Friday, October 26, 2012


Folded! Crinkly! Not comfy!

Aa is a type of basaltic lava characterized by high viscosity.

This results in a rough, broken, rubbly appearance in the cooled lava flow.

Tough for hiking on, even after it has cooled.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Virtually Hiking

Make mine to go.

Time to bring backpacking into the digital era.

Sure, once upon a time there was Pocketmail. Nice enough for its day, but a lot like sending a postcard to Aunt Millie. If the batteries hadn't died. And you could find a phone booth.

Fussy. Technically Limited. Uncertain results.

Well, we're beyond that now.

We've had cell phones for a good while, and there's no surprise anymore about all phones having cameras. Even art school grads from Texas can hit the PCT, leave one pocket free for an iProduct, and carry along the equivalent of a film studio in less than 120 grams.

A wedding photographer took his phone to Italy, along with a $1.99 app. With only that he published a travel book.

OK, that's where we are. Where do we go?

Good you asked.

You've heard of, the world's biggest online seller of everything hiker-related? Sure you have.

Everyone has by now.

Well, they've shipped you replacement sole lugs and bags of trail nibbles for quite a while, undercutting just about everyone and revolutionizing the business via easy clicks and free shipping. We've all got rooms full of their stuff and can't imagine how life on the trail could be better.

Well, once again they're way ahead of us. has just introduced the Treadle. It's a sort of tablet computer, but way beyond the iPhone or iPad, let alone the long-defunct Pocketmail. And at $199.99, it's pretty cheap.

Amazing, really. It's like Star-Trek's holodeck with a replicator attachment built in.

Here's how it goes.

After buying a Treadle device from, just use your credit or debit card to pay for any section of any hiking trail you fancy. This is automagically downloaded to your device, and after that you can use it anywhere, anytime it's convenient for you.

While waiting for a bus. During your lunch break. Mowing the lawn. Walking down a long corridor to another stupid meeting. In that garbage-strewn park next to the tracks, the only place you had available for walking. Until now.

It's your call, and it's cheap.

Pull down the goggles, punch "play", and in an instant you're stomping through the La Garita Wilderness between Lake City and Salida, with or without the commentary on landmarks and history. You get a full-color 3-D experience and even hear the crunch of your boots as you pass through fragrant forests.

Time to stop for the night? Easy.

Just sit down and enjoy one of's tasty full Sens-O-Ramen freeze-dried meals ($1.99 each, 12-second download), then pop into your choice of shelters for a good night's sleep.

Myself, I prefer the ultralight single-wall Shires model from TorporTent. You know - the one with the round Hobbit-windows. (Also $1.99) But you can get just about anything from's vast catalog. And with any decent signal at all, the download is almost instantaneous.

Be up with the sun the next morning, have a hot shower, and hop instantly from the Continental Divide Trail to your favorite section of the Appalachian Trail, then somewhere else again. Like over to Maggie's Riffle. (One of my favorite places.)

It's easy, quick, and way cheaper than buying real equipment you have to store and maintain. No rude and tedious airline travel. No actual bugs unless you add the Li'l Nippers Pak. (True, only $0.99, but most of us pass on that one.)

Keep your credit card up to date, stay within the Terms of Service, and you should be OK. Though a few customers have reported seeing their Treadles wiped and their accounts closed without warning.

If you're lucky, and this does happen to you (probably not, but just sayin'), you're home in your living room, and fully dressed at the time.

Unlike Aksel Bjorklund, who found himself no longer in the woods but suddenly surrounded by traffic, in his underwear, vacantly gazing at the sky and making chewing motions with his (now empty) mouth.

Mr Bjorklund, who insists he did nothing other than to stop for lunch at a particularly fetching overlook along the Te Araroa Trail, suddenly had his account yanked by, which replied to his query only with:

...We have found your account is directly related to another which has been previously closed for abuse of our policies.

Please know that any attempt to open a new account will meet with the same action...

Mr Bjorklund did know a famous blogger who publicized the incident, and shortly thereafter, due to a high level of viral negativity, the account was suddenly re-established, again without explanation or notice.

But a bit later neighbors saw Mr Bjorklund removed from his home by what appeared to be police, and he hasn't been seen since.

On the other hand, most of us will never have any problem at all with one of's Treadles, our downloaded apps, or SWAT teams.

Accidentally get a bowl of rabid mice instead of beef stew? Just delete them. What could be more convenient?

That's what we really like. Convenience.

