Go ahead, give me a dirty look or mumble something about the size of my giant ass blocking the trail. Call me fat. Great job captain obvious. It doesn’t affect me. Karma is waiting for you in the crags.
Unless you are put in harm’s way because of a fat person, that chunka-dunk does NOT affect YOU in any way.
Unless you are on a search and rescue because little Debbie needed to find a shortcut to Ben & Jerry’s and got lost off trail, their weight should NOT affect YOU in any way.
You know what affects me?
LITTER. The people that come into the wilderness and leave their water bottles, cigarette butts, food wrappers and the complete A-hole that leaves their dirty diaper and giant bag of trash in the trailhead parking lot PISS ME OFF.
- CIGARETTES. You idiot, a smoldering cigarette butt can start a forest fire in a matter of seconds. Your coal can catch a breeze and ignite the pine spills 30 feet off trail, even after a rain.
- If you think you extinguished it by stomping on it, rubbing it into what you think is damp dirt, your coal can separate from the filter (appearing to be out) and smolder, underground. it literally can start an underground fire, spreading through the layers of dirt and debris on the forest floor.
- If you need to smoke, think about your surroundings. Is it windy? When you ash your cigarette, is it trailing or flickering? Can you submerge it completely in liquid to extinguish it? Every rule of starting a campfire should apply to you smoking. Safety first, always. No one wants to smell your smoke and, by all means, take that butt with you, it’s trash damn it.
DISREGARDING THE HONOR SYSTEM. The A-holes that come into to the NH State Parks and White Mountain National Forest and don’t pay the day-use fee, those people piss me off. There’s five of them in a van, leaving their crap all over the trail, on the beaches, in the courtesy toilets… and they couldn’t pay $5.00 to support the daily upkeep and conservation of the parks. I wish I could give them a ticket.
TRAIL ETIQUETTE. Ok, you’ve never been hiking before. There are unspoken rules and there are rules literally on signs. The signs are right at the trailhead. You know that search you did for directions to get to the trail? Why don’t you look up, “hiking etiquette?” You have none and “common sense” is just NOT common anymore.
- YOU’RE IN MY WAY.
- RIGHT OF WAY. You should yield to the people ascending (GOING UP) unless the ascending hiker is taking a break and notions you down first. Step safely aside on slopes. Stay on the trail. Uphill hikers first. If you’re coming up from behind me, say, “hello,” or ”coming up on your left.” If someone is passing, stay in single file. Don’t walk next to your girlfriends, it’s rude.
- DON’T GO OFF TRAIL. Don’t go off the trail to cut off a switchback (zig-zags around trees and obstacles that wind up on the same directional course as you began-usually you can see the trail beyond the switchbacks). The switchback is there for a reason. One reason may be to prevent erosion or preserve the vegetation. Don’t think you are a badass because you cut through the woods to sneak-up on your friend. You’re not cute. Conserve. Preserve. Leave no trace.
- GROUPS. If a group is coming up behind you, step aside safely and let them pass. If you need to pass a slower moving group, vocally announce your presence and let them know your intended passing direction.
- HORSES. Haha. I’ve seen horses on Pondicherry and horse shit elsewhere, but it’s rare. Even so, I’m pretty sure no matter which way (up or down) you’re headed, horses are always first. Try to step off the trail on the downhill slope.
- HIKERS BEFORE BIKERS. (Bicycles, that is.) Listen. I know you don’t want to stop. You’re having fun going free and fast downhill, letting gravity bounce your ass down a rocky trail! Sorry. If you’re peddling, you wait for me. Bros before hoes. If you’re on your bike and cannot see the trail ahead of you, you need to slow down. You can stop before I can.
- NINJAS. Make yourself known, don’t sneak up on people. Being quiet is being courteous, but stealthy, silent approaches can cause me to place my hand on my self defense mechanism. Not making yourself known is shady and unacceptable. A simple, “hi,” will do.
