A Dusty Pumpkin !

Blog time : It’s August 2020, a warm and humid day has just turned to a grey overcast and light rain….my training hike went from a pleasant walk through the local woods, to a hot push on the longest and steepest climb around here and then finished in a full-on sweat-fest, grinding my way back through the lanes on aching feet.  Sometimes it’s just like that in the same way that training is just work that has to be done : today, at the end of the day, i’m glad that i did the work and didn’t take an easy day….so easy to do !

In this month’s work for the blog i’m preparing a few pieces for some of the practical aspects of long distance hiking, this month for example i’m working on the camp kitchen and the kind of food we will eat while we are down in the canyons or high up in the mountains.  Iv’e done a bit of that before , with multi-day hikes in the High Sierra mountains and many parts of the mountain and bush country of New Zealand.  In the past, although iv’e successfully fed us, even made far better meals than i see many hikers prepare, i feel that in this return to a hiking life that i can do better and possibly with the simpler food that i experimented with when i practiced bushcraft.

And no : it’s not about the pumpkin !…..allow me to explain.

I half-remembered some comments that both Ray Jardine, in his book, and the Fletcher/Rawlins writing duo in their book (The Complete Walker IV) so i went looking for those in my outdoors literature library.  I was specifically looking for some sections about hiking food and the kind of calorie intake we might need…..but to get to those sections i ended up re-reading most of those 2 books : Jardine i ripped through in an evening as most of it i don’t find relevant any more but the Fletcher/Rawlins book is a much bigger read and in a way a much more considered tome about equipment and practices in the outdoors.

I always remembered the Fletcher/Rawlins Complete Walker as a kind of massive equipment guide and gear maniacs ‘bible and i figured that most of the fine detail about actual examples of equipment would be at least 20 years out of date…..well, some of it is and some ain’t !….some gear has been shoved aside by newer stuff but there are many classic pieces that still work.  Better though is that the general guides to equipment and kit-group comparisons still hold up : things like ‘tent vs tarp’ and ‘sleeping bag vs quilt’ are still very good starting points because between them they tried it all.

I was wrong though……right at the start of the Colin Fletcher & Chip Rawlins book is a whole section which considers the question “why walk”…..after all it’s cold and wet, or hot and dry out there, uncomfortable and even dangerous…..right ?.   Maybe it’s time to meet the pumpkin, in my case time to take it down off the shelf and give it a wipe over . The following is taken directly from that section of The Complete Walker IV.

If you recognize these minor pitfalls and are careful and lucky, so that you don’t tumble into them too often , you’ll discover as the years pass that walking becomes a beaufiful, warm , round pumpkin that sits up on a shelf , always ready to be taken down.  There are moments, sure, when you worry if time hasn’t tamed it, just a touch.  Moments when you fret that perhaps it has turned into something safer, like a self-replenishing bank account.  But most of the time, when you look up and see it sitting there on the shelf ,waiting, it remains round and warm, a magical thing to have around the place.  You wonder , sometimes, what in God’s name you’d have done with your life if you’d failed to fall victim to the addiction.           It wouldn’t be the same round and personal pumpkin, of course if you hadn’t grown it yourself. “

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