Hiker Culture

What do I love about hikers? Pretty much just about everything. With the exception of a couple of folks, I can tell you that every hiker that I have ever met have been unique individuals who have great stories to tell of one hike or another. Over the years the number of hikers that I have encountered has grown ten fold and for the most part that has been a good thing. I love seeing the sweaty smiling faces as I pass them on the trail. The greetings of “What’s up?” and “Have a nice hike!” stay with me as we each move past each other in our own space and time.

But what else is it about hikers? What has attracted to me to this culture of hiking and its intrepid travelers? Many things. But before we get into some specifics, what is culture?

A very simple definition of culture that I got from the Cambridge dictionary is the following and says that culture is “the way of life, especially the general customs and beliefs, of a particular group of people at a particular time”. I would think that hikers, no matter what kind, fit this definition. They are an incredible diverse group of individuals that come together and create their own dialect, customs and lifestyle. So, what are my top three characteristics or values of what I see as hiker culture?

Overall, hikers are an incredibly welcoming group. It doesn’t matter what how old you are, your race, weight, height or religion, If you are out traversing the trails, then you are a full fledged member of the group. They aren’t afraid to break bread with strangers or share what they have if they encounter someone who may not have planned a hike properly.

I have also found that hikers aren’t afraid to ask for assistance from other hikers if they aren’t sure of where they are or where they may be going. And this is the coolest part. If they can, they will help you! Out comes the map and together you will work towards a solution to get you on your way. Although both of these provide an example of a sense of community, they are on different levels.

The one thing that truly makes me proud to be part of this tribe is the respect that fellow hikers have for trails that they are walking on. Words such as “Leave No Trace” actually mean something to people who hike. I can count on one hand the number of times that I have had to pick up trash while hiking. To me, that sends a powerful message.

Now remember, this list is by no means a comprehensive one. I have chosen my top three and shared them with you.

What are the values or characteristics that define hiker culture for you?

Happy Hiking!!!

 

 

Moving Forward

“It’s always hard to deal with injuries mentally, but I like to think about it as a new beginning. I can’t change what happened, so the focus needs to go toward healing and coming back stronger than before.”
-Carli Lloyd

Ever since I’ve been laid up with this fractured ankle, all I have been thinking about is hiking. My favorite hikes, not so favorite ones, ones that I’ve done many times and ones that I’ve done once. I’ve dreamed about hiking and have already started planning my “Return to Hiking” hike that will hopefully usher in a new era of hiking for me.

Will that first hike be a difficult one? You bet. But I need to get back on the trail. I need to be out there. I already miss the warm air moving through the trees, the sound of rushing water in the streams that run parallel to many of the rock strewn paths. I miss making my way around a corner and being mesmerized by an awesome view, captivated by the colors of the season and just sitting and breathing in the awesomeness that is just being there. If you have hiked, you know what I’m talking about!

Obviously, however, I am getting way ahead of myself. As I was laying in the hospital, all I could think about was getting the surgery to repair my ankle so I did everything that the doctors and nurses asked me to do. My goal was to go home.

Now that I have been home for ten days, I have the same anticipation as I sit and wait for my followup appointment with the surgeon.  The hope next Tuesday is that I will get a positive report on my progress and soon after PT will follow. For me, PT is the next step, the next chapter in not only in my physical recovery, but in my mental salvation as well.

Thanks for reading and your positive comments!

Happy Hiking!!!

 

And The Winner Is…The Rocks!

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There once was a guy named Mike,

And boy did he like to hike.

Into the woods and onto the trail,

Walking and walking so he could tell a good tale.

Then came that morning, on a hot day in June,

When he strapped on the pack and it ended too soon.

The rain had come heavily, the whole night before,

It seemed that the rocks had to settle a score.

As he walked on those rocks, and he breathed in the air,

The hiking was good, and he had not a care.

Then all at once, he started to slide,

With nowhere to run and nowhere to hide.

