Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Hi! My Name Is Glob!

Hi! My Name Is Glob!

Definitions: Glob.

(1) What is a glob? A small drop, a globule, a round, shapeless lump of goo, typically semi-solid, as goo prefers to be. But hey! That could just as well be a description of me! Especially early in the morning. Any morning. Any morning whatsoever.

(2) The kind of thing that comes out of your nose, often hanging onto your finger, in case you somehow found your finger burrowing into a nostril. (Which, however one might feel about this sort of thing, is ever so much better than finding someone else's finger up one of your nostrils. Or inserted into any other accessible orifice you might have. Right? Am I right?)

(3) A droplike thing, semi-solid though moist to some degree, and not a turd, usually. Another thing, usually not identifiable, except that it's not a turd. No turds. Except occasionally, by accident probably. Who can say? Life is complicated.

(4) A thing that could be alive but has no discernible eyes, ears, feelers, or legs, and so is incapable of running you down, though globs can sneak up on you at night. Luckily, most globs these days are too small to eat backpackers but they do enjoy crawling into ears or up noses, where they can be found and removed betimes by proper application of appropriate finger technique. Close relatives of eye boogers. Near but lower-class relatives of eye boogers, we could say, and messier besides.

(5) Hiker food. (Been there?)


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Me? Trying very hard to get my finger out of my nose. (Don't look just yet, 'K?)

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Oya, Photography These Days

Oya Photography These Days

Fingers. Fingers are all you need. No finicky expensive machinery.

Look. Make those fingers frame what you want, blink once if it makes you feel better, and remember what you see outlined by your fingers.

No shutter to jam, no memory card to overflow, no battery to fade out. No extra weight or bulk. And you're waterproof and dustproof by way of evolution, the real intelligent design.

Want to print a shot? Difficult of course, but that's something done these days only by old guys who drive Buicks. Not backpackers. So let it slide. You'll be fine.

Uploading to Twittle, Facebork, FensterGram? Can be problematic too, but you've got permanent memory right there in your head, and a mouth, and a the ability to use it, so recall what you saw and share your stories. One word is worth a thousand pictures anyway.

As a last resort of course, all your images can be recovered during the autopsy. Don't worry — nothing is ever really lost.


Eric Mencher "Some People I've Seen"
"Eric Mencher: From Photojournalist to Master iPhone Street Photographer"


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Me? Have a set of alpaca bath roses for sale. See me at the Black Anger Bar Steakhouse & Fight Club any night.

Wednesday, July 14, 2021



"'Fastest Known Time', sounds impressive. Didn't know that time could actually go fast", said Eddy Tredsucker, famous trail personality, who has gone ever so far in his day, in practically no time at all. "But I did it," he adds. Check.

In case you care. Some don't. Most don't. And the rest don't know what it is. Usually it's called "FTK", and signifies a speed record.

But as the great Yossarian said, "the idea of pennants as prizes was absurd. No money went with them, no class privileges. Like Olympic medals and tennis trophies, all they signified was that the owner had done something of no benefit to anyone more capably than everyone else." -- Joseph Heller, "Catch-22"

In this case it's faster.

For some, that is important. For others, it's delusion. Especially for backpackers. But then again, a lot of them eat it up because backpacking, the least glamorous sport, is still, when you get right down to it, a bunch of walking. Yesterday. Today again. And then more tomorrow. Often not even a little fun. And after a while the monotony gets to be a whole lot more than just a loud annoying hum. Gigantically more, and if you know about this "FTK" stuff, at least you can pretend that it has some importance, some significance. That you are a part of something, even if it is entirely and completely pointless.

But no one knows what backpacking is, mostly. No, not really. Only backpackers. Some backpackers.

If you start talking about backpacking, then if anything, anyone within earshot who might possibly maybe have heard of "backpacking" once upon a midnight dreary will think that you are a 22-year-old derelict, college student (or both), who is mindlessly traveling the world, sleeping in bug-infested hotels stinking of stale urine, lustily gobbling any and all drugs, collecting infections, covered in scabs, and endlessly scratching. And maybe that is you.

Only backpackers though, only backpackers know that backpacking is really about sleeping in the dirt, trudging mud, shivering though rain and cold, feeding your blood to swarming mosquitoes and flies, eating vile food (if any), stinking, doing more stinking, and endless scratching. See the difference? Maybe.

