- Dear Abby
- Games & Puzzles
- Events & Exhibits
- Food & Drink
- Arts & Music
- Movies & TV
This is the time of year Daniel Boone wannabes emerge from hibernation, lace up their hiking boots or hop into canoes and kayaks — an annual migration occasionally marked by stupid decisions that result in lost souls wandering off marked trails, tumbling off ledges or flipping over in rapids.
Just the other day Rhode Island firefighters fished a guy from the rain-swollen Pawcatuck River after he and some buddies decided to head out after dark — naturally, none of them wearing lifejackets.
After some boats turtled somebody called 911, and while most scrambled ashore one hapless, sodden wretch clung to a tree branch for an hour until rescuers arrived. A happy ending; perhaps, a valuable lesson.
Not a week goes by that a hiker gets lost in the woods somewhere in Connecticut — particularly shameful considering it's almost impossible to be farther than a couple miles from a Dunkin Donuts, Golden Arches or Motel 6 anywhere in the state.
At least when I've become disoriented I've had the self-respect to do so in the deep woods of Maine or the mountains of New Hampshire.
Full disclosure: In my extensive wilderness forays I've been guilty of a few missteps, due to my predilection for exploring uncharted turf and willingness to endure an occasional bramble patch. That might explain why some friends always seem to have other plans ("Gee, I'd love to go, except the dog needs a bath") whenever I call to suggest an expedition.
Still, just as the burned hand teaches best, there's nothing like being forced to spend a night or two in the rain to encourage the navigationally challenged hiker to carry maps and learn how to read a compass.
Failing that, the wayward wander risks "naturing out," using a phrase often employed by a friend who delights in nominating people for Darwin Awards. These tongue-in-cheek honors are bestowed on individuals who have contributed to human evolution by self-selecting themselves out of the gene pool via death or sterilization after unnecessarily foolish actions.
So far I've managed to avoid qualifying for a Darwin by taking a few precautions: I always wear a personal flotation device while kayaking, and before venturing out on water or land tell my wife or some other responsible person where I'm going and when I'll be back.
Such simple, basic rules by no means guarantee anyone will avoid peril in the great outdoors, but at least they may help improve the odds of survival.
I usually carry a water bottle, even on short hikes, and pack snacks, a rain jacket and other gear if the itinerary calls for being out for more than a few hours.
I've previously outlined my objections to cellphones on the trail so won't belabor the point other than to say it's not so much because one-way electronic conversations are intrusive, but because having a phone can instill a false sense of security. Too many people take chances or don't pay attention to conditions, incorrectly figuring they can always call for help in an emergency.
Anyway, it's a great time to enjoy the outdoors (actually, it's always a great time), so get out there, enjoy yourself, and try not to earn a Darwin Award.
This week’s cold snap has spread a shimmering, silken coating over ponds and lakes throughout the region, creating some of the best conditions for skating in years, so you must get out now and enjoy it because who knows...
First of all, it’s way too soon to start whining about the cold. Let’s all agree that by March, if we’re still getting hammered by ferocious winds, driving snow and frigid temps, then a little complaining might be in...
The problem with New Year’s resolutions is that people, even — make that especially — hard-core adventurers/endurance athletes tend to set the bar way too high: bike across the country, qualify for the Hawaii...
When those uninitiated in the longstanding New Year’s Day tradition of running from Mystic to Fishers Island Sound and leaping into the icy water ask, "How can you stand it? Doesn’t it hurt?" we stoic veterans...
While kayaking the 341-mile Erie Canal from Buffalo to Albany a few years ago I spotted another paddler a mile or so away headed in my direction. Having encountered only one or two other kayaks nearly a week into what turned out to be an...
Isn’t life great?! Gas is so cheap now I can get rid of my puny, poky, fuel-efficient econobox and get behind the wheel of an auto with plenty of ponies under the hood that any American would be proud to drive, just like the good...
After my overwhelming victory last year in a rake vs. leafblower contest I hoped I’d heard the last of those infernal, noisy, polluting contraptions — but while out for a run the other day, savoring the fall foliage, a familiar whine as...