Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Recipe For Disaster

Just add birds.

Sunday, 6:45 p.m.: Bob, Elli, and the kids fold up their tent and pack their camping gear back into the car for the trip home. A small bag of biscuit mix goes missing, but it's overlooked and the family leaves without it.

Monday, 5:37 a.m.: Daylight begins to break. The sound of snoring resounds from most tents. Meanwhile, the formerly missing bag of biscuit mix has been found by two magpies who are dragging it around, creating complex, almost geometric patterns as they tussle with the leaking package.

Monday, 6:27 a.m.: A woman named Christina, visiting the campground for her morning jog, sees two magpies making a mess. They seem to be scattering biscuit mix from a bag all over the parking area. She chases the birds off, deposits the nearly-empty bag into a trash can, and heads out on her run.

Monday, 8:42 a.m.: Josh Finkle, a local policeman on vacation with his family, sleepily emerges from his tent and begins crossing the parking area, headed for the toilet, then freezes. Something is wrong. Very wrong. There is a suspicious white powder scattered widely, in an odd pattern resembling a giant, warped pentagram. The hair on his neck bristles. He calls his office and reports what he has found.

Monday, 9:17 a.m.: Finished with her relaxing morning run, Christina gets into her car and drives home for breakfast. Shortly after leaving, from across the lake, she sees two fire trucks, three police cars, and several large vans entering the campground, with all lights flashing.

Monday, 9:24 a.m.: Twelve police officers, a SWAT team, 14 firefighters, and a hazmat team lock down the campground. All campers are rousted from their tents, the showers, the toilets, and isolated inside a temporary fence erected in the playground. Armed officers in respirators guard them to make sure that no terrorists escape.

Monday, 8:51 p.m.: Preliminary analysis carried out on-site by the hazmat team indicates that the white powder found at the campground is a complex mixture of biologically-active materials, including complex proteins, starches, sugars, and many other unidentified substances. In addition, a scrap of paper is found. It bears the single word "Snickerdoodle", along with what appears to be a coded set of instructions written in German. The authorities immediately suspect a resurgence of the Baader-Meinhof "Rote Armee Fraktion", thought to have been defunct since 1993.

Tuesday, 2:17 a.m.: Several black helicopters descend from the sky, absorb all campers and staff, including the part-time janitor, Bob, despite his claims that he was only there to clean the toilets, and vanish into the overhead darkness. By the next day everyone is safely in isolation cells inside several undisclosed democracy friendly countries, except for recurring rounds of enhanced interrogation. Surprisingly, none of the terrorists confesses to the plot, or even admits that there is one, which causes the interrogation to escalate to super-double-plus enhancification.

Thursday, 6:02 a.m.: Christina, returning to the campground for another morning jog, discovers that it is no longer there. Not only that, but there is no longer a road leading to the campground. Puzzled, she pulls her car over and looks around. Nothing. Just the forest and a huge pile of brush covering what used to be the turnoff. Above and to her right, high in a tree, she sees two magpies. They almost seem to be laughing about something.

Schneckennudeln (Snickerdoodle) Terrorist Campground Cookies


  • butter: 1 cup
  • sugar: 1.5 cups
  • eggs: 2
  • flour: 2.75 cups
  • cream of tartar: 2 teaspoons
  • baking soda: 1 teaspoon
  • salt: 0.25 teaspoon


  • sugar: 1 cup
  • ground cinnamon: 1 tablespoon


  • Mix wet ingredients.
  • Stir in dry ingredients.
  • Chill, form into balls, then roll in cinnamon and sugar dust.
  • Bake: 8-10 minutes on greased cookie sheet at 400°F.

More: 2 crows plus a bag of flour equals a hazmat scene.


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Me? Headed out for cookies and milk.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

What Now? Meat training for winter strength!


As everyone knows, backpacking season ends all too soon, and so begins another winter, the season of our discontent.

The sky grays, leaves fall, and the cold hand of winter advances toward our throats.

This is the off-season, the doorway to months of inaction. Though some make up for the lack of trail tromping by skiing or snowshoeing, it is not the same as actual, real, true backpacking.

Muscle tone fades, and joints lose their hard-won toughness. Bellies soften and enlarge.

What to do?

Well, how about strength training?

With very simple equipment you can make at home, it's easy to overcome winter's assault on your strength. If this sounds interesting, then here's how:

Prepare your equipment.


  • 1 sheep stomach, liver, heart, and tongue
  • 1/2 pound minced suet (227 g)
  • 3 medium onions, minced
  • 1/2 pound dry oats, toasted (227 g)
  • 1 teaspoon salt (5 ml)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper (2.5 ml)
  • 1 teaspoon dried ground herbs (5 ml)

After soaking the sheep stomach overnight in salted water, boil the other sheep parts and mince them.

In a bowl, mix in the other ingredients, stuff the stomach with the mix, and tie it off.

If you are a cautious sort, puncture the stomach with a fork. This will prevent an explosion during cooking.

Place the stuffed stomach into a pot and boil for three hours, then remove it and allow it to cool and air dry.

Now you have a solid, thoroughly cooked, dry, and pleasantly rubbery Exercise Haggis, or Exer-Haggis as the strength training professionals call it.

