UFO-Duction: Fear of being abducted by aliens while hiking. This is also called xenophobia, astrophobia, or the Supreme Suction of Zeta Reticuli Abduction Attraction.
Here are some signs that you may be about to be an abductee (or already are one and were dropped back into your cage as a reject).
- You can't account for lost time. Face it, you're a thru-hiker. How many thru-hikers carry a watch? Think about it.
- Odd marks on your body. Scars, bug bites, singe spots. Any scabs you are unable to explain. Probably you can't even remember where you got them.
- Hearing spooky noises in the dark. Little scratching sounds. Sniffing noises. Sure, it could be woodrats, but... Indeed.
- A feeling of being watched. Reported most often during deer hunting season. Is this you? Even when you're inside your tent?
- Disorientation. You get up in the middle of the night to take a whiz and fall over some damn branch or other on the ground. How did that get there? Was it there when you went to bed?
Really? Don't remember that! Not even a little.
OK then, so now it's morning, the sun is coming up, and you roll out of bed. Do you recognize the place? Do you get the feeling that you're always moving, never spending two nights in the same spot?
Does every place look indistinct because you're never really sure where you are?
- You saw something moving in the bushes and it either had tentacles, or legs, or claws, and it was gray or brown or some other color, and then it was gone. You went over there and couldn't find any tracks, but there was a strangely shaped turd on the ground. Sound familiar?
- You have a compulsion to walk to another location, possibly one that is several hundred or even a thousand miles away, or more, and you can't explain this in a way that everyday people understand. And when you get to your "destination", although you think you're finished, you begin daydreaming about doing it again. It proves impossible to scrub all the dirt out of your skin.
- You have inexplicable medical issues. Bloating. Constant farting. Rampant nose hairs. Blisters on all toes. Your feet hurt. Your knees hurt. You stink. You are always hungry. You attract flies.
- You have trouble sleeping. Either you have leg cramps, or nightmares about UFOs or about being devoured by animals with large black eyes who cannot speak your language.
Or you have to get up six times to bleed your lizard and suspect that it was that quart of water you had just before bedtime, but you honestly can't remember if that was bedtime today or bedtime yesterday, or ever, and anyway you have to stop lying there thinking about it and get up and pee again. And then you hear those scratching sounds out in the darkness.
Or are they sniffing sounds? You reach for your teddy bear and it's not there. You begin to fear that you are surrounded by ravenous mice. Then one runs across your foot. You go back to bed where you can't sleep because you are thinking about this.
Something with bad breath licks your face.
From a new project. Should be online before too long.
Until then: Fire In Your Hand About ultralight backpacking stoves and crazy stuff. (print)
PDF: Fire In Your Hand (The same, but now paper-free, in case you always remember to bring your own.)