- DOGS. Don’t care. Of course, your dog is freaking amazing! My dog is amazing! I love dogs. I probably would risk injury to save a dog. But… I don’t know your dog is amazing. Most hiking trails in NH allow dogs… on a leash. Since most of you let your dogs (see poop below) run off leash when it clearly states, “keep your pets leashed,” if Fido comes up on me before you do, I may mistake him for a threat. I protect myself against threats. I would never purposely inflict harm, but I’m not going to get plowed over by a running dog and risk injuring myself because his owner is a jerk. It’s not the dog’s fault.
- PERSONAL NOTE. (During a winter hike I was headed up to Lonesome Lake. On a steep, snow-packed area, I saw the chuck-it toy first, then the dog, then the human, laughing as he picked up the toy and they both chased after it downhill. The dog caused me to step off trail completely, deep post-hole up to my thigh, hyper-extended my knee, but powered through the rest of the hike. But the young guy with a big Instagram following, didn’t say an f-ing word. Selfish ninja prick).
LEAVE NO TRACE. I seriously could write a novel on shit alone.
- POOP. Literally poo, poop, excrement.
- DOG SHIT. Stepping in your dog’s shit because it’s in the middle of the trail is unacceptable. If I see your dog taking a dump and you not picking it up, I’m going to tell you, it’s a carry-in, carry-out park-that means your dog poop too.
- IT STINKS. Physically. Now it’s on my leg and my car mats. Thanks a lot. I hope some gets on your pillow.
- IT WILL NOT BIODEGRADE AS QUICKLY AS YOU CLAIM. Any poo from a living being that has a diet consisting of meat, in any form, will NOT biodegrade as quickly as one would think. Most dogs (and humans) have a diet based on animal and dairy proteins, causing oily animal and dairy protein waste. Don’t try and tell me it will biodegrade. I’m not an idiot- of course it will. However, animal proteins take much longer to decompose. Look it up, know-it all. And while you’re reading, go clean up your dog’s shit. Don’t even think about bagging it and leaving it there. It’s just in poor manners and disrespectful.
- HUMAN DUMPING. I just threw up in my mouth a little.
- SAME AS DOG SHIT. Add nuts, fish, palm or other fatty oils, essential oils and excessive alcohol to a meat and dairy based diet, the decomposition smell alone is atrocious. No one wants to come across your shit. You better be walking a very long way off trail (keep in vocal contact and as much visual contact as possible) when you have to drop some timber. Not only should you clean up your poo and take your follow-up toilet paper with you in a bag, but this is the only time you should be going off trail. TREAD LIGHTLY.
- CLEANING HUMAN POO OFF YOUR GEAR. Good luck with that. Between the size and oily consistency (oh my God, I feel vomitous thinking about having to clean it off my boots) it is virtually impossible to get human excrement entirely off your gear without some type of ammonia or hydrogen peroxide base or enzyme based cleaning solvent. Thanks for shitting so close to the trail.
- CLEANING HUMAN POO OFF YOUR UNLEASHED DOG. Good luck with that. Poor Fido. You’ll need a gentle de-greasing dish detergent- like Dawn, warm water, possibly a vinegar solution and a lot of time. You may even have to use a skunk detergent, made specifically for animal washing. He just wanted to rub your stink on his stink. Better hope that shit doesn’t get in your car.
- YOU BETTER HOPE I DON’T FIND YOU. Have some courtesy. I don’t want to get up to Table Rock and see or smell the dumping zone 5 feet from the trail. Everybody has to poo and pee. Be respectful. LEAVE NO TRACE. We are not wild animals. Shit where you eat. Tie that bag to your bumper or roof rack and drive it out of the trailhead parking lot. Take it with you.
- DOG SHIT. Stepping in your dog’s shit because it’s in the middle of the trail is unacceptable. If I see your dog taking a dump and you not picking it up, I’m going to tell you, it’s a carry-in, carry-out park-that means your dog poop too.
- I CAN HEAR YOU. Everyone can hear you. Seriously. Shut up. Leave no trace- including traces of your loud conversation or vulgarity as me and my 6 and 9-year old boys walk-up behind you as you’re dropping the f-bomb 20 times. Sure, I may use inappropriate language, but not when children are present. So please don’t be a douche. Watch your language around children.
