Like hikers, these come in all shapes and sizes – with one exception. They do not cater for the obese (they’re never big enough). A hinged gate swings between two enclosed points – hence the ‘kiss’ as it makes contact with each end of the enclosure. Those who come across such contraptions for the first time should watch a more experienced hiker tackle this mechanism first to learn how not to use it. Always observe from a distance.
Note how the hiker approaches the gate and pushes it away, revealing a small enclosure to one side, into which he or she steps, backing into it as far as possible. In theory, the hiker should now be able to pull the gate right back, to ‘kiss’ the other point, creating a gap large enough to allow passage into the next field. This theory is based upon three points:
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1. The gate hinges allow full and free movement, permitting the gate to swing to its full arc.
2. The hiker is a size zero (or even thinner than that if wearing a large rucksack).
3. The hiker coming in the opposite direction isn’t blocking the exit.
Landowners who want to inflict pain upon anyone passing through the kissing gates can enhance them with ‘add-ons’. Attaching coiled springs to the hinges allows them to swing back with enough force to crush the knuckles of any following hiker whose hand is resting on the gated area. In bleak areas, instead of springs, landowners sometimes use a large boulder or cement block, wrap a chain around it, and tie one end to the gate, the other to the fence. It’s the weight of the boulder that keeps the gate closed. For the hiker, extra force is required to open the gate in the first place. As soon as the grip on the gate is released, gravity takes over. The gate slams shut against the knuckles of the hiker behind, while at the same time the boulder plummets to the ground, crushing his or her foot.
It can be tough out there in the great outdoors.