Your Very Next Step newsletter for January 2008
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“What we call the beginning is often the end. And to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from.”
– T.S. Eliot
In this issue:
*** Backpacking Lightweight:
*** What’s the most unusual thing you’ve encountered on the trail?
*** Tips for travel
*** Sports to try in 2008
*** Travel News
*** Slavic Switzerland?
*** Outdoors Enthusiasts are an economic force
*** Outdoor/travel/adventure jobs
*** Backpacking Lightweight:
Packing light is important, especially when you have a lot to carry on your back for a long way. But for some, packing light is an obsession. Does anyone have any lightweight backpacking tips. Here are some links:
*** What’s the most unusual thing you’ve encountered on the trail? Turns out this is a good question:
*** From Jim Parsons:
My most interesting trail “meeting” experience came many years ago when I hiked Sourdough Mountain in Washington's North Cascades Park. That hike taught me that when the trail guides out west say “steep and strenuous,” they mean it!
Anyway, I was on my way down from my overnight stay when I met a somewhat older gentleman slowly making his way up. We chatted only briefly (neither of us wanted to lose our respective momentum), but he told me that he'd backpacked this mountain about 20 years ago and was going to give it his best shot. I gave him the 411 on the trail conditions, wished him luck, and continued on toward the welcome embrace of my rental car.
Well, about 20 years have passed, and I'm contemplating tackling ol' Sourdough Mountain again. Can't help but wonder–as my aging Baby Boomer bones creep up that trail wondering how the heck nature could have made it any steeper, will I encounter some younger version of myself bounding his way downhill? And if I do, what should I say to him?
(Will you be there to find out?)
*** From Jeff Peters:
The most unexpected thing that ever happened to me while traveling was when I realized I needed to break up with my girlfriend during a short camping trip at the Grand Canyon. I had thought (I still do) that it was okay for couples to have separate interests. In our case, I went camping and kayaking with certain friends (she told me point blank she would never sleep in a tent), and she enjoyed participating in community theater (I think it's creepy when people suddenly burst into song). I got invited to a friend's wedding in Sedona, Arizona, which was beautiful. Since I was so close, after the wedding I drove my rental car up to the Grand Canyon. This was in August, and Grand Canyon village was teeming with people from all over, which was not why I had come to the Grand Canyon. So I drove to the East end of the park, and rented a campsite for the night. There wasn't much to do by myself that night, so I got to bed early and woke up a few minutes before sunrise. I jogged a few hundred yards to the rim of the canyon and watched the sun rise over the Painted Desert. The canyon looked entirely different every few minutes as the sun got higher and illuminated more of the walls beneath the rim. The canyon is huge and I felt like me and any of my concerns were small and insignificant comparatively. It was for me a spiritual moment, and I knew then that I couldn't continue to date someone who would never be interested in sharing a moment like that.
Travel tip: bring zip-lock bags. They're light and take up hardly any space, but great for keeping the ants out of your food, keeping your still-damp bathing suit from getting the rest of the clothes in your suitcase or pack wet when it's time to fly home, or keeping that leaky lotion bottle from leaking all over your other stuff. You just never know what you'll run into that having those bags can solve.
(What size zip-loc bag did your ex-girlfriend fit into?)
*** From Rosemary Swantek:
My best hiking experiences have occurred in the amazing Red Rock Country
area around Sedona, AZ. There are amazing, beautiful vistas from all
the dozens of great trails, but my best experience occurred while hiking
on and around the massive Bell Rock formation. It was there that I
understood what some refer to as the Earth's “vortexes” — areas of
incredible energy and peace — present at certain Red Rock sites. After
hiking, and just sitting and contemplating in the quiet Bell Rock
splendor, my husband and I decided to buy a vacation/future retirement
home in this area. That was four years ago. We haven't retired yet,
but we get back there at every opportunity, to get another dose of Red
Rock energy and peace. Try it!
Rosemary V. Swantek
(Is that an invitation? Actually, I'll be in Tucson the evening of 26 Feb. Is that near Sedona? No, I see that it is not.)