Some, in addition, knowing full well what backpacking is, having done some, even a lot, and knowing full well what the challenges are even if they themselves have not whacked the wasp's nest that record setting is, think of "FTK" as "Frothy Knackered Twits". And who is to say that they are wrong? Who? Eh?

Take Hester "Anguish" Anderlass, who established an FTK on the Amazing National Scenic Trail (AZT) in 2016. Desert sunshine. Spiders. Some rain. Well-marked trail. Stunning views. Easy walking. Dust. Difficult trail. Ups and downs. Eyes in the grass. Strange noises. Odd encounters. Cow shit water. A Norwegian. Deer, skunks. Grasslands. Cool. Hot. No. Yes. Realizing that one day she would die. Days up to 50 miles long.

Then blinking a few times and wondering what had just happened.

Typical. Pretty typical backpacking, except for the 50-mile-days, and the excessively blurred memories due to the speed effects and all.

Miles — you want to do them, have to do them, can never stop or even slow down, in pursuit of doing nothing at all better than everyone else, except quicker, and you've just about got it.

She also gave a FREDx talk about it. I didn't go. Fred neither. We were thinking about Rees, Howard, and Jim and how they finished the Pacific Crest Trail in 35 years. New record. Try beating that one.

"Breaking the PCT Speed Record", by Rees Hughes
From "The Pacific Crest Trailside Reader"


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Me? Still pointless.

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

There Are No Stupid Questions


Only a lot of inquisitive idiots.

Q: I want to hike the Pacific Crest Trail from Mexico to Canada — can I take a taxi on the days I don't feel like walking?

A: Sure, but backcountry taxis are all coin-operated, so bring lots of quarters — maybe a 15-pound bag to start with. You don't want to be stranded in Las Vegas without a ride, or money to play the slot machines.

Q: Is it safe to run around in the bushes?

A: If you go in a clockwise direction. (This is important.) Unless you are very experienced, then going the other way could make you dizzy, which might attract unwelcome attention from rangers, and you stand a good chance of getting cited for being "under the influence". Also, keep your pants on. Even if you aren't showing any signs of dizziness, but are running around in the bushes without pants, this may trigger a "red flag alert", during which television crews are called in, so make sure your hair is combed.

Q: So it's true what they say about backpackers?

A: Some of it, but it's hard to say which parts those might be.

Q: Are there any ATMs along the trails?

A: The ATM, or "asynchronous terror moment" may occur at any time or location, regardless of what you might be doing, hence the "asynchronous" part. Say, for example, that you are awakened in the middle of the night by a loud snap, followed by a crash, and then a deafening, wordless wail. Immediately you begin thinking that you should have spent a few moments calculating the smallest limb diameter on a douglas fir tree that could support a 350-pound (159 kg) black bear, because obviously one has just climbed up to your food bag and snapped off the limb you hung the bag from, bringing the food, the limb, and the bear back to earth, including enough injuries to instigate a blind fury incident. This is all normal, and you have been through it many times. What you don't expect next is having something heavy crash into your tent, fall on top of you (trapping you inside your mummy-shaped sleeping bag) and hearing it begin to swear with a pronounced Scottish accent, especially since you are backpacking (and camped) alone. As a side note, the ATM is also an international scientific measure of fear equivalent to about 146.959488 pounds per square inch (1,013,249.958604 pascals) of lung pressure produced during the average panicked scream. And, needless to say, when you finally do emerge from your tent to find out just exactly what is going on, everything is normal, and quiet, your food bag is still where you hung it, there is no one else in or near your camp site, but your tent is, of course, trashed.

Q: Which direction is North?

A: Whenever you go hiking or backpacking, there are certain essential things you should always carry. One of these is a map. Maps are handy because they show landmarks, topography, fast-food joints, and car washes. But that isn't all. By convention the top side of a map is defined as north, so, if you are ever confused about the finer points of compass directions, simply turn your map right side up, and peek over its top edge. You will be looking due north, and if you walk in that direction, then after some time you will return to exactly the same point that you started from, so you can't get lost either. These features have been a standard part of all maps since at least the days of ancient Greece, when Homer of Simpson laid down his 17 Cartographic Principles in 384 BCE, following a collision of two ox-drawn vehicles whose drivers became confused over the right-of-way at an intersection of six rural pathways in the southern Peloponnese. If the Greeks could figure it out, then you can too.