For $199.99, it's a deal.


Vern takes a hike


The coolest thing anyone's done with Camera+

Outlawed by Amazon DRM

Amazon quietly un-wipes remotely wiped Kindle

Friday, October 19, 2012

Shiver Me Sphagnum

Does anyone care about this?

Quaking Bog: A bog that has developed on a mat of carex or sphagnum growing over the water's surface.

Or, a carpet of bog vegetation that is floating but sinks and quivers when walked on.

A floating bog.

Related to: Fen, Mire. (As if you cared.)

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Anger At Altitude

Rumbles on the Switchback Trail.

Ladies an Gentlegoats, lemme call dis here meetin ta order once. We gotta problem, see?

Us goats of da Olympic Mountains is gettin a bum deal here.

Ya all know we needs salt, right? Salt. Dat's what we need. So who cares if we goes out an licks a little pee off a rock? Hey. Nobody. Nobody should care.

But now dey do. It's a problem.

See, we got dese here fancypants rangers an biologists an such comin around now an gettin all high an mighty on us, tellin us our business an such an causin problems.

Disruptin things all over, ya know what I mean. Bustin our chops. Dat aint no good for business, now is it?


Now Ernie, he done a dumb thing, Ernie did. Ya know how Ernie was. He dint pay attention too much. Ernie got carried away, went nuts over salt, an poked a guy. Ernie was like dat. Ya know how Ernie was. He got a bad name.

Dey called him "Klahhane Billy", dey called him a "Monstrous Goat". Dis was our own Fat Ernie, 370 pounds a love an muscle, an he goes an pokes a guy an kills him. An now what? It's on our heads. Da heads a all a us.

Ladies an Gentlegoats, dis aint good for none a us. We got a problem here.

Now lately we got dese guys comin on our turf wit slingshots an paintball guns an disruptin things. That aint so good. We got business to tend to an here is dese guys blastin away cuz we just want to drink a little pee in peace. Or lick it or whatever.

Hey. It's what we do.

But we gotta fight back. It's da only way.

So here's da deal.

See, each a youse is gettin a paintball gun, dis here very afternoon. Ya take a look at it. Get familiar. Ammo comes tomorrow when we start da trainin. Not before. We dont want no one endin up like Fat Ernie wit a bullet messin up his haircut.

So in a coupla days when we got da trainin over we moves in on da campground, see? We goes in an takes over. All da salt dere is, we takes it, an anyone gets in our way, we blasts em. Wit paint.

Speshly dat guy Kurt Aluzas wit his slingshot an his "aversive conditioning" crap. He goes down first. Gently. Wit love and paint. No pokin nowhere.

Den when it gets all quiet again, we does some grazin an gambolin in da meadow an lickin salty rocks when da hikers come back.

But no pokin nobody no more. Got dat? Nobody gets poked no more unless I says so. Bad for business.

OK. Meetin adjourned. Scram.


Bush Menace Keep one eye on your nuts.

Paintballing with Hezbollah

Rangers say hazing of aggressive mountain goats is working

Hiker killed by mountain goat in Olympic Nat'l. Park

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Gear Bylls Finishing School

Look tough. Wear man pants.

CrapChoppers Ltd., a British outdoor clothing company, wants you to look like a man.

A man who can do stuff. Like eat bugs. And drink his own urine. For fun.

A man who can have his own TV show, wallow in the mud, sleep in the occasional hotel. And still look bitchen.

Because chicks dig it.

But even more important, guys do.

Especially guys.

Macho parking lot cruisers, guys with apartments full of guns, lifetime gym memberships, and TV remotes stuck to the Idiot Channel.

And who's going to lead the way? Who's going to show you how?

Well, the leader of the pack, dude.

The guy with the Frequent Sleeper Discount at the Pines Resort Hotel in California, the guy who can assemble a bamboo raft kit in front of an entire video production company magically filming him all alone in the world's worst hellholes.

Like Hawaii.

Are you up to it? Can you handle a room with internet access and blueberry pancakes for breakfast, advertised as "a cozy getaway for families"?



Tell you a secret here. It's lots easier when you got your own Gear Bylls Adventure Suit ® from CrapChoppers Ltd.

Chicks dig craggy guys wearing stuff from CrapChoppers. A mouth full of grubs won't do it. Not even biting the head off a snake.

You need some Bylls AdventurePants. ® (Like the Bylls Survivor Full Stretch Trousers ®, with enhanced elastic gut control for the mature macho guy.)

