Friday, September 28, 2012

Wandering Rocks

Like dancing mice, only dumber.

Glacial Erratic: A boulder carried a long distance by glaciers and deposited when the glacier melted. They tend to be smooth and rounded, polished by glacial action.

Glacial Erratic: A boulder or chunk of rock moved from its origin and, then left behind by a receding glacier.

An erratic's makeup may not match the rocks naturally in an area, and they are often large and isolated, sitting on top of the ground.

May be any size, even the size of a house.

Glacial Erratic: A rock or stony fragment transported by a glacier and deposited far from its origin.

Erratics range in size from a gravel to giant boulders.

Glacial Erratic: A rock transported by glacier from a distance to its current location.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Big Trade Show

Gaudy displays. Merch. Pigs.

From: Dave Stone, PorqTent International
Date: Monday 8 Apr 2012 11:04am
To: Melissa Nichals, Events Manager, Outdoors Retailer, Inc.
Subject: R.S.V.P.

Thank you for your kind invitation to the Outdoors Retailer, Inc. Summer Trade Show.

We at PorqTent are quite pleased to accept, especially since we are such a small manufacturer (just me and my Registered Burgundian Swine Jacqueline at the moment).

We hope to spread the news about not only our innovative backpacking shelters but also about the many positive benefits of hiking with pigs (or "PorkPacking" as I like to call it).

Regards, Dave.

From: Melissa Nichals, Events Manager, Outdoors Retailer, Inc.
Date: Tuesday 9 Apr 2012 3:14 pm
To: Dave Stone, PorqTent International
Subject: R.S.V.P.

Dear Mr. Stone: We at Outdoors Retailer, Inc., the world's leading recreational trade show host, serve a wide variety of small, medium, and large manufacturers and suppliers in the Outdoor Recreation Field, with two trade shows per year.

However, a quick look at our records does not indicate that your company will be one of our exhibitors. In fact it appears that "PorqTent International" does not have an account with us.

If this is an error on our part, I apologize, but we are unable to respond to you any further at this time. Please refer to your account number in any subsequent communication.

Very truly yours,
Melissa Nichals

From: Dave Stone, PorqTent International
Date: Wednesday 10 Apr 2012 3:10pm
To: Melissa Nichals, Events Manager, Outdoors Retailer, Inc.
Subject: R.S.V.P.

Dear Melissa,

Thank you for your kind reply. I found out about the trade show while reading a copy of Backpacker magazine at the library. The article said that the Outdoors Retailer, Inc. Summer Trade Show is a big event, with invitations going out to all the top makers of backpacking equipment, so I assumed this meant PorqTent International.

Since I pay taxes to support the library, which has a subscription to Backpacker magazine, which I in turn read faithfully, this should qualify me, as Backpacker magazine obviously supports Outdoors Retailer, Inc. by its coverage.


Please forward details about which hotel you will be putting me up in while in Denver, and the available menu options for Jacqueline (she has a sensitive stomach).

I don't mean to belabor the obvious, but our hotel room must have twin beds. I'm sure you understand that although we are close, our relationship is purely professional.

Regards, Dave.

From: Melissa Nichals, Events Manager, Outdoors Retailer, Inc.
Date: Thursday 11 Apr 2012 9:15 am
To: Dave Stone, PorqTent International
Subject: R.S.V.P.

Dear Mr. Stone:

Excuse me, but I feel I must get this straightened out immediately. Our membership rolls do not have any record of a PorqTent International, or of a Dave Stone.

Outdoors Retailer, Inc. is a private association, and attendance at any and all Outdoors Retailer, Inc. trade shows is contingent upon membership. Space is also limited.

We appreciate your interest, but unless you are a paid member in good standing and registered in advance, you will not be able to even enter the show pavilion. Display space has already been allocated for this year, though you may still apply for membership and consider exhibiting next year.

Outdoors Retailer, Inc. does not provide any meals or lodging, and no animals are allowed on the premises, aside from registered service animals such as guide dogs.

Very truly yours,
Melissa Nichals

From: Dave Stone, PorqTent International
Date: Friday 12 Apr 2012 2:15 pm
To: Melissa Nichals, Events Manager, Outdoors Retailer, Inc.
Subject: R.S.V.P.

Dear Melissa,

Hey, no problem for me.

Jacqueline and I can camp out on the trade show floor in one of my PorqTents. This will be great advertising and she is trained to hide her droppings so there's basically no cleanup issue.