Q: Can I bring my monkey? I'm getting a marmoset monkey soon and was wondering if I can bring it backpacking. Any thoughts?

A: Like most things, context is important. If you plan to be hiking the Appalachian Trail, and you have a small pack that the monkey can carry, probably no one will notice. You find all kinds of people on this trail. Typically, men let their hair and beards grow, while women shave their heads. Some even hike naked, so a furry monkey carrying a pack is likely to be mistaken for a family member, possibly your son or father. If, however, your monkey is quick to anger, and delights in flinging feces at strangers during one of its hissy fits, then it may be best to bone up on your mediation skills before hitting the trail for the summer. And don't forget to carry a supply of moist antiseptic wipes — they can be really handy for rapidly defusing cleanup situations. And one more thing..."monkey butt". Monkey butt is a highly contagious disease afflicting, as you might guess, monkeys. And those who love them. If you find yourself troubled by soreness, itching, and redness that occurs "back there", or in some cases "down there" as well (especially if you are really tight with your monkey), and if the discomfort causes you to walk bowlegged like said monkey, then you may indeed have monkey butt. But if you are a backpacker you probably have these symptoms even if you hardly ever get within feces-hurling range of even one monkey. It's par for the course, as they say, along with having your own personal cloud of flies. So you might as well bring that monkey, because it can't really make things much worse.

Q: My mama did not raise her boy to sleep in no damn dirt with bugs and creepies crawling all over him. What's wrong with you people anyway, to want to go and do something like that?

A: Swift as wind. Quiet as the forest. Steady as a mountain. Conquering like fire. Able to inhale banquets. Impervious to bugs. Laughing at monkey butt. We are hikers.

Q: Do you eat stuff?

A: No. The Backpacker Code prevents the ingestion of any food for the duration of a hike. This is why most packs are so big. You might think that backpacker's packs are loaded with food, and that's why they are ginormous, but since backpackers are not allowed to eat (not only by sworn oath, but by law in most places), they need something to do while on the trail, so they bring lots of toys. Toy trucks, life-size dolls, board games, playing cards, musical instruments, firearms, medical implements, textbooks, knitting tools, you name it — anything that might relieve the boredom and take a person's mind off food gets tossed into a pack. Food porn too. Lots of that. If you pay attention at any trailside campground, you'll notice that many backpackers (especially thru-hikers who may be on the trail for months at a time) tend to retire early. You'll see them discreetly slip into their tents one at a time until the place seems deserted, but eventually you may hear the gentle rustling of a food magazine's pages being turned one after another, plus some heavy breathing. No matter how curious you might become about exactly what is going on in there, it is considered extremely rude (and may be dangerous) to disturb one of these people in the midst of their private activities. Best to observe only from a distance, or to go elsewhere and leave well enough alone.

Q: What happens if you see an animal?

A: Like all of nature, animals were placed here for our use and enjoyment. Anyone familiar with backcountry ways is also familiar with animals, and knows how to put them to good use. Take moose, for example. Moose are common everywhere, even in the very centers of cities, though most people are not aware of this. The reason is that, despite what you may have heard about the moose's aggressive nature, the creature is actually extremely secretive and shy, and able to blend into its surroundings by changing the color of its pelt at a moment's notice, and a moose, even a large one, can simply vanish from view without even moving. There is an excellent chance that you have walked right past moose all your life without even noticing them. But if you do notice a moose, be sure not to make any comments about its appearance. They are muscular but sensitive and insecure animals, and their feelings are easily bruised. The most common reaction of a moose teased about the size or shape of its nose or ears, for example, is to charge and gore its tormentor, or trample him to death, only to regret the action after it is too late to do anything about it. This is where all the nonsense about aggressiveness comes from. It's really only self-defense. A much better course of action if you do see a moose is to coo softly and talk about how inspiring it is to finally encounter a real moose and recognize it for what it is — the largest and most magnificent species of deer on earth. This is sure to get you on the moose's Christmas list, or better yet, may get you a ride on its back, as happened to Theodore Roosevelt, a man who was, you may recall, once President. It doesn't get any better than that, except for snake juggling, but you have to join a church to do that.


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Me? Me too.