*** From Mark Oswell:
Horsetooth reservoir, Ft. Collins, CO (1990) – a large black bear following us down the trail for about 10 minutes, casually following behind about 50 yards or less.
*** From K Utterback:
The most startling and funny thing was when I was camping for the night on the Antarctica peninsula and there was a snoring seal on the beach about 10 feet from our sleeping bags.
*** From Jim Stewart:
The most unusual thing on the trail was not a rattlesnake, scenery, or
weather, but “Flash”. It just so happens that you were with me on this
particular backpacking trip with the Boy Scouts as we were heading south
towards Harper' Ferry on the Appalachian Trail. We passed many
northbound through-hikers that particular weekend and enjoyed learning
their trail names as well as why they had those names. Some we
privately gave nick-names, such as toe-nail man (collector of … you
guessed it). Back to the story, as we headed south we saw approaching a
young man backpacking north without a shirt on, something scrawled on
his chest, and carrying a bag of oranges just below his waist. When
close enough to read, we could read “Happy hike naked day” and he asked
us if anyone wanted an orange. Ned, being the adventuresome one, said
sure. He was tossed an orange (thankfully the bag did not move from its
critical coverage area), and the young man happily sang out as he passed
on his way, “everything is better when it is peeled”. Needless to say,
we did not want to look north to see his southern exposure. We did not
learn his name until we got to the AT headquarters in Harpers Ferry
where we learned his handle was “Flash” and that no one there thought he
would actually go bare on “National Hike Naked Day” (even though he
signed their log encouraging all to do so). We did not get the full
story behind his trail name, but one can wonder. Anyhow, Ned enjoyed
peeling and eating his orange, and we have a story for the ages.
(Jim is correct. Jim and I have shared several most interesting trail – and other outdoor – experiences. Flash was one of the most memorable. He had decided to hike the “Four State Challenge” on the AT on the Summer Solstice, which, as luck would have it, is National Hike naked Day. The four state challenge is to start in Virginia, cross in to West Virginia at Harpers Ferry, and cruise up to Pennsylvania, a distance of 40 miles, in one day.)
*** From Gwyneth Saunders:
A bunch of us [women] decided in homeport from deploying to Antarctica that we would spend a week camping with one woman's sister and her best friend who are campoholics.
Definition?: Instead of toasters, perfume and lingerie, their families gave them camping gear for birthdays and holidays.
All we had to do was lend a hand cleaning up and the two campers would do everything else. They had EVERYthing including – by the time we were at seven years doing this – the Barbie camping kitchen sink!
We camped at Beaver Lake near Cougar under Mt. St. Helens – post-blowup.
I was always the early bird so I would get up light the campfire for coffee from wood and kindling I had chopped the night before – most of which we brought in – and then take my fishing rod and go to the edge of the lake.
I know people brag about the fishing in the Northwest, but I swear by my two tackle boxes and filetting knife that the fish aren't in the lakes!
Anyway, one morning I am sitting down with line in the water attempting as usual to catch more than rocks and branches. Something that sounded very much like taking an open ream of 8.5×11 paper and flipping one end of it came in my direction.
I looked up just in time to see a flock of about a dozen Canada geese fly just about two feet off the water flap by me from the lake feeder out over the larger body of water.
Sometimes being still has its great rewards! It was something Tory Petersen would have painted.
*** From Kris Gallagher:
Roughly a dozen years ago, I and two friends were hiking in the woods in
central Wisconsin– primarily pines and other tall trees with a
relatively clear under-story. Without warning, a turkey vulture rose
from what we later discovered was a deer carcass, less than 50 yards
from us. The bird spread enormous wings and, without seeming to move
them, sailed away from us. He never gained more than a foot or two in
altitude and never beat his wings, yet was able to turn nearly
perpendicular to the ground to cruise between two trees. Silently, he
disappeared from sight.
My friends and I were stunned, not only by the suddenness, but also by
the grace and power displayed by a bird widely characterized as garish
and awkward. I will never again disparage a vulture.
While this is not an unusual thing for a hiker to encounter on a trail,
I will never forget it. I can still picture him slipping sideways
between those trees.
