Sunday, January 11, 2015

The Importance of Hiking Smart

It was another gorgeous Sunday in the Park today. Made even better (for me anyway) because of the snow. I hiked 6 miles on the Yellow, White and Blue trails. It made me think that maybe I should do a Red, White and Blue hike near 4th of July. :) Truth is the park is trying to phase out the red trail. I'm not sure why but they've blacked out the red blazes. If you know the park or have an old map you can still hike it for now. I need to find out why they are trying to get rid of it. If they are trying to revive some natural habitat or something like that I wont try it.

Anyway, today's hike reminded me of three important lessons in hiking.

Reminder #1 - always have a map with you. I really don't need a map at RCSP but I always have one with me anyway. Mostly in case I or someone I'm with has a struggle or gets hurt I can get a quick look at the fastest way back to my car. But today I was reminded of the importance of having a map for other reasons. I got distracted by a landmark - a big farmhouse along the multi-use trail near the corrugated underpass. I normally wouldn't see this from the trail when the leaves are in full. I knew that I would be coming out off the trail onto the MU trail for a bit right by that farmhouse. But I forgot for a moment that the trail would first go away up and over the hill before turning back toward it. That distraction caused me to turn the wrong way. No harm done I realized it quick enough and my knowledge of the trails here meant I didn't have to take out my map to get back on track. BUT on a lesser known trail it is easy to get distracted - by a view or an animal or to stop and rest. It's easier than you think to get turned around. Don't rely on  your GPS or Internet on your phone. Quite often there won't be service. Always carry a map.

Reminder #2 - it only takes a few degrees to turn what you wore to keep warm  one day into a little too much the next day. There was no wind - or much less than yesterday anyway - today. I wore the same level of layers both in number and weight. I wasn't uncomfortable but I probably would have been on a longer hike. Fortunately I could have taken one off and stuffed it in my pack had I needed to. Which leads to reminder 2A - on a long hike (different for all of us) bring extra clothes in case you need to change for weather or because you got wet. At the very least dry socks and a shirt.

Reminder #3 - watch your nutrition. I did not eat a lot of breakfast before going out today. I ate very close to going out and didn't want to be fighting a digesting stomach. I should have paid more attention and refueled sooner in the hike. I changed my planned route mid stream and that made for an extra mile than I thought it would be. That mile made a lot of difference. My energy bottomed out just before mile 5.

Here is a link to the Garmin map of my route. I had a great a lot of fun today.

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