Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 75.djvu/278

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274
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY

COLLECTING AND CAMPING AFOOT
By A. S. HITCHCOCK

SYSTEMATIC AGROSTOLOGIST, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

EVERY naturalist wishes to spend a part of his time in the field, observing, taking notes and making collections. It often happens that such field work can be done best by camping. Methods employed by field naturalists while camping vary according to the character of the country and according to the objects to be attained.

It is the purpose here to give a few hints concerning traveling on foot, and carrying a light camp outfit on the back as a pack. These hints are based upon considerable experience with this method of camping in various parts of the United States, and are given with the hope that others may find them an aid in planning similar trips. This kind of camping can be of service only when the necessary collecting outfit and specimens collected are comparatively light in weight and when the area of the region to be covered is considerable. In my own work I can use this method because I am collecting only grasses which are easily prepared, and because I wish to cover in a single season a wide area, usually several states. I wish to travel quickly by railroad or other regular transportation, from one locality to another, often two or three hundred miles apart, spending one to five days in each place. It does not pay to outfit with wagon or pack animals for so short a time and one is not sufficiently mobile when stopping at hotels. With a light outfit one can start into the field as soon as he arrives at a station, thus saving much time. If more than five days is required for a given excursion, I am in the habit of taking a pack animal to carry my outfit, as I can not conveniently carry in a pack provisions for more than that number of days.

In calculating the details of an outfit one must first determine the weight he is able or willing to carry. If the weight carried is too great the mobility is too much reduced. Yet enough in the way of food, clothing and bedding must be carried to prevent too much risk to the health from short rations and exposure. The problem before us is to adjust the factors so that the result may represent a maximum efficiency. I endeavor to keep the total weight of my outfit within fifty pounds and we may assume in general that a man should limit his pack to a third of his own weight. With this weight I count on walking fifteen to twenty miles a day over ordinary roads or trails that do