Category Archives: water falls

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.

Christmas in July – Getting to Talk to Grandma on Time

Our Christmas Cabin
Our Christmas Cabin

Last Christmas was our second one together—we’ve been married almost two years now. We got to Celebrate Christ’s birth by combining lots of traditions and making some new ones. We celebrated with family before and after the big day. But on the 25th and 26th we rented a cabin in the Cumberland Mountain State Park in Tennessee. What a deal—there were running a winter half off special and we rented this cabin for a great half price winter deal and got two nights for $95.00.

We packed in the things you would expect: gifts, meal supplies, Christmas goodies, firewood, Bible, books, candles and of course, hiking gear.

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Jesus is the Light of the World—reading the story of His birth from Luke together.

Christmas day afternoon we headed out for the trail head of the Pioneer Trail Short Loop. Here is a great map of the area.

We thought we would enjoy a rainy stroll across a suspension bridge and complete the entire 2-3-ish mile loop in a couple of wet happy Christmas hours. This would get us back just in time for the family call to my Honey’s Grandma…well…or should I say Wow…that is not exactly what happened.

We left our warm toasty cabin in our rain gear covering us from head to toe. I was so delighted because my Honey is not fond of walking in the rain and was genuinely up for it this day. I love to hike in the rain so much that even at work I can feel the phantom weight of my backpack on my shoulders when a heavy down pour passes our office windows…and I smile…can’t wait for the next stormy adventure.

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A flood level Byrd Creek

We walked almost due West on the blacktop between the cabins until we reached a little access trail on the left just before the cul-de-sac.  When we reached the Short Loop we turned right and practically skipped the .2 miles to the suspension bridge. So happy to be alive and to be together on Christmas. Byrd Creek was so swollen under the bridge that it barely squeezed itself underneath.

I was practically giggling at our good fortune of getting to see such power, be in a storm and still be safe. (I wasn’t actually giggling…of course…because guys don’t do that, right?) I’m not a storm chaser but pretty close.

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Making an unusual Christmas memory

We turned left headed toward the famous bridge of arches that you see in almost every picture of this park. It was 1.6 miles away and we didn’t know if there where other bridges to cross except that one.

Shortly after turning left on the other side of the suspension bridge we got an inkling of what might be ahead—a runoff creek, the kind you only see in a storm, was so wide that we had to do a little stone hopping to cross.

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My Honey proving to be very agile crosses like a champ

We actually crossed 8 of these in that next mile—there are usually on two during normal wet periods but no limits on Christmas day!  My Strider Writer crossed every water obstacle like a champ! In several places the trail led down to the edge of the water and we had to make our own way through the trees to find the trail again.

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Hey Kemosabe! Where is the trail?

This was eating up a lot of clock and the scheduled time to call Grandma was rapidly approaching.  Hmmm…we decided to test the first bridge we came to at right about one mile and see what could be done to cross. Pleasant surprise to find this bridge…we might make it on time. It was completely in tact and solid but the far side was under three feet of water for the last 5 or 6 yards.  I went first with two hiking poles testing the ground ahead before each step—there was no current. When I crossed safely on what felt like poured concrete underneath, I turned around and went back to get Loral.  We plodded slowly through the ice cold water up to our knees to get to that call with Grandma.

This is my best “over the river and through the woods” story ever! We made it to the cabin door in time of the call. All the wet clothes went in a pile on the porch and into a thick warm blanket my Honey went. Within 10 minutes, (I wanted to do all I could to show my appreciation to her for coming on this foie that was out of her comfort zone) I had a fire started and a hot cup of her favorite tea in her hand while she talked to Grandma. It was a video call so we got to see and say hi to all those that had been able to make it to Kansas.

Mission accomplished…we got to Grandma on time!

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Do you have something going on that is turning out to be much different than what you had planned? How can you make the most of it? Is there a warm blanket, toasty fire or hot cup of tea that you could metaphorically add to make it better?

 

3 Kinds of Debriefing after a Hike

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Sunset on Period Key—we try to work in a sunset every day on the trail.

1. Literally de-brief—we remove all clothing at the door and put them directly into the washing machine. This is a good practice that we didn’t always do. One time after a hike I was babysitting my then three month old granddaughter, Blakely. When my daughter returned and picked Blakely up from my arms, she noticed there was a tick crawling on her blanket. “Great,” I said, “I’ve given Blakely her first tick!”

This event helped to establish the habit my Honey and I now have. We put the clothes in the wash, check each other for ticks and get in the shower.  This process is super overkill but it even takes care of the bugs you might feel that aren’t really there—it’s a phantom feeling because you know they could be.