Just by pure chance she gave birth to a litter a few months back, so I can bring them along in exchange for our membership fee.

Jacqueline is also a certified Truffle Hog (sorry to sound crude, but that's the technical term). This should more than qualify her as a service animal.

During lulls in the action we can demonstrate how she works. We don't actually need truffles - a few dirty socks scattered around the exhibition hall will work, and if people aren't interested in that, we can set up a petting zoo with her piglets as the star attraction.

Jacqueline is still a bit protective of the little ones but hardly ever charges anymore. I've only been severely bitten twice in the last month so it should be OK. Anyway, outdoors people know how to handle emergencies.

She's also attracted to women's crotches for some reason - probably some good photo ops there, don't you think?

Regards, Dave.

From: Melissa Nichals, Events Manager, Outdoors Retailer, Inc.
Date: Monday 15 Apr 2012 10:11 am
To: Dave Stone, PorqTent International
Subject: R.S.V.P.

Dear Mr. Stone: I'm sorry, but I have to be blunt. An internet search has revealed several disturbing news items related to a man with your name, and his pig. We were especially distressed to learn about the incident at the elementary school and the resulting prison sentence.

I regret to inform you that we have alerted the local authorities, who have your description and photographs of you, and who are prepared to intercept and arrest you should you attempt to attend any events sponsored by Outdoors Retailer, Inc.

Please heed this warning and do not contact us again.

Melissa Nichals.

From: D. Stein, FBI, PorqTent Division
Date: Tuesday 16 Apr 2012 2:15 pm
To: Melissa Nichals, Events Manager, Outdoors Retailer, Inc.
Subject: Dave Stone, PorqTent International, and Jacqueline the Pig

Dear Ms. Nichals:

We have recently been made aware of email communications between you and a certain Dave Stone of PorqTent International.

Please be advised that Mr. Stone and his pig Jacqueline are special agents and are working with the FBI on a very important investigation involving apple thieves. We believe that these thieves may try to infiltrate the Outdoors Retailer, Inc. Summer Trade Show in a few weeks, with the intent of making off with any untended apples (or truffles) that happen to be lying around.

Needless to say, this is serious business.

Therefore we recommend that you set aside adequate display space for Mr. Stone and his pig and a few of his distinctive and brightly colored yet affordable PorqTents as a decoy for the thieves. When they see a lovely pig like Jacqueline they may be tempted to make off with her too, to go with the apples they steal.

At this point Jacqueline will spring into action, trained as she is at sniffing out rats (in addition to truffles, dirty socks, and female crotches), and we will be able to nab the culprits with very little if any gunfire.

A critical point in our strategy is, of course, getting Mr. Stone and his pig Jacqueline in place along with a representative and tasteful display of PorqTents.

We also recommend putting up Mr. Stone and Jacqueline in one of the better hotels in the area (separate beds, of course, with special attention to the menu, since Jacqueline is known to have a sensitive stomach).

We regard this as a small price to pay in the never-ending story of fighting crime.

Yours Very Truly,
D. Stein, Federal Bureau of Investigation, PorqTent Division

From: Melissa Nichals, Events Manager, Outdoors Retailer, Inc.
Date: Wednesday 17 Apr 2012 8:01 am
To: D. Stein, FBI, PorqTent Division
Subject: Dave Stone, PorqTent International, and Jacqueline the Pig

Mr. Stein:

Thank you very much for alerting us to this situation. We at Outdoors Retailer, Inc. are very concerned and will do everything we can to assist you.

First off, I think we should keep this as quiet as possible.

Please have Mr. Stone and Jacqueline the Pig stop by my office early tomorrow morning, before sunrise, while the sky is still dark and the streets are free of busybodies.

Have them come in through the back entrance, which leads directly to the parking garage. They will be out of sight that way.

Staff will be there to meet them to assure that they are treated appropriately.

Once again, thank you very much for alerting us.

Melissa Nichals

From: Dave Stone, PorqTent International
Date: Wednesday 17 Apr 2012 8:03 am
To: Melissa Nichals, Events Manager, Outdoors Retailer, Inc.
Subject: Dave Stone, PorqTent International, and Jacqueline the Pig

See you soon! (And don't worry about your crotch. For the most part Jacqueline has been pretty mellow lately.)


Friday, September 21, 2012

Pack Flaps

Give me one with a nice grain pattern, please.

Panel-Loading Backpack (Panel-Loader): Mostly on external frame packs. There is an opening at the top of the front and another (often U-shaped, zippered opening) under it, sometimes with a panel inside separating the sleeping bag compartment from the rest of the pack.

