Take a Long Walk... Part One (language)


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  1. #1

    Take a Long Walk... Part One (language)

    I've seen a few PSA's (Public Service Announcements) suggesting people should "get out more". Most are aimed at kids, but it's good advice for all of us. Frankly, I wonder why more folks aren't more active. It kinda annoys me. So I'm spreading my annoyance. Irritation often leads to action.
    No need to thank me yet.

    There's a lot more kayaks ontop of Subarus these days, that's a good thing. I know it's "hip" to dress-up in active wear, and buy a Jeep type vehicle. Maybe you put on your Land's End gear, drive to an improved camp site, and paddle around the lake for an hour. Then after dusk, it's smores and cocoa. But as you gaze into those dark, scary woods outside of the fire's glow, you may ask yourself "Is there more?"

    Why yes! Yes there is.

    I started hiking long before I joined The Marine Corps. Each step away from the trailhead leaves behind all that the modern world burdens us with. It's almost impossible to think about the minutia of your life as you focus on the trail. Pretty soon, you don't want to think about the world outside the forest and mountain. Some claim that they experience a kind of spiritual connection, once they let go and absorb the beauty around them. I'll let you discover that for yourself, when you decide to go.

    I say you're going to go, because I'm going to help you by giving you the tools you need.

    Let's just smash the first objection most folks have: "I just don't have the time!"
    Okay. Do you have the time ten or twenty years from now to take insulin shots, and pills for hypertension? Do you like the old magazines at the doctor's office? Are you about ready exhaust your work-provided sick days, stressed and way too tense? Have you ever wanted to see where all that yellow dust on your car came from? Plan a hike.

    And I say "plan a hike", because that's the best way to get the most out of it. A spontaneous walk in the woods (ala Walden) is just fine. If you just circle a lake, it's hard to get lost. But for safety, and enjoyment, you should prepare. Nature is not vicious, but she is not forgiving either.

    First thing about clothing... you don't need special clothing. Loose fitting and comfortable are the only mandatory factors (I prefer jean shorts and a worn t-shirt). Shoes do matter. Make sure they are flexible, sturdy and breathe. Forget the North Face jacket, Use that money on good shoes or boots. And, of course, thick socks. A couple of pairs. If you're fair skinned, a hat is vital (and sunscreen). Sunglasses? Just bring a cheap pair, in case.

    Before I get into more "stuff", you need a way to carry things. Besides shoes, the other thing to splurge on is a good backpack. If your pack is comfy, you hardly notice it. If your pack rides poorly, it may ruin your experience. Pick a pack that is the right size for you and your planned activity. More is not better. In my experience, the bigger your pack is, the more likely you'll put crap in there that you don't need. And unless you plan on hiking twice a week or more, you don't need an expensive brand-named pack. Just look for solid stitching and firm padding for the shoulders and lower back.

    Now, the good news is almost everyone remembers water. The bad news is that no one brings the right amount. Depending on your activity level, a liter every four hours should be minimum. DO NOT count on a refill along the way. Where you thought might be water will be dry. And if you find what appears to be fresh, clean water may be a Petri dish of intestinal fun, waiting for a new home. And, after a wrong turn, you may be out longer than you planned.
    So, for a day trip, bring two liters. Trust me.

    Bring some food. It doesn't matter if it's a mid morning hike, and you plan to be back before lunch. Carry something. I recommend the old stand-bys of trail mix or jerky. Think of stuff that is light-weight and full of energy. I've eaten cold pizza on hike before, but I was 20 at the time. You know what your gut can handle. Just remember, your body wants easily digestible energy. It's already working hard just keeping you perpendicular.
    And remember to pack something that actually tastes good.

    I'm not going to list all the emergency supplies. A good list is The BSA 10 Hiking Essentials
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scout_Outdoor_Essentials
    From my Marine days, I can't emphasize enough the importance of extra socks, and a lightweight poncho. Most of this stuff can be placed in a gallon zip-lock bag. There is no reason not to have it. Just keep the knife where you can get to it.
    On that note, I also suggest a can of bear spray. A 30 foot cloud of choking agent may seem excessive, until you actually need it.

    And bring a towel. Douglas Adams is watching (RIP).

    So, you got your stuff ready. Pick your route.
    You know your fitness level, don't be an idiot. Also remember that a hill and woods are not like your level, cushioned treadmill. If you do 3 miles in 45 minutes on the treadmill, your 3 mile trail route will be at least 75 to 90 minutes. If you work out on a stationary bike, you'll use different muscles hiking (and they will let you know they are not happy).
    For the most part, if you are new to hiking, a level 1.5 to 3 mile hike is recommended. I don't care if you run Marathons. This is different.

    Before you go, test your stuff. Put everything on, and walk around for a while. Jump up and down. Notice if your pack shifts to one side, or keeps creeping down. See if your hiking shoes get loose (it goes without saying, your shoes should be broken in by now, or you'll learn a new skill: lancing blisters). Do your shorts ride up into The Grand Canyon? You want to fix as many of these issues as possible prior to stepping off. The idea is to enjoy you hike, not explore your vocabulary of expletives along the way.

    Have a route planned. On a map. Set a destination. Know about how long it should take. Note those squiggly circles on the map. Those are elevation lines. They mean something.

    Make sure someone knows where you are going, and when you should get back. This should be about the only time you touch your cell phone. Now put the damn thing away.
    Last edited by Winston; July 29th, 2018 at 05:51 AM.

    "Now let's all agree, never to be creative again."




  2. #2
    Hi Winston,

    What I like about your writing is that its clear, conversational, and fun in a kind of snappy way. Your personality really shines through and you seem like a real person. I do have some feedback about the line "I say youre going to go, because Im going to help you by giving you the tools you need." Perhaps its just my neurotic defensiveness but when someone tells me Im gonna do something the first thing I want to say is no way. That sentence gets my hackles up just a little, and you might not want to get the readers hackles up. Or maybe you do?

    New here so please pardon if Im not doing this critique thing skillfully. Thanks!

    LL

  3. #3
    No bears here, but I can think of uses for one of those sprays Mostly walking in England is in places where you are close to civilisation, like our local woods, twenty acres or so with a car park. Problem then is that when people go to places like the Peak district or Lake district, don't bother with the equipment, and get lost in the first bit of low cloud. Then Mountain Rescue groups have to go out and find them. There is not much 'wild' left here, but there is some.
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  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by liminal_luke View Post
    Hi Winston,

    What I like about your writing is that its clear, conversational, and fun in a kind of snappy way. Your personality really shines through and you seem like a real person. I do have some feedback about the line "I say youre going to go, because Im going to help you by giving you the tools you need." Perhaps its just my neurotic defensiveness but when someone tells me Im gonna do something the first thing I want to say is no way. That sentence gets my hackles up just a little, and you might not want to get the readers hackles up. Or maybe you do?

    New here so please pardon if Im not doing this critique thing skillfully. Thanks!

    LL
    Thanks for the critique. Yes, that line did come off as pushy, you are correct. I wasn't sure if I'd keep it that way.
    Hope you're liking it here.

    There is not much 'wild' left here, but there is some.
    O.B., there is wild everywhere. You just have to go out and get some.

    "Now let's all agree, never to be creative again."




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