Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Definitions: Aspect

(1) One of those little things. You can find them on your glasses or crawling up your nose.

Quite a few of these have teeny-tiny legs, and sometimes they wave at you from your food.

This can relieve the boredom of a long backpacking trip — one of those thousand-mile or two-thousand-mile jobs where you get out there and walk, and then do it again the next day and so on until you pick up a few rocks and carry them along so you have someone to talk to. Or so you can pound yourself in the head for a while to perk yourself up.

And then one day you're sitting down to have lunch, you're ready to eat it down in just about one gulp, and you notice that it's specky and the specky things are moving and you still have to eat it because if you don't you will die. Not just aspect — lots of spects. Lots.

(2) Trail designers and builders have a whole bunch of terms to distinguish themselves from random homeless people digging holes and messing around in the dirt. This is one.

Aspect (get a load of this one) is just the direction that a trail faces. That's it.

So stand on a trail and face the downhill side, and that direction is the aspect. Really.

The main effect this has on hiking is that trails on north-facing slopes are cooler than those facing south, so they stay snowed in longer, but can be more pleasant to hike on a hot summer day.

And the effect extends to trails with a westward aspect too because they catch more sun in the afternoon, getting warmer when things are already warm.

Trails with westward and eastward aspects are in between those with poleward (north) and equatorward (south) aspects. (In the northern hemisphere anyhow, on earth. Who knows what happens in those other places?)

Aspects and warmth, from coldest to hottest are: north, east, west, and south.

But for maximum warmth and comfort, nothing beats snuggling under a cozy quilt in front of a blazing fire with a generous dollop of rum in a fat glass.


Where it is clean and there are no bugs.

Or gearheads, come to think of it.

Source: How to talk in the woods.


  1. I went hiking on a trail yesterday that kept switching aspect. North-facing, slogging through snow, then southfacing, baking in the heat. Back and forth, this and that, hot and cold. Why can't they just decide and stick with it?

  2. Yeah, but you're getting out. I read all your posts. Learn a lot. I'm stuck in one place for the next year, still hoping to find some people who hike. Meanwhile, it's tromping around the city. With all the hazards here, it *is* a lot like hiking, right down to the poop encounters. But it's sunny and not snowing and won't be snowing, ever. (Woot!)

    (Blogger still won't let me reply to comments. Go figgah.)

  3. Hope you find people to hike with out there. Seems like there'd be gorgeous hiking. Urban hiking- yes, been doing more of that myself. There is something to be said for walking out one's door and not driving to a trailhead, just walking from where you are. Though in this small town, 'urban' probably isn't the right word. If I take the long route and go through the park on the way to the library or store, there is even fox poop.

    Jealous of the no snow. It was single digits last night here and the air burns your throat when you try to breathe much outside.

  4. Someone is trying to set up a chapter of the Hash House Harriers here. We'll see. Drinkers with a running problem wouldn't be all that bad.