Category Archives: Out Afoot: Stroll, Ski, Scramble, Snowshoe

Everything about getting around on two feet.

Devices and Desires Redux: The Facebook Follies

‘Tis not too late to seek a newer world.

by Farwell Forrest | March 19, 2018

A bitter harvest? It sure sounds like it. A swelling chorus of insiders are affirming what we’ve long suspected, that Facebook is harvesting the most intimate details of our (once) private lives and then turning a blind eye when their lovingly curated data is used to target political ads and influence the outcome of national elections. Facebook’s flacks deny this, of course. But maybe you don’t find their “hear no evil, see no evil” shtik convincing. (We certainly don’t.) Or maybe you’re simply tired of letting a bourse of billionaires decide what you should read and see and do. If so, why not “go commando”? Drop Facebook, leave tweeting to the birds, and start rediscovering the real world, in all its untidy, unfiltered splendor.

That’s where we come in. Tamia Nelson’s Outside and Back in the Same Boat are celebrations of freedom—freedom to go where YOU want, do what YOU want, and see what YOU want. Canoeing, cycling, hillwalking… … Continue reading »

On Keeping a Journal: Fixing Images on the Emulsion of Memory

Alexander Mackenzie did it. So did Henry David Thoreau, Mina Hubbard, Raymond Patterson, and Sigurd Olson. And you can, as well. In fact, if you canoe or kayak—or if you just take an active interest in what’s going on in the world outside your door—you’d be foolish not to. Curious? Then read on. Tamia will tell you all you need to know about keeping a journal.

by Tamia Nelson | March 16, 2018
Originally published in different form on May 21, 2002

When Colin Fletcher smashed his only camera, far down a trail in the depths of the Grand Canyon, he cursed his luck. After all, he was walking through country he’d probably never visit again. Before long, however, his spirits had soared. He discovered that he’d escaped from the “tyranny” of photography. “Instead of stopping briefly to photograph and forget,” he later wrote, “I stood and stared, fixing truer images on the emulsion of memory.”

The emulsion of memory… It’s a wonderful turn of phrase, isn’t it? But there’s a problem. Unlike … Continue reading »

Batteries Not Included: The Virtues of Simplicity

It might be April. The ground under the cedars is almost bare, the town roads are turbid rivers running between low dikes of salty slush, and a foraging blackbird is flashing scarlet epaulettes at anyone bold enough to approach him. It might be April. But it’s not. The snow will return. The New Model Climate may be making Canoe Country winters shorter than they used to be, but it hasn’t stopped the wheel of the year from spinning round. Winter will stay with us for a little while yet. And winter has lessons to teach us about our dependence on technology, as this tale from another time and place makes clear. So imagine there’s a winter storm headed your way. Because sooner or later, there will be.

by Farwell Forrest | February 23, 2018
Originally published in much different form on March 6, 2001

I s I write this, a major winter storm is threatening the mid-Atlantic coast. Some parts of the country, places where a couple of inches of snow usually bring traffic to … Continue reading »

Self-Reliance Revisited: Why Does the Slave Embrace His Chains?

Having explored the downsides of bucket lists in an earlier article and then waded into the murky waters of device-driven commercial media last week, Farwell now turns his attention to the devices themselves—and to the effect they’re having on how we experience our world. Do you think this doesn’t have anything to do with canoeing? Well, you couldn’t be more wrong. That’s Farwell’s notion, anyway. Why not see what you think?

by Farwell Forrest | February 16, 2018

I don’t suppose that anyone reads Emerson anymore. I know I don’t. No, that’s not true. I didn’t. But I do now. And only now do I realize what I’ve been missing. My belated foray into the thickets of Transcendentalist literature began prosaically enough. I was chasing down the source of a quote I’d seen in The Complete Walker, and the search took me to one of Emerson’s most celebrated essays: “Self-Reliance.” I found the quote I was seeking in short order, but I also found a lot more—an exhaustive, eye-opening discourse on the worm … Continue reading »

Kicking the Bucket List: In Praise of Serendipity

Many blogs and websites now showcase bucket lists. They’re as important to the modern traveler as his smartphone. But is this a good thing? Last week, Farwell weighed up the bucket list’s destructive potential. And this week? With a little help from the princes of Serendip, he’s digging deeper.

by Farwell Forrest | February 2, 2018
Originally published in somewhat different form on July 18, 2017

Bucket lists are all the rage these days, touted by legions of bloggers and countless chambers of commerce. The former are probably in the game for the notoriety: “Hey, guys, I just got back from checking out the seals on Elephant Island. That was Number 125 on my list. Awesome!” The chambers of commerce aren’t into bragging rights, however. As you’d expect, they have their eyes fixed firmly on the bottom line, and any list of must‑see attractions is tailor‑made to lure ever larger flocks of sheep to the shearing pen.

What’s not to like? Bucket lists bring clicks to bloggers who’d otherwise have nothing to say and tourist dollars to rural communities … Continue reading »

A Declaration of Independence: Kicking the Bucket List

As flash mobs assemble on lonely summits and “binge hiking” enters the working newshound’s vocabulary, it’s time to take a closer look at the bucket list. Is it a benign phenomenon, just the latest New Big Thing to engage the attention of a networked nation desperately seeking diversion? Or is it something else — a final breach in the last wall protecting wild places, say? Farwell opts for the latter alternative. And today he makes his case.

by Farwell Forrest | January 26, 2018

Experts are springing up everywhere we turn today, like thistles in an overgrazed field. Yet who would dare complain? In our increasingly complex and interconnected world, expertise is sorely needed. Still, for those of us who aren’t experts — and that’s most of us, I suppose — it’s easy to become confused, particularly when so many of the experts offer contradictory advice.

The upshot? It soon becomes painfully obvious that no single expert has a monopoly on truth. This isn’t to say that there’s no such thing as consensus, of course. The subject of global warming … Continue reading »

Knots to Know: The Figure-Eight Loop by Tamia Nelson

If you’ve been reading SameBoat Shorts these last two weeks, then you know the importance of learning the ropes. But that’s not enough. Every paddler should learn a few good knots, too. Last week, Tamia tied one on with a bowline, but this week she’s in the loop with an alternative, and it 8n’t hard to tie at all.

A trekker’s world can come unstuck in a hurry if he doesn’t have a rope AND if he doesn’t know how to use it. Which is why learning the ropes is as important as learning any basic skill. Knowing which knots to use and when comes with the territory. And sooner or later, every adventurer will need to make a fixed loop in a length of rope. The bowline is a very good way to do this, but good as it is, the bowline isn’t perfect.

Where does it fall down? Well, to begin with, the bowline holds best in laid rope. Braided rope — probably the most common type in use today — is slipperier and … Continue reading »