Category Archives: trail skills

Hike Like a Goat: Part 5—Ankles and Knees

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Knees and ankles warmed up and ready to climb!

Hike like a Goat

A 7-Part Skills Series

Part 5— Ankles and Knees

This 7-part series came out of a conversation that my Honey and I had about being sure footed on the trail. She wanted to leave the fear of falling behind with all of its timidness and tentativeness. In other words she wanted to Hike Like a Goat. When I said that the first time to her, she wanted to know what that meant because it sounded derogatory…until I explained: a goat is confident  and relaxed on rugged and uneven ground—so stable and skilled on her feet is that goat that falling is not even a fleeting thought. Walking Like a Goat is a high complement for any Honey on the trail.

We are going to unpack Part 5 of this series called:

Ankles and Knees

We are mostly a domestic society that strives to live on flat surfaces. We like the floors in our houses and work place buildings to be level. We like our driveways to at least be flat even if they have an elevation change. Most sports are learned and played on level surfaces that could even be called smooth. We frequently associate flat, level and smooth walking surfaces in construction with quality craftsmanship.

As a result in our modern culture at least in part during work and play, our knees and ankles are strong in ways that effectively facilitate our movement on surfaces that are flat and level.

Therefore, our knees and ankles have to be trained or “re-terrained” for a different terrain!

  • practice—this is my favorite! My Honey and I just started walking on trails. We paid careful attention to little “adjuster muscles” in her knees and ankles that had to get stronger. As the foot pushes off of different angles of surface to move the body forward, it does so with a completely different combination of muscles. Your foot will land in “oh say, 42” different positions that you need to practice. The forrest floor “ain’t yo daddy’s basket court.” There really is nothing I am aware of that will adequately simulate the variety but practice. Practice for longer periods of time incrementally and your muscles will “catch on”. Loral and I used these time of building strength as times to talk, plan and remember.

 

  • sumo squats—for me this was like magic! I had problems with long downhill distances on the trail before I met my Honey.  A friend suggested sumo squats and I faithfully did them prior to my next trip. Wow! for me that was the key to strengthen my weak spot. I went from pain that was unbearable at times to the occasional sore knee that just needed a little rest and a message I could do with my own hands. I can’t say what will be the magic method for you, but I can recommend doing these well for a few weeks—just see if it will help.

 

  • more quad exercises—the improvements from the easy practice of doing 3 sets of 8 sumo squats for 3 weeks did me so much good that I searched for an app for my phone that would guide me through a series of leg exercises. I found one that I liked that had me execute lots of lunges, climb up and down on a chair, do toe raises on stairs and lots of other things. My point is that I believed that if one easy exercise could do me so much good…that I was guaranteed even better results from a more developed routine. Right? The result was the end to my knee pain all together. No more hatred for the long down hill climb. (incidentally, this made me able to run up steep hills like a machine—nice side effect)
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Rond de jambe in hiking boots?

My Honey is working through the process of finding the exercises that will give her the strength that she needs to eliminate the struggle she sometimes has with knee pain. She’ll tell you more about that as she gets it worked out…it will have something to do with rond de jambe and plie, I am sure.

I refuse to let pain be the end of the amazing adventures that lay ahead for my Honey and me.

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Is there an “ouchy” that keeps you from the trail? Do you still go but some pain slows you down? Would you be willing to give 15 minutes a day to strengthen your knees and ankles so you could really enjoy the trail?

Hike Like a Goat: Part 4—Hiking Poles

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My Honey, using the hiking pole for stability and to pull herself up out of the creek bed

Hike like a Goat

A 7-Part Skills Series

Part 4—Hiking Poles

This 7-part series came out of a conversation that my Honey and I had about being sure footed on the trail. She wanted to leave the fear of falling behind with all of its timidness and tentativeness. In other words she wanted to Walk Like a Goat. When I said that the first time to her, she wanted to know what that meant because it sounded derogatory…until I explained: a goat is confident  and relaxed on rugged and uneven ground—so stable and skilled on her feet is that goat that falling is not even a fleeting thought. Walking Like a Goat is a high complement for any Honey on the trail.

