above, the heavens so charmed, giving way to the aurora, which wavered like bed sheets in a cosmic wind. When the loon song echoed through the forest prime evil, and the timberwolves cried out in the night. When I had a good slice of coconut pie by the gurgling river, watching how the shafts of a golden light dropped through the trees. When I had a nap in the sun. When I woke up, considered the world, and went back to sleep again. When I crested that rampart on high, the cold wind on my grin, panting and in awe of the grandeur below. When the rains came, and the joy there was, snuggled up in my tent with a good narrative, listening to the symphonic patter tap over the fly. And the smell of the wet earth. And the call of an elk. And the fury of a trout online. The sound of zippers in morning. The smell of nylon and deet. The flickering, warmth and glow, of the campfire on the faces of people you've come to love...
I guess my most serious concern is that someday I may forget all of this.
Well there isn't much really to add, as my cronies here generally steer folks in the right direction. Congradulations on assembling a team of hopeful greenhorns, for this your first campaign in the hinter regions. I think you will find the experience, if anything, memorable, for years to come. What henceforth transpires on your trip will in large part be the crux in wether or not you ever do such an endeavor again.
Many a tenderfoot often makes the mistake of over-estimating their miles per day, but as many have pointed out, 5 to 8 is quite reasonable. I caution against the mentality of the death march. You are not out there, I hope, just to cover miles, and be miserable. Life is far too short for that nonsense. Instead, I encourage you to make the most of every mile, taking your time, taking breaks, sniffing flowers, snapping pictures. If you ever find yourself in an endless march, moaning your own name in vain, head down looking only at your feet, as the wretched day stretches eternal, rest assured you have my sincere pity. If such plight befalls thee, stop at once, and put your foot down, so-to-speak. Declare that Grizzly James says we cannot live like this. This is not good for us. And motion for a group nap or something.
For freedom resides at the heart of backpacking. Freedom to do what you want, when you want, and not to be bothered by anything else. At the trail head, take off your watch and stow it away in the glove box or something. Otherwise you'll be looking at that bloody contrivance every half hour so you can know if wether it's time for lunch or not. Time doesn't exsist in the hither lands. One eats when one is hungry. And one sleeps when one is sleepy. Freedom. Good luck on that tho, for traveling bush in a large group, one loses a bit of that, just to keep peace amongst the multitudes.
Oh yeah, one more thing. Iffin you should find yourself in an occasion of mass paper work, and you need to "live of the land" remember, pine cones only work in one direction
Take care, and report to us the results!
What you've hit upon here, resides at the very heart, of not only what makes backpacking great, but what I consider the best trait a trail cronie can have, and that is a genuine love for nature. For that is where it all starts, doesn't it, before all the gear, before the knowledge, there must first be a love for just being there. If ye have not this, Im not so sure your getting all you can be getting, out of your outdoor experience. Infact, one is far removed.
Tis a passion vast enough to match the ramparts, that resides in the still, quiet, places of our soul. It stirs within us, when we see a massif rising high, or an eagle soaring. It is awoken with the waft of a campfire or the pungence of a falling rain. It beckons to us in the silence of an empty plain. Whence a summer breeze whispers in the pine, and the river tumbles, just right, through an amber ray of sun, we can rest assured that we are smiled upon. And when the eyes moisten in front of the wonders we've seen, embrace it, because now you know for sure, this was precisely where we we're meant to be.
I remember one jaunt out Wyoming way, amid the Tetonic grandeur. T'was many calanders ago, and it was one of my first trips to the mountains. I remember pulling up to the foot of the Tetons, stumbling out of the car, gaze transfixed on these mighty ramparts, doing my best to keep my chin off my chest. They were the most beautiful, earthen, contours I had ever beheld. We came to do some backpacking, but I coulda spent the whole trip right there at the wayside, just gawking at them. My eyeballs, they did moisten, and mine heart stretched to where to soul goes, when we see beauty of the grandest kind.
Through the slow-ebbing passage of time, henceforth, a multitude of eye-watering moments, in pretty places, have come my way. You feel lucky to be there, no doubt, no matter what the weather may be. You hold your arms wide open for it too; almost expecting it. Sometimes tho, it doesn't come in the form of tears, but for me anyways, in a good grass roll. Yes, I must admit, I on occasion fancy a good roll in the grass. Sometimes, when long on the trail, if I happen upon a good piece of green, grass, alight in a glorious patch of sun, tis nothing I prefer more than flop prostrate in it, and inhale the aromas of grass and dirt, and then roll like a puppy back n forth, frolicing if you will. And my trail mates tend to roll their eyes, and duck for cover of being seen with me, but that is their problem. There is just something invigoratingly right about the practice of grass rolling.
