'Twas The Night Before Manning
A PCT Version of:
'Twas the Night Before Christmas
---or "Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas"
Major Henry Livingston, Jr. (1748-1828)
(previously believed to be by Clement Clarke Moore)
--corrupted by Brawny, December 24, 2001
'Twas the night before Manning,
And all through the park
Not a creature was sleeping,
Though t'was plenty dark
Rocks were all piled
Near the tent door with care,
In hopes that they wouldn't
Be needed against bear
Hikers were nestled
Just barely been fed,
While visions of real food
Danced in each head
I on my short pad
Rain on his thermarest,
Had just settled down
For a review of the quest
When out in the camp
There arose such a clatter,
I unzipped the screen
To see what was the matter.
Away in the dark
And just under a tree
Were two camp counselors
Holding one flashlight, to see
And swinging some food bags
By the end of a rope
To fool all the bears
And sleep tight, was their hope
The moon on the breast
Of the new-fallen leaves
The day's heat now spent,
I tucked my hands in my sleeves
Then, what to my remembering eyes should
But a grouse with an attitude
Showing no fear
With a little red comb,
And, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment
He was up to some trick.
More determined than mice
More ferocious than bear
He pecked and rerouted,
As Rain tried to move him from there
At last we hiked by,
Then I heard on the trail,
Such a swoosh, so I jumped
to avoid getting nailed.
As I drew in my feet,
Rainmaker was turning around,
He shouted with surprise
And came with a bound.
That bird was all attitude,
From his head to his toe,
What had pissed him off
We may just never know
Rain pushed him aside
I got back on the trail
Safely hiked on ahead
Turned to see those two males
He was fiesty and angry,
Kept attacking Rain's shoe
I laughed when I saw them,
This bird with no clue;
That grouse was fresh meat,
And had a little round belly,
That wouldn't taste bad
With some cranberry jelly.
If a hiker so chose,
And gave a twist to his head,
He could be lunch meat
Sliced thin between bread;
Rain marveled and laughed,
As he out flanked this bird
Who tried to get to me
With a passion absurd
But the sun started setting,
The border 3 miles away;
The grouse stood his own ground
And his stance seemed to say
"Don't you dare come back,
Or I'll give you some more
I'm lord of this trail
And I've done this before"
But I heard Rain exclaim,
ere we hiked out of sight,
"You'd better be glad
We're bound for Canada tonight!"
Laws Of The Wild (I've Learned The Hard Way)
Submitted By Rainmaker
When a bull buffalo in Yellowstone National Park decides that he does not want to have his picture taken, all efforts at photography should cease immediately.
Being lost on the Paris subway system provides quite an incentive to learn the French language.
When your life depends on it, sometimes a 3-season tent will stand up to a full blown blizzard.
Black bears with cubs in the Smokies don't like to share their blackberries with hikers.
Grizzlies in Alaska don't like to share their blackberries with hikers, either.
When you have no other choice, you can hike quite a distance with a broken bone in your foot.
When selecting a campsite in the arctic, don't pitch a tent in a green, mossy area. It's green and mossy because that's where water stands after a good, hard rain.
Its almost impossible to burn up a wet tent, but you can scorch the heck out of one.
Backpacking stoves are actually calculating, patient psychopaths, silently plotting the painful demise of their owners.
Elk dearly love to urinate on unattended sleeping bags.
If there is a heaven for backpackers, it probably looks a lot like Denali National Park in Alaska.
Mountain goats feel that they have the right-of-way on trails that traverse their territory, regardless of how precipitous the terrain. Arguing this point can be hazardous to your health.
Lying awake all night in a tent listening to avalanches in the Italian Alps while reading a Stephen King novel by candlelight can give you nightmares later on.
As far as I can tell, there are no zip-loc bags, Coleman fuel or salad bars anywhere in Europe.
Calling a rude rest room attendant a bad name is not a good way to gain admittance to a pay toilet in France.
When a Customs official in London asks if you know where you are, expect to have your baggage searched.
I can get by alone in a country where the language is different, providing the alphabet is the same as ours. However, if both the language and the alphabet are different, I wouldn't try it.
A sharp $40 Buck knife can provide quite an attitude adjustment for a tight pair of $30 hiking boots.
