Sunday, June 3, 2012

Fashionable forestry

Hey ya'll

sometimes I wonder, why I even bother to dress up when I go into the forest. Hiking is pretty grueling business, and so is climbing up steep muddy hills with nothing but pieces of rope to hold on to, so "practical forest wear" is usually in order. Problem is, when I think of "practical forest wear", the first things that come to mind are the khaki shorts and dirty-green shirts that many of my idols (Steve Irwin, and Ruud Kleinpaste) are often see with on screen. And so, perhaps on a subconscious level, I find myself "replicating" those looks... careful to match earthen colored bottoms, with foliage colored or themed tops.

Of course, there ARE actual benefits to dressing in such a manner. Shorts are comfortable, airy and permit movement in our sweltering tropical heat, cotton shirts breathe well and avoid that ghastly (and frustrating) feeling of having unabsorbed sweat pooling on the cleft in one's back. Natural shades also mean that animals are less likely to notice me coming in for a close-up shot provided that I move stealthy enough. As good as these points may turn out to be though, they are entirely coincidental and I must say that I do not set out picking my "hiking outfit" with these considerations in mind. Usually, and I am not ashamed to admit this, my thoughts go along the lines of something more similar to this

"How will I look when I put these clothes on... ?"


"will Steve Irwin or Ruud Kleinpaste wear the same things?!"

But you would think, at the end of the day, that hiking in such nice clothes would almost always result in their soiling by sweat, mud, and all kinds of other dirty things one brushes up against when walking into the forest, and indeed, those were my precise thoughts as I stared ruefully at my shorts. Stained brown from where I leaned sideways against a tree not five seconds earlier. Why do I even bother dressing up when I go into the forest... it's not like I have a camera crew documenting my every exploits (though maybe part of me wishes that I did). As I begin the long and steady hike down and prepare myself for the onerous task of scrubbing dried mud off of khaki, I notice among the brown a small red stain. Slowly, like a flower, kissed by the warm caress of the morning sun, it blossomed. Belatedly I realized yet another coincidental benefit of wearing light/tan colored shorts into the forest; you always know immediately when you've been bitten by leeches.

But for the net and the convenient backpack, looking like I could be lounging around the golf-course at a reputable country club.

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