Hike Like a Goat—a Skills Series


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!