Roll’s Field Guide to Outdoors People

IMG_8115It’s almost summer! Granted, all the rainy weather and low temps we’ve been having around here this week makes it feel like mid-March rather than early June. But there have been lots of reports about how the different state and national parks are gearing up for the big tourist season. On top of that, it’s National Trails Day here in the U.S. on Saturday – expect a posting on that fairly soonish, boys and girls.

Now, wherever you go to hike, bike or otherwise recreate this summer, you’re going to see a lot of different kinds of people doing much the same thing in their own different ways. So, for your edification and enjoyment, I give you the first installment of the not-exactly-official, not-really-scientific and strictly tongue-in-cheek Roll’s Field Guide to Outdoors People.

The Competitive Weekend Cyclist: Velocipedis tourdefrancis

Spotted in droves on the weekends on scenic roads, pedaling at hell-for-leather speeds. Easily identifiable by their frighteningly chiseled leg tendons and the way they go pedaling up hills at speeds that make the rest of us feel kind of faint. Both the male and the female of the species favor tight-fitting Lycra clothing with designer labels prominently displayed. Certain members of the species also have been known to favor carbon-frame or titanium-frame bicycles with a minimum sales price in the four figures.

The Barbecue King: Spatulaflipperis shrimponthebarbii

Gregarious and family-oriented, this species can be found holding court in the camping and picnic areas of state and county parks during the summer. May be spotted wearing aprons that say “Kiss the Cook” or “King of the Grill.” Certain members of the species have been known to argue for hours over the merits of certain brands of charcoal and lighter fluid. Skill tends to vary; some of these creatures (of the Food Network devotee sort) can grill steak or fish to perfection, while others need to be gently reminded that there is a difference between well-done and carbonized.

The Appalachian Trail Devotee: Thruhikeris mainetogeorgius

These stalwart, strong-legged souls know how to rack up the mileage; for some members of the species, a 13-mile hike is considered a decent day’s walking. Can talk for long periods of time about their navigating the Lemon Squeezer, know where the best shelters are along the trail, and will speak in hushed tones about the Hundred Mile Wilderness.

The Bird Watcher: Audubonis lookatthebirdii

As soon as spring turns, these genial creatures take to the woods with wide-brimmed hats, binoculars, field guides and sensible shoes. With almost superhuman hearing, they can tell a warbler’s song apart from a tanager’s in three notes. Necks and heads are almost always seen tilted upwards.

The Inspector Gadget-type Hiker: Gearheadis hightechii

Would not dream of setting out on a hike unless equipping themselves with the latest equipment and every single gadget available, not the least of which is the very latest GPS unit. Is quite often a geocaching addict. Often closely related to the genus Photographis (see below).

The Shutterbug: Photographis saycheesium

Will be found, often in large numbers, at every scenic pull-out along the road or any appropriately scenic spot along the trail. The more amateur members of the species will be taking selfies, usually with the ubiquitous sticks, to display on Facebook and Instagram. The more dedicated types may be seen carrying heavy backpacks full of camera gear that cost at least a year’s salary, including at least one telephoto lens that is the length of an adult forearm. (See above: genus Gearheadis.)

The Outdoors Writer/Blogger: Scribbleris peripateticus

This species encompasses a wide range of attributes, but they all have one thing in common: they wander out into the woods with a notebook and wait for the muse to inspire, or for a case of deadline-induced panic to set in. This group includes pros like journalists and authors of outdoors guides, as well as smart-alecky John and Jane Q. Publics who write up snappy little accounts of their hikes and post them on WordPress for all to see.

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