We are going to unpack Part 4 of this series called:

Hiking Poles

“That’s for sissies,” I would mumble under my breath as an 8 year old boy. I saw ‘old people’ using ‘walking sticks’ and thought that was nice since they needed that to keep from falling down…in their old age. At that time I divided the whole world in sissies and heroes.

What I didn’t know then is that the hiking pole is a highly developed skillfully designed tool of the craft. A true hero type tool! I also didn’t know that those ‘old people’ were just grown ups!

Hiking poles are not just for balance—

  • Use at least one if the darkness buggers up your depth perception
  • Use two to climb with—actually forcing your body up with your arms
  • Use them to provide relief to your lower back especially if you are carrying a heavy pack
  • Use them when the trail is slippery so that you always have one foot and opposite pole on the ground at all times
  • Use them when the surface is hidden like in snow or leaf cover so you can tell where solid ground is
  • Use them down in the creek to steady your self when crossing on stones
  • Use them out in front of you in deep water to test the risk of the next step
  • Use them to clear spider webs that are ofter across the trail
  • Use them as two more poles to support a tarp
  • Use them between two stumps as a drying rack for wet socks
  • Use them for ______________________(you fill in the blank)

I recommend keeping your wrist through the strap on each pole so that you don’t lose one in the creek or off the side of a mountain. The strap will also allow you to hold the pole loosely to avoid having your hands go to sleep from constant gripping.

Hiking poles can be as little as $30 for a set to some super nice ones for a few hundred bucks. The material the pole is made out of for strength and how they fold or telescope will affect the price.

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Hiker Honey using her “steeek” for control coming down a steep incline

In these pictures, my Honey, Loral, is demonstrating two of the many ways to effectively use a Hiking Pole. She prefers to use one (and then ask me to carry it when she doesn’t need it 🙂

Having a hiking pole and using it well is another way to increase your confidence and fun quotient on the trail. You wouldn’t want to add slipping to the Oopsies of the Trail.

In this series so far see Parts 1-3

1. Plan to Fall

2. Center of Gravity

3. Surface Contact

Hiking powered by the performance products of Isagenix at hikingwithyourhoney.isagenix.com. Visit our store to learn more:)

Hike Like a Goat: Part 3—Surface Contact

IMG_3785Hike Like a Goat

A 7-Part Skills Series

Part 3—Surface Contact

This 7-part series came out of a conversation that my Honey and I had about being sure footed on the trail. She wanted to leave the fear of falling behind with all of its timidness and tentativeness. In other words she wanted to Walk Like a Goat. When I said that the first time to her, she wanted to know what that meant because it sounded derogatory…until I explained: a goat is confident  and relaxed on rugged and uneven ground—so stable and skilled on her feet is that goat that falling is not even a fleeting thought. Walking Like a Goat is a high complement for any Honey on the trail.

We are going to unpack Part 3 of this series called:

Surface Contact

We did some filming today of my Honey running up the trail and quickly doing a water crossing. She was caught in the act of practicing good foot placement. Even when moving quickly you can place the entire sole of your trail shoe on the ground at the same time for maximum traction most of the time.

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My Honey, keeping her entire boot tread in contact with the ground for maximum traction

There are times when you can’t set your foot down parallel to the surface because there isn’t enough room or you just miss. In these cases if you are planing to fall as we discussed in Part 1, you will know where to quickly place your other foot to maintain control of your movement.

The more surface to surface contact you have between two objects, the more friction there will be. That translates for us on the trail to either the ability to stop or to push off for the next step without slipping. In other words it will prevent a sudden accidental shifting of your center of gravity.

I ran for most of a year on the balls of my feet for about 30 miles a week. I was working on my calfs and I was seeing if there would be a significant reduction in shock to my knees if my foot caught most of the force like a spring.