2. Debrief in the sense of the after action report—what happened, what did you like most and what would you like to change if you could. Read more about how to do this in writing at my Honey’s business blog cowriterpro.com. While the trip is the freshest thing in your memory, talk about it. My Honey and I purposefully use language that is uplifting or constructive. We try to repeat the good things or at least add them to a list of things to repeat. On the flip side we try to eliminate what we weren’t as fond of or figure out how to minimize any problems.

A positive point might be seeing waterfalls and getting in the water. This is a big hit with my Honey. We repeat seeing waterfalls as often as possible. Going slowly enough to see the details of the trail and enjoy the moment is a definite. We pick mileage and sleeping sites that allow us to enjoy the details. This, of course, requires a good map each time. Seeing the sunset each evening is also a must.  Make your list of what really makes the trail awesome for her.

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Enjoying the spray from Fall Creek Falls. This is a definite repeat for us.
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Having a good map is a real positive for us.

An opportunity for improvement in debriefing came after one of our first trips where we slept in a tent. The thing we liked the least was how Loral’s sleep was interrupted by the night noises. We can’t change that we sleep in the dark at night, however, we can mitigate. We discussed simply getting used to it. There are night noises in your house too but your mind filters them out because they belong. They are not signs of danger. When we introduce a new sound the mind has to define it as an ok sound first before we can sleep through it. Then we worked on education—what made the noise and is that dangerous. We discussed trying to be more tired, using ear plugs or a white noise app with earphones. We talked about stretching the tent more tightly so that it made less noise in the wind.

Do an honest assessment like this for each issue. The goal is to keep her enjoying the trip. If she looks forward to what was fun and can anticipate improvement of what she wasn’t as fond of, she is more likely to stay on the trail with you. You like the trail and will go back even if you were soaked, hungry and slept on a rock. She might not—so debrief with real results.

3. The third and final kind of debriefing is also literal. You are home now in a soft bed—you figure it out. I hope you have fun loving on each other out on the trail too, but you are back in your own love nest…get some sleep and celebrate the comfort.

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What are some lovable repeats? opportunities for improvement? I’d love to hear your story.

Fall Creek Falls Tennessee State Park—Part 2

In yesterday’s blog I got to share Fall Creek Falls Tennessee State Park—Part 1 and how we crossed the suspension bridge and climbed the 70 stairs. How we meet and talked with our new friends, Wes and Olivia. After a few well spent minutes we stepped back onto the Gorge Trail chattering back and forth about what we had just learned and how we could share this wisdom.IMG_3370 (1)

We hiked the 1.2 mile Gorge Trail and stopped at all three of the open overlooks and passed on by the closed one that is letting nature restore herself.  The Gorge Trail then intersects with the Grassland Trail. We turned right to go up to the overlook at the Falls parking and down the .5 mile trail to the bottom of the falls.

IMG_3465Before we went down, we stopped and my Honey fueled up with a gel pack of Isagenix Amped Fuel Apple (visit our exercise performance store at http://HikingWithYourHoney.isagenix.com  I saved mine for the bottom and got a zip back in my zoom for the climb out.

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Fuel for the trail—Amped Fuel Apple—Zoom!

Hydrated and fueled we eagerly began the strenuous climb to the bottom of the falls.  There is a hand rail most of the way if you need to steady yourself.

IMG_3522Wow! We looked up 256 feet to the top of the falls and wrestled with thoughts of getting in the water. There were some swimming and we wanted to get in but had not brought swim suits, water shoes or towels.  From now on we will carry those supplies to every water fall just in case.

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Rover says, “how I’m gonna get down?”

There was a daughter and daddy up on a large bolder with their dog and he looked like he was saying, “woof, how am I going to get down off of this rock, bark.” They had lifted him up there but he finally settled in for a nap.

IMG_3537About that time Loral stands up and announces, “I’m going!”  “Up the slippery rocks to the falls,” I asked.  With the determination of a general at war and the glee of a girl in a toy store she said, “I didn’t come all the way down here to miss the water falls now.”IMG_3547 (2)

She almost scampered over the dry rocks at first and then slowed to carefully pick the best footing. Showing accumulated hiking skills she bear crawled in places and scooted on her bottom in others. Carefully—remembering the fall on the ice so many years ago in Chicago—but with determination to experience the prize, she inched along.IMG_3548

Reaching out her right hand to touch the falling water she faced me across the pool under the falls and giggled with delight. Moments later the flow of the water shifted just slightly at the top and she was now laughing hysterically as the water completely soaked her with refreshing coldness.

My Honey is a writer and an editor for real—for a living—and compares hiking to writing in a fun blog called, Why Write? Write to Go on a Journey.  Well put Honey! I just read it and there are some great parallels!

IMG_3497I climbed over and joined her for a few happy wet moments. Up, up, up the .5 mile trail to the top of the falls. We stopped in two places where the mountain splits to feel the earths cold moist air rushing out and refreshing us.

