Electronic Design

What's All This Rock-Hopping Stuff, Anyhow?

I went on a hike last weekend. Some of the trail was uphill, some was downhill, and I hiked along fine (if slowly). That’s not a surprise. But when I had to hop across a tiny stream, I had problems. When I had to hop across a second stream, there was more of the same. I could not hop or leap or jump, not worth a darn. Not leaping, not landing.

I got across the rill, but got my shoes and feet damp. So I am aware that my excellent rock-hopping days are mostly gone by. I may practice to do a little better, but now I am a bum. My ankles are in poor shape, and my leaping muscles are weak and shot because I have done so little vigorous hiking in the last 24 months.

If you want a list of excellent rock-hopping places, I will be happy to recommend some, like the Fowler River north (and east) of Cardigan Lodge in New Hampshire. There are many others. Search ’em out.

If you go up to the northeast of Nepal, near Mt. Kangchenjunga, walk a half mile to the west from Kanbuchan, eight miles north of Ghunsa. You will find a million rocks arranged nicely so you can rockhop for at least an hour and never step on two rocks at the same time. Never even step on the earth. I did that, two hours in a row. When I had to leave to go to supper, there were still many rocks enticing me.

Now I would love to go back to these places, but I could not appreciate them as I used to. So, I just have to recommend to you, to carry on the art. It requires a great appreciation of balance, and a great amount of calibration of force and strength, for leaping nicely.

My old friend Dan Buckley and I hiked down the Fowler River, near Cardigan Lodge, several years ago (well, 40 years). We hiked down one bank, or the other, or the middle, or back and forth across the stream. For over an hour we never get our feet damp. We were good, and the flow of the river was just right for us to do that leaping.

Dan and I followed each other, turn on turn. It was a great challenge, and we had a lot of fun. If the river is too high, or too low, things might look a lot different. New rocks may be available. Always changing.

I hiked down from five miles above Gurjakani in central Nepal, near Dhaulagiri. Any rock that was wet was terribly, dangerously slithery-slippery. Don’t go rock-hopping in a place like that unless the rock is dry. I never saw such slippery rock. Some organic substances apparently made it greasy.

One time in 2004, I was hiking down from Langtang Village, toward Lama Hotel. As the trail crossed a small stream, I stepped on a pretty round rock, and it rolled grossly, sending me badly out of balance. I hopped straight up in the air. When I came down, I was still slightly out of balance, so I jumped up again. I came down flat and square and stopped.

I went back and picked up that rock and chucked it downhill about 40 yards, like a shotput. It will never fool or roll anybody again. Jai Rai was my witness. I don’t think I could do that again.

Can you have more fun than rock-hopping (with your clothes on)? Maybe.

A number of readers asked me for details about my trip down the Windsor Locks Canal (see “What’s All This Raging Canal Stuff, Anyhow?). I had to explain to them that I actually did not float down that canal. It was too cold. It also was too easy to get nabbed, pulled into court, and forced to make an extra (expensive) trip east.

I never did say that we really went there. I did not lie. I just described our planning. If you want to sneak down to the Windsor Locks Canal, you are welcome to borrow my plans. Best of luck! Please let me know how it goes.

Comments invited! [email protected] —or: Mail Stop D2597A, National Semiconductor P.O. Box 58090, Santa Clara, CA 95052-8090

BOB PEASE obtained a BSEE from MIT in 1961 and is Staff Scientist at National Semiconductor Corp., Santa Clara, Calif.

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