The experiment showed positive results for muscle growth and reduction in shock to my knees. Running or walking on the balls of my feet was good in that case. If you are doing that or doing a heel to toe roll as your standard step it could get you pitched in a pile on the trail. Dirt, mud, sand, leaves and crumbling rock are not very forgiving when it comes to just letting you slip when you step on them.

Angling your foot in such a way that the entire shoe makes contact with the ground at the same time gives you the greatest chance of controlling a slip and will give you the best chance of pushing off of a slippery surface to take the next step.

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Running up the hill on slightly damp dirt. Getting the best traction possible

You will notice in these two pictures of my Honey that she is doing this naturally. The trail surface today was slightly damp but by using the whole foot as much as possible she was about to move quickly without slipping. She is doing a quick hop over a small stream in the first picture and running up the hill in the second.

She is fond of saying that she used to trip on a flat sidewalk but look at her go now! Mastering this principle like she has will give you greater confidence and speed when hiking on slippery surfaces.

For Learning to Deal with the Oopsies on the Trail see my Honey’s post.

Products consumed on this hike:

Amped Fuel (apple) by Isagenix

Amped Hydrate (grape and juicy orange) by Isagenix

Learning to Deal with the Oopsies on the Trail

A very special place my husband had always wanted to take a lady before we met! Being here made all the oopsies worth it!
A very special place my husband had always wanted to take a lady before we met! Being here made all the oopsies worth it!

Guestpost by Loral Pepoon (Honey)

Today was kind of a crazy day on the trail. It seemed like we couldn’t get it together—and things kept going wrong—the whole day was like that.

It was a spontaneous visit to one of my husband’s favorite state parks, Montgomery Bell, which is about 45 minutes from our house here in Franklin, Tennessee. We have been so busy that we haven’t been out there for a couple of weeks now, and we were missing it. We are going to be with family the next two weekends, so we knew today was the day to go—so we went for it.

First, I forgot my hiking boots. This mistake happened because of something I recommend doing—taking flip flops in the car to change your shoes, so that you can keep your feet more comfortable in the car. The downside to that strategy is that you can forget them! The saving grace of the day is that I kept my old hiking boots in the car for emergencies, so I had a pair. But my socks were less than ideal and my feet are screaming at me.

Second, we didn’t have enough water. Now as I write this, I still have an awful headache. Bring way more than you think you need—always. My husband planned the right amount for the distance he thought we were going, which was 3 miles, but that wasn’t the actual distance.

Third, the actual distance was two miles longer than we thought at 5 miles. We had to really had to ration our water.

Luckily, my Hiker has learned to be flexible and change the game plan when mistakes happen.

Here are the ways we fixed the situation and some blessings we experienced anyway.

We altered our course and went back on a main road instead of a trail. This action helped my feet and the water situation. It saved us distance and it was still beautiful despite the asphalt roads. And we learned some history about the trail that we wouldn’t have known otherwise.

I still got to see a special shelter that my husband had always dreamed of bringing His Honey to before he had met me. He loved showing me it, and I loved seeing it. We talked about how we could come again when we had more time…we had to get back to complete this 30-day blog challenge!

It had cooled down substantially by later in the day when we were walking back. Being out in the early evening in the summer in Tennessee just before the sunset is really pleasant in the shade.

We saw many lovely deer, who graced us with their presence. This particular park doesn’t seem to have as much underbrush as many other trails in the area. Consequently, you can see for much greater distances, and the deer were in sight longer!

We still had our nutritional supplements even though we were short on water. I felt like I was going to pass out before we had Amped from Isagenix. We love this stuff. We like it so much that we are distributors of it. Seth has used many “goos” in his days of running, and he thinks it’s one of the best products out there. I know that it gives us the get up and go to keep going, with pure, natural ingredients and no side effects.

We found a few ticks, but removed them without incident. It helps to check each other thoroughly.