- MAKE NOISE. You should make some sound while hiking in the woods. Keeping wild animals away is the desired effect.
- MUSIC. Unless you’re my brotha from anotha motha, you are not chosing my playlist of the day. You want to piss off a kind person, play music so it echos through the forest, across the lake. I’m happy you’re having you’re weekly family reunion at the NH State Park Beach. I hope you paid for everyone in your van and you don’t leave your black hefty bags of trash and dirty diapers in the parking lot. But what I really hope- is that I can’t hear your bluetooth speaker or 1990’s boombox whaling while I’m hiking, camping or sunbathing. I came to the forest, not the fair.
SO THERE IT IS. SUZANNE’S PSA OVER. SUZANNE’S RANT OVER. Sometimes you’ve just got to let it flow. It’s easy to be a free spirit, not to care and be a lover-no negativity… but even lovers need to take responsibility and help conservation efforts. Even lovers need to clean up after themselves and respect fellow humans and Mother Nature.
I don’t walk around pissed off. I walk around with a kind heart. I try to show kindness to everyone. However, I am human. I make mistakes. I am far from perfect, but as imperfect as I may be, I’m still responsible and I clean up my shit. Please clean up your shit. Thank you.
I’ll be the jam in your jelly rolls.
I used to say there should be a weight limit on bikinis and spandex. Whether I was fat, chunky, thick, slim, skinny, no matter how I looked, whenever I saw an obese person in a really tight outfit or just wearing a sports bra and very short shorts I felt embarrassed for them.
The texture of cellulite and buckles of uneven bulges of fat, rippling in the folds of workout shorts caught my eyes immediately. The extra armpit roll, squeezed between arms flapping 2 minutes after they wave, screaming, “look at me!”
What a hypocrite I was…am… to notice someone’s body and let it determine my judgment of someone’s ability, cleanliness, health. I thought to myself, did they not care or did they not know how they looked on the outside? Why wouldn’t they cover that up? How could they possibly be so oblivious to the laughing and pointing?
But oh no, they knew and didn’t care what anyone thought. I completely admired them for blocking out the hate and straight-up intentionally degrading comments coming from men and women and even kids- just so they could dress appropriately for the weather and their hike.
Me, I’m projecting how I think of myself onto other people, mainly other women. I am one of those women.
My thighs rub and I have extra skin from losing a lot of weight that presents as rolls, tuffins and muffins. I have flabby bat arms and bumps, scars and a Buddha belly from two cesarean deliveries and a shady gallbladder surgery. I can keep going if I want, but this is something I’ve been worked on for years.
For more than half of my life I’ve been teased, ridiculed and shamed for being overweight, which cues this train of thought.
For than more than half of my life I’ve been wearing as much clothing as possible to cover my imperfections, sweating like a polar bear at the equator.
Now, I’m on a better track to self love. It is was it is (I hate that phrase). While yes I can change it, but I still have to live in this skin today. I’ve been trying to try to accept my body and maintain my dignity for as long as I can remember. All I can do now is take it day by day-try to keep my brain in line with my heart-and wear wicking knickers to keep from getting swamp crotch.
Here, these people, the chunky-dunkies, are just trying to stay cool. They’re trying to enjoy Mother Nature without chub-rub. Coming from someone whom sweats and turns red walking 100 yards, I may be beet-red, lumpy and sweaty, but I’ll be at the top of the mountain, beet-red, lumpy, sweaty and dressed appropriately for MY body.
Now, when I see the chub rock busting through the trail with only her sports bra and shorts on, I don’t judge her. I praise her for getting off the couch and getting outside.
I’m rubber and you’re glue. Whatever you say- bounces off of me and sticks to you. Plus, although I certainly do NOT condone violence, I’m a pretty big girl, I can kick your ass.
Have you ever had a point in your life where you felt discouraged either mentally or physically and needed a little extra support to push yourself further but you’re too stubborn, proud or embarrassed to seek it out?