But I've digressed slghtly. I salute thee in your observations and establishment of this thread.
I love to flyfish. My technique and style has evolved over the eons, much like my backpacking has, to a slow, undeniable, loiter. Of all the ways yet devised to not catch a fish , I think fly fishing is one of the best. I find I do not mind if the trout are disagreeable, for just to be where the trout are, is reason enough to go flyfishing. It is beautiful, where the trout live. I say to not catch a fish, because alas, flyfishing for trout is extremely trying to one's patience. The trout are not ammused, it seems, by what kind of car we drive, or how thick our wallet is, nor our designer waders. They don't care. They only respond to endless patience, and paitience only comes to those who wait - a long tranquil streamsides, and under forest canopies.
So my trout fishing involves a lot of waiting, and loitering. I like to tarry on the streambank, and enjoy a hot tea from my trail thermous, and watch all the water burble by. I found in flyfishing, the less I move, the more I catch. For trouts are the most skittish of creatures, keen to dart for the hollows at the slightest disturbence. The trick, henceforth, is to become invisible to the trout, and this is most effectively achieived within the glorious recesses of a nap! Amen.
For napping streamside not only is quite a lovely thing to do, but it's biproduct is invisibility. You see the efficiency here? For when you awaken by a likely pool of trout, they havnt the foggiest clue that your there. You have blended in, so-to-speak, become one with the forest and the stream. You are ready now, to wet a line. Many times, I do not even get up after a nap, but simply flip my line out, and often have hooked something frisky.
I seldom do more than a dozen casts at a given pool, for its entirely possible to over work a piece of water, so I try not to be greedy that way. But I take my time doing it. When I do move to a new pool, it is almost always upstream, and this is for very specific reasons. The most obvious is that trouts tend to hold with the heads pointed upriver, to better spy the yumyums drifting their way. They don't pay as much attention to whats behind them, it seems, tho it's impossible to sneak up behind them. The other reason resides in the mud and sediments kicked up by your own feet. If you were stalking down river, your presence is revealed in drifting clouds of mud, at least in the streams I fish here in Minnesota.
Ahh yes, the age old question of camping: To go or not to go.
Reason, logic, and common sense would suggest, if the skies are spitting forth a fury upon your forecast, and this is enough to dissolve your enthusiam, then by all means, stay home and do something productive. But reason, logic, and common sense were never trademark qualities of a backpacker. For who pray tell, would work so hard to hang a nice shingle under which to live, spend all that money, then abandon it to go sleep in the dirt? Well, a backpacker of course. He or she does not subscribe to mass opinion, and is out there, if you wanna boil it down, for one reason really - because they love it. And such passion truely does transend the barometer.
So you pack your bag, and you head out into the teeth of it. Embrace the rain, and revel in how it feels on your face. There is magic in a rainy day, that the city slicker will never know. The smell of a dampened forest, and the pitter patter of a million and one falling drops of rain. This is beethoven to a quiet soul, under a well-strung tarpiline.
A little wind and rain is good for us. It tests our technique and gear. More over, it tests our attitude, which is the single most important thing we bring with us on a campaign into the hinter regions. You can have all the best gear, be the strongest hiker, tell the funniest jokes, and cook the finest food, but if you have not the attitude to roll with the punches, you are of no earthly good on a backpack trip. For some day you will be deep into it, an epic for the ages. Your pants soiled and your feet raw, and the heavens will open up at once on you, and a tempest shall befall your encampment. Such is certain plight of those who go long for this game called backpacking. And when the winds batter thee, and the rains fall around thee, will you still find joy in the place your in? Are you glad to be there, and is it still better than working? Is there beauty to be found in how a rain drop clings to the tip of a pine needle? If so, then rest assured, you have the passion to match the ramparts, and the attitude of a very fine backpacker. And a rainy day will be a pleasure.
I was sitting in the loo today, having a little quality time to myself. It's a respite, I've found that still remains in the human condition, that people will, by and large, give you your space, if they know you have pressing matters to attend to. This is a breath of fresh air, so-to-speak, in this restless age of people rushing people. It's a well known fact, I don't like to be rushed in anything, especially so when Im dropping Grandpa off at the pool.
