How To Remember The Difference Between Upstream And Downstream

A vexing problem that has confounded many would-be outdoorsineers is this: how does one remember the difference between the terms “upstream” and “downstream”?  Unlike the difference between left and right, which has an easy mnemonic device1, there is no easy way to remember which part of a river is upstream.

This confusion has gotten many trouble, and can indeed be quite dangerous.  Take the sad tale of the great adventurer Willard P. Scott. Leaving camp one morning in search of berries and lichen to eat, he instructed his team to meet him upstream in one hour.  It being early, nobody gave much thought to what he had said, and it was not until Mr. Scott was already away from the camp that someone realized they had no idea if they were supposed to go in the direction that the river was flowing, or in the opposite direction that the river was flowing.  Soon the camp was split between the two possible descriptions of “upstream”.  A great argument ensued with valid statements made by both sides.  Did “upstream” refer to the flow of time, so that as we move “up” (that is to say, forward in time) we would move to a point that occurs later on the river?  Or did “upstream” refer to a more literal “up”, being a point in the river at a higher elevation?

No breakthrough could be made and after a few hours the group decided to abandon the expedition and leave Mr. Scott to his fate.  Willard waited for the rest of his group, but they never showed up and he was eventually eaten by a crocodile.

As this example goes to show, danger is lurking around every corner in the wilderness and even the simplest mistakes can lead to a painful and frightening death.  This is not to suggest that the outdoorsineer should live in fear of the wilderness.  It is to suggest, however, that the outdoorsineer treat the wilderness with a good deal of respect.

To the question, then, of which way on a river is “upstream” and which way is “downstream”.  The easiest way to commit the difference to memory is to think about it in psychological terms.  As you walk along a river in the direction that a river is flowing, you are likely to eventually reach a city.  The urban blight and low socioeconomic status of the people in that city will depress you, and thus your mood will go down, and thus you can be said to be going “downstream”.  As a corollary to this, as you walk along a river in the direction opposite its current, you will eventually reach the source of the river, which will likely be a waterfall or a melting glacier.  You will marvel at this piece of natural beauty and your mood will be lifted, which is to say it will “go up”, and thus we can say that you will be going “upstream”2.

This is a complicated way to remember a seemingly simple concept but at the moment, it is the only surefire way to do it.


Test your mettle as an outdoorsineer!  See if you can determine the direction of the rivers depicted in the following illustrations (answers below).

Self Test 17


A – Upstream

B – Downstream

C – Midstream

D – Instream

E – Nowstream

F – “The Glen”

  1. If you hold up your hands in front of you, palms out and thumbs extended, your left hand will make an L shape.  The L, in this instance, stands for “Lawrence”.  You are then to remember that Lawrence always stands to your right, but since he is facing you, your right is his left and from this we can determine left. []
  2. Though it must be said that this is an imperfect mnemonic.  Some rivers, such as the Snake River, are sourced in vile pit bogs and graveyards.  Finding the source of these rivers would certainly not bring one’s mood up!  For the moment, let us forget the Snake River. []
Categories: 3: Skills Worth Knowing | Leave a comment

Tigers and the Importance of Magic

Tigers want to eat you. And as any good outdoorsineer knows, they are very good at it (bad outdoorsineers will have been eaten by tigers and thus know nothing). Even in our modern age, tigers are the number one killer of adult men after heart disease and Chinese novelty toys.

Tigers are proud and noble beasts. Growing to be over 600 lbs with canines1 up to 4 inches long, they are the undisputed kings of the jungles, forests, mountaintops, and bridges they inhabit. Nature has made them silent, nearly invisible, and deadly.

Enjoying the leisure nature affords only to apex predators and the daughters of wealthy Jews, tigers have also developed a complex philosophic system some believe to be more advanced than our own. Don’t be fooled by the seemingly dumb cat napping in the sun at your local zoo. The tiger is simply developing elaborate logic matrixes that it will use to stump other tigers when it decides it has had enough of living in the zoo. Fortunately, like all wild animals, tigers love zoos (See An Introduction to Animals Worth Knowing).

"A reality of shadows doth not a lunch make." - A Tiger

Fighting an enemy that is stronger, faster, and measurably smarter than man is no small challenge. For centuries, man did not even try. But the rise of modern society led to the rise of the tigers only known predator, the magician.

A short visit to Las Vegas2 will demonstrate the magician’s dominance over the tiger. Taking advantage of the tiger’s reliance on logic, the magician perplexes the tiger with his illusions. Believing the magicians to possess logic even higher than their own, they will often bow to magicians perceived superiority. Of course, this puts the magician in a perilous position. If the tiger ever discovers the nature of one of the tricks, the magician will be immediately devoured3.

