A Brief Guide for Death March Companions

I have stories from this  past stretch of days off. The trouble is, I’m not sure my mother would appreciate them. And since she is approximately 50% of my blog readership, (33% on a busy day),  I have the niggling feeling that I should retain them for my journal and find something else to discuss here. Still, I can at least provide an overview of what the last few days have held. 

The weather in town has been more pleasantly springy over the past week, and I am even sunburnt from yesterday’s expeditions. Sadly, all of the hiking trails that I have tried to locate have been snowed in/over to the point that they were unnavigable. The one trail that was more mud and dirt than snow I came to too late in the day to finish hiking and I reluctantly turned around to avoid being out past dusk. I was also worn down from the earlier expeditioning to blocked off trailheads.  

One would think that with all the mud and snow blocked areas there wouldn’t be very many people out enjoying the great outdoors. But even in the remoter areas that I have come across, there have always been several other people about, also pushing the limits of spring activity in the mountains. Hopefully this is of some comfort to my readers of last week, who managed to avoiding commenting on the content of my writing and instead criticized my traditional group of me, myself, and I.  The sad fact of the matter is that many people do not understand how to properly hike. Now, I realize that our family  substitution of “death march” for “hike” is partially a joke. But too many companions of mine have failed to realize what proper hiking parameters consist of and how to comport themselves on such journeys. For instance, hiking and walking have different boundaries which only occasionally overlap. If the path you are traveling is paved, it does not qualify as a hike. If it is unpaved, but wider than a yard, you are in a grey zone. The path ought to narrow and experience some elevation shifts and unincorporated obstacles, such as trees and rocks. If the trail rating falls below moderate, you should probably refer your activity as a ‘wilderness stroll’, rather than hiking. Naturally, these restrictions may vary somewhat depending on the average age of your party, but considering the scarcity of toddlers in this town, I feel they apply widely to the population.  When hiking, you should always be prepared for occasional water crossings and greet them with the enthusiasm they deserve.  In the spirit of Going on a Bear Hunt, if you “can’t go under it, can’t go over it, gotta go through it.” Photographic proof of the adventure is applauded, but if not participating in an official water break, the photographer ought to be prepared to engage in a certain level of catch-up sprinting. And speaking of running, the occasional daisy chain through the woods is only to be expected.  The trip outward should be conducted with moderate to low levels of volume in order for optimum wildlife spottings, while the trip inward may include such activities as singing in rounds or reciting scenes from plays.   Finally, turing around before reaching the final apex of the trail is not a decision to be undertaken lightly or for such foolish reasons as wanting to catch a movie later in the day, or being unwilling to traverse fallen tree bridges. 

Perhaps my requirements for hiking companions are somewhat stringent, but I have been spoiled with a crew who easily meet all of these expectations and more for most of my hiking history. And while I relax them occasionally and attempt an excurision with a death march novice, they make it difficult for me to carry out my ongoing discussions with the characters in my head. One of my personalities may need to invest in a GPS, though. 



View more posts from this author