So I've found my daily rendezvous' in the boom boom room somewhat of a sacred loop hole, in the maddening, urban, rat race, and it is not uncommon for me to bring a magazine in there, and maybe a nice lemonade. And the world can whirl about outside my window, paniced and hurried, and it doesn't affect me there. Thats the beautiful thing, and I reckon the push of this post. The room, in time, becomes a think tank of sorts, for you to solve the world's problems just after your own. It's not just a place of business, but a chamber of solitude, and so much more.
So there is this phenomenon I've noticed, a biological anomoly perhaps, where upon I can be doing well most of the day, with not the slightest hint of gophers or turtles, when all at once, as soon as I'm within striking distance of the "home hole", there is a great and abiding interest in visiting it in a rapid fashion. The hole knows, it seems. This will probably get deleted by the cyber gods, because who in their right mind would banter of such silliness. But it is a question I have, of which the answer Im sure resides in the tapered-folds of unruly conversation. How does your butt know your close to home? My guess is it's a Pavlov thing, or something like that. And another question: When you move into a new home, how long does it take to develope the home hole complex? Surely others have made this observation.
Thankyou for making time for a brain-dump of sorts, on the ramblings and ponderments of daily life.
I was waxing nostalgic today, something I tend to do more of the older I get, go figure. I was thinkng, by and large, of all the places I've woken up in. Of the crazy places, I've went to sleep, wether for the night, or just a nap. It sounds slightly alarming, but hark, I've really slept around.
Oh how could I forget that one time, as a spry youthling, waking up in all places, in the backyard, halfway up a tree. Trees back then where my avenues of retreat. My sanctum to go hang out in and get away from the world. Lots of times, I would invite my playmates up there too, and we'd all sit about and jaw about what ever it is that 9 year olds talk about up in trees. Well it was only natural, over the course of time, to see if I could take a nap up there. It wasn't that hard, and oh so very pleasant. Drifting in and out of reality, listening to the big, green, Basswood leaves flutter softly in a warm, summer's breeze.
I love waking up, thats maybe my favorite part about sleeping. It's a new beginning, once again, and that seems to mean something on ocassion. To stretch long and big, and consider the world for a bit, and if your lucky, have the freedom to roll over and go back to sleep again.
I've awoken in the dardest spots. Like on the bathroom floor. I'm not sure what was going on there. Woke up once, in the front trunk of a 1960-something Volkswagon beetle. Numorous accounts a long wild trout streams, with my wader-covered legs, bobbing up and down in the current. And I shant even try to count how many times I've awoken up a long some roadside, in the back of somebody's car. Woken up in snowbanks, in the laundry room, on cliff sides, and cafe booths. In libraries, the bottom of canoes, and algerbra classes. Woke up one time in the bath tub, and the water was cold. I looked so pruney, I could have screwed on my socks. Woke up a long side campfires and urinating buffalo. Bears, porcupines, beavers, and aggresive mountain goats. In a field of tall weeds, a corn patch, and wedged in the lee of a fallen timber. Oh yes, I've had the good fortune to awaken in the most lovely of places.
Anyways, I was just reminising of these things, and more today. Trying to reaccount all the many places, I've at one time or another, gone "belly-up" in. It sounds alarming, I know, but man I've slept around.
Ahh yes, I know that route well. I just hiked it last October. I had to laugh and cry for you at the "Butt Pucker" Trail. I made the wretched error myself, of traveling down that trail, if you can call it a trail. Swore to myself and those around me, I would never hike that heinous piece of real estate again. It wasn't good for my composure, or my shorts. In all my years of backpacking, that was the stupidest section of walking I've ever done. I fellow could, with no effort what so ever, tumble to his maker there. Oh yes, there are certain moments in a backpacker's career, that he shouldn't tell his loved ones back home, less he ever wants to go again. That was one of them.
It was lovely to reminise that route whilst reading your report. That deer creek canyon was about the prettiest place you'd ever wanna go belly-up. Tis a Shangri La, in a desert bare. And Im sure someday, the dubious location of a future nudist colony. It's paradisical.
The topic henceforth, has something to do with nothing.
Isn't that in some degree, why it is, we spend hundreds of dallors, to go play hobo in the woods? To experience, for a moment or two, the thrill of doing nothing. Isn't the most intriguing places on the map, the places where there is nothing at all.