We had a flat tire, and we were starving craving burgers after the hike. Right when we had to stop, the gas station with a working air machine also had a Back Yard Burgers in it! We had just prayed that God would keep us safe and that He would provide a solution!

Now we are home, and overly tired but thankful that we still were together and protected, and had a new, special experience—despite the oopsies.

With every mistake, you have the opportunity to make something beautiful!

If you have a story to share about what you learned in a blog, article or book, I’d love to help you. I’ve been helping corporations, small businesses and authors get their messages out for nearly 20 years—and I can help you too! Visit cowriterpro.com for information, and feel free to contact me  if you’d like to have a conversation!

Hike Like a Goat: Part 2—Center of Gravity

center of gravity stick figs

Hike like a Goat

A 7 Part Skills Series

Part 2—Center of Gravity

This 7 part series came out of a conversation that my Honey and I had about being sure footed on the trail. She wanted to leave the fear of falling behind with all of its timidness and tentativeness. In other words she wanted to Walk Like a Goat. When I said that the first time to her, she wanted to know what that meant because it sounded derogatory…until I explained: a goat is confident  and relaxed on rugged and uneven ground—so stable and skilled on her feet is that goat that falling is not even a fleeting thought. Walking Like a Goat is a high complement for any Honey on the trail.

Part 2—Center of Gravity

Push your center of gravity out in front of you with one leg and catch your self with the other leg—this describes walking—in a very loose and simplistic way. But it is true that if you push your center of gravity out in front of you and then do nothing, you will fall on your face. Every step we take even just walking across the living room is an exercise in setting ourselves out of balance and then recovering. It is an innate thing.

We learned to do this process of setting ourselves off balance and recovering when we learned to walk. We learn to hike on various types of uneven surfaces in much the same way.

I’ll spare you the technical definition and give you the layman’s version of what center of gravity feels like. It is that place in your body that has to be centered over your evenly spaced feet in order to squat and stand up easily without falling. It is that spot that when you move it left or right, forward or backward makes you have to flex muscles or hang on to something to stay on your feet. You will often fix this condition of being out of balance when hiking by moving your feet.

Ok that’s interesting you might say but how do I apply any of this to hiking? I think its most important application is in preventing a fall forward while hiking down steep inclines. I push my center of gravity back just a little so that I will just sit down should my feet slip out from under me. This is preferred to toppling tea kettle handle over spout.

This was another of those things that took me awhile to figure out how to explain it. What was going on inside of me without thinking? My Honey wanted to know so she could be confident hiking down a steep incline. She wanted to be relaxed with out fear. Finally I came up with an explanation that I hoped would make sense. I told her that when going down a steep incline she should feel just a little like she is leaning backwards. I actually crouch slightly if the hill is steep enough and point my tail bone at the ground like I was going to sit on purpose. This will move your center of gravity back just a little, slow the decent a bit for better control and prevent falling forward.

This is another element that builds confidence. If you know that you have taken the necessary action to insure that if you fall, you will just sit down, you can descend with a more relaxed spirit—raising the enjoyment level a bunch.

Good decisions based on where your center of gravity is makes you a wiser, safer and more relaxed hiker.

Read more about another skill I call Plan to Fall that goes along very well with this one.

Read 18 Keys to Better Balance from my Honey.

I hope that these skill tips help you and your Honey enjoy the trail more and more.

Hike Like a Goat: Part 1—Plan to Fall

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Hike Like a Goat

This 7 part series came out of a conversation that my Honey and I had about being sure footed on the trail. She wanted to leave the fear of falling behind with all of its timidness and tentativeness. In other words she wanted to Walk Like a Goat. When I said that the first time to her, she wanted to know what that meant because it sounded derogatory…until I explained: a goat is confident  and relaxed on rugged and uneven ground—so stable and skilled on her feet is that goat that falling is not even a fleeting thought. Walking Like a Goat is a high complement for any Honey on the trail.

