Scalp tingle anyone?

Living is fun

Climbers2

Photographer Robert Bösch and friends

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It’s beautiful out!

Go Hiking!

Photo by Dayna Ferrone, My Shot

….. Do as I say.  I did.

I took my dog Katy on a hike at Goose Cove in Gloucester, Massachusetts.

Here are some scenes:

An odd hole —->

Hole

Goose Cove with nary a goose in sight, but beautiful all the same.

GooseCove

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Sleep- Always Playing Hard to Get

Me&Banksy

Sleep and I love each other, but like all couples we have to work at our relationship.  Let’s just say it’s not always a bed of roses.  And then again maybe it is, consider the prickers and whatnot.  A bed of pine needles would be much more comfy.

The point is I enjoy hitting the sack as much as anyone.  Plenty knocks me out flat; a full day outside, a vigorous hike followed by a good meal and some wine, the usual.  Sleeping when the opportunity presents itself, or is seized upon, is not an issue.  The issue is everything else.  Meaning, everything else in life that isn’t sleep.

Sleep is domineering.  When we’re asleep we’re not able to build a kayak, write the next great American novel, learn to fly, or even mow the lawn or shovel the driveway.  Well- yeah, okay, we, our corporeal selves, are doing lots of things while sleeping; repairing cells, carrying out complex metabolic processes and this and that, but otherwise when sleeping we’re not doing anything much but lying flat, stone idle.*  And herein lies the problem.  My problem.  I respect sleep, understand its importance, love it like a puppy. But still I have a hard time choosing it over other uses of my time.  And there’s always coffee.

So- about hiking and sleep: I’ve done some of my best sleeping while on hikes, or more precisely I’ve done some of my best sleeping while on extended hikes, big exciting hikes involving heavy backpacks and creative camping food.  And notably all of this sleeping was done in a tent, a hexagonal, dome tent I bought many moons ago from Eastern Mountain Sports.  This tent is so old it’s olive green.  I love my tent.

Some of my best (or most memorable) sleeps:

• On the West Coast Trail, any night of the 8 total:  I slept so well I don’t remember sleeping… except the night after we’d eaten lentils for lunch and lentils for dinner.  There’s such a thing as too much of a good thing…

• In a lean-to on Mt. Katahdin in Maine:  I only remember this night perhaps because my brother and I dreamt the same dream.  In the middle of the night I sat upright in my sleeping bag saying loudly “We’re sinking, we’re sinking!” and my brother still sleeping called out “We are, we are!” There was a torrential downpour outside, but we, under the shelter, were dry and not sinking in the least.

• Every night of a solo trip x-country:  I especially remember the night I followed a shooting star to a campsite.  Driving in my faded yellow Toyota Corolla I’d choose a campground on my map and navigate to it while listening to Tom Waits on my stereo. Every night.  Once inside my tent, though a young woman traveling alone, I always felt safe and luxuriously content.  I slept like a baby every night of the trip.

• In my backyard:  I love sleeping in my tent so much that I sometimes choose it over the good old bed.  I especially love sleeping in my tent when the wind is whipping, owls are hooting and light rain is falling. Worst night sleep in a tent:

• On a trip with my high school hiking/outdoor adventure group: Freezing cold on a winter expedition I nibbled on my chocolate-heavy trail mix, slept maybe 5 minutes, and rose with a pounding headache.  Take home message: go easy on the chocolate in trail mix and be equipped with a sleeping bag of adequate temperature rating when winter camping!

* Go on- take me up on this, leave a comment.

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The King’s Little Pathway: Eee Gad!

While the endless whale spout of water is falling outside, to keep things interesting I thought I’d show you this video of El Camino del Rey, a crazy hiking trail in Spain:

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The Tree Factor

Reason to Hike #2: Trees

I like trees, a lot.  And if it weren’t for the term “Tree Hugger” and the fact utility companies and developers too often exhibit disdain for trees and treat them as nothing but space taker-uppers, I would assume my love of trees falls within “normal” range.2011-bell-curve

In any case I attribute my love of trees in large degree to my father, who- surprisesurprise– is an Englishman.

My father is gah-gah (a term he himself would choose) about the trunked, leafy things.  So much so that when I was a no taller than his knees he transported (smuggled) London Plane Tree saplings from his family home in Blackheath, England to Massachusetts wrapped in dampened cloth handkerchiefs.   I would guess that before the unpacking of pants, socks and undies, he attended to the planting of these tender trees-to-be.  With great sweat and care he dug holes for them in our backyard and other places around town.

Besides Plane trees (they’re got beautiful bark),

PlaneTreeBark

my father’s also nutty about Beech trees, Catalpas and Black Walnuts.

And, oddly, as much as he loves his trees and encouraging their growth and vigor, he also loves cutting them down.  In getting older, lame and enfeebled what he misses most about his younger years is having the muscle power to take an ax to a tree and the ability to spend a day constructing a mighty brush pile and setting it on fire.

He loves a good bonfire.    bonfire

The point I sent out with here and soon lost?  That a hike without trees is no better than the seaside without beaches.  Worse really.

Here are a few things I love about trees on a hike:

  • The dusty, ancient smell of hemlocks
  • The springy humous of their decayed parts
  • The mushrooms that grow on their roots and trunks
  • The whoosh of wind in their leaves
  • The molten red of oaks, and the eyeball blasting yellow of beeches in autumn
  • The spine tingling creak of a tree in a storm
  • The chipmunks, owls, raccoons, fisher cats, skunks, weasels, and other furry and feathery things that live in them
  • …. etc.      owl-camouflage-disguise-13 (websterswildshots.com)
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The Exhilaration Factor

Reason to Hike #1: Exhilaration

I’ll come clean, I’m an outlier.  I’m not naturally incline to play it safe, to follow the herd, to blend, or to seek the easy way- the path of least resistance if you will.  I like to push limits, I like heights and I like the odd and the unusual.

For these reasons, and none at all, I give you this courtesy of Linda D. of boredpanda.  A view from a hike on China’s Mount Huashan:

hiking-trail-huashan-mountain-china-2

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Global Hiking News

Nepal

Perusing this morning’s Guardian newspaper I spotted this video of a blizzard on Nepal’s Annapurna Trail shot this week by British hiker Paul Sherridan.  It serves as a particularly sharp reminder to give careful consideration to the weather and clothing before setting out on any hike.

The temperature dipped into the 30’s last night in Ipswich, Massachusetts and is only just beginning to climb into the 40’s now that it’s mid-morning.  I’m thinking for comfort’s sake I’ll be bringing along gloves and maybe a hat when I hike in the next few days.

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