We got fit. We got size. We got colors.

Try some on and prepare to go missing in action.

And you get the Gear Bylls ® imprint on everything. Even the underpants, now with Teflon.

Gear Bylls Teflon Undos. ® EZ-off/EZ-on. Stains rinse right out, in any creek.

And the special super slippery Qwik-On UndoGear ® fabric helps you cut a quick escape when a marauding husband comes home early.


Never been outside before?

Is OK. CrapChoppers has your back covered as well as your butt.

Just buy a Gear Bylls Freedom Jacket ® in your choice of camo, super-camo, ultra-camo, or camo with realistic blood stains printed right on. No need to bleed, indeed. If you got the cash, we provide the flash.

Be the macho man's macho man. Be smothered in babes. Get free drinks. Wear underpants.

Just like Gear Bylls. (Coming soon to a Wal-Mart near you.)


Bear Grylls Survival Academy

How Bear Grylls the Born Survivor roughed it - in hotels

Interview With a Bear: Grylls Talks to GearJunkie on New Clothing Line

Bear Grylls Survival School to launch in Scotland

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Preparation, preparation, preparation

Bite or be bitten.

Following several unfortunate incidents involving unwary tourists, Scotland's National Outdoor Edible Menace Training Centre, run by HaggSpotters UK (HUK), has beefed up its survival and culinary training program for hikers in danger of encountering the wild haggis.

The HUK facility provides a realistic but safe training venue where hikers and backpackers can hone their skills in a controlled environment.

Due to the common belief that the wild haggis is "only a myth", you might assume that this creature is no hazard, but you would be wrong. So very wrong.

While actual wild haggis encounters are both rare and random, they are all too real. This only increases the danger to an unprepared hiker suddenly facing the Legend of the Highlands.

"I was just out for a pleasant walk," says Alasdair Mangus of Giffnock in East Renfrewshire. "A wee stroll I was on and then there it was, clawing at the throat of me before I even knew a thing, is what happened." While Mr Mangus escaped with only minor scratches and a slight bitter aftertaste, it isn't always so.

Exact sighting statistics (let alone those on actual encounters) are unreliable at best, but HUK last year tallied over 7900 reports covering all known haggis habitat areas.

And the trend to extreme sports plus advances in outdoor gear bring out ever-growing numbers of outdoor enthusiasts in all seasons. Most, believing haggis to be nonexistent, a joke, or at worst a harmless rodent that goes dormant in winter months, are stupefied at the sight of a stumpy but muscular furry sausage leaping at them from behind a rock or across a snow drift.

Though haggis range in weight from two to only four kg., and have small blunt jaws set with short teeth, those teeth are quite sharp and the jaws are powerful. Bites become infected almost immediately, inducing hallucinations and causing victims to wander in ever smaller circles until they collide with themselves and self-annihilate.

Chances of survival diminish rapidly with time, so quick intervention is essential.

The technique taught at HUK is "companion cookery", in which unaffected members of a party quickly build a fire, capture the offending haggis, and drop it into a pot of boiling water. After about three hours of simmering the furry skin is peeled off, the haggis is carved into bite-sized bits, and served in its own broth.

Eating haggis follows the Theory of Affinity Medicine, or the "Hair of the Haggis" principle, in which the disease is its own cure. Conversely, the cure for consuming haggis is to let a live specimen bite out your throat.

Some survivors have described the dish as having "an excellent nutty texture and delicious savoury flavour", others vomit uncontrollably, and yet others refuse to let it pass their lips, preferring to die in peace.

Veteran hill walkers in haggis country now routinely carry transceivers tuned to a standard frequency they call "Neeps and Tatties" (for "nips and tatters", because of the typical carnage a haggis bite inflicts), or about 1270 kilo-whatis for you propellorheads. They recommend that every hiker carry a similar beacon to ensure the quickest possible rescue and treatment, or proper recovery of remains, whichever comes first.

"We can't forget that lives are lost on Scotland's mountains each year. The opening of the HaggSpotters UK training facility is a great resource for those heading into the great unknown. We teach people to plan ahead, check the weather, and bring proper cooking equipment," said Tilda Twaddle, HUK's culinary biologist. "Haggis tend to leap for the throat, which gives the perfect opportunity for a defensive swing with a cast iron frying pan, but this becomes second nature only with proper training, and with practice, both of which we provide."


Majestic haggis of the glens proves elusive for US tourists.

What Now? Meat training for winter strength.