Monday, May 30, 2011

Hiking Unemcumbered: Naked Hikers Day

Yeah, certainly at times I feel like throwing off my clothes and prancing in the buff along a remote wilderness trail. It would just be my luck to run into a law enforcement officer of some kind, though. That doesn't seem to stop some people. I once encountered a young couple backpacking along the Appalachian Trail in SW Virginia. Other than their boots and packs, they had narry a stitch on and seemed quite happy with the situation. They claimed it was "naked hikers day." Yeah, right.

Maybe I should declare today as "breaking and entering day." Would that protect me from being prosecuted if I broke into someone's home and got caught? Somehow I doubt it. I can just picture it now: "But officer, today is National Breaking and Entering Day." Maybe we should combine the two and come up with"National Breaking and Entering Naked Hikers Day." That should make the front page. I can just see the photo that would go with a story like that.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

I think that's a bit too natural!

Interesting sights abound for those of us who enjoy getting out and rubbing shoulders with Mother Nature. The natural world, when not messed up by humans, is a wonder to behold. Even walks that don't lead to spectacular views, impressive waterfalls or fields of wildflowers have enough beauty to satisfy anyone if you just look. Then you have those who believe not only in getting out in nature, but doing so in the most natural way possible - in the buff! I remember the first time I encountered nudity on a trail. It was on the Mountains-to-Sea Trail where it loops around past Asheville, NC. I was just walking along enjoying the wildflowers and other natural features this trail abounds with when, lo and behold, I spy a young man jogging toward me on the trail. He was dressed in jogging shoes and gloves and was working out with a dumbbell in each hand as he jogged. (I guess the gloves were to keep his hands from getting too sweaty. I didn't ask.) And that's all he had on! His body looked just fine. Funny thing, though, I don't remember his face too clearly. Matter of fact, I'm not sure I noticed it at all!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

There's a Bear in my Car!

How many of you outdoors people can say that you returned from a hike and found a bear in your vehicle? Not many, I'll bet. But that happened once to me, and once was enough, believe me! I'd gone for a long hike out a trail whose trailhead was near the Visitors Center in Cades Cove in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park years ago. Stupid me left an apple in the back seat of my car. You're probably beginning to get the picture already, right? As I was returning, I heard a horn blowing quite stridently, shattering the peace and quiet of this rather unpopulated area. A few minutes later when I reached the parking area, a young man jumped out of his car and ran toward me, pointing to my car. "Is that your car?" he asked.

"Yesss, why?" I asked somewhat suspiciously, although the sight of a young woman seated in the passenger side of his car somewhat allayed my nervousness.

"A bear broke in and is still in it!"

Upon taking a closer look, I saw, first of all, the top of driver's door at a right angle to the body of the car. Second, peering through the window, from a few feet away, of course, I saw a black bear sitting in my back seat. He had smelled the apple through the vent and somehow hooked his claws over the top of the door and bent it down like tin, shattering the glass in the window of course.

As we stood there talking, the bear decided there wasn't anything else to eat there, so he came out while the young man and I beat a hasty retreat to his car.

To make a long story a little shorter, I went with the couple and managed to flag down a park ranger who bent the door up so it wasn't sticking out quite so much.

What really makes me mad is that I had my camera with me, but the shock of seeing a bear in my car totally drove that memory from my mind. Well, live and learn, as they say.