Panel-Loading Backpack (Panel-Loader): A pack that features a horseshoe-shaped zipper allowing you to peel back the front of the pack for access to the whole main compartment.

Somewhat harder to load and more delicate than a top loader, due to the zipper.

Compression straps over the zippers can let you reduce some of the pressure on the zippers though.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Historic Handrails

Walk the dome.

Blather White of Keep Yosemite Historic, a non-profit organization created by lovers of Yosemite National Park in California, is close to being ecstatic.


Because hundreds of feet of twisted metal cables going up Half Dome's backside are now on the National Register of Historic Places. "These cables are part of our heritage," she said, noting that in 1919, the Sierra Club itself installed the original set.

"In those days they were all organic. The cables were knit by Club members out of goat hair carefully brushed from local animals. No one expected them to become a tradition."

Later on, the cables were replaced by the National Park Service which first used hemp ropes. But these were all cut to pieces and smoked during the 1960s, and that's when the switch to braided steel cables happened. So far no one has tried to smoke those.

For almost a century then, the Half Dome Cables and Trail have allowed random hikers in Bermuda shorts and flipflops with no rock climbing experience to pull themselves to the top of Half Dome and peer over the edge at Little Yosemite Valley, El Capitan, the valley floor, and mountains and stuff.

And a lot of people agree about that being a pretty good reason for the historic designation.

Other recent additions to the National Register of Historic Places include a set of doorknobs from Gates of the Arctic National Park, the original steam-powered haze generator from Great Smoky Mountains National Park, a bunch of discarded flashlight batteries and candy wrappers found behind a stalagmite in Mammoth Cave, and Ohio's Cuyahoga River, which caught fire in 1952 and again in 1969.

Maintenance and signage for the Yosemite cable route will be provided by Handrails-R-Us of Merced, California, owned by Wilbur and Blather White, who are also the founders and board of directors of Keep Yosemite Historic.

Full story.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Where The Bugs Are

Unlike some other matter, this is dry and crunchy.

Duff: A general term for vegetal matter including fresh and well decomposed organic material and humus lying on mineral soil in a forest.

Duff: A general term referring to the organic layer on top of mineral soil. This consists of fallen vegetative matter in the process of decomposition. It includes everything from litter on the surface to pure humus.

Duff: A layer of decaying organic plant matter (leaves, needles, and humus) on the ground that is highly absorbent, but quickly erodes under foot traffic.

Duff: A matted layer of decaying organic plant matter (leaves, needles, and so on) of forested soils. It is highly absorbent and quickly erodes under traffic.

Duff: Any combination of loose vegetation, vegetable matter, roots, and organic-laden soil. Duff retains moisture and rots quickly if not removed from trails, resulting in the formation of depressions and pockets that retain water and erode.

Duff: Forest litter and other organic debris in various stages of decomposition on top of mineral soil. Duff is typical of coniferous forests in cool climates where the decomposition is slow and litter accumulates.

Duff: Product of litter lying on mineral soil, in which the identity of the original tissue can no longer be discerned due to decomposition. A product of litter decay.

Duff: The accumulation of needles, leaves, and decaying matter on the forest floor.

Duff: The first three to four inches of ground material.

Duff: The layer of decomposing organic materials lying below the top layer of litter (freshly fallen twigs, needles, and leaves) and immediately above the mineral soil.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Up With Yours

Communications from our readers.

From: Bethany-Anne Pawlicker <>

Date: Tue, Aug 21, 2012 at 6:41 AM

Subject: Dave, thanks for helping my youth group with your backpacking and hiking webpage

I just wanted to send you a quick e-mail to say thank you.

My name is Bethany-Anne, and I am a student teacher working with a group of disadvantaged middle school kids. We wanted to come up with some ideas for things to do outdoors. You know, ways to enjoy these last few weeks of summer.

All the kids thought hiking was a great idea, so that's how we found your page. It has some great info that we will be able to share. Thanks for all the help! :)

Oh, and one of the girls in my group, little Katie, found a great resource on hiking safety during computer time that I thought I'd share with you. It's Could you add this to your page?

Little Katie is a bit shy around the others, so I thought showing them all your page with her link on it would help her stand out a little more. And that way I can award her a gold star for initiative too! It would do wonders for her self-esteem, coming from a troubled home and all.

