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Opinion: Cutting weight?

by CHRIS PETERSON
Editor | November 15, 2023 2:00 AM

There was a bright red spot of blood in the track and I wondered how the fox had gotten the injury. Was it from a sharp piece of ice or stone? It was bleeding pretty good... I followed the tracks through the woods and it didn’t seem to be letting up. Every step had a bright red spot in it.

I don’t see the foxes very often. As near as I can tell there’s two, but I have never seen them together. I found the den earlier this year, more by smell than by sight — they had a hauled a deer head back to the den and it was pretty rank.

I imagined the pups rolling it around like a ball, chewing on it. Fox dens typically have a host of items near them. Usually bones and feathers. A few years ago I found a den not far from town and it was littered with chicken and pheasant feathers.

Even with the blood in the snow it didn’t seem like a life-threatening injury to the fox and soon the trail broke off into the trees and I stopped following it.

Still, you wonder. Wild animals have a toughness that seems to be lost on most of us. I watched an idiot on YouTube the other day that recommended not hiking with bandages or a first aid kit. Something to the effect that if he was that badly cut or hurt he was going to go get help, which I suppose meant that he would simply press his phone and a helicopter would show up to save him. 

So his way to “cut weight” was to not pack 2 ounces of bandages.

Cutting weight is a big thing among young hikers, particularly “through” hikers doing the long journeys like the Continental Divide Trail or the Appalachian Trail. I can’t blame them for wanting to trim weight from their packs, but I also think back to a few 100-plus mile hikes I’ve done — with a 13-pound camera on my shoulder, nevermind the pack.

But that pales in comparison to a story I found in our archives from 1983. We had a tale about two women who started the Continental Divide Trail in New Mexico in February and spent month trudging through the snow, as that year normally dry New Mexico was pounded by snowstorms.

The Continental Divide Trail is about 3,000 miles. They figured they snowshoed 1,000 miles of it. They were wrapping up their journey just outside of Polebridge when the Hungry Horse News caught up with them — in November, wearing big heavy aluminum frame packs.

I bet they had a few bandages on them, too.