Kris Gallagher, ABC
*** From Tom Carney:
In my case two polarities spring to mind:
1. On an assignment up in the Arctic, watching with amazement a pilot, waving over his head the private parts of a bull walrus, chase a laughing stewardess across the ice, and wondering “Carney, what the heck are you doing here? Your life depends on that man!”
2. Another assignment, only several years later, spending 10– sun-burning–hours in a 12-foot, open boat, crawling up an equatorial river, in Kalimantan; during the whole trip about four feet in front of me, in the prow of the boat, was this sturdy, serious- looking chap in full battle fatigues with a machine gun: this was bandit country….I had the same thought, ‘Carney, what are you I doing here?’ This vision is still seared in my memory as the absurdity struck me: for the rest of the trip I had to suppress the strongest desire to giggle.
(Man, how foolish can one be –stuck in the middle of nowhere, laughing and giggling at a serious fellow holding a machine gun…. Who’d know? I had to avoid looking at him which was difficult to do in the circumstances).
Texada Island B.C. Canada
(Guns are not always to keep the riff raff out. Usually it’s to keep the humans in until they’re paid for. Did the pilot catch the flight attendant? Where’s Texada Island?)
In my experience flight attendants were not hard to catch….as a Kiwi lady friend told me, too much competition to be demure….
Texada Island is a beautiful, little known 300 square mile island between Vancouver Island and Canada's west coastal mountains. We only have 1,200 permanent residents but a full health clinic, good bistro etc. and busy busy community, with e.g. Saturday 4-hour hikes (same route never repeated in the same year) followed by a wine and cheese party, summer jazz festivals, active old age pensioners association, a Canadian Legion, folk dancing and gardening clubs, things like crokinole tournaments, and with a good social mix–retired CEOs, lots of artists, two active quarries which supply limestone for all of Greater Vancouver and much of Seattle etc.'s concrete in the current building boom down there–the urban life which most of us on Texada fled from.
A city of 40,000– Powell River– is a 20 minute drive and a half hour ferry ride away–it has all the usual big box stores and a good general hospital. On Island we have a nine hole golf course, a fine country general store, with PO, liquor etc. and my wife and I (in our late 60s) acquired in October a beautiful, vintage, classic 17 foot ocean going kayak–a “Klepper”–complete with two seats and sails.
(The web site says the record for assembling one of these (fold up) things is two minutes: it did not say where/when that record was set–I suspect in mid Atlantic on 1942 on the deck of a sinking U-boat.)
Neighbours here in their gardens have banana trees, Australian tree ferns, and last summer my wife and I planted an olive tree, with an artist friend immediately offering a large screw to make an olive press (I put him off for five years)
Because of its “remoteness” during prohibition Texada Island had the largest distillery west of Winnipeg, with the rum runners travelling down the coast to the USA.
Living here is like living in a BBC T-V soap opera.
I actually have started the restoration of my old disassembled 1950 Jaguar drop head 3.5 convertible which I ran as a daily during the 1960s and 70s….I have a fine large workshop with wood stove and water.
Regards, a great new year and let's banish health problems…
(Wow! All the limestone you can eat! What are crokinole tournaments?)
Hiya Ned (again)
I should have mentioned we also have thousands of deer–in summer drought people put water out for them, then when hunting season starts six weeks later….ample venison, .which I found odd.
But we have no bears or cougars as predators here so they have to be culled; some island fish species and an island lizard are unique, found nowhere else…..
Crokinole is a parlour game you may have played as a kid, especially in the first half of the last century. Some people from the interior of the Province (B.C.) drive 300 miles each way just to compete in an annual championship tournament. Jeez! Wife wants to take it up but I am dodging…
In addition to the quarries there is active logging….big trucks booms, tugboats etc. Now someone in Washington wants to locate an LNG superport on this island, which has islanders in an uproar–I suggested they name the anti LNG alliance the Better Energy Alternatives Now Organization because of the acronym but there seems sparse jocularity in that group at the moment. At least on that issue.
*** Here are several sports to try in 2008:
The Old Ba' Game
* Afghan Sport: Buzkashi
* Irish Road Bowling
The Sport of Road Bowling in Ireland
What recommendations do you have? Send to Ned at email@example.com.
