Sunday, March 23, 2008

Feeling unsafe on trails and weapons

Normally when hiking, I am not too concerned about danger to myself. When I am concerned it is mostly about natural hazards, lightening, falls, hypothermia, and occasionally animals. Other than people hiking above me causing rock falls, I rarely worry about dangers from people. Of course I am aware of trailhead car break-ins, many trailheads have warning signs and I've seen the results. But having items stolen while I am absent is different from feeling personally threatened. I also know of people assaulted or murdered on trails but these are relatively rare occurrences although I remember them much more vividly than other reports of violence. And of course I think about drug operations in some areas and the fact I don't want to meet anyone so engaged when hiking.

I've often encountered people with guns along trails who were probably not hunting. In some areas it seems almost routine that many hikers carry pistols or even a rifle or shotgun attached to a pack. If asked (not that I usually ask someone in these circumstances) they usually say they are carrying the gun for protection against animals, especially rattlesnakes, or people. Most of the time these people do not alarm me even though one time I met a lone man on the trail who, when he saw me, rather ostentatiously put his hand on his pistol. Maybe because he seemed more alarmed by me than aggressive I was more amused than otherwise.

Unfortunately, I sometimes meet people on the trail carrying weapons who do alarm me such as hunters with poor gun safety or people taking potshots at unknown objects with no regard to what is beyond their target. I also have met people who frighten me who aren't obviously carrying a gun. I'm not always sure why some alarm me and others do not, I presume it is their demeanor especially their reaction to me. At times I've looked over my shoulder a lot, turned back, or left camping areas because of them. I've also on occasion wished for my own gun. In reflection, after I'm home, I acknowledge to myself that if I had a gun it would probably not increase my safety. First I've never been assaulted in the backcountry. Also someone who was going to attack me would probably not give me time to mentally and physically be prepared. Anyway, guns and ammunition are heavy and I'm trying to reduce my load, not increase it.


Saturday, March 15, 2008

Hiking and camping comfort food

I mentioned in the past I have problems eating enough calories for optimal energy when hiking. A long trip of car camping and daily hiking almost always results in weight loss, not always bad but not really good either. I gain the weight back at home and get too tired to hike as much as I would like. When I'm trying to eat 'good' food this is even worse. So I'm going to try to emphasize comforts foods this year since I've lost 15 pounds since last September.

A standby of my hiking and camping diet is dried fruit and nuts, for me apricots and almonds are my favorite but I also enjoy many others. I do not like the peanuts and raisin mixtures, often with candy, that are common trail mixes. However, I can only eat so much dried fruit before unpleasant consequences occur. Nuts are more versatile but I want other items. I eat a lot of my homemade hardtack (recipe) often with individual snack packs of cheese. I like the hardtack with various canned meat or fish products but don't often carry them while hiking, messy and difficult to deal with leftovers. Of course I also like candy bars, usually Halloween size, and Wild Berry Power Bars. In the past, I've tried dried or fresh vegetables while hiking but don't really appreciate them.

For car camping, my breakfast mostly is a bowl of oatmeal or Cream of Wheat cereal, maybe some yoghurt, fresh fruit, and sometimes rolls. I also indulge myself and eat Twinkies or Hostess Cupcakes, the only time I can eat these items. Lunch is usually eaten while hiking and dinner may be similar to lunch or canned foods. The only time I eat canned stew or meat or fish is camping, at home they don't appeal to me. If I'm near a store, I may buy sandwiches for the trail or dinner if the weather isn't too warm. Potato chips, pretzels, and other horrible snack products also get eaten. Obviously I am not very careful about my diet when camping, the amount of vegetables eaten is minimal but I don't camp that much of the year to feel too badly about my eating. I wish though I could find more healthful options that I would actually eat.