We all have. Even the most confident a person has some sort of doubt unless they don’t have a soul. Perfection is flawed.
Me, I’ve experienced being discouraged, doubtful, hindered, hurt, scared, the gamut of insecurity and self-doubt.
I tried something new (winter hiking, landscape photography) because I wanted instant gratification and to avoid failure. I know I can hike. I love being outside. Distance is usually not a problem. I can deal with gradual increases in elevation. I’m a good photographer. I have a unique view of the forest and appreciate the beauty the White Mountain National Forest has to offer. I knew I could do it and I knew I’d be good at it.
I studied trails and purchased appropriate gear, I always have safety in mind and I’m never too big for my britches. But…in reality, without trying something, without research and the correct preparations for the task at hand, there is always risk of failure. The biggest part of failure for me is the consequence of always having to deal with it (failing) all by myself and the other part is worrying what other people think.
In my world, I try to tell my children not to care what anyone thinks, but that rule doesn’t apply to me. The idea of being a failure and not good enough in the eyes of another person is a life-long curse. Therapy, prescriptions for anxiety disorder and depression work to an extent. But when the mental abuse starts very young, it can be hard to get past over three decades of low self-esteem and half a lifetime of no support- that leads you to a permanent need for validation.
Of course I have a couple of common fears and failures like a normal person. Getting eaten by sharks, using the outhouse when it is pitch black outside, snakes in toilets, heights, house fires, car crashes and my children being hurt or lost, just to name a few.
Other fears and failures I have aren’t common for the average person. Not fitting into an airplane seat or the go-karts (either from being too chunky or my legs being so long, my knees get crushed) and sweating horrendously, any time of year, doing virtually anything, just to name a few. Sweaty Betty.
All of these fears and failures lead to me feeling out of place, feeling like the spectacle of an overweight, out of shape fat lady, whom doesn’t belong on outdoor adventure or even on a roller coaster.
At the same time, I know I’m just fine the way I am. I’m strong, beautiful, smart and funny. I have good contributions to offer, expertise in some areas, a lot to learn in others, but I’m proud of who I am.
I’m at 75% confidence. 75 is a good number. I’d love to be an 85-95. I am sure I can get there if I keep finding healthy ways to motivate myself.
But… these things take time. And… if you’re a part of that 25%, that crazy, insecure cycle of self-catastrophizing, you’ve got to love me or believe in me to understand-I’m trying and I’m worth the headache. That 25% can be hell in high heels or hiking boots. (But 100% a safety minded, CPR certified, first aid card-carrying resourceful bad-ass Wonder Woman, ready to jump in and help).
I am still human and slip sometimes in self-doubt and insecurity. But for the most part, I tell myself that all bodies are beautiful, capable and entitled to enjoy everything life has to offer, especially the outdoors.
I was recently reminded of my humanity when I attempted to climb Mount Kearsarge North after still being on antibiotics from an upper respiratory infection the week before, just starting my menses and being out of shape from two weeks of rest with only 3 days of good training.
It was a beautiful day. I was feeling physically well minus the period. I was confident I thought I was better prepared that day, for the intended trail and I felt invigorated to be outdoors in the White Mountains, one of my happy places.
I made it about 85% of the way up and I had to turn around.
That was the first time I completely failed at a task I was so confident in, so hopeful and excited to peak, I really thought I could do it. But with affirmation from my partner about risking my health and safety, I turned around and descended.
Each step I took downward was a kick in the face. I felt like such a failure. I could have cried. I wasn’t prepared (you’ll read about that in another post), I was not capable at that time to succeed and it hurt. I really needed a hug and reassurance, but I held it in.
Here I am, trying this new thing, getting myself outside, enjoying myself, doing something to contribute to a healthy lifestyle and I failed.
At the same time, in my heart- although it was broken, and in my head- although it was cycling thoughts of defeat and weakness, I knew I did the right thing and the mountain would always be there, to conquer another day.
