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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.
While biking through the hills and along the shore of Mystic and Stonington the other day with my friend Spyros "Spy" Barres and son Tom, I began to regret that I neglected to bring along a water bottle.
Imagine strolling to the tip of one of Connecticut’s most magnificent natural habitats, Bluff Point Coastal Reserve in Groton, and instead of gazing at tidal marshes, salt ponds and sweeping, unspoiled view of Fishers Island Sound,...
When we last left Tom and Steve, they were paddling through muck and mire (though mostly sparkling water) in northeastern Minnesota’s Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Here is the second and final installment describing...
Gusty blasts that shook our tent during the night blew away thick clouds and rain showers, bringing morning sunshine that sparkled on Cherokee Lake when my son Tom and I crawled from sleeping bags last week.
After tramping more than a month some 700 miles along the fabled Continental Divide Trail, Mystic native Hilary Sueoka and her boyfriend, Dan Stedman, who started hiking April 22 at the U.S.-Mexican border, finally rambled from the...
By the time Phil Warner and I hit the water in his lightning-fast tandem kayak last Sunday for our team’s leg in the Josh Billings Runaground Triathlon in Lenox, Mass., we had already spent a good part of the morning lugging gear...
Three cheers for the Obama Administration’s decision this week to officially restore the name of North America’s tallest mountain to Denali, which is what early inhabitants called the 20,310-foot peak in the Alaska Range.