|Chester "Chet" Chase, his wife Suzann Chase, and Martha Clarke, after snowshoeing back to Hale Pond.|
pssst: is that dog up 'ees butt?
Yes, Chet does look rather young for his age. He was a high school teacher though.
Several times at the Lodge, when Chet and Suzann were visiting us, one of our paying bear hunters innocently asked Susann what grade in school that Chet was in. The just couldn't figure him out at first.
I can't say that that kind of thing made me feel bad for Chet and Suzann, or that it was of any humorous value to me. I was rather neutral about it. As I was about Chet and Suzann. I did not particularly care for their company, but I did enjoy it a bit--now and then. I can't remember any outstandingly great or hilarious times we had together, but then they never actually rubbed me the wrong way at any time either.
But I do have to admit that I got a bit of a kick out of hearing how the boys at Chet's school, Katahdin High School, had once 'borrowed' somebody's goat one night and tied it to Chet and Suzann's front porch. Any guy who looked like Chet, well, he was a nice guy at heart, but that don't matter to some of the kinds of rugged outdoorsman type of kids who were in an abundance at Katahdin High. Chet was just a natural target for their favorite brand of high jinx.
My Uncle Finley, Aunt Martha, and I all enjoyed going out snowshoeing. It is great exercise.
When walking on snowshoes, you always wear at least one less outer layer of warm clothing than you usually wear; or else you will become overheated and begin to perspire profusely. You usually take off the heavy coat you normally have to wear outside during cold weather. If you do wear too much warm clothing, when snowshoeing, you will not walk very far before you will become very uncomfortable, and you're inner most layers of clothing will become soaked with sweat. Then if you take your outer coat off, you will be chilled to the bone, in-no-time-flat, by your freezing sweat.
Snowshoes can break. Accidents can happen. And a personal health problem or emergency may arise at the worst time, like at the beginning of a snowstorm in the farthest place you have ever snowshoed to. So be as prepared as you reasonably can, for such problems.
Whenever you are out in the woods, no matter what you are doing, always carry two different, reliable fire sources. Like waterproof matches and a fully filled windproof lighter. And stow them in two different places, in two different layers of clothing, or one fire source in a clothing pocket, and one in a backpack pocket.
When you are either working or having fun, or in many cases having fun at working, in the Great Outdoors, you either follow the rules that experienced outdoors enthusiasts tell you about, or you will eventually suffer the harsh consequences.
So listen to and heed any safety info or instructions that your experienced, professionally qualified ski instructor, scout leader, salesperson in an outdoors outfitter store, Maine Guide, author, etc. offers or gives to you.
For many of us, nothing is much better than a good day in the Great Outdoors.
For all of us, nothing is much worse than being the victim of a preventable, tragic situation in the Great Outdoors.
When you are out in the Great Outdoors, please heed the advice and unbendable rules of outdoors experts--the more local to where you are going into the outdoors that the experts are from, the more reliable their information and advice should be.
For example: there are no ticks, chiggers, or poisonous snakes in the area of Northern Maine where I was granted a Maine Guide's License. But there are black flies, mosquitoes, and midges--no see 'ums, and some, potentially, mighty mean momma moosies.
For our personal protection during summer insect seasons, we Katahdin Lodge hunting guides usually: wore long sleeve shirts--yes, it was in the early summertime; with insect repellent smeared onto our hands and on up our wrists to our lower forearms; we put insect repellent all over our faces, ears, and necks; we even doused some onto the lower part of the sweat bands in our hats; we bloused our work boots, military style, with big rubber bands holding the bottoms of our pants tightly against our boot tops, so that no insects could crawl up our legs.
The most dangerous animal in the woods around Patten Maine is a cow moose with a calf at her side. If you get too close to a cow with a calf, momma moose will defend her calf with some extremely deft and powerful forward kicks of her very hard front hoofs against your much softer body.
I know a little something about protecting one's self from ticks, but not enough to give advice on it. I know nothing about chiggers. I know very little about avoiding poisonous snakes, when hiking, hunting, fishing, camping, etc. in areas with substantial populations of poisonous snakes.
I have hiked and fished in areas with very low numbered poisonous snake populations. I keep my eyes open and constantly look for them. I usually take along a hiking stick to thump on the ground at every step, in hopes that the vibrations from that will travel along the ground and warn any snakes that I'm coming. That trick may not work, but I'll do it till I'm told by an expert on snakes that it doesn't.
I will do some serious research before I ever travel to any geographical areas where there are a lot of poisonous snakes. And when I get there, I will ask questions of knowledgeable authorities and request the right reading material.
In the early 1950s, my Uncle Finley, and my father used to be in the Army Reserves together. They went together to Army Reserve summer training at Ft. Knox, Kentucky. a few times. They later told the family about using clear fingernail polish on their legs to keep the chiggers from digging in under their skin. That's all I know about chiggers, so if I ever go to where the chiggers are a serious problem, I'll find out what to do to prevent them from bothering me. That nail polish trick may be or may not be a good idea, but I know to find out from modern experts before I try it.
I do know a good bit about how to avoid bears in the wild though. But I'd still ask about any new info, tricks, or techniques in any new bear area I might travel to for outdoors activities.
I'd have died forty years ago, out in the wide woods of northern Maine, if I hadn't listened to and heeded what I was taught, by Maine outdoorspersons who know their stuff.
Please be safe on all of your outdoors excursions.
And say hello to a tree for me.
David Robert Crews Copyright 2008