Living such a dichotomy can completely suck. It’s exhausting. Feeling one way, but knowing it’s wrong or unnecessary is a constant battle. I’m too old to give up, but sometimes I wish I could just believe that voice in my head that says, “stop. You are amazing, you did nothing wrong, you are not a failure,”- It would be such a relief. Instead I am going around in circles in my head worrying and feeling bad about myself. If only there were a switch to turn off the negativity…
If only I wasn’t so stubborn and embarrassed to talk to someone that may care- without being worried they are going to think I’m unstable, overreacting, dramatic or completely nuts- I wouldn’t feel so alone, once again, using all the tools I have to try to make myself get through it, by myself.
At the same time, there are very few people out there that understand or want to understand and help me sort it out. I’ve had my fair share of “friends” that give verbal support, but then tell me I’m just looking for attention or think I’m selfish or worse, self-centered. Knowing those “friends” aren’t part of my circle, my tribe, I have learned to keep a lot of things inside, to myself. But the few people that I know are “my people,” are always there if I need them. It’s just a matter of opening my mouth and asking… no matter how hard it is.
So ask. Tell your “people” or “person” you need a little boost. Go out for a cup of coffee, a short hike, a drive to the beach and purge. You are worth it. You deserve that push if you need it. You deserve validation and support. It’s okay to need it. You don’t have to go at it alone. I’m still coming to terms with the fact that people do actually care and want me to succeed.
When it comes to myself, I just know through all the muck, in the thick of 75% of the good and 25% of the bad… 75% of the time I am worth it every time. That number is growing. I can do it and I will. Every day can be a battle or beautiful. I’m trying to choose beautiful.
I will see that mountain again. I just know it. I might phone a friend, but I will make it to the top.
What is in my backpack? That is a loaded question. I still don’t have the answers.
Honestly, the contents of my pack are dependent on:
- The purpose of my hike.
- Is it family hike? Do I need to prepare and care for hikers other than myself? If I am responsible for my children, how can I minimize the weight of the proper hydration and energy (food) items needed for the round-trip plus emergency back-up provisions?
- Am I photographing wildlife or landscape scenery? Which lenses do I need? Do I need my tripod? Will I need extra items (extra batteries are a must)? If my hike is going to be long and/or arduous, do I really need to lug that long lens?
- The weather (at the lowest elevation and the highest elevation).
- If it’s late fall to early spring, I run hot! It make be 25 degrees Fahrenheit with 20 mph wind gusts at the base of the trail, but as soon as I hit the treeline at a constantly increasing grade (uphill hike), with no wind, I’m going to start sweating. How many layers do I need? Is it going to be even colder and windier at the top? When I stop moving and my body stops generating heat from movement, am I going to add a layer over sweaty, wet clothes to maintain body heat OR am I going to need to change my wet clothes entirely and layer on top of that?
- If it’s hot and humid, it’s a guaranteed sweat drenched day for me. How many layers can I get rid of and still bring a light-weight safety layer for warmth at higher altitudes? How naked can I get? Am I going to be able to dry out or do I have to haul my wet stinky clothes with me? God forbid it’s black fly season or there’s no air to break up the Jersey birds (mosquitoes)…
- What time of day am I hiking and about what rate? Rate of temperature changes can be quick and unassuming. As soon as that sun goes down, you could be in trouble if you’re not prepared.
- The anticipated length of the hike in time and distance.
- Hydration will make you or break you. Did I mention I run hot? No matter what time of year it is, I’m sweating. We’re talking armpit, possible back-roll, under boob, butt-crack, crotchal region, shins and knees, bright-red face, soaked hair, runny-nose sweating. Forget modesty, embarrassing as it is, it’s life for me. (Yes, I’ve got some medical issues that do not help the situation, but those issues do not prevent me from safely pursuing a good hike). The longer the hike, the more water (regimented with electrolytes) and energy-packed food I’ll need. Fluids can get heavy after a mile uphill.
- The terrain.
- It’s winter, what are the trail conditions? Do I need to haul my snowshoes, trekking poles and microspikes?
