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Down the Rabbit Hole: Advice for first time hikers.

My son shared with me that he and his pal were going on a one-hundred-eighty mile hike this past summer and I knew he’d never been on an overnight hike in his life so I sent him this.

Let me preface this with the caveat that I am not a big hiker. I’ll go for a day hike if my wife drags me on some outing where the air is fresh and she gets to see a hawk but overnight adventure hiking I will not do…not since I discovered hotels. Sleeping on the ground with no pillow to snuggle with and no coffee maker gurgling a hot cup of wake-up juice as my eyes flutter open in the morning is not my idea of fun. I’m not even going to address the bugs, bears and other wildlife I have no interest in getting to know better than I know them now nor the lack of hygienic facilities, a shower, a toilet.

Taking a leak in the great outdoors is man’s God given right. It’s at least fifty percent of the joy of being a man in the first place. My pecker may not be the frisky puppy it once was but by God I can pee down the side of a tree trunk any damn time I see fit! I can even thump it against the rough bark to shake the last drops out if I deem it necessary. Oh, the joy of it. Taking a dump outdoors is another matter altogether. In my Boy Scout days I learned a thing or two. Be sure to squat deeply and tilt back as far as you can with your butthole well away from your pants that will be resting invitingly at your ankles. The inattentive crapper will be dismayed to look down and see a steaming pile of his own mess centered neatly in his underwear. Didn’t bring toilet paper? Hope you know your leaves. Wipe your tail with the wrong stack of greenery and your trip is as good as over, not to mention that you’ll be walking like you were in Deliverance for a whole week when you get back.

Oh, and here’s a weird thing. Don’t be surprised to notice that the color of your stool is different from what you’re used to seeing in the bowl. Brown is all the rage on the home front but outdoors in my scouting day I was appalled…freaked actually when green came up just as often. Sometimes there are hints of red and yellow too. It could be that your dump is just as nervous about exposing itself out in the open like that as you are and in a final desperate move, like a chameleon it changes color to protect itself. Whatever the reason keep your wits about you. Your traveling companions do not want to hear you shout out, “Come quickly, there’s something wrong with my shit.” I promise you they won’t come to look at your weird stack and you’ll end up being sneered at as some kind of Nancy-Man. BTW…If the reds and yellows continue at home…see your physician asap!


Being away from your loved ones will color your feelings with faint brushes of loneliness. This happens quite often. Sometimes it’s not loneliness at all but an unexpected and wonderful sense of being off the reservation and you’re unconsciously hoping something magical might happen. You know what I’m talking about…meeting strange and exotic women in the forest. These encounters happen from time to time and you must be wary. Please remember, no matter what you might have heard or made up in your no doubt thrilling fantasy life, there are no such things as ‘wood nymphs. ’ Before you convince yourself that the two women you come upon lounging around a crackling fire sipping chardonnay from plastic cups, smoking hand rolled cigarettes and laughing quietly are in desperate need of your company, your manly touch, do yourself a favor and check a few things out. Don’t even take a seat around the fire if upon closer inspection you notice one or both of said ‘nymphs’ are missing teeth. Shaved or partially shaved heads adorned by a frightening number of piercings are not a good sign either and if you’re fantasies take flight at the tantalizing glimpse of the fanged cobra tattoo disappearing beneath a loosely fitting tank top… back off immediately. As is often the case with would be ‘nymphs’ they’re more than likely biker girls on holiday from the GANG and God only knows what mischief they get up to in the woods on their own when the sun goes down. If you dare to engage…god forbid you make some kind of awkward play for a sexual encounter…be prepared to wake up in the morning chained to a tree with your knickers around your knees and a stout piece of rough forest lumber jammed up your ass. Sonny, they seen you coming!


Strange things happen out on the trail. You get tired, hungry and a sense of hopelessness can overtake you. Your thoughts are swirling with doubt… “why did I decide to do this….how much fucking further…it’s day two and I’ve already run out of shit to say”….and then it starts to rain. Now you’re wet and cold and you can’t get a fire lit and GOD DAMN IT! In a moment of weakness because it’s three a.m. and you’re violent shivering is keeping you awake, you decide to crawl into your partner’s sleeping bag. Christ …he might even welcome you. Don’t do it. It may feel like the right thing to do…even the smart thing…but pretend for a moment its weeks later and you’re at a cocktail party. You’re girlfriend’s there. Everyone’s laughing along with you as you regale them with the ‘the night of the terrible rains’ part of your journey and you end it with the sentence…”and then I was so cold I slipped into Jimmy’s sleeping bag….to get warm.” I don’t care how you say it…it’s going to come out wrong. Maybe someone will ask it, maybe no one will, but they’ll all be thinking… “And then what happened???”

I hope this helps!

Love, Dad.

I wish I had written more specifically about poison sumac!!!

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