I’ve previously revealed several facts, for those of you who are following my rambling diatribes.
1. I’m a nerd. A fact well established by my lack of interest in pretty much all professional sports, my love of geeky computery stuff, and my unathletic physique. Add to that glasses and a grasp of the English language, and there lies the proof.
2. I have been overcome with a wanderlust that is leading me to seek solace and adventure in the woods. Maybe it’s my midlife crisis. At least I’m not another idiot 40 year old driving a Hummer in the city. I saw one the other day with a handicapped tag. Who knew a midlife crisis was a handicap?
3. As a nerd with a wanderlust and a sudden attraction to hiking and backpacking, I have of course filled some of my spare time with nerdly pursuits. I downloaded an app for the iPad (essential nerd gear) called Zinio. Zinio is an app for reading magazines, without all the hassle of compiling loads of paper periodicals. Plus, Zinio keeps up with your stuff, so if you lose your iPad, you can always download you magazines again on your new one.
There are quite a lot of magazines available through Zinio. It is like the amazon of e-mags. One of them is Backpacker, which of course is geared towards the type of activity I have lately been interested in. You would never know by the title, would you?
Anyhow, one of it’s finer points (among articles of what to do if you break your leg three days from your car, what to do if you piss off a bear, or comparisons between down and synthetic sleeping bags) are columns geared towards getting people outside and hiking. Because hikers who actively hike will buy more hiking stuff, and that sells ads in Backpacker. In every issue there are various routes and photos and places to go, both large and small, some like this:
The thing that caught my eye was at the end of each article, however. Trip ID, and a number. Could it be there was more information. I’m perfectly willing to pour over maps like the next guy, but could there be a better way?
Yes. By going to the Backpacker web site and poking around, I finally found a way to use the trip thing. It seems they have made hiking nerd-friendly. By including a zoomable google map with waypoints for the GPS, and even photos submitted by readers, it is a big help to those of us just getting started. I can go into the woods thus fully prepared, with my maps and my gps to help guide me around. I even know how many days a certain adventure should last, and approximately where to set up camp.
I have my backpack (well, I will as of dec 25. Right now it’s in a big Moosejaw box by the tree), my hammock tent, sleeping bag, water bladder, micro stove, cup and the all important titanium Spork. Evidently I’m supposed to have something called a base layer (which I think is a fancy word for some synthetic shirts that wick away sweat), and hiking shoes (my bright green Fila Skeletoes should work in summer, I hope. I might have to get a second opinion). I also need trekking poles, which are basically collapsable ski poles. You carry 40 pounds on your back for miles, you might need a couple on canes to walk on, too. I even have some purple paracord (for hanging food in the tree). Why purple? How could you misplace Barney-the-Dinosaur colored purple rope? And who’s going to steal it?
Now I just have to learn how to prepare food for trips, and how to cook dinner in an oversized coffee cup, because a lot of places don’t allow camp fires. Given my track record, a campfire might be a bad idea for me anyhow.
There’s one other thing I think I need. Since backpacking is a way to turn off the modern world and return to a primitive lifestyle, even for a few days, you are faced with some of the same problems as primitive man. Back before we as a group discovered “hey if you plant the round things in the middle of the fruit in the ground, they grow into more fruit!” man divided his time equally between hunting for dinner, and dinner hunting for him. Being in the back side of nowhere I don’t want to face down wild angry critters with nothing more than collapsable ski poles. A big mean-looking Crocodile Dundee knife might come in handy for camping, self defense against charging beasts, and for frightening off the more feral humans, as well. I don’t plan on “Squeal(ing) like a Pig!” for anyone… Ka-Bar makes a kukri machete that looks just the ticket…
Now how the heck am I going to recharge my iPhone in the woods?