Let’s unpack Part 1 of this series called:

Plan to Fall

To plan to fall—to anticipate what could happen during the step you are about to take and having the very next step picked out just in case. It’s about being mentally prepared and practiced so that you will react with beautiful adjustments—stepping gracefully forward.

As my feet fly down the trail over rocks and roots I stutter step, hop, glide and skid without thinking about it. But when she asked, “How do you do that and not fall?” I began to pay attention and realized that it is all just planned falling.

In terribly slow detail here is what essentially happens. I step out for what looks like a good place to step. It looks like it will hold my weight and not move under me. It looks like I can push off of it for the next step while controlling the direction and speed.

Then as I run, in the same split second, I am picking out the next spot with that same criteria and one more—where am I going if I start to fall? If the first step isn’t solid and something under my foot moves, I have a plan. If I can’t push of it like I had hoped, I’m ready.

This process of selecting good footing is slow at first but with practice it will come much more quickly.

It is not only the selection of the footing itself but it is that your body is ready to react. You don’t know which way your ankle or knee will need to adjust but you are ready for any adjustment. It feels a little bit like playing outfield in baseball or softball. You assume a ready position with your legs bent, your weight slightly forward and evenly distributed down into the balls of both feet—ready to spring in any direction to catch the ball.

Muscle memory develops with repetition and your body “knows” what to do to adjust.

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My Honey slips, executes her plan for this occasional eventuality and quickly regains stability

Ideally you will pick a spot that is solid but in the event that you don’t your body will be ready to make the adjustments and move to the next step because you picked it out and because your body is practiced at quick adjustments.

I used to think that it was just a natural athletic ability but it can be learned. Be grateful if you have it and you don’t have to think about it or practice, but if you are like my Honey who used to trip on flat sidewalks, you will have to practice and think it thorough but it can be learned.

My Honey is the proof. Her confidence and speed has risen and she is so much more relaxed. She’s having more fun and so can you. It’s an easy process that can be learned.

Hike Like a Goat—a Skills Series

 

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Practicing “trail goat” skills

Have you ever had a conversation with someone and realized that you can’t explain how or why you do what you do? I found myself in just such a conversation of our first all day hike.

We had hiked 4.5 miles up to Weser Bald with some good friends and climbed the Fire Tower. On the way back down it was pretty steep in places and we were on wet leaves. I noticed that my Honey was stepping tentatively and carefully. She had climbed up with strength and confidence so I was puzzled about what I was observing. As we talked about how to be sure footed, I struggle for words.

I was at a complete loss to explain how to be surefooted on different surfaces. I couldn’t articulate how to descend a steep hill and not fall down.

My Honey was struggling with a little fear of slipping on wet leaves and needed some more confidence about how to do it.

“Well, you just…” I would start off saying. I would try to finish that sentence with something that sounded intelligent and nothing seemed to make enough sense to resonate with her.

I am blessed with the gift of good balance. I can turn around on trails while running and talk to the people behind me—ducking low branches and hopping over rocks and roots without giving any of it a second thought.

But could I explain how? …no!

My Honey is a determined lady. When she set her mind to be with me on the trail, she would participate and she was going to learn all she needed to know. There was no going back or giving up—so she asked me to think about it and give her step by step instructions. She wanted me to unpack what was innate so she could get some of my trail goat/monkey skills.

Her goal was to gain more confidence through practice. Not just any practice but informed repetition. It’s just a skill and it can be learned.

What will follow is a seven part series that details those conversations—just me the billy goat explaining to my ewe what works for me and trying to pass on the skill.

 

We will process the following ideas:

1. Plan to Fall

2. Center of Gravity

3. Surface Contact

4. Hiking Poles

5. Ankles and Knees

6. Better Traction

7. Core Strength

She has developed into a more confident and skillful hiker over what has now been two years of practice. She will be pitching in with her perspective as we go. Her loving desire and determination to learn has earned her some genuine mountain goat like skills!