IMG_3485 (1)After we crossed the wobbly wooden bridge on Coon Creek and the really solid one over Fall Creek, we turned right on the Woodland Trail. It is an easy stroll for .8 miles back to the Nature Center. My honey was soaked to the bone and speed walked like “Grease Lightning” most of the way back to the top of the stairs. Back down the stairs and across the suspension bridge to complete the 3 mile journey. IMG_3519

I asked her on the way home what she felt under the falls. She said that it was so exhilarating. I asked what made it exhilarating—expecting a list like how the water was cold and refreshing or how the water pelted her skin or maybe how good it felt to be able to climb safely to that spot.  Instead, she said dreamily, “It felt so good to feel the love of God pouring over me. To know that I am receiving His blessings and that just like this falling creek, there is so much more in store for us in our future!” That’s well said, Honey!

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When you’ve put out a sizable effort, do you make sure that you get the most out of the moment? We’d come all that way and my Honey wasn’t going to miss that water falls experience—do you have a story to tell where you “soaked” up the whole experience?

Building in Margin

Earth shaking power at Rock Island Falls
Earth shaking power at Rock Island Falls

When I hiked BL (before Loral), hiking was always an athletic event. Alone or with my buddies, I would push the limit of my physical ability doing lots of miles carrying 40-55 pounds. Now hiking with my Honey, we build in margin to allow for beholding beauty and investigation interesting interruptions.

Rock Island adventure—In Rock Island Tennessee there is a park that we now love, not only for the waterfalls but for the memories. We planned to visit three different kinds of waterfall environments and got three memorable interruptions in the package.

At Rock Island on the main overlook below the dam
At Rock Island on the main overlook below the dam

A nursing calf—I was so flexible on this particular soirée that we stopped at the ranger station first. We grabbed a map and listened carefully to the advice our young lady ranger had to offer. Before we got to the first waterfall we passed a cow pasture. My darling got excited because she thought she glimpsed a calf nursing. We pulled over and walked back to where she saw this tender site. I was really enjoying her child like wonder—she had never witnessed a calf nursing. We stood hand in hand looking over a vine covered fence at mama and her baby. The calf would gently head-but her mama’s utter and then drink for a while. This was something normal for me and I really didn’t see it when we drove by.  I mean, I saw a calf nursing but I didn’t see a mama loving her child. We gave quiet homage to God’s glory in creation. We had built in margin.

Powerful earthshaking falls—touched and now eager to see the falls, we finished the winding miles to the biggest falls where the force of the falls shook the ground. We liked this site but it was completely domestic—pedestrian and paved. Without ruining the moment we left for the trail where we could do a few miles and see more falls. Through the trees we could see a spectacular group of cascades on the other side of the river pouring down probably 70 feet into the banks.

Little Falls—almost skipped this one…little sign about little falls on an off shoot trail…glad we didn’t miss it…wet and slippery but unique. Over the top of a small cave ran a little water fall. We explored the cave and took turns looking through a port hole sized opening in the rock on to the forrest below.

Break time on a cliff—About three quarters of the way around the loop trail we were on, my love got more adventurous. Out over the river was an outcropping that just begged us to come sit down for a while. We carefully picked a spot and watched the swilling churning river down below. The beauty came from the power and speed of the river. Had we not built in margin we could not have stopped this long for an inspiring break.

Fog Light restaurant—The third thing our built in margin allowed us to do was to find this new really good restaurant. We weren’t looking for a restaurant…just a bathroom. In the bend of the narrow blacktop there was a sign that said Fog Light. No way this could be a restaurant out here? But it had to be one by the condition and location of the sign. We went to the porch and approached a man using a grill. He turned out the be the chef and owner. He let us use the restroom and invited us back at 5pm when they were open for dinner. He suggested we get there early and boy was it good that we did. We arrived at 4:45 and by 5:00 there were 60 plus people in line behind us. This crowd filled the restaurant instantly when the doors opened and the food was upscale foodie kind of good. With margin built in we were able to eat in a Chicago quality restaurant in the middle of nowhere!

The view from our table at Fog Light
The view from our table at Fog Light

Keep the flow loose we now say. Make plans that include real details and timeframes to satisfy the German in both of us but leave margin for our creative French natures. The level of enjoyment has shot up as we have learned to build in margin.

Do you schedule your day and your fun times so tightly that the least interruption causes you stress? Can you stop for 10 minutes to talk to a neighbor without being late for an important deadline? When you stop and smell the roses does it create stress because you know you “should” be somewhere else? What one thing could you do to build in margin to let a little joy leak in?

For more insights on life and enjoying the interruptions read my wife’s blog—Clive the Cat. She shares what our cat Clive is thinking about human behavior and how his wisdom applies.