Even though she’s only 6.5 inches from hoof to ear, at 9,890 feet elevation, she stands tall over the granite landscape sprinkled with alpine lakes to the west and the vast waters of Lake Tahoe to the east. Since I can’t take my new niece, Harper, with me on all of my adventures this little stuffed fawn will go in her place.
I’ve seen a wide variety of roaming gnomes on hiking trails. With all the weight hikers try to ditch, why do these little friends make the cut? I asked a few fellow adventurers why they love their “gnomes” so much; in their own words…
Lis and Little Lis
“I love Little Lis because she was a gift from a good, mischievous friend who found her in Oakland and thought she looked like me. Ever since I’ve taken her with me on my travels. I have been traveling alone a lot this year and she’s been my constant companion. I’ve had fun setting up shots with her in iconic locations, instead of taking photos of myself there. People really connect with her too; she’s been a good conversation starter! And actually… a coworker of mine even took her on a work trip to Peru and Machu Picchu since I love llamas so much. He took pictures of her in all sorts of places with llamas. It was amazing cause it made me feel like I was there.”
Basil and Sheep
“Sheep still looks cute when I am looking a little rough. 😉 Plus, he balances on a wilderness sign like nobody’s business!”
Soils 4 and Moby
“I acquired my “roaming duck” when I lost a bet in college. I had to carry him around campus for a week. But… I got attached to him! I didn’t have a hiking partner at the time, so I started bringing him on my hiking trips and adventures and took pictures of him instead of pictures of myself. For a while it was just habit and I got used to staging a photo or two with him in it. Moby also came on my bicycle tour to Kansas City, so after a trip like that, with only a duck for company, it is hard to leave him behind! Really though, I’ve always liked taking pictures rather than being in pictures. Moby gives me a cuter subject to photograph!”
As for my roaming gnomes, before Harper Fawn, there was the ever-smiling boxing kangaroo Sven. Squirrel and I toured around eastern Nevada frolicking through the desert with life-sized Sven in true roaming gnome style. We nabbed him out of the office early one morning – never mind why there was a cardboard kangaroo hanging out at Nevada Outdoor School – traveled with him for two weeks capturing memories, smuggled him back into the office, and then did a little slideshow presentation revealing what a busy couple of weeks Sven had. But it didn’t end there, Sven came with me to pick up Squirrel from the airport for our first John Muir Trail section and brought along travel-sized Sven, who hiked onto the trail and into our hearts. What does all of this boil down to? I wasn’t just taking Sven on adventures, Squirrel was coming with me too, even if she wasn’t actually hiking next to me.
As for my newest hiking companion, Harper Fawn is with me for a year. She’ll go on adventures, grand and small, and then – spoiler alert – document them in a photo book for my niece’s first birthday. I haven’t decided on the creative spin yet, but will report back in a year’s time. I hope Harper loves this little fawn as much as I do!
Thank you to Lis, Basil, and Soils 4 for sharing their roaming gnomes. Who is your roaming gnome partner?