This is important. In tiger country4, disguise yourself as a magician. A book of magic tricks and a top hat are essential pieces of outdoorsineering equipment and are more important than bottled water on most expeditions5.

Now upon meeting a tiger, this book recommends against card tricks, as they are boring for both the outdoosineer and the tiger. Instead, try tricks where it looks like rabbits or people have died. Be forewarned, the tiger will only give you one chance to demonstrate your magic. Do not falter or you will be consumed!

Here in an easy trick that should guarantee passage through tiger country6. When encountering a tiger, quickly put on your straight jacket. With arms bound, pull two rabbits from your top hat7. Kill the rabbits. Now, immerse yourself in the glass torture tank you previously hid in the forest knowing you would encounter the tiger. Appear to drown (If the trick is not going well, actually drowning helps sell the act). Using mirrors and smoke, escape from the straight jacket and torture tank, and reappear inside the tigers mouth. Bow, and give the tiger one of the dead rabbits. Keep the other for it’s lucky foot.

Magic isn’t the only fun you can have with tigers though! Tigers are top-shelf and no outdoors adventure is complete without at least one tiger encounter. But sometimes there are not enough tigers around. As you grow into your outdoorsineer persona, you will learn that this is not a problem. In fact, it is general practice for an outdoorsineer to raise tigers in secret, only to unleash them upon other outdoorsineers at critical moments in their outdoorsineering. For instance while the outdoorsineer is rappelling from a great height or scuba diving. My personal favorite is to spring my surprise tiger on a fellow while he is already engaged in fighting a tiger. This is considered great sport and extra outdoorsineering points are awarded for creativity8.

Raised in a pit full of badgers and screaming you say? Let's hope he never discovers the skylight.

Here is one of my favorite stories. Once while hiking I came across what I thought was a tiger on the trail. I immediately prepared my magic only to discover it was not a real tiger at all, but a stuffed tiger. Feeling safe I continued only to realize that is was not a stuffed tiger, but a real tiger wearing a stuffed tiger costume! Zounds was I surprised to feel the double jaws of the stuffed real tiger on my throat. Thankfully, I had a never-ending kerchief in my sleeve. I used it to lasso and kill a rabbit, which, using mirrors and smoke, I reappeared inside the tiger’s mouth. I have not yet discovered which outdoorsineer played such an excellent tiger prank on me but I have been raising a tiger cub in a pit full of badgers and screaming for the day we meet.


  1. An anatomical joke even the smallest dogs rib them about. []
  2. An otherwise worthless place. []
  3. Roy, of Siegried and Roy, was lucky, when Montecore the tiger maimed him after discovering mirrors were used in an illusion. Luckily, in deference to Siegrfried whose tricks he did not understand, Montecore only hospitalized the otherwise devourable Roy. []
  4. Everywhere. []
  5. as water can be found easily in the sea, or urine. See the section on finding water for more information []
  6. everywhere []
  7. this should be easy since you already packed your top hat with concealable rabbit compartment from the outdoorsineering gear checklist. []
  8. Also for balance, poise, and if the fangs do not make a splash on entry. []
Categories: 5: Animals You May See | Leave a comment

Anatomy of the Bee (Modern Theoretical)

Latest Developments in Bee Theory

A – Wing attachment point.  Bee wings are not innately grown but rather won during bee tests of strength, known as “the time of buzzing”.  Because of this hand-me-down nature of bee wings, some wings are believed to be thousands of years old, dating back to primal bees.

B – Hair spikes.  The bee is believed to grow one strand of this hairlike substance for each sting that it inflicts upon a human (bees do not, as many believe, die after stinging – this is a myth likely propagated by bees themselves).  A fuzzy bee is truly a dreadful bee indeed!
C – Antennae.  Note that what we call the “antennae” of the bee are actually the frontal extensions of the bee’s spinal column, which passes through the core of the bee and exits the other side as the stinger.  Bees have vertebrae but no other bones.
D – Spinal column.
E – Stinger.  Stingers come in three main types – poison stinger (induces poison), paralysis stinger (induces paralysis), and fear stinger (induces fear).  They all look exactly the same so pictured here is whatever you wish.
F – Homunculi.  Inside every bee’s primary body sac are smaller bees, and inside those bees are smaller bees still.  An infinite regression.
G – Motivational poster for homunculi.
H – Eyeball.  Aside from the obvious size difference, there are no differences between the bee eyeball and the human eyeball.  But the bee eyeball is rarely seen because it is shielded by the eyeball shield.
I – Eyeball shield.
J – Human tongue.
K – Hidden knife.  Likely carried without a permit.
L – Anus.
Categories: 5: Animals You May See | Leave a comment

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