*** Travel Tips from Suzanne Salvo:
Top Ten Salvo Safe Travel Tips:
10. Spend as little time as possible in airports, train stations and other means of foreign public transportation. Statistically, these places have a higher percentage of occurrences. And don’t walk around looking lost, even if you are. The idea is to keep a low profile while appearing confident.
9. Use a money belt. They are cheap insurance and are comfortable to wear. I forget I have one on. Keep your passport, airline tickets, special permits and extra money in your money belt and keep your money belt on you at all times. REMEMBER – the only thing you really, really have to have to get home is your passport – guard it well.
8. Use a fanny pack for your belongings, not a shoulder bag, and wear it in front, leaving your hands free. Warning – fanny pack has a different connotation in the UK and is not something you talk about in polite company there.
7. Learn about the culture and current politics of the area before you go. Knowledge of the specific problems and hot spots will help you avoid them. Knowing the local customs will make your trip more enjoyable and keep you from inadvertently offending someone. In parts of Asia pointing with your index finger is considered rude. A thumb to index finger gesture does not mean OK in some cultures. It means you think the other person resembles a certain unmentionable small round body orifice.
6. Make an effort to blend in and not draw attention to yourself. Don’t wear loud clothing and don’t talk loudly either.
5. Double-check all travel and clearance requirements before you leave home. Most places have substantially increased their security, adding requirements and making visas, permits and clearances harder to come by and take longer to get.
4. Make 2 copies of your Vital Travel Documents. These include your passport, airline tickets, permits and other essential travel documents. Tuck one set in your luggage and leave the other at home where someone can get to it easily at 3:00 a.m. – which is most likely the hour it will be back home when you call desperately needing it. Don’t leave it locked in your desk drawer!
3. Carry a detailed electronic equipment list (with serial numbers) as well as a copy of the bill of sale for all camera and electronic gear. This includes your laptop, cell phone, GPS, etc. The equipment list is required in some places and has smoothed our border crossings many times. We treat the list as part of our Vital Travel Documents.
2. Stay healthy and well rested. Jetlag saps your mental capability as well as making you feel physically drained. Learn how to avoid jetlag's ill effects.
And the number one Salvo Safe Travel Tip is:
1. Stay alert to your surroundings at all times. Once several years ago while happily lost in the narrow streets of Paris’ Latin Quarter, Chris decided it was time to study the map. First we moved up the sidewalk about a half block to put a little distance between us and a nearby group of people. With our backs to a shop wall, Chris concentrated on the map while I casually kept an eye on the area. Suddenly and completely without warning, a car veered at high speed into the group where we had been less than 30 seconds before. Horrified, we watched it rundown several people before it hit a wall and bounced back to the street. Not knowing if it was an accident or intentional, we didn't wait around to see what would happen next. With the sound of French police whistles growing louder, and extremely shaken and upset, we quickly walked away.
SALVO SHOOTS PEOPLE
713.721.5000 USA studio
832.293.5448 USA mobile
+39.335.175.8089 EU cell
salvophoto VOiP Skype name
713.893.5227 USA to Italy direct line
*** A travel tip from John Peters:
Never pack more than you can carry in one trip through the airport
*** Travel Tips from Bruce:
Tip: Bring a trashbag(s) with you.
The simple solution to many common travelers problems, they take up little space and you can use them as:
b) a handy-dandy raincoat in a pinch
c) a seat cover when there's no place to sit that isn't wet
d) to separate wet or other unclean laundry in your luggage if necessary
e) or even an unglamorous but potentiallly useful “carry-on” piece of lugggage if you need one.
There are plenty of other potential uses too–but you won't come up with them until you need them, and the “aha” experience of realizing that you both need and have a trashbag with you is a fun extra.
– Bruce Blake
*** Travel news:
Three flights a day between Rutland and Boston:
British Airways To Launch U.S.-European Carrier
*** Outdoors Enthusiasts are an economic force:
According to a report by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF), Virginia's 857,000 hunters and anglers are among the most prominent and influential of all demographic groups, spending more than $1.3 billion a year on hunting and fishing, according to a new report produced by the Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation. The Report, “Hunting and Fishing: Bright Stars of the American Economy – A Force as Big as All Outdoors,” spotlights the immense impact hunters and anglers have on the economy at the national and state level.
