Friday, January 29, 2010

Halucinating Hidden Messages

Between hikes I walk. Should I cross paths with anyone, I like to shout out a friendly greeting, “Lovely Weather!” If one is going to have a disposition, it might as well be sunny. Admittedly, I am in general quite generous with the weather. My definition of “lovely” excludes only freezing rain, hail and wind gusts above 45 mph.

Lately I’ve noticed a peculiar phenomenon. If the weather is unexpectedly fair, my exclamation of “lovely weather” is always met with a shake of the head and a statement of regret, “global warming, it’s a shame.”

Unseasonably good weather is bad. Time for self-flatulation, the sun is out. Oops, I meant to spell self-flagellation although perhaps the former would also be an appropriate way to punish ourselves (a good corollary of what the planet is experiencing).

It’s a real dilemma for hikers. The best part of hiking is getting out of doors. But the best part of hiking isn’t always getting into the weather. It's hard not to hope for fair weather. Don't do it. Don’t pray to the weather gods for sun and warmth. NO, absolutely not, not between Sept. 15th and April 15th anyway. (I said, no, you greedy little self-interested heathens!)

Global warming has turned unseasonably good weather into a depressing omen of the further ills to come.

Depressing thoughts about the ruinous state of our planet always remind me of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show" (RHPS). On the front of it, the film is about personal freedoms and excesses, but buried within is an environmental message.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Porcupine For Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Until last week I’d always assumed that porcupines were impervious to attack, I’d seen a dog with a mouthful of quills. But last week, in the wilds of Quebec (Parc national du Mont-Orford to be exact), posted on a tree was a little blurb about fisher cats. Having studied French for one year, over a decade ago, I was able to decipher almost nothing. Yet the sign seemed to strongly suggest that the fisher cat, the terror of the weasel family, could eat one porcupine every 20 days, a rabbit every week or 12 mice a day. I found this absolutely shocking. No, not the part where 240 mice equals one porcupine, the part where a porcupine gets eaten!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Strap Something To Your Feet - Part 1

Hiking in the winter is just like hiking in the spring, summer or fall - except for the ice and snow. To avoid the hazards of winter conditions, people have invented a variety of devices to strap to one’s feet: bits of metal, old tennis rackets and waxed sticks (aka crampons, snowshoes and cross country skis). The application of these devices depends largely on the conditions. If the leftovers of yesterday’s precipitation is terribly deep, snowshoes are the gadget of choice. If it’s an icy mess, crampons are likely in order. On the other hand if you’ve got a foot of perfect powder, pull out the skis.

Today I strapped snowshoes to my feet. This was completely unnecessary. The trail was so well packed we could have hiked in sneakers. This bothered me a great deal at first.

What’s the point of going down a marked snowshoe trail that a thousand other people have already gone down? If you aren’t breaking your own trail you don’t really need them do you? Arg. These fandangled pieces of shat are flipping snow up my back. Why aren’t I skiing? These nasty contraptions are noisy. Each step sounds like a giant crunching the bones of little children. Slog, slog, slog. I can’t believe we came all this way to a snowshoeing trail that renders the snowshoes unnecessary.

One can’t think such lovely thoughts for too long before sharing them with the world.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Finding the Right Partner In Crime (Part 1)

I have no illusions of myself as a rugged loner, a rock or an island. My stoic self-reliance stops at ticks and leeches. Therefore, to hike I (and by extension you) must have a partner in crime. But not just anyone will do.

When evaluating potential partners, consider the following:

Will this person tolerate me, under said conditions and circumstances?
Will they appreciate or at least have patience with my idiosyncrasies?
Which of my foibles is most likely to be problematic while executing this particular crime?

If you know your own idiosyncrasies you can combat or counter weight their negative effects. Mine happen to involve fickle knees, food intolerances and a penchant for stopping, stalling and dawdling at every opportunity. I know this and am prepared to bat my eyelashes, give flowery apologies and/or make other overtures of goodwill.

That is, unless I am livid.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Winter Hiking, New Year's Resolutions & Glitter

As a rule I don’t advocate making New Year’s resolutions. So easily broken; they’re like lies. But too strict an adherence to rules makes one old and stodgy, so this year I'll not discourage you. Go ahead, make a glittery little resolution or two in honor of the coolest new year in a decade. Yippee 2010!

Let’s say for example, your New Year’s resolution is to be more active and get out of doors more often. This would be an excellent variation on a common theme. Getting fit and/or losing weight has to be the most popular New Year’s resolution. It is certainly the poster-boy for resolutions abandoned. New Year’s resolutions make the word resolve feel insecure and ill-used.

But why be pessimistic needlessly?