- Living Their Faith
- Special Reports
- Maps & Data
- 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.
As we prepare to inaugurate a president who has repeatedly called climate change a "hoax," appointed as Environmental Protection Agency administrator an Oklahoma attorney general who is suing that agency, named the CEO of ExxonMobil as secretary...
Look, I’m not going to lie: While some longtime participants in one of southeastern Connecticut’s most enduring, challenging and madcap traditions insist that plunging into icy water after a run on Jan. 1 is a refreshing and...
When it comes to adventurous fun my philosophy has always been too much is never enough, so when I look back at the highlights of the past 12 months, as I typically do when the calendar is about to flip, I can honestly say that 2016 was a...
I guess I first realized the temperature had dropped a few degrees when I went out for a 5-mile run this morning and noticed that my eyelids had started to freeze shut, which loyal readers will recognize as Level IV on the Fagin Frigidity Index,...
The first time friends and I trudged up New Hampshire’s Mount Washington in winter the frozen peak might as well have been Antarctica – hurricane-force winds and blinding snow battered us, the only climbers that day atop the highest...
I realized long ago that you’re never really finished building a stone wall, even after you’ve dragged and hefted into place what seemed like the final boulder, exhaled mightily and stepped back to admire your work.
How often does this happen to you: You’re merrily tearing through the woods in your four-wheeler and come to what looks like a shallow stream but turns out to be a deep, water-filled ditch, so your beloved machine sinks like a stone beneath...
In spring we crawl out of our cocoons and celebrate bursting rejuvenation; in summer we play outside from dawn to dusk; during the dark, frigid winter we hunker down like hibernating bears – which leaves fall, when we try to set aside time...
Although for decades I’ve been living in a home surrounded by trees that is heated primarily by wood stoves, and I enjoy kayaking, mountain climbing, building stone walls, growing organic vegetables and many other active outdoor pursuits,...
Propelled by a swift current on the Colorado River earlier this month, my son, Tom, and I gazed at red rock cliffs gleaming against an azure, near cloudless sky. The rustle of aspen and cottonwoods in a gentle breeze mingled with the rush of...