-- TRAILS THAT FOLLOW THE STREAM: Mind you, nothing paved, like Broadway.
-- SNEAKERS OR HIKING BOOTS: Remember, this IS a sport.
-- THE WILL: As in the will to walk, speed-walk, hike and maybe even get exhausted while you're at it.
I GOT into this Streaming business by accident last month during my regular speed-walk down Bradken Road in Boiceville.
The beauty of Bradken is that it parallels Traver Hollow Stream.
When I launch my expedition, the stream is on my left but then it veers right under the sweetest little [Jim's], makeshift bridge you'll ever see and heads west on my right.
But the real sport of Streaming doesn't begin until road's end where two trails snake their way up Cross Mountain; one on each side of the creek - er! - stream.
The game is sort of like playing golf against yourself. Your goal in this case is to follow the stream as far as you can without: 1. Killing yourself; 2. Breaking a leg: 3. Losing sight - or sound - of the water.
On my initial attempt, I trod the left-hand (south side) trail which - were it maintained by a hiking club - leads to the top of Cross Mountain and, eventually, into the hamlet of Mount Pleasant.
ALAS, the trail is more like an obstacle course. Enormous trees have fallen across its path; nettles abound and in some parts, there's more swamp than turf.
That, however, is why Streaming is a sport. The trick is surmount the endless detours while keeping pace with the stream. And every so often - while detouring around an oversized log - the stream vanishes and must immediately be found; or you lose the game.
It was too early to lose so I stopped, listened hard, heard the GURGLE-GURGLE and tip-toed through (no, not the tulips) the nettles, hoping that their annoying leaves wouldn't leave me scratching for the rest of the day.
I managed to escape with nary a scratch, re-discovered the stream far below and then found what was left of the trail; which really wasn't more than a jumble of fallen trees.
That mess of flora was enough to convince me to try streaming on the other side of the creek. So, I backtracked to Bradken where there's a neat little two-plank "bridge" over the water, leading to the right-hand (south side) trail.
(I call it The Bob Myron Bridge. I gave it that name after my good neighbor Myron who ensures its safety after flooding and assorted other mishaps. This is the fourth incarnation and actually has a couple of suspension cables to keep it intactóuntil the next big flood.)
HOISTING myself up the bank, I found what appeared to once have been a logging road up the mountain. It was wider than its trans-brook counterpart but so rock-strewn that one mis-step could mean a twisted ankle; and you know what that means.
I carefully two-stepped my way upward but was so focused on not pulling a hamstring that I forgot about the brook I was supposed to be Streaming. And when the realization came to me, I stopped, looked and listened.
Had I actually lost it? (Don't answer that!)
Knowing that it had to be somewhere to the left of me, I veered off-trail into the forest, stumbling, bumbling but certainly not Streaming. That is, not until I finally picked up the ever-popular GURGLE-GURGLE.
It was a good 50 feet below but I half-hiked, half-slid my way down to a large rock sitting on the bank where I took a needed seat and simply imbibed the all-encompassing beauty.
A ROBIN landed on a nearby boulder keeping me company for a bit and then took off for nests unknown. I vainly looked for trout that supposedly populate Traver Hollow Stream but found only waterbugs.
Hey, enough of that. It was time to get moving, so I hiked up to the logging road and followed it once more until it crept to the right away from the stream. Still, I stayed with the trail, figuring that I could find the water as I had done so before.
But the road stayed right, leaving the water out of sight, out of sound, but not out of mind. I had two minutes to find it, else I had lost my game of Streaming.
I meandered to the left, which made a lot of sense since that's where the brook was supposed to be; except this time - nothing.
Panic wasn't in my mind at this time but - I must admit - I was concerned. Was I, literally, "up" the creek without a paddle? Could I possibly have gotten lost in a friendly forest?
While entertaining these less-than-entertaining thoughts, I zig-zagged around every possible hunk of moss, hollow logs, everything but a live bear which, by the way, I surmised, was somewhere around, having a good laugh at my woodsy, stand-up act.
THEN, it happened - at about the 1:34 mark of my concerned search.
I grabbed hold of an old oak tree's trunk, just to stay upright, and noticed a severe drop-off of the forest floor about 20 yards ahead. It was a clue worth following and I did.
Sure enough, it was the very same route down to the water I had plied a half-hour earlier. And there, like Columbus discovering the New World, I re-discovered my missing stream.
It wasn't exactly the end of the game; that only happens after I reach my house, injury-free. But I knew that the rest would be downhill; and so it was.
In no time at all, I reached the double-planked bridge, stopped in the middle just to pay homage to H20 and then accompanied the GURGLE-GURGLE all the way home.
Or, to paraphrase a nifty, old tune ("Breezin' Along With The Breeze"), I was just streamin' along with the stream.
And loving every minute of it - except when I was getting lost!
Author-columnist-commentator Stan "The Maven" Fischler resides in Boiceville and New York City. His column appears each week in the Sunday Freeman.