Springtime

Although this blog isn’t really focused on our daily activities, I thought I’d share a few photos.  We had time for a beautiful day out this weekend in the eastern Ozarks.  Many plants were in bloom, the insects were moving and ticks had their presence as well.

It was also an opportunity to get out the new pack and see how it felt under load.  It was fairly heavy as it contained mostly water and food but was certainly comfortable enough for a day in the woods.

Kyly the wonder dog was back in her element sniffing out creatures and diving into every possible body of water or mud she could find.  Spring was here in full force.

The only minor disappointment was the complete lack of edible mushrooms in the area.  It wasn’t for lack of looking; we just didn’t find any.

We didn’t spot any snakes either but the area is just warming up now.  I suspect they were out but not moving much yet.

A very cold tributary to Pickle Creek provided hours of fun.

A leisurely walk in the woods without any destination is one of the finest things I can think of in life.  I hope you get a chance to get out and have saunter as well.  To get in the spirit, I find it’s good to re-read Henry David Thoreau’s Essay on Walking from time to time.

You can read it HERE:  https://paleotool.com/philosophy/walking-an-essay/

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Scout Staff Hiking Stick

Sometimes I wish carrying a walking stick was more acceptable in daily life. Maybe it’s just my yeoman heritage or my fondness for the old ways…

A review of Scouts, Calgary 1915.

To do so now, you tend to either look like a hoodlum or the walking wounded.  Living for so long in wild country I found that a staff was a handy tool that lends some confidence when encountering a wild hog, a rutting elk, or dog.  In my professional work as a field scientist it isn’t common to carry one either due mostly to the logistics of carrying a map, notebook, compass, GPG unit, pin flags and the like.  The reality is, you only have two hands.

The author with his antler-fork walking stick and his dog begging for a walk.

However, in the perfect world of semi-fantasy that I inhabit, I tend to keep a walking stick nearby and have several on-hand at any given time.  I’ve wavered over the years as to whether or not the extra burden is worthwhile and the truth I have settled upon is “yes, mostly.”  Other than the confidence it gives in an unwanted encounter, a staff really helps a walker crossing a stream or other rough terrains when heavily loaded.

As the great traveler Colin Fletcher wrote many years ago,it converts me when I am heavily laden from an insecure biped into a confident tripedThe Complete Walker.

The staff instills confidence and provides stability for the walker.

Here are a few other ideas for a walking stick and its many uses found around the Web. I’ll post a few more pictures of my own in upcoming posts.

In the mean time, if you are contemplating becoming a walker yourself, or already are, you may enjoy Henry David Thoreau’s short essay on the subject.  It’s a favorite of mine from a surveyor and philosopher who spent much time walking in the woods.

Walking, 1862

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Safety, above all…?

Just how important is safety in a happy and complete life?

indiana-jones-bridge Don’t get me wrong.  I have known people with little regard for their own well-being, be it physical or otherwise.  Some of these are confirmed idiots.  Whether they are just non-thinking zombies or the overly entitled who expect someone else to look out for them, they lay outside this commentary and deserve no further thought.  However, fear of failure, fear of death, fear of the unknown; these all hinder us at some stage of our life.  We are taught to seek safety.  Everything is a balancing act; a never-ending series of choices  sometimes with many possibilities and I feel strongly we often reap what we sow.  Mostly, we drift along with the current of our culture, our circle of friends, down the river of expectations or wherever else circumstance leads.  These thoughts are just an introduction to a thought I want to share.

I found this quote in a book I read when I was very young.  This influenced my thought deeply throughout my formative years.  Not in immediate risk taking, but as a real thought on what safety is to us all.

But if you judge safety to be the paramount consideration in life you should never, under any circumstances, go on long hikes alone. Don’t take short hikes alone, either — or, for that matter, go anywhere alone. And avoid at all costs such foolhardy activities as driving, falling in love, or inhaling air that is almost certainly riddled with deadly germs. Wear wool next to the skin. Insure every good and chattel you possess against every conceivable contingency the future might bring, even if the premiums half-cripple the present. Never cross an intersection against a red light, even when you can see all roads are clear for miles. And never, of course, explore the guts of an idea that seems as if it might threaten one of your more cherished beliefs. In your wisdom you will probably live to be a ripe old age. But you may discover, just before you die, that you have been dead for a long, long time.

Collin Fletcher The Complete Walker.

cfIf you are not familiar with Colin Fletcher’s writings it is worth knowing that he helped create the backpacking movement in the form we know today by his seminal book “The Complete Walker” in all it’s revisions.  Starting life as a Royal Marine Commando in the Second World War, Fletcher eventually ended up in the United States and began his writing career with his book The Thousand-Mile Summer about his hike describing his walk along the length of California.  Check out his other titles HERE.

The Wilderness isn’t a place to escape to as so many refer to it.  It is a place to be, just as valid, if not more so, as the comforts and safety of civilization.

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