To amble about scented, forest, glades, with nothing in particular to do, other than thinking to yourself how nice it is mill about a forest glade, is a glorious thing. Many a time I've gone into the forest primevil, with nothing to do, and do it pretty well, yet somehow time flies away like a feather in the wind. Like a fart in the frozen foods aisle. How pray tell, could this be. If I was any place else, doing something even remotely akin to nothing, the world would fairly stop on it's axis, and the sun would hang eternal, and the gods of time will have gone to sleep. Yet, and even so, sitting on a loaf of granite, in the furthest recesses of a wilderness locale, there is nothing so swifter ebbing, than the sweet passage of time. Tho I am completely still, and doing nothing that I can think of, such seems to be all that I need, and nothing that I don't.
I don't know what it's all about. But I suspect it has something to do with nothing.
Hats off to your observations. I'm totally on your page with this one.
That tent smell you speak of, is one of the finer smells in the camping venue, to be sure. City folk may think it's a little nuts, sniffing nylon and all, but as any camper knows, it's not just that. There is a fusion of memories past, with every wiff of your tent. To smell your tent, to sample it's aroma, like swirling a fine wine in a glass, is to at once access a treasury of memories, of campsites in yonder places. Of tranquil nights and brooding storms. Of eternal campaigns, and gentle forays. Of the midnight urinary fates, and the peaceful sleep of those who have traveled far. Memories of sweet repair, whilst firelight flickers through the tent wall. The sounds of a wilderness serinade; of loons, and crickets, and coyote; of timberwolves, and frogs, and the symphonic patter of the falling rain. These are all gloriously linked in lovely ways, to that still, small, scent of a tent.
The more you sniff your tent, the further you've been. You know now, what you've left behind. And that is why you return, and set up your tent once more, amid the wonders from whence you came.
I remember one romp, several years back, I was sweating up a cardiac switchback in the magnificent Teton wilderness. It was long and steep, and I fairly moaned my name in vain as I wheezed upwards and onwards. I paused in stride momentarily, and gazed up at the towering massifs, then heard to my aft a gentle foot fall, of which my gaze quickly transfixed. A little old lady of maybe 65 or 70 strode up the trail towards me. I drew a finger across the sheen of sweat that glistened my forehead, and rose an eyebrow. She stopped to chew the fat, so-to-speak.
She was a very chatty and positve lass, and carried a very small pack.
Where are you headed? She asked.
Oh down into the valley, I said, then Im gonna collapse by the river and reconsider my life
Haha, she chuckled, your a funny one.
Yes mam, and where may I ask are you headed?
Oh, just going over to Idaho, she said.
My other eyebrow raised.
Today!? I yammered
Thats right, she said, my daughter is picking me up over there, and we're going out tonight for supper.
Your amazing, I croaked.
Gotta get goin', she declared, and was wisked up the trail like some angel in hiking shoes.
I've encountered numorous types like this, in the Wyoming, backcountry, which causes me to postulate that perhaps the fountain of youth resides there. I henceforth has slurped from every puddle and creek I've come across in Wyoming, but Im not sure anything has kicked in yet.
If the doctor says you can no longer carry a pack, you will just have to adapt. Might I suggest Hawiian swim-packing. It really hasnt caught on yet. What you do is pack your stuff into a dry bag, and attach it to a rope around your waste. The bag of course floats in the ocean blue, like a trailer almost, whilst you swim along. Or of course, there is the llama, but good luck with that. I saw once on the discovery channel they are inclined, if the moment is right, to bite the wedding tackle right off a man. Nothing quite so inconvienient on a backpacking trip, I'd say, to have your junk sheered off by a llama. Horses, canoeing, hotair balloon camping. The list is as long as you are creative. Which is ultimately the answer to what ail you - attitude. Let not your mind be tethered by what your body can or cannot do. Wether your body can climb a mountain or not, has no bearing on how much you can enjoy the mountain. It is your choice, henceforth, from this day on, to embrace this day, for tomorrow is no guarantee. Realize, the wilderness experience lies as much within us,as it does over that yonder rampart. I encourage you, if your willing, to tarry long by more streamsides and other pretty places. If we learn anything with age, it's to take it easy, and enjoy the stuff we took for granted whilst we were young. For a quiet magic resides in the speed of stillness, and there you will find all the wilderness you can aptly handle.
Im reminded of a certain valley in Glacier National Park, with a lovely lake, and a view of the ramparts there. Everytime I think of Glacier, it is this valley that comes to mind. And everytime I go to Glacier, it is this valley in which I flip out my chair. And I sit there, and look at it. Beyond the valley walls, there are other places, and other things, but they dont afffect me here. For this moment, and more than that, this valley is all that I need. It is the most liberating feeling in the world, to not feel like you have to rush from vista to vista, in earnest attempts, to see it all. And when you find yourself in the most beautiful place in the world, why would you even want to try. It's not like its going to get any better.
