From the warm hug of a sleeping bag, you flail a hand across cold stone floors. Scraping, searching, hunting for the rare and illusive Headtorch mislaidus. Lost alone in the dark your hand finds its prey. The dull beam scans dusty walls which dance with shadows and cobwebs, at the foot of the door drains muddy boots and overalls. Tossed in haste to escape the rain and cold they silently stew in a puddled heap. The silence of the room is pierced only with a gentle patter, and asking to yourself “is that rain, or is that mice” your beam scans the table for your food. There on the table lies a dusty book, tattered and stained it reads in bold letters “GUEST BOOK.”
Little compares with a lonely night in a bothy (backcountry hut), the smell of socks-ogen and woodsmoke and the peaceful silence of solitude. If your lucky a warm hearth provides the night with a glowing fire for company, perhaps even a few fellow travellers to share a tale. But if you find yourself alone for the night all warmed in a sleeping bag filled with dinner, what greater pleasure is there than to read the tales of those who passed before you.
A safety feature by intent, the “guest book” acts as document of your passing, evidence for those who follow in search of your path. But for many the unassuming battered book offers a night of entertainment, perhaps even a giggle or two.
So for my first entry to the online “Hut Book” I would like to give 5 ways to make a fun backcountry guest book entry.
1. Make a Joke:
You have written your name and intentions, so what now? Why not make the next person to read your book have a laugh, the more topical to your hut the better! “Knock Knock….Who’s there…Shelby…Shelby who? …..♩ ♪ ♫ ♬ “Shelby coming round the mountain when she comes” ♩ ♪ ♫ ♬
2. Get Creative with your surroundings
One of the single best hut entries I have ever read contained just three simple words….”Got the b*****d with an arrow to a squashed mosquito No pencil? Why not use charcoal or mud to write “there are no pencils” as your entry.
3. Scare us
Nothing makes a more compelling read than a good old fashioned ghost story, admittedly not the kindest way to help your fellow lonesome traveller get to sleep but its guaranteed to entertain. One ghost story has haunted me ever since…(see “Painting a Picture“) Short of a good story? Why not point out something scary in the hut…go for a hunt, almost every hut has a face like shape in a knot of wood or particularly creaky floorboard to exploit.
4. Get Poetic
Remember those days stuck in English class reading Shakespeare and Wordsworth? Why not have a go yourself? Some of the most enjoyable hut entries come in the form of poems, what better way to describe the experience of the day gone by. In a rush? Why not write a haiku..
5. Get Artistic
Writers block? Nothing quite beats a good portion of applied doodling. Why not draw the most memorable moment of your day, or let your imagination go wild, just remember 0 Points for phallic depictions, keep it family friendly.