Don't ever look directly into a geyser, regardless of how calm and well behaved it seems at the moment.
We sit as many risks as we run. The weakest among us can be some kind of athlete, but only the strongest can survive as spectators.
A Trail Maintenance Story (Or "Maniac With A Weedwhacker?")
Submitted By Rainmaker
I'm a District Leader with the Georgia Appalachian Trail Club, and I've logged about 1,300 hours of trail work. My district extends 9 trail miles from Dick's Creek Gap in GA to Bly Gap in NC. I maintain a 1.4 mile section within the district, and oversee the work of 8 other maintainers.
I've learned (the hard way) that if I show up with an ax or chainsaw (or other "implements of destruction", as one hiker put it), I can't assume that everyone else on the trail knows that I'm a trail worker.
The incident described here actually happened when I was cutting weeds on my trail section between Cowart Gap and Bull Gap one hot summer day a few years ago.
A fellow trail maintainer had offered me the use of her daughter's gasoline powered weedwhacker, but only for one day. She explained that she had to get the tool back to her daughter, who was planning on doing some yard work. So, I picked it up and drove to Dick's Creek Gap, where I proceeded to hike the 2.1 miles to my trail section.
The weedwhacker started right up, and soon I was happily obliterating every weed in sight that had dared trespass upon my beloved trail section. I really got into it, thinking that this sure beat the heck out of using a swingblade. Anyway, about 4 hours later, I heard a clap of thunder. I looked up and saw that the sky was about the color of asphalt. I was over 3 miles from my car, and I knew that I was going to get caught in a heavy thunderstorm. Knowing that I was going to get wet anyway, was in no real danger from lightning because of all the trees around and that I had to return the weedwhacker that evening, I decided to keep cutting weeds.
I didn't get caught in just a garden variety thunderstorm. It was one of those storms that went on for hours, with lots of thunder and lightning, and very heavy wind and rain. I vaguely remember how the wet weed and grass clippings clung to my clothes and body, and that I was having some difficulty keeping the perspiration and rain out of my eyes. Since I was using both hands to cut weeds, I used some jerky head and body movements, which probably appeared very strange, to keep the moisture out of eyes and off my face. Also, I was wearing camo pants because they have lots of pockets, which is handy when doing trail work.
Suddenly, some movement behind me caught my eye. Startled, I spun around quickly (with the weedwhacker still in my hands), to see a young, Gore-Tex clad couple practically running past me just off the trail. I spoke to them, but they didn't speak back. I thought that they were just in a hurry to get to the shelter at Plumorchard Gap to get out of the storm. A few hours later, my long, hot, hard and very wet day came to an end. I took the weedwhacker home, cleaned it, and returned it to my friend.
Several weeks later, I was on another trail maintenance trip, checking on the shelter at Plumorchard Gap. There was a register in the shelter, and I began reading through it. I reached an entry that had been made by the young couple whom I'd encountered while cutting weeds during the severe thunderstorm. To the best of my recollection, this is what it said:
"A very strange and disturbing incident occurred on our hike here from Dick's Creek Gap today. First, we got caught in a hellacious thunderstorm. We were both a bit concerned about all the lightning, but decided to try to get here to the shelter. The wind picked up to about 35 mph and it was raining almost horizontally. A couple of miles north of Dick's Creek Gap, we began to hear a very strange buzzing noise ahead of us. Neither of us could figure out what it was. Several minutes later, we rounded a bend in the trail and saw a very strange sight. A man was cutting weeds with a power tool in the raging thunderstorm, oblivious to us and everything else around him. This guy was covered in weeds and grass from his head to his toes. He hadn't seen us, and we ducked off the trail into the woods. We watched him for a few minutes, and discussed our options. I wanted to go back to our car at Dick's Creek Gap, but my friend Todd wanted to take our chances and try to make a run for it and get past this character. We decided to go for it. When we were almost past him, he saw us. He turned and faced us and said something like, "Hello, how are you doing?". We practically ran down the trail, and finally made it safely to the shelter. If this crazy person follows us here, we don't know what we are going to do. We won't sleep well tonight. I am writing this as a warning to others who may encounter this apparently deranged person. We don't know if he is an escaped mental patient, out on work release, or is just plain crazy."
