Wednesday, September 28, 2022



(1) The right time to be backpacking.

It's easy to tell when day comes, because you can see things. The wrong time is called night, and is dark.

Night is the when you stumble around and bump into things that you can't see. This is good, since a lot of these things, you don't want to see. But also it's not so good, because even though it's dark, and you can't see them, that does nothing for bumping, and the teeth and claws, and their dark, compelling, overpowering, and unspeakable appetites which, if you bump into one of them, you get to experience first hand.

But back to the light side.

As is known by just about everyone, and already stated here, day is when you can see stuff. Day is divided into several parts. The first part, called dawn is technically part of day, and contains a lot of light, but is better slept through. Despite this, by any shred of common sense whatsoever, dawn is when birds emerge from their burrows, climb high enough in the trees so you can't get a clear shot, and then begin skreeking, chirping, peeping, twirping, squawking, hooting, cheeping, shrieking, chirruping, cooing, screeching, tweedling, and cawing at one another, and at you. And pooping from on high, liberally at times.

Once forced from your cozy bed by this unholy racket, you have to face several things. One of these is of course the fact that you went to bed filthy, after having been unable to bathe for several days, and woke up not only filthier than ever but also hungry, thirsty, and with a headache caused by all that mindless uncompromising arboreal dissonance. You want nothing more than to destroy something with your hands, or to shoot it dead, or at least pinch its head off. As soon, that is, as you have breakfast, a bath of some kind, and anything at all with caffeine in it to drink, whether that is tea, or coffee (you wish), or the blood of someone who has even passed within shouting distance of a cup of hot coffee within the last week or two.

Oddly though, after you've eaten something and scraped some of the crud off your body with a damp and frigid rag, you find that you don't feel all that bad, considering, and resume your journey, which takes you into the next part of day, which is that period between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. — the Sunburn Hours. If you are lucky, and the sky is pleasantly overcast, you find that your skin has been spared, but this feeling of relief is brief, because an overcast day is perfect bug weather, and the bugs attack en masse, fully aware, in their tiny brains, of where each of your most sensitive and least protected spots is, confident that no matter how many hundreds of them you kill, or even thousands, that their reserve forces can overwhelm you at any moment, and suck you completely dry, though they always prefer to prolong the agony, and sip lightly, each a little bit.

But at the last moment, when you are nothing more than a wriggling upright pillar of swollen and itching flesh, covered in tiny bites numbering in the millions, and howling in frustration, you are saved. By rain, which falls for the rest of the day, and follows you along the trail, from where you can see clear sky all around except (and it always happens this way on this kind of day) overhead, where the cold, cold rain is, falling directly onto your head.

But this ensures that at least you become, during the last few hours of light, less foul and nasty in the way of dried sweat, hair grease, and eye boogers, but much less pleasant to be around for anyone desiring sparkling afternoon repartee.

At least, at last though, evening does arrive, and signals the last part of the day, when, no matter what, you simply have to cease walking due to imminent darkness, so you find a camp site, stop, eat supper, hang your food, crawl into bed, and fall asleep, only to be wakened somewhere around midnight by a plague of frenzied mice, attracted by the smell of food on your lips, and perhaps the salty residue on your skin, which reminds them of the spilled stash of corn chips left by the last person to use this camp site, but which nevertheless shoves you howling into dementia, caught in an agony of fear and surprise, slapping at your things and hopping around camp with one leg irretrievably tangled in your sleeping bag so you trip over every guy line you have and rip your tent to shreds, but at least, at last, finally they retreat long enough so you can catch your breath.

Which is when you hear that sound overhead. No, not the birds again, not yet. Not this time.

This time it is something large, and furry, of great weight. All that, and slightly visible thanks to the merest dim glow of starlight, you discern the outline of a bear reaching out toward your food, reaching a bit too far, and then you hear the crack of that limb as both the bear and your food come hurtling toward earth, toward you in fact, as you realize that you are far too near what you realize is ground zero. At precisely the last possible instant you fall over backward as the hairy beast and absolutely all the food you have left for the next seven days hit the ground mere inches from your face and the earth shudders.

With what is left of your mind you feel the tiniest flicker of joy as you discover that the bear has survived, to run away, and not even over the top of your supine body, but in the other direction, and a feeling of grateful relief flows through your entire quivering body, which is exactly when the last cog of the last toothy gear in the great clock of the day clicks over, to dawn, and the birds go off again.

(2) Divisions of the week, by day.

(a) Sun Day — Day of the Sun, created in honor of the Lord Ultraviolet.

(b) Moan Day — Moaning Day. For healing and recovery from whatever happened on Saturday and Sunday.

(c) Tubes Day — Tuber Day, to commemorate potatoes, all potato-like things, and whatever it is they have done for civilization.

(d) Woeds Day — Or Woody Day or Woods Day, or maybe Wedding Day. Get one, or go there, or attend one, whatever works for you. It's all to the good, supposedly.

(e) Thrus Day — To memorialize thru-hiker journals and literacy, and those who have not forgotten how to read and write and stuff. Also fast food, for some reason, maybe because it just goes through you on its way to a more permanent home.

(f) Fry Day — Fried Fast Food Day, when all AYCE buffets are half-off, or should be. This day is frequently brought to a close with a quart or two of ice cream, sometimes deep fried.

(g) Sat Day — The day when you commemorate the last time you sat down for a real bath by doing it again if you can, so you can say you do it at least once a week. Especially for the young, this is the time to get clean and squeaky, become drunken, and commit unspeakable personal acts with others, better looking than you if possible.


Have anything worth adding? Then try
Me? Trying to find my way home by smell. Have met several interesting people along the way, a few in uniform. At least that's what they feel like.



so says eff: sporadic spurts of grade eff distraction
definitions: outdoor terms
fiyh: dave's little guide to ultralight backpacking stoves
boyb: dave's little guide to backpacks
snorpy bits: nibbling away at your sanity
last seen receding: missives from a certain mobile homer
noseyjoe: purposefully poking my proboscis into technicals