- It’s summer, am I going to a swamp or a wet region where I need to haul trekking poles? Do I need water shoes or something else that’s going to help me manage the hike?
Everything I’ve mentioned = weight in your bag. Heavier bag = more exertion = more sweat = possible back pain (although your pack should sit on your hips) = more supplies may be necessary.
THERE ARE NON-NEGOTIABLE ITEMS THAT SHOULD ALWAYS BE IN YOUR BAG (More items would be necessary for overnight or above treeline-arctic hikes):
- First-aid kit
- Waterproof matches/lighter (in a watertight, sealed baggie)/Magnesium firestarter
- Map (Your electronic device may not have a signal unless you have true GPS)
- Compass (Make sure you know how to use it) (Make sure at least 1-person in your group has one)
- Extra Food and water
- Flashlight or headlamp
- Rain cover (even a 30-gallon trash bag for each person would work)
- Pocketknife or multi-tool
- Extra socks
- Insect repellent
- Personal medications (I always also have Tylenol or Advil)
- Personal products (small toilet paper roll, tampons, small hand sanitizer, trash bag)
- (Extra for winter)
- Puffer (down jacket layer)
- Extra mittens
- instant heat toe and glove warmers
Overkill? Or could be killed? I would rather have the what-if supplies at a cost of 2 to 5 pounds than be left in an emergency situation with nothing.
The moral of the story; be responsible for your own safety, be prepared, stay alive.
Part two; whatever you take in, YOU bring out. Leave no trace. Mother Nature doesn’t wipe her ass with Cottonelle, Eat Kind Bars and smoke menthols. IF I SEE SEE YOU PURPOSELY CHUCK TRASH, LEAVE YOUR WATER BOTTLE, FLICK YOUR BUTT (not only are you littering, but you’re risking a forest fire), LEAVE A DIRTY DIAPER (even in the trailhead parking lot), I’M CAUSING A SCENE AND YOU WILL BE THE STAR OF THE DOPE SHOW.
No matter what you decide to put in your pack, just remember:
- Increased risk taken by an inexperienced person = stupidity = you put yourself in danger = you put your group in danger.
- You may not be MacGyver, but you can soak that emergency tampon in hand sanitizer, shove it into a notch in a sturdy stick and light that bad boy on fire…instant torch (please do not try this at home, synthetic materials may smolder and you do not want to risk inhalation or spontaneous combustion, resulting in personal injury).
Hiking is not for everyone, but rules are. Hiking without rules is not an option, no matter what size or fitness level you are. If you don’t follow the rules, you shouldn’t be hiking.
You can go to any state or government website, NH State Parks (nhstateparks.org), NH Fish and Game (www.wildlife.state.nh.us) or the US Forest Service/White Mountain National Forest (fs.usda.gov/whitemountain/) and find basic to advanced information on hiking safety.
An excellent source for information is Hike Safe (http://www.hikesafe.com). Hike Safe was first introduced to the State of New Hampshire in 2003 as an educational tool to prepare people of all fitness levels to enter the forest prepared and aware of their surroundings. The program was developed by the State of NH Fish and Game Department and the White Mountain National Forest.
Since 2003, the Hike Safe program in NH has been developed with collaboration from the NH Outdoor Council (nhoutdoorcouncil.org), the Appalachian Mountain Club (outdoors.org) and SOLO (soloschools.com), one of the most respected full immersion wilderness medical schools in the US. Through the years, the program has evolved into a tool for safety, conservation and preparedness that can be used pretty much anywhere in the US. You can contact Hike Safe at firstname.lastname@example.org.
With all that being said, I am not a government employee, a trained medical professional (Although I have a valid CPR and first aid certification card), or any expert, by any means, on hiking or hiking safety.
A lot of information about safety is common sense-but common sense is certainly not “common” any more. In the age where you order a cup of hot coffee and need to have, “caution, contents may be hot,” printed on your cup, it’s not just about frivolous lawsuits… it’s about pure stupidity and acts of recklessness. When you’re sweating at the top of a mountain at -20 degrees F or 90 degrees F full sun and your clothes are soaked…if you’re not prepared, you could be dead.
