Mungo & Matt's Hike in the Valley

Last weekend my friend Matt and I went for a hike down into the valley woods near my home. We brought backpacks and supplies for a quick lunch. Matt brought his camera, and took all of these pictures... Once you have viewed these pictures, please remit a royalty check in the amount of $12.50 to him immediately. He will appreciate it.

Hike in the Valley - June 12, 2010
I pointed out plants wherever I could. I'd be a lot of fun at a cocktail party. If they had wild plants about. That is. This is a jumble of Yellow Wood Sorrel that I forced Matt to consume.

Hike in the Valley - June 12, 2010
I don't know what this fungus is, and I don't have my mushroom book with me, so I'll update this post once I figure it out. All I know is that it looked really interesting.

Hike in the Valley - June 12, 2010
Also, I am jealous of Matt's camera. It is a big ol' Canon DSLR. It takes some nice pictures, with his assistance, of course. He pushes the shutter-release button and aims the lens in the right direction.

Hike in the Valley - June 12, 2010
I was mildly terrified when I realized that the rotten wood upon which the fungus was feasting was completely occupied (infested) by ravenous, pissed off Red Ants. I was bitten or stung by one last year and it hurt and burned for ages.

Hike in the Valley - June 12, 2010
I rapidly dusted off my arms and inspected my shirt carefully lest one of them decide to crawl down my collar and express its disdain of bipeds. Ants are really interesting. I don't know much about them. Maybe I'll learn more about them. In the (winner of most unfortunately pronounced acronym of a journal of the year award - think about it) 'Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences' journal, there is an article that says this:
"Ants are arguably the greatest success story in the history of terrestrial metazoa. On average, ants monopolize 15–20% of the terrestrial animal biomass, and in tropical regions where ants are especially abundant, they monopolize 25% or more. But ants did not always run the world. They do not appear in the fossil record until the mid-Cretaceous, and for more than the first half of their history—a period spanning 60 to 80 million years—ants occupied a relatively modest position in the terrestrial biosphere."
Hike in the Valley - June 12, 2010
Here is a picture of me making tea. I like milk and sugar in my tea, so I made a small bag containing half and half milk powder and sugar. I thought that was very clever of me.

Hike in the Valley - June 12, 2010
Here I am again. I'm situated close to our fire, and our pile of birch wood. I am using a ferrocerium rod to light my Trangia alcohol stove.

A funny thing happened. (Normally when you come across that phrase, you should expect to hear that something not so funny occurred. In order to remain consistent with other writers - as I shall refer to myself - I will ensure that you are not surprised.) I had filled up my aluminum pot and placed it on my Trangia stove, and walked away to get some dried pine branches to get the fire going. Matt said 'Hey, your water is boiling...'. I looked over and indeed, much to my non-surprise, steam was bubbling out of the lid. So I replied 'Yeah, it is', and sat down to make my tea (This is not the exciting part of the story, as you can probably surmise by the casual tone of the conversation).

Here is the exciting part of the story:

As I prepared my little pot-gripper - the one that came with the mini Trangia kit - the steam that bubbled out from the lid became intermingled with little licks of blue and orange flame. I tilted my head like a dog, trying to figure out what was happening. Matt looked at it too and I looked at him and he looked at me and he looked confused. Then in an instant, I realized that I had brought the wrong Nalgene bottle with me on the hike. Not the one full of cool water for drinking and for cooking, but rather the one I had filled with methanol for my stove, and had intended to label 'Poison - Methyl Alcohol Stove Fuel'. I had a pot full of rapidly boiling stove fuel in front of me. I took the lid off and it flared up. But not like white naphtha gas would have, and I quickly dumped it on the ground where the fire was.

So I learned the following: Store fuel in a Nalgene bottle if you must, but always label it. It is a good thing that I didn't take a swig from it, as I was thinking I might, just as I was filling my pot full of fuel. That would have been a bad thing. And don't use a permanent ink pen to label your bottle directly, as methanol dissolves the ink, leaving you in the same vulnerable situation... wrap your bottle with duct tape to distinguish it from your food and water bottles. Word to the wise...

Okay, so it wasn't that exciting, but still... it was exciting in the moment.

Hike in the Valley - June 12, 2010
I brought a pouch of ready-made rice with me for a bite. They're great, but already have the water in it, so not great for light-weight trekking. Matt had a bottle of hot sauce. I followed his lead and liberally applied it to my meal. It was good and fiery hot, like a pot of boiling stove fuel.

Hike in the Valley - June 12, 2010
I have a hat.

Hike in the Valley - June 12, 2010
I have a Mora knife in a neck sheath.

Hike in the Valley - June 12, 2010
A good campfire is a good antidote for the pains of living and working.

Hike in the Valley - June 12, 2010
This unknown flowering ground vine looks nice. It tangled around our feet as we walked toward the woods from the river.

Hike in the Valley - June 12, 2010
In an image reminiscent of Patterson's Bigfoot footage, here I am walking away to get more fuel for the fire. And not as in 'boiling vat of stove fuel' fuel. But wood fuel.

Hike in the Valley - June 12, 2010
I had never seen the river so full and fast before. It had rained earlier that day, and maybe there had been a lot of rain up north... the beach I normally wander out onto was completely immersed. Amazing.

Hike in the Valley - June 12, 2010
Here I am being amazed by the river.

Hike in the Valley - June 12, 2010
Here I am on the river path.

Hike in the Valley - June 12, 2010
Here I am maniacally smiling on the river path.

Hike in the Valley - June 12, 2010
I like my thrift shop backsack.

Hike in the Valley - June 12, 2010
After a good walk about, we returned to my home. It was getting hot by then, so I removed my hat. Here is that exact moment captured on film when that happened.

Hike in the Valley - June 12, 2010
If I were President, I would have a photographer follow me around and take photos of me when I was walking about, just pondering things. As in the photograph above.

Hike in the Valley - June 12, 2010
When we arrived back, my little boy James was wearing his Hot Dog T-Shirt. He was very happy.

Hike in the Valley - June 12, 2010
Monty the Beagle was happy to see his Uncle Matt. He too had a maniacal smile.

Hike in the Valley - June 12, 2010
Finally, this post ends with a macro image of Jame's favourite drink coaster, which he considers to be a wonderful toy.

Cheers,

Mungo

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