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[at-l] of danger, fear, weirdo detectors, and other matters

> From: Allyson Natalie Straka <alnstrak@indiana.edu>
> Here is a quick question for you guys.  Do you think its too dangerous
> a woman to hike the trail by herself?  My parents are starting to get on
> my case about hiking it next year by myself.  I would appreciate any
> opinions you all may have.  Thanks!

> Orangebug interrogateth:  [Good grief, Orangebug, ... you been hanging
around lawyers too much?]

> Have you hiked alone? 

In my experience, neither danger nor fear seem to care whether or not I'm
alone, although experience does have a way of increasing inattention ...
and both fear and fearlessness seems sometimes contagious ... didn't we
just read a report about two hiking companions, both hit by lightening?

>  Do you know how difficult it is to get "alone" during hiking season?

Hikers do tend to look out for one another, but crowds and good weather
seem also to attract vermin. The proportion of your average wretch to
weirdos seems nearly constant across the world, so with crowds you get more
weirdos, according to the numbers. 
> How good are you at detecting and dealing with weird people?

I use the hair on the back of my neck as a weirdo detector, but sometimes
in electrical storms and around magnetic rocks and in some windy situations
it produces false positives. When accompanied with warm, wet, smelly air
curling around the back of your neck standing hair indicates a bear has
wandered too close to your jugular, so this detector has some limitations.
Time to play dayed.

Chills also sometimes help, but as a weirdo detector chills can confuse
ambient temperature and wind chill factors for weirdos during cold spells.
But either way, pay attention to chills, since if its not a weirdo you need
to put some clothes on rather quickly, or consider that you have a virus or
malaria or some such thing.

Conversation sometimes helps to ferret out weirdos, but brings you within
speaking and smelling distance and this proximity entails a certain risk to
your person and your future. If you're too sensitive using this weirdo
detector you can miss some startlingly funny and wise and life changing
opinions and information ... 

Sometimes your ears at night or near morning can hear rustling nearby ...
usually we attribute such things to harmless mice or other vermin, keeping
a pot nearby to scare 'em off, but I suggest you wake up and use your eyes
before you try this technique: it could be a skunk. Taking precipitous
action against a skunk can precipitate, a minimum, a new and odorous or
even odious trail name, and will not endear you amongst fellow hikers.
Later you will wish you had brought along some 'maters. Felix know the best
kinds. I'd go for the Beafeater bottle, though, to drown my sorrows for a
while. Taking slower action with a skunk, however, may leave you quite
confused and perplexed about your next move. This is good, because it means
you're thinking. If you think long enough it will walk away without harming
you or your companions and you will need neither 'maters or Beefeater gin.

Flashlights don't help much a night. If it's good enough, and you can find
some very light and powerful tripple A lights, you can sometimes locate a
beady pair of glowing spheres in the bushes. Ordinarily these are eyes of a
creature of some sort staring back into the light and at you and your
companions. Take a little key ring laser toy with you and you can turn the
spheres into this neat, glowing red marble. Either way, beadie eyes in the
darkness staring at you do not always inspire confidence in yourself or
others around you. Low to the ground they could be a snake or a rat or
both; a bit higher from the ground and they could be a skunk, a porcupine,
a fox, a wolf, a hunting dog, a pig, or a raccoon. The one's that vary from
lower to the ground to substantially higher than you, are probably bears.
Take a little proton light. It'll help you find things in your pack, but
that's about it; maybe if its close enough, you'll be able to spot a mouse
in the dark, but it will run out range very quickly.

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