Hike Safe has “the Hiker Responsibility Code,” which usually is posted on signs on the major trailheads in NH. So when you pull up and see the sign or the brown board with the area map, trail information and any other signage, read it.
Each year, thousands of dollars and timeless man hours are spent on search and recovery missions to rescue inexperienced or unprepared hikers. A lot of time, money and most importantly, lives, could have been saved if the hikers would have planned their adventures more thoroughly. Yes, the unexpected could lead to danger for the most prepared, experienced hiker, but with the right knowledge and right gear, that person is more likely to survive.
I’m not going to copy and paste, so check out their site (http://www.hikesafe.com).
But the code goes something this;
You need to be responsible for yourself and:
- Knowledge (research trail, terrain, weather, trail conditions,etc).
- Gear (appropriate clothing, shoes, hydration, food, tools; being able to safely transport and use your gear).
- Plans (always leave your planned whereabouts, trailhead parking info and your expected departure/return times with someone that will know you may be in danger if you do not return within a set time frame).
- If not solo hiking (start as a group, stay as a group and let the slowest person set the pace. If you get so far ahead of your group and the slowest person is left alone and gets hurt or off trail, their likelihood of survival decreases by the hour).
- Know your limitations (If you’re too tired, cold, hungry, weak, dizzy, hot…STOP. It’s ok to turn back. Weather can change quickly. Trail conditions can change quickly. Be safe. If you have the right supplies and gear, take one minute to drink, eat, re-evaluate your safety and the safety of your team before you proceed).
- Emergencies (Long or short hikes can go bad quickly. There can be trails that become inaccessible by emergency transport, no cell service, no people for miles, even if you just got on the trail 15 minutes ago and you’re lost. You may not be rescued by anyone. You may have to rely on your knowledge and gear to stay alive and get to safety).
- Don’t be chavalier.
- Don’t be a jerk, it isn’t a race. (If it were a race, there would be safety measures everywhere). Don’t be an ass and try to show your friends how fit you are by running and; slipping on loose gravel, lichen covered rocks, ice-covered ridges, going the wrong way, falling backwards over the cliff’s edge while you’re taking your yoga selfie, or pulling your hamstring rock-hopping. While it is an adventure, safety should alway be paramount.
- In the heat of summer you’re in pretty good shape. It’s going to rain and it’s 80 degrees F at the bottom of the trail and you’re ascending 3,000 feet.
- You’re 30 minutes into your hike and it starts raining, no tree canopy and you’re soaked.
- At the top of the mountain you decide you’ve earned a break and so you and your friends find some cover and cop-a-squat for about 45 minutes, drink your 20 ounce water-whoops, you forgot your snack so you just chat and enjoy the pretty view.
- You don’t have a shell or waterproof pants and you’ve been sitting under a tree, soaked to the bone. Your friends are in shorts and lightweight jackets. It’s getting dark, so you think it may be a good time to head back.
- Do you think you’re in a good spot? Survey says, XXX, nope, no way.
- By the time you’ve hiked an hour and a half, the gain in elevation has made you slow down as the rain soaks through your clothing.
- You’re hot from all that work to get to the top, so you don’t notice the temperature had dropped 25 plus degrees.
- You have no way of drying off and you’ve stayed stationary too long, causing your body to chill, deeply-the kind of chill you can’t shake.
- You didn’t eat anything since that bagel 6 hours ago and you have no food to give you energy. You’ve only had 20 ounces of water to drink since breakfast. You’re have no idea you’re dehydrated. You’re feeling a little dizzy and your muscles hurt a little.
- Your feet are soaked and your socks are rubbing against your ankles and toes.
- Seriously you may not make it down. You could be hypothermic and loose feeling in your extremities, your muscles may not respond quickly, your feet could be sloughing through epithelial layers, causing cold, sharp pain. By that time, you’ve slowed down so much, your body is not moving enough to produce that exothermic heat release to get you warm again… there could be so many issues. OVERCONFIDENCE can kill.