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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)
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.


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

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.

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.

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

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.

Rails to Trails and Ice Cream Sales

Behind the veil

A few weeks ago we took a trip to Waynesville Ohio to visit our dear friends Beth and John who came from thousands of miles away. Playing with their children and getting to know her Dad was such a blessing. We had many fun activities together including the privilege of walking though a bit of woods near by and on to the Rails to Trails network.  To me is was a sensation much like passing through a veil. Going from the yard of a nice home into the woods and onto a trail system that is picturesque and serene.

Grinning in the Rain beneath the trail sign pane

We just picked a direction and started walking. The purpose of this rainy day walk was to get to talk so we meandered and got caught up on happenings and shared ideas. I’m not sure how much time had gone by but we walked into the little town of Spring Valley.

We made use of a strange but necessary blessing – a port-a-let provided by Little Miami State Park for the trail users. A sign on the door gave the mileage to each of the next port-a-lets. I had to laugh and take this picture.

We were strolling past the Spring Valley port-a-let

We looked around enjoying what seemed to me like small old world industrial buildings and old pieces of machinery. Then we spotted an ice cream store!

Beth, Loral and John about to eat their trekking reward!

Two Scoops ice cream parlor provided us with a great dry spot and ice cream we couldn’t resist. My friend John rescued me because my Honey wanted ice cream and I didn’t bring my wallet…which reminds me…I didn’t pay him back yet!  We had an awesome time of snacking and fellowship before heading out into the rain again.

We traveled about 2.4 miles of the 73 miles of this Little Miami Scenic Trail that stretches through Clark, Clermont, Greene, Hamilton and Warren counties in Ohio.

It rained on us the entire time but we had a positive memorable afternoon. We were dressed for it in hats and rain gear. And we met this friend out on his rainy day hop…

Prince Charming in the rough!

He was kind enough (or maybe just cold enough) to let me hold him and take his picture. Then we let him go free. I laughed with joy as I remembered my Honey saying to me one time that she kissed a lot of frogs looking for me and knows a Prince when she sees one!

So happy to see you, Sir!

A correlation could also be drawn between the frog/prince idea and an abandoned railway become a place for fellowship and exercise. Thanks to the Rails to Trails system, Spring Valley and Two Scoops. Thanks to Little Miami State Park and our dear friends Beth and John.


Have you ever let a little rain prevent you from having some outdoor fun? Do you need some good rain gear to go hiking with your Honey?

A Beautiful “Do Over” Moonlit Night

“Our favorite time of light when the sun kisses the night”

“Fighting is terrible but at least you get to make up,” someone said to me once.  I’m not a big fan of this idea but when making up follows real resolution, I’m all about that.  Still seated in the coffee shop where we hashed out the 9 Ways to Decorate Your Camp Site…our skin was suffering from the hot air outside and the air inside was still warm from the fiery debate. But our hearts were aglow with the joy and satisfaction of having been heard and appreciated. Unsure what to do now with this hard earned vacation day, we just sat pondering over our useful solution to our ugly problem.

It was in the happy but tentative silence of that moment that my Honey quietly asked a question: “Is there any part of you that wants to try this again?” I immediately responded, “yes”.

Almost without words we committed to each other to do the same primitive night between the dunes and the waves of the Gulf that we had tried to do the night before. With the energy of excitement over certain success, we repacked all our gear and checked our supplies.

Back to Perdido Key we went. Our park pass that cost only $15 dollars for the week was still good so we whipped the car in behind the Ranger’s Station and filled out another primitive back country registration form.  We giggle as we drove in with that deja vu feeling…or maybe more like the movie Ground Hog Day where the main character got to repeat the same day over and over until he got it right.

We dove past all the public beaches, past the last legal parking spot and down to the end of the blacktop. We made a nest for Loral to soak up the sun and watch the waves and I drove the half mile back to park the car. I returned to kiss my Honey and help her into her backpack. We made silly puns and meandered along the shore looking for perfect sea shells.

My Honey – so happy to be barefoot in the sand!

My honey was barefooted, clad in her one piece bathing suit and 40 pound pack. She walked on the packed wet sand and let the waves tickle her toes. I have a bit of bad background with direct sunlight so I was in my hat, long sleeves, pants, boots and 60 pound pack.  I walked along in the loose sand and occasionally on the packed sand when I could dodge the waves.

We stopped and talked to fisherman and other campers while we covered almost a mile more of beach to get to a secluded spot. With all that we learned we discussed how we would set up camp satisfying all our practical concerns and her nesting decorating concerns. Camp was perfect and our meandering trip through the dunes carefully stepping around the protected vegetation was peaceful.

The dunes washed in pastel light

We set up our tiny chairs on the other side of the key, got out our snacks and water and settled in to wait for the most glorious sunset we have seen to date.  The fish jumped from the water and the birds flittered all around as if celebrating our restored joy. As the sun melted into our Favorite Time of Light we held hands and gushed on and on about the beauty of what God had made.


We slipped back to our camp – which looked awesome as we approached – and throughly enjoyed our evening and night under the biggest full moon I have ever seen. We slept with the flaps open on the tent letting the gulf breeze blow through and carry away the heat and cares of the day.

The next morning we spent in our beach cabana reading our Bible and talking to the Creator. We watched the hermit crabs surface tentatively from their holes and scurry back at the least sign of danger. We watched the fish jump and the birds float on the air currents and then reluctantly left that happy time to pack up and break camp.

Camp is ready and we are off to the sunset

Loral jumped in the water to prepare for the hot hike back and once again I covered up from head to toe to lead the way to the car. This chance to repeat what had been so badly damaged was such a special treat. Thank God we get the chance sometimes for a “do over.”


Is there something you need to hash out with your Honey to get resolved and move on? Is there any way to get a “do over” to reclaim what was lost?

When I Thought—She Might Be My Honey

I got a hunch on our third date that this lady might be the one. We had gone out for coffee at the Frothy Monkey on our first date. I took her to a Chaffin’s Barn dinner theater for our second. Now I wanted to see if she was for real about hiking and being