Fleeting is the present moment. Embrace it, especially in the prettier places.
I'm reminiscent of one winter's jaunt, up yonder in the frozen forests of northern Minnesota. Yes, it was back when we actually had winter here in Minnesota. A good 3 feet of snow. 37 below zero it got to that night. It was a campaign into absolute, unabridged misery.
The creek we were trying to sleep by that night, trickled slower, and slower, hardening like an old man's arteries. My eldest brother and I were in the tent, curled up in the fetal postion so familier to those in quiet misery. Those waiting for the sun. I dare say, it was so cold, we were even cuddling a bit, which aint something we exactly enjoyed!
To those whom have suffered and endured, a deep penatrating cold, slicing into your very core, you know all too well, the night's long campaign. How it slowly ebbs, stretches for the infinate, never for to see that blessed, warm, orb arise in the East. Birch trees pop and crackle, you wiggle in your bag, the sound of cold nylon rubbing against more cold nylon. All is not right in your bag, you know. And you promise yourself, if the miraculous might happen, and a chap would wander through camp that night selling loft at a 1000 dallors a pound - that you would make him a rich man. For now you are nothing more than a dumb beast, quivering on the forest floor, waiting for the sun.
That would tweek my j-stroke! I know from what you speak, of motor boats in the boundary waters. I've paddled the mighty Sag for many, many years, and the lake's waves are often impressive enough without the aid of boat wakes. These chaps who did donuts around you are what we like to call "high-beams", or "jerk-horns", and I have little respect for thier kind. But in my experience, these "brethren gone afoul" are rare, as most motorboats Ive encountered on Sag, have demonstrated a courtesy expected of those akin to wilderness travel. Even so, I've happened upon the ocassional, buckaroo.
Like last July, I believe it was. I was afloat on a mild Sag, puttering with my fishing pole, the sun was late in the western skies, and I was at ease. As I tied on my fuzzy grub, I cast a glance to the North, across the expansives waters, and spied out yonder, a yellow float plane, flying a mere 10 feet above the water. Low and slow he flew, on a course directly for me. As he approached, the plane appeared larger, and it's mighty engine roared louder, utter wilderness spreading out behind him. He was making no efforts to deviate his heading, preferring, it seemed, to strafe me like a wayward crop or something. Now I dunno if youve ever had occasion to have a plane fly straight for you, 10 feet up, whilst you float in a tippy canoe, but it's a giddy experience, and one that makes you reconsider your life for a few moments. Anyways, and at the last possible moment, he applies a little left aileron, and banks off, exposing his vast, yellow under-belly. He proceded, I noticed, over a portage to the South, to the red rock lake area, where upon dumping copious quantities of Sagananga lake water over the forests there, which smoldered and smoked. I deduced, he was just out doing his job, and was perhaps letting me know, the way only arial firefighters can, that I was in his way! lol
I packed up and got out of his way, and went into town for some Sven and Olies. lol The BWCA was getting a little frisky that day.
Thats a fair question old chap.
Might I say, I've logged some trail time with some mighty ripe individuals in my day. Walking bacteria exhibits so rank and foul, I expected aggressive college students to show up and inquire if they might do their thesis on my trailmates' armpits. My goodness, but man how the woods can erase the sexiness from someone. This of course, never happens to me, for I never smelt all that good to start with.
I remember one time, in the hithers of upper Michigan, Big Chief Baby Bladder refused to brush his teeth. As the trip stretched out, so to did the radius in which you could tolerate to be near to him. Until finally one morning, I had to put a stop to the ordeal, when he killed an innocent animal with his breath. We were in camp, co-existing as it were, when I discovered a furry little catapillar stuck to the trunk of Cedar tree, doing what ever it is that catapillars do on Cedar trees. He was green and black, and I think yellow, at any rate, quite the interesting little fellow, who seemed to be enjoying the prospect of being a catapillar that day, well, that is until Big Chief showed up and killed him.
It was perhaps the oddest, and most morbid event ever to have transpired on my wanders afield. Big chief squatted by the tree, getting his face point-blank with the catapillar, looking upon it with an inquistive eye. Then, for reasons that are well beyond my meager grasp of the human condition, he blew on the little feller, with a long, sustained breath. His breath, it turned out, was like nerve gas to the catapillar, and I kid you not, we watched the chap loose his foothold on the tree, precariously, one foot after another popping off. I don't know how many foots a catapillar has, but none of them could hang on, as he fell helpless from the tree like some pixar animation.