Face it, you can walk all year, even if it's not really hiking. Your greatest problem in the off-season is loss of upper-body strength. Exer-Haggis is ideal for combating this.

Upward sausage press.

If you've properly prepared your Exer-Haggis, it should be as long as your arm, which makes it easy to hold.

Lie flat and face-up. Use a bench or the floor. Either works.

Start with your Exer-Haggis resting lightly on your forehead.

At this point some dripping can show up if you chose the puncturing option, but keeping an Exer-Haggis refrigerated a few days before use ought to coagulate it and forestall problems.

Firmly but gently grasping your Exer-Haggis, push it upward until your arms are fully extended.

Then slowly lower the Exer-Haggis until it again rests on your forehead.

Repeat until exhausted. If possible, do not drool. (I know, hard not to!)

Horsie goes a-prancing.

Start on the floor, face-down, with your Exer-Haggis resting in the small of your back, like a small cowboy on a friendly horse. (You.)

Push against floor with the flats of your hands until your body is raised and your arms are extended.

Slowly lower yourself back to the floor without letting your Exer-Haggis buddy fall off. The larger and heavier your Exer-Haggis, the more exercise you get.

Repeat until you can't stand it any more.

Around-town carry.

Put on your coat, and, while carrying your Exer-Haggis comfortably in the crook of your arm, walk around town, frequently shifting it from one arm to the other.

Do your shopping, go out for coffee, or visit friends. It's all good exercise.

This, of course, will tire you, which is fine. That is the point. It means that you needed a workout, and got one.

An especially nice thing about having an Exer-Haggis with you is that it is naturally curved like a meat-filled travel pillow.

If tired, find any convenient chair and recline with the Exer-Haggis behind your neck. After a few minutes of comfy power-napping you will be fully recharged and ready to continue your carry.

What's next?

Sadly, no Exer-Haggis lasts forever. Yours will finally wear out, and begin leaking. If you are lucky, or if you planned ahead, you have a pet, or children, and they aren't fussy about what they eat, especially if you lock them in a room for a day or two.

Just slice up your worn out Exer-Haggis and dish it out. Before very long you'll have space in your fridge for a new one.

And since the Exer-Haggis is made from things other people never eat, it's really cheap to make. Go ahead, make two while you're at it!

No pets? No children? No problem!

Relax. Here's what you do.

Just toss each worn out Exer-Haggis into the freezer. By the the time the freezer is full, backpacking season has almost returned again. And that means it's time for some leg work.

Empty the freezer, and hitch all your used (and still solidly frozen) Exer-Haggis to a line tied around your waist.

Then start walking. All that weight dragging behind you will give your legs a stiff workout. You'll be way ahead of your friends on your first backpacking trip.

When your collection of Exer-Haggis thaws or you become tired of all the dragging, cut them loose and leave them for forest critters. They need to eat too, so it's OK. Bio-degradable and all.

And then?

If you really get into it there is always Haggis hurling. And no, this is not part of the dining experience.

You throw haggis.

Or, if that part is not for you, you can be an official such as a Hagrarian, Clerk of the Heather, Peater, Barrel Master, Haggis Hooter, or Distance Referee.

You might even be so enchanted after a season with your Exer-Haggis that you give up backpacking and begin hurling full time.

It can happen.


Haggis Hurling, The Revival of a Traditional Scottish Sport
Glen Haggis
Lorne is haggis world record-breaker
Haggis gets a bashing from fakes
Address to a Haggis:

But mark the Rustic, haggis-fed,
The trembling earth resounds his tread,
Clap in his sturdy fist a blade,
He'll make it whistle;
And legs and arms, and heads will cut,
Like tops of thistle.
You Pow'rs, that make mankind your care,
And dish them out their bill of fare,
Old Scotland wants no watery ware
That slops in bowls:
But, if You wish her grateful prayer,
Give her a Haggis!



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Me? Wondering. Oh, OK — Haggis. It's what's for dinner.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Definitions: Map Time

A normally wildly inaccurate estimate of the time needed to hike a route, based on the hallucinogenic toxicity of shiny new equipment and fresh, crinkly boots, screaming optimism, inexperience, cabin fever, and absolutely blind, naive faith in the truthfulness of maps.

Also known as "Book Time".


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Me? Trying to find my map with both hands.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Definitions: Established Camp Site

A basic established camp site is obvious because of devegetated ground.

Bonus features of the basic camp: noisy neighbors coming in late, leaving early, or staying up all night. Or all of the above.

Spilled or discarded food, human and pet feces, used toilet paper, crumpled beer cans, shreds of waste paper, lack of privacy, discarded plastic bags, and prowling night vermin are also available at no extra charge.

A deluxe established camp site has: convenience stores, fireplaces or fire pits, garbage cans or dumpsters, road access, marked parking spaces with gravel, asphalt, or concrete paving, picnic tables, piped in and potable water, raised platforms to set up tents on, reservation systems, restrooms with sinks and mirrors, showers (with or without hot water), toilets (pit or flush), utility hookups (gas, propane, water, electricity, sewer), and firewood (either free or for sale).

Extra-super-special bonus features: multi-lane highway noise, flashing headlights, sirens, aircraft racket, passing freight trains, gangs, wandering aggressive pets, random gunfire.

No mint on your pillow.


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Me? Plotting another escape attempt.