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How Can a Traveler Best "Lie Fallow" in Winter?

You've heard me advertise that a traveler should take a couple months off in the winter, and live differently that the rest of the year. Even if you don't agree, I ask you to pretend that you do, so that we can play ball and see where it goes.

We need a metaphor, lest we drown in petty details and verbosity. Consider the remarkable statement that the Wikipedia article on "Crop Rotation" starts off with:
Middle Eastern farmers practiced crop rotation in 6000 BC without understanding the chemistry, alternately planting legumes and cereals.
Then the three crop rotation became the tradition, by adding a fallow field as one of the three "crops." Wikipedia was vague on how a fallow field was actually helpful.  Did it just sit there, doing nothing?

Fallow fields were replaced later by growing turnips and clover (a legume) in a four crop rotation. Thus the amount of food increased. (See the Wikipedia article on the "British Agricultural Revolution.") Today alfalfa is a popular legume for that part of the rotation.

A traveler in winter doesn't just want to lie fallow. He wants to do something active and positive: a new toy he can pound the crap out of! He can't just multiply his normal activities of spring/summer/autumn by negative one, in winter. For instance, if you hike in the mountains for 9-10 months of the year, must you give it up in the winter? (There are a few high mountains in the Southwest, but who wants cold and snow in the winter? Isn't that what you came here to get away from?)

Rather than use direct negation, let's look for a third choice. It's easy to underestimate how different walking is from hiking, and how satisfying it is to walk with a purpose, such as buying groceries or hitting up a coffee shop or library. Why, you might get so fond of purposeful walking that your normal hiking in the mountains seems comparatively sterile and pointless. 

You will have to be pro-active and seek out such a place. Don't expect to just find it. Consider the efforts that a friend of mine goes to: he rents in RV parks by the month. He doesn't drag a "towed" along behind his motorhome, therefore he must put quite a bit of work into finding interesting walks that can be done right from his RV park. More times than not, he succeeds. It would work out better for the walker if he were downtown; but most RV parks are out on the edge of town, so you aren't likely to harvest six interesting places on your daily routine. (But I'm resisting putting in my standard advertisement for bicycling at this point.)

You could also walk (or "hike", if you insist) up arroyos in the Southwest. I've hardly ever been disappointed with a no-name arroyo. Exploring them involves a mindset completely different than your 9-10 month job of doing brand-name trails, bagging peaks and postcards. The arroyos will always take you back to where you started, so you can relax, and walk them without a destination. You never know what you are going to see around the next bend: a spring, a microclimate with plants that seem out of place, freakishly vertical walls, or interesting rocks. Sometimes you go around the bend and your friendly little arroyo becomes a scary slot canyon. And say, wouldn't the bank of the arroyo be a great place for a cougar to lie in wait for food that delivers itself!

It hardly needs mentioning that bringing a dog along on that arroyo walk is the ultimate in satisfaction -- for both of you.

Rupert, canine action hero, from Life's Little Adventures.

I've purposely avoided another advertisement for switching from solitary mountain biking to club road cycling.  Instead, we need to consider other types of "crop rotation": our habits with music, books, movies, food, and sleeping.  Later.


edlfrey said…
Thanks for the link Boonie. That should just about double my viewer count. I also appreciate that you had kind words about my life style and didn't disparage my renting space in a RV Park as is your usual wont. HA
It puts the pressure on me to find some more good routes however.
John V said…
That little white dog was smart enough to avoid the two bozos trying to save him. :-)

I like the crop rotation concept. You should sell the idea to Del Webb in exchange for some free winter housing! I bet you could even find a Dell Webb cycling club to party with.
I'm open to negotiating with Del Webb.
Jim and Gayle said…
We're big fans of arroyos and washes, too. In fact the past two days we've bundled up in our winter gear and hiked the washes in the Wikieup desert behind the RV park. I will admit it's much more entertaining and exciting hiking with dogs, but this will have to do until we meet up with dog owning friends like you again.
That's one of the benefits of group activities: somebody else has to provide the canine entertainment!