Thursday, May 15, 2003

Planning and Reading.

So, where's the honeymoon? It's in Banff, Alberta!

That's in Canada. It's amazing how many people you have to explain that to. I've heard, 'That's in Europe, right?' Also, Africa. I've also heard that Alberta is one of the Canadian *States*. Here's how I was taught to remember that Canada has Provinces: think of the put-down 'provincial', and you can't fail to think of Canada. It was reinforced by a gag in an early South Park episode with Terrance and Philip where Toronto was labeled 'Downtown Canada'. Or was that in the movie?

Anyhow, I've been reading up on wilderness backpacking and camping, since Ame and I will be doing plenty in serious backcountry. My book of choice is The Backpacker's Field Manual, by Princeton's Rick Curtis. He is very big on 'leave no trace' methods, and I like reading up on it. I want to do what I can to keep that area as pristine as possible.

I'm sure that some readers would find Curtis an overbearing tree hugger, but what the hell? I'm going for the pristine nature of the areas surrounding Banff, Jasper, and Lake Louise and I want to find it pristine, and they guy after me will want to find it the same way, so I read. However, I found one sensible passage that was too rich in irony for me to pass up:

"Resist the temptation to feed animals, even leaving bread crumbs or seeds for birds or squirrels. Feeding wildlife can upset the natural balance of their food chain, or make them dependent on human food."

The Sierra Club types all say this about feeding animals. The feeder creates the dependency of the fed. How is it that they routinely miss the logic as applied to humans?

There was one double standard that left me a little perplexed. Some who practice 'leave no trace methods' rail against emptying the ol' dump truck in the woods, recommending carrying your feces out with you. I have to think back to the days of yore when I would ask my old co-worker Jerry if he'd like to break for lunch. He'd reply, "Does a bear shit in the woods?"

And so a bear does. The bear does not bring a double lined ammo box. Nor does he use a Glad bag as a glove so that he may retrieve his solids. He just lets it fly any ol' place. Sometimes it hit vegetation. Rarely to bears group up and dig field latrine pits. Sometimes, the bear even unloads the truck less than 200 feet (or about 70 human steps) away from water. I dare say that on some odd Tuesdays, the bear lets it go in the stream itself, just as some men are reputed to let fly in the shower. The human gets nothing but grief.

Truly, humans are held to a higher standard.

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