I guess they had quite a story to tell when they got back to Atlanta. As for me, I'm still at it, helping to keep my trail district well blazed and free of weeds, briars, limbs and blowdowns. If you see some "weird" character out there, hopefully it's just me.
Ballad Of The Trail Maintenance Crew or "It's A War Out There"
Submitted By Nancy Lemoine
"It's a war out there!"
Went out the cry.
"It's a war out there!"
Those shrubs must die!"
So with loppers in hand
The valiant few
Went off to the trail
And plants they slew.
With the plants cleared away
The tread was exposed --
The roots, the slough,
The muck decomposed.
"It's a war out there!
Put on your gas masks,
Pick up your pulaskis
And set to your tasks!"
They chopped and they dug,
They grubbed and they pried
Out rocks seen in China
(Just the underside).
And on up the trail
Were heard cussing and hoots.
A muck hole was acting up,
Sucking off boots.
"Let's drain it!" they shouted,
"We'll scrape off the mud,
Dig out some ditches
And clear out the crud.
"No more shall that muck hole
Sad hikers waylay."
Some counted the battle
Won for the day.
But more was the come.
The vanguard saw true
A portion of swamp
The trail cut through.
'Twas time for some puncheon,
A bridge they would make.
So they cut down some trees,
Which they dragged through the brake.
They skinned them and trimmed them
'Til stringers they were,
And they laid them out straight
To be covered with fir.
(Or cedar, as their puncheon boards
Turned out to be,
Brought in by the Horsemen
Of the Backcountry.)
They laid it all out
As straight as they could,
Then they drilled through some holes
And drove spikes in the wood.
Some staggered and stumbled
As they left that fray,
All coated with sweat
And caked over with clay.
"It's a war out there,"
Passed faint from the lips
Of a few who had stopped
To clear out some dips
As they headed down-trail
At the end of the day.
"It's a war out there,
But we'd like to stay
"'Cause it's fun to get dusty
And covered with dirt.
It's rewarding when mud
Finds its way down your shirt.
It's a kick when your hair's
Full of leaves at the end,
When you're not sure your muscles
Ever will mend.
It's a war out there!"
The Hiker Defense
(How to get thrown out of a time-share presentation.)
A short story, based on fact, by David Crane
"I'm going to show you how you can OWN a suite in this resort for one or two
weeks a year for less money than you are currently spending for vacations.
Then, as a time-share owner, you will have locked in your vacation costs for
the rest of your lives, at less than the average family is currently
spending!" The speaker's name was Jacob*, a finance major who spoke New
York American with a Latino accent.
My wife, our seven-month old son, and I were sitting through a Fairland
Properties* time-share sales presentation in Orlando, Florida. We were
there for the "freebies": Five nights in Orlando and Daytona, a $40.00 gift
certificate to Planet Hollywood, plus free tickets to Animal Kingdom for
$299.00 - if we would sit through a time-share presentation. I can sit
through anything for two hours, (the maximum legal time they are permitted
to "hold you" by law) and I've been there, done this, before. The goal here
is to maximize vacation time and minimize toxic-sales-exposure time by
getting yourself thrown out in significantly less than two hours. After two
hours, they OWE you the freebies. To get them in less time, they have to
WANT you to leave early.
For part of the presentation, one is usually taken for a tour through a
suite in the resort. In this case, this involved a ten minute shuttle bus
ride. On the way over, I met another time-share-presentation
veteran / survivor and we began to discuss amusing exit strategy
possibilities. For the sake of humor only, the concept of pinching my son
under the table until he started screaming was suggested. Since that would
hurt, and may be child abuse, we decided not to do that.
Besides, as I told my new acquaintance, I have "The Hiker Defense" - an exit
strategy that gets me (with my lovely parting gifts and hotel vouchers)
practically thrown out, in seconds flat.
It goes something like this. After the initial introduction, slide show or
movie, and demo tour, you sit down with your "advisor" and he or she begins
to "run the numbers" that usually prove that you are indeed a fool, who is
financially irresponsible and doesn't love his / her family, if you don't buy
a vacation time-share TODAY! (And today only, this offer cannot legally be
extended to you tomorrow - you have to buy NOW! - or my supervisor comes in
with the rubber hoses, thumb screws and third-degree guilt-trip.)