Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Definition: Alpine

Hey. Works for me.

Alpine: Region where people eat Alpo or other food from cans. Many of these, as you might guess, are backpackers, or are in training to become backpackers.

Alpine: Colloquialism for "alpen line", a kind of traditional, all-natural, hypo-allergenic climbing and utility rope made from the twisted stems of mountain flowers braided together with strands of flaxen hair removed from high-altitude meadow wenches (the Heidi is preferred).

For a 20 foot rope: Take one bushel each of American Bistort, Bracted Lousewort, Fendlers Waterleaf, Sickletop Lousewort, Tall Mountain Shooting Star, Western Hedysarum, Cusicks Speedwell, and Scarlet Gilia. Showy Locoweed, Mountain Oxytropis, Sulpher Cinquefoil, or Rosy Pussytoes can stand in as alternate selections. Pull off all blossoms and leaves and feed them to your goat.

Lay the stems out to begin drying in the sun, turning frequently.

Meanwhile shear three Heidis, but only their heads. Save the hair and then gently release the girls back into the wild.

Exercise care in choosing only from the longhaired variety as the shorthaired breeds, though they may be comely, will not suffice for this purpose. Locks of less than 20 inches make inferior alpen lines. Longer is always better, so keep that in mind.

When the flower stems are nearly dry but still supple and flexible, begin weaving them together, taking care to alternate stalks from different flowers, and mixing in a generous number of golden hairs. Experience with macrame will help you here, but if you are new to this you can get a feel for it by first experimenting with goat hair and grass stalks.

When you are done weaving your line stretch and pull it gently to tighten the braiding, store in a cool and dry place for several days to set, then whip-finish the ends.

Give your rope an occasional gentle brushing to keep it glossy. Remove soil with a quality shampoo (anti-dandruff is best, unscented). If treated with care your rope should last you many years.

Alpine: A sort of mountain geography above timberline, of varying elevation depending on the exact location, but reminiscent of Europe's Alps.

In the United States "alpine" refers to areas high in the Rocky Mountains, the Cascades, or the Sierra Nevada. The Appalachians also have alpine areas, (regionally known as "homers") but these occur only in small, isolated pockets.

Remember, every alpine zone is fragile. A simple stroll that wanders off an established trail combined with an unsupervised elbow inadvertently colliding with the environment in one of these areas can knock the whole delicate ecology off its pedestal and send it crashing to the floor, so always walk with care.