I looked at the Chief, horrified, but amused. We both took off our hats in a moment of silence. Then we had breakfast.
Nothing quite so fine as a woman comfortable enough with herself to make light of her gassy affairs. Bless ya! I went camping once, in a wilderness area, with a group of individuals who couldn't do that. One in particular, a runner up to something akin to a supermodel, had such a problem with it, it made her ill. She refused to fart in the woods, or at least while anyone was around. She was even too civilized to take a poop. Ohhhh mercy, nary would she grace the earthen soils with her high grade of waste. Ive seen these types before in the bush, and invariably, they make themselves miserable and never set foot on a wilderness campaign again, and thats exactly what she did. Never again. Which is fine with me.
So she will miss the early morning fog on a glass lake. She will not see the hawk on the wing, soaring majestic above the rugged ramparts. She will not hear the sound of zippers zipping on quiet mornings in camp. Nor will she know the sweet breeze whisper through the fragrant pine. Nor the fragrance of the rain in a damp forest will she revel. She won't see the warm light of a campfire flicker on the faces of friends and family. She will not see the moose feed in the aquatic shallows, or hear the loon wail from the bay yonder. She will not know what it means to be still in the woods, and feel the sun on her face. She won't experience any of it, all because she refused to fart. Funny how that works.
Blessed is the person who passes gas in the backcountry. Just don't do it near me
Oh why must you tempt me like this, openning the door, so-to-speak, for a cornicopia of response. How am I supposed to react to this post, being the student of the flati that I am. I cannot, in my heart of hearts, condone or govern tooting afield. For let it be said, because it's true, if we were to sum up why we go backpacking in one word, it would be freedom. Freedom to do what we want, when we want, and not to be bothered by anything else. Oh how I pity the cheeks attached to the soul who's mantra utters, I dare not flap in the breeze, for what will my trailmates think then of me. We get roughed up enough in town, when we fart, let not this intestinal fate tarry yonder, in the wild places too. There are probably many remedies, home-made concoctions of diet and such, to erase this most natural behavior, but to me, such tactics only dilute the experiencial freedom, that is taking to the woods.
Some of my finer moments, in backcountry grandeur, have been whilst "letting fly" under a variety of conditions. God has a sense of humor, this we know, or he would'nt have created the south end breeze. Just the sound of it, considering the location from whence it came, is enough to at least make scroogiest, heart, smile. Who hasn't had a soft, popping like, toot, emit haphazardly when they've squatted happy-go-lucky by the campfire. It was meant to be!And what backpacker hasn't let one one go in their sleeping bag, only to discover it was a calculated mistake, for the shell you thought was so breathable, wasn't even close, and the aromatics of thee have no further choice but to head to the nearest exit, where upon you gag and cough, struggling with the zipper. In a twisted way, it a good time. Without out farting on the trail, half our jokes would be gone.
Even so, like all pleasures, it shouldn't be abused. I remember one time, on a canoe trip in the boundry waters canoe area, I was a little too emancipated on my profart tendencies, and got a wee but carried away. Suffice it to say, I had come to terms with my drawers, and they were not too pretty! I couldnt stand them anymore, having developed deep in the recesses of, an annoying bacon strip deal going on, that had me at the end of my patience. It was one of those trips, many wilderness blokes do, in that they only bring one pair of shorts, just to be simple, and be light, and that sort of nonsense. Well, one evening, neath a magnificent canvas of stars, I emerge from my tent, holding my underwear tween two fingers, and step into the warm, flickering, glow of the campfire, and declare to my campmates my intentions of burning my shorts. I wrapped them dutifully round the end of a stout stick, and inserted them into the blaze. I should point out, I am wearing my rain pants, for I dont want people to start thinking Im deknickered, nor the makers of brokeback mountain to show up. Anyways, smoke soon bellowed from my shorts, reminding me of Ron Howards Backdraft, and moquitoes instantly fled for where ever mosquitoes go when their about to throw up. The shorts caught on fire, and I raised them, taking up a pose akin to the statue of liberty. They burned disturbingly well, as if soaked and marinated in methane or something. They must have blazed for 10 minutes. It was a suitable memorial and reminder to me, to enjoy but not to abuse, the simple pleasures in this life, and that includes the all mighty air biscuit.
Take care, and fare well.