His foot then then got caught and he heard a strange snap,

Oh what had happened? Was it some kind of trap?

As he lay on the ground, the situation was grim,

He knew it was bad, his head started to swim.

One short week later, after the surgery was done,

It was obvious and true that the rocks, they had won.

Happy Hiking!!!

 

 

 

The Next Step (Not Literally)

 

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Besides actually having my ankle heal correctly, one of the things that I have been worrying about is how to stay physically active during this down time. Obviously, all forms of cardio are out of the question (for the time being), but what about other forms of exercise? Is there anything else that I can do during this time that will not only keep me active, but also aid in my recovery and healing?

With this in mind, a package arrived at my house yesterday afternoon from Amazon. Opening it, I saw that it was my friend Esther. In the box was a set of WENFENG Resistance Bands! Knowing how much I love to hike, and how much sitting around was killing me, this gift is beyond being perfect!

I had honestly never thought about different ways to stay active. My mindset has been on hiking, cardio and how to get back to that as quickly as I can. So what have I been doing since last night? That’s right, I have been scouring the web and you tube trying to find appropriate exercises and workouts that I can do while my ankle heals.

So many thanks to Esther for the thoughtful gift that will undoubtedly assist me on the road to recovery and being able to hike again!

More to come…

“Stay focused and stay determined. Don’t look to anyone else to be your determination – have self-determination. It will take you very far.”
-Justice Smith

Happy Hiking!!!

Now The Healing Begins

“Healing is a matter of time, but it is sometimes also a matter of opportunity.”

-Hippocrates

“Injuries are our best teachers.”

-Anonymous

I fractured my ankle eleven days ago and had surgery to repair it a week ago. In those eleven days I have been doing a lot of thinking about two things. First, how long is it really going to take to recover from the break/surgery and two, how long will it be before I can go back to hiking. I have been told that after it really starts healing, I will have to undergo a period of physical therapy. How weak will my ankle be? Should I pre condition myself by building up the lost muscle on my stationary bike before I begin hiking again?

I know that these are questions for my doctor and physical therapist, but since I have a laptop and access to the internet, of course I’m googling what I can to find answers. Maybe that isn’t such a good thing…

These next two months (at least) will be the longest that I have not exercised in my adult life. I have always been active and have been sick and injured before, but not to this extent. It has been only a week since the surgery and it is already driving me crazy!!

I know, I know. Stop whining. Stop moaning. So what am I doing to keep busy to ward off the inevitable stir craziness? Well, I’ve purchased several books on topics ranging from the USMC to hiking. I’ve also decided that I need to increase my knowledge of Spanish. Although I can understand a great deal when it is spoken, my ability to speak it is pretty much non existent. Rosetta Stone here I come! What else? Let’s see. I’ll be planning for two of the classes that I will be teaching in the fall and also planning fall hikes (I’m very optimistic!)

I believe that I will also become intimately involved with Netflix and Amazon Prime.

My goal here is to keep myself motivated and moving forward. As active as I am, and have been, this has been hard on me and it has only been a week!

I will continue to stay positive and motivated!

Happy Hiking!!!

Hiking Alone Or In A Group? Be Safe!

“I will go to the bank by the wood and become undisguised and naked, I am mad for it to be in contact with me.”

-Walt Whitman

In a reply to one of my last posts regarding hydrating, Barb Knowles of Saneteachers.com (a friend and colleague) asked if I could write a post about hiking/walking alone against being in a group. I added to that some simple things that you should do to help make sure that you come back home safe.

Over the last week I have spent a great deal of time thinking about this very subject. In my last post I told you about an incident last Thursday that led to me being in the hospital for six days. Thankfully I was hiking with friends but I have kept thinking, “What if I had been alone?” Would I have been  able get the help I needed?

Now that I am older, I tend to be a much more careful hiker than I was in the past. Twenty years ago, I would head out into the woods for hours at a time, alone and a times without a map. At times I would stay on the trail, others not. The point being I didn’t really pay much attention to what I was doing. I just did it!