Plus, I thought other hikers looking for safety information would appreciate your thoughtfulness, especially since as you might guess, has the lowest prices on the whole internet! Check out their walkers, wheelchairs, and incontinence supplies as well -- no one undersells!

So thanks again, and I hope you have a great rest of the summer! Katie and I can hardly wait!

Ms Bethany-Anne Pawlicker

P.S. It just occurred to me that you might like more information on our organization, Pathway of, so here goes.

Well, as you can see at our web site, there is no "About Us" page, and no "Contact Us" page, which just take up unnecessary space. Since we're on a tight budget we decided to leave these out.

Also, we don't list any staff, or mention a location, mostly because it's a kind of small operation. I'm sure you've heard about nonprofits!

If you do a web search on our URL thing, it will just bring you back to our web site -- no wasteful mentions by other charitable groups, testimonials by parents, sponsors, or any of that.

Partly this is due to us keeping a low profile, as you can tell from the "whois" information listing our address as a "PMB" (private mail box) in Belize, with computer servers in Vietnam and Botswana.

So I guess that's about it, unless you'd like to help us cash some checks.

We don't have a bank account, instead relying on the kindness of others, and really, are there better people than hikers? We can send you some checks which you deposit, and after keeping 15%, just wire the money back to us. Simple, yet effective!

And if that isn't right for you (I surely understand) we do have a contact in Nigeria, a prince no less, who is trying to get a large sum of money out of that troubled country. He certainly could use help from someone like you, so don't be shy about getting back to me.

Sincerely, (My real job! ;)

Friday, September 7, 2012

Definitions: Abutment

Where touch happens and stress is passed onward.

(1) It's like a meeting-place for stresses.

Usually this means a structure at either end of a bridge that supports the superstructure. It is often composed of stone, concrete, brick, or timber.

(2) An abrupt interruption to a short trail such as the superstructure-supporting contrivance at either end of a bridge.

(3) The part of a structure supporting the end of a span or accepting force transferred through an arch. Hey.

(4) The end of, and the load-carrying supports on a bridge.

(5) A short rest which uses the butt cheeks for support, i.e., a "butt moment", also known as a "butt minute".

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Babes In The Bushes

Former governor still humping it down the trail.

"Yes, it's true. Hiking changed my life, and now I want to help others." That was the statement issued recently by former South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford, the man who disappeared one day "to go for a hike", and ended up with an Argentinian mistress named Maria Belén Chapur.

Just how that could have happened seems mysterious to outsiders, but among Appalachian Trail thru-hikers, section hikers, trail crews, and others familiar with the 2184-mile (3515 km) route, it's simply another case of "trail magic".

Most instances of this phenomenon are limited to unexpected gifts of food, cold drinks, or sometimes a shower and a place to hole up and remove ticks, but in Sanford's case, he hit the jackpot.

"We get very, very few cases anything like this," said Benton K. Shaffer, Director of the The Appalachian Trail Conservancy. "Although it's not unknown for romances to develop while hiking the trail, in many ways it's like being struck by lightning - you can't count on it."

"And," he continued, "this is the first recorded case of two people from separate continents, people who never actually met in person, getting this kind of action."

Governor Sanford was, at the time, simply out to relax on a day hike. Ms Chapur, a resident of Buenos Aires, was walking her dog down a path near the Rio de la Plata, taking the air and admiring the sunset.

Suddenly, each was intimately aware of the other, though they had never met, or even heard of each other before.

"It was a kind of telepathic spooky action at a distance," said Sanford, "I knew I had to go and find this woman, my true soulmate, so I immediately left my wife and family. Hey, wouldn't you? How often do you find a hiking buddy you know is right for you?"

Governor Sanford's wife Jenny divorced him in 2010, though he remained in office until his term died a natural death in January 2011.

Non-hikers being non-believers, his political career also died, but that hasn't stopped Sanford. He is now promoting an extension to the Appalachian Trail which would take it south through Central America and along the east coast of South America, all the way to Tierra del Fuego, the "land of fire", and possibly of romance.

As well, he has started an online hiker dating service called "Plenty of Trips", where other bad boys with tomcat tendencies can search the world for their "true lugmates". "What does the word 'vibram' make you think of?" he asks with a wink. I know what it does for me."

Sanford and Chapur are now engaged to be married, although each maintains an active account at "Just in case lightning wants to strike twice."


Ex-South Carolina governor to marry former mistress

El gobernador infiel de Carolina del Sur se casa con su amante argentina

Exclusive CNN Photos: Sanford engaged to Argentinean girlfriend