In Virginia, spending by hunters and anglers directly supports 24,000 jobs, which puts $683 million into the pockets of working residents around the state. Of course, government coffers also benefit – spending by sportsmen in pursuit of these outdoor activities generates $128 million in state and local taxes.
*** Trip Report, from Mike Klein:
I expected Ljubljana to be a disappointment after Zagreb and after abandoning plans to visit the Slovenian alpine lakes of Bled and Bohinj. But the low cloud that impeded my view of the hills rising above the Sava River along which the Zagreb-Salzburg express rolled portended that an alpine excursion would be less than inspiring on this crisp cool day.
So, I detrained in Ljubljana, the capital of Republika Slovenija, the most recent entrant to the Eurozone and, as of late December, the southeast front of the EU's Schengen zone. Coming off the train in a newer section of town, I had little inkling of what was to await me: a pristine old city below an ancient castle, a place with the halls decked with ribbons and lights for the holidays, where thousands were milling about drinking mulled white and red wine (or was that mulling about drinking milled wine?).
Old Ljubljana has become an instant favorite–up there with some other favorites like Lyon, Namur, Edinburgh–places where topography and architectural grandeur combine with an abundance of cozy cafes and watering holes and an attractive local population.Slovenia was the most prosperous republic in the days of its coerced union inside Josip Tito's Socialist Federative Republic of Yugoslavia, which also included Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Bosnia-Hercegovina, and Serbia.
It has also made the most of its independence, won after a ten day invasion by the Serb-led Yugoslav army in 1991. To walk across the Triple Bridge from the new to the old town is to walk into a wonderland that could just as easily be at home in Luxembourg or Switzerland. Though prices remain reasonable (seemingly more so than in the less polished Croatia) Ljubljana has clearly and convincingly made the transition from the Second World to the First. Zagreb reminded me of the Prague I knew ten years ago-in a bit of a time warp.
Ljubljana is alive and in the present, knowing its day has come.What's startling is the newness of the infrastructure. From the stainless steel of the food stalls in the Christmas Market to the clearly brand new funicular up to the historic Ljubljana Castle (whose 3D movie tour through the city's history is well worth the EUR 3.30) and to the well-appointed cafes and bars, the effect is compelling-Slovenia has found its home in The West.
One unforgettable pub is the Rugby Pub across the Ljubljanica River from the Old Town. I happened upon it while heading back toward the station for my return trip to Zagreb. Entering, I was struck by the old British advertising, the soft green carpeting, and the friendliness of the staff. The protagonist was Boris, a one-time “hooker” for the Slovenian National Rugby team, who, as it turns out, opened the pub one week earlier. I am willing to take bets about how long the pub's English hotel-like ambiance will withstand the arrival of many rugby tourists. Perhaps Slovenian rugby could learn a thing or two about making their country into a rugby destination from my friend Alec Byrne in Bariloche, Argentina, who has put Patagonia on the Rugby map through his business, Rugby Patagonia (http://www.rugbypatagonia.com.ar).
It was probably best that I hit Ljubljana after Zagreb. Zagreb is an Eastern European city, that while looking west (to the point that its Parliament flies the EU flag while the country remains clearly in the membership queue) is still Slavic in mindset and rustic in its soul (evidenced most poignantly by women standing in prayer in front of roadside altars). Ljubljana is a western city that speaks an eastern language. The difference-despite the two-hour travel time between both cities-is profound.
Mike Klein is JOTW research guru and a communications consultant based in Delft in the Netherlands. When not communicating or guruing, Mike tends to be either travelling or tasting various beers in the Benelux region.
*** Here are some outdoor/travel/adventure jobs:
GRAPHIC DESIGNER, Liquid Force Apparel, Irvine, CA
Wildlife Expert, African Union, Kenya, Africa
ASSOCIATE EDITOR, EXPN.com, New York City, NY
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“The secret to a rich life is to have more beginnings than endings.”
– David Weinbaum