Hiking Alone:

I love hiking alone. Some people don’t, but I like the time that I get to be in the woods and think things out. With that said, I now take precautions to make sure that if anything happens to me, it won’t be hard to find me. I don’t want it to get to the point where you would just look for the buzzards circling a set area. Here is a list of what I do:

  1. Leave an itinerary: This may seem obvious, but leaving a detailed route of where you will be hiking is imperative. Don’t forget to write down where you will be parking your car. The most important thing about having an itinerary is following it. If you decide to veer off the trail to see that extra view and something happens, that will just delay rescuers.
  2. Bring a MAP of where you will be hiking. If you have a GPS, include that as well.
  3. Make sure you have enough water. even if you are only going out for a couple of hours. BRING WATER! You never know when a couple of hours could turn into a half of a day or longer.
  4. Bring snacks/food. The amount/type of course depends on how long your hike is. Going out all day? Bring a sandwich. A short hike? Maybe an energy bar or some GORP (good old raisins and peanuts).
  5. First aid kit/Electronics/Extra laces/Extra shirt-Any other items that will make your hike that more enjoyable should be included.
  6. And of course last but not least-Your cell phone…

Hiking In A Group:

Hiking in a group, with either 2 other people or 20 presents its own unique set of challenges. I would still include all of stuff from the Solo Hike but other things will need to be adjusted. When you hike with a group, your pace will be at the mercy of the group. When you hike with a group, when you take breaks will be at the mercy of the group. You give up a certain amount of  the solitude and individualism that I cherish and this may affect the total distance you hike and the time it will take you. Some people, however, like the social aspect of hiking and don’t mind group excursions. It’s all up to you!

The bottom line is this. Whether you like to hike alone or in groups, it is really important to make sure that you let someone know where you are going to be. Be prepared!

If after reading this you believe that I have missed anything, please let me know in the form of a comment. Thanks!

Happy Hiking!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Sawyer Squeeze

“Drinking water is like washing out your insides. The water will cleanse the system, fill you up, decrease your caloric load and improve the function of all your tissues.”
-Kevin R. Stone

With the many developments that have occurred with water filtration over the last several years, I decided it would probably be a good idea to do some research before I decided on what kind of water filtration system to buy. If you have read my last few posts, you know that I recently had some serious health issues due to being dehydrated. Now I will preach the importance of drinking water every chance you get!

Although it is probably very unusual, I am now planning on carrying my water filtration system with me even on day hikes. We are lucky enough in this part of NY to have many, many hikes that are near decent untreated water sources such as lakes and streams. Am I now going to be paranoid about the amount of water I am carrying even on short hikes? You better believe it!

Soooo….after some serious consideration I decided on the:

Sawyer Products PointOne Squeeze Water Filter System

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For $40 on Amazon, I think that the sawyer has to be one of the better water filtration products out there. On the first day of my backpacking trip last week I put the Sawyer to the test and it performed incredibly well. I would say that I filtered between 18 and 20 liters of water quickly and efficiently. Even though the directions on its use are clearly written on the box, I went to You Tube and watched some videos to make sure I was doing it right. The best thing about this system? It’s very easy to use.

I got this information off of Amazon:

  • Made in USA
  • Lightweight, easily portable 0.1 absolute micron hollow fiber membrane inline water filter
  • Highest level of filtration on market — removes greater than 99.99999% of all bacteria and 99.9999% of all protozoa
  • Built-in and removable push/pull cap; spray water straight into mouth or bottle from included pouch; attach to standard threaded water bottles
  • Comes with three BPA-free collapsible pouches (16-, 32-, and 64-ounce) that roll up tightly for easy packing; can be resued hundreds of times
  • Backed by manufacturer’s lifetime limited warranty (Independent Testing Laboratory Hydreion, LLC.; Microbiological Report S05-03)

If anyone out there has any experience with other systems, please leave me that information in the comments section.

Happy Hiking!!!