Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Clothing For Hiking Fung

Look good out there. Avoid evil spirits, etc.

According to the founding precepts of Fung Shway, there are five elements — wood, fire, earth, metal and water. To create and maintain harmony according to the Ruling Fung Principles, these various elements must be properly employed.

But Backpacking Shway is a little different. Wood and fire you can understand — carefully place the wood into position, apply the fire element, and stand back. If the wood and the fire are comfortable with one another, and decide that you're OK too, you get to cook supper.

Likewise with water. Perform the proper ritual dance and you can cross just about any stream you find, without losing it. Earth — OK, but metal? Kinda off to the edge, don't you think, for backpacking?

You got to realize that those traditional Five Elements are mostly a city tradition. Backpackers require a different focus because of their specific needs. Especially when it comes to clothing. So therefore we have our own subset of Fung — the Five Clothings. These embody the principles that enable us backpackers to survive out there.

They deal with dirt, bugs, wind, rain, cold, and stink.

  • Dirt: Black, next to food, may make it look less appealing, but it'll do the opposite for you, especially if you're sloppy and attract dirt. And after a few days on the trail we all need help. Wear black. Black may dampen your inner chi, but we're talking about your outside here, and anything that hides telltale stains is a good deal.
  • Bugs: It's well-known that bugs can see things we can't, because each of them is born with a tiny evil eye, and that's how they find us. Happy clothing is your pal, especially anything covered in smiley faces. Bugs can't stand all the joy so they go bite the people behind you. (Always walk in front.) Or bring a bug zapper.
  • Wind: Everyone knows about wind chimes. It's how you attract cooling breezes on a hot day and annoy the hell out of your neighbors. But what's the opposite? How to use Essential Fung Principles to make wind go bother someone else? By making anti-wind chimes out of chicken bones, and hanging them from your pack. True, it's not clothing, but when wind hears the telltale sound and comes looking for lunch, and finds only dry, picked-clean bones, it'll go away disappointed, and leave you the hell alone. Cozy.
  • Rain: A tough one. The term fung shway literally means "sloppy wet", which makes you wonder how this stuff got to be so appealing to trendy new-age idiots, but backpackers know about rain. True, several major civilizations were built near water, but you don't want it running down your backside all day, do you? With that in mind, look for striped clothing. Vertical stripes resemble rain gutters and give a subtle hint to the rain that you wish it would go somewhere else. Might work. Who knows?
  • Cold: Easy to deal with. Just wear red clothes, preferably with the color side next to your skin. This always works, but you can think warm thoughts as well. If blisters develop then you overdid it. Peel off a layer or two.
  • Stink: There are very few ailments that can't be alleviated (or completely cured) by using the power of Fung and a bit of color. Hiker stink is one of them. Until you can actually bathe, try carrying a picture of some Uncle Wu's All Organic Shway-Skrub pinned to your shirt and think clean thoughts. If you're past that stage, then wearing bio-hazard orange may at least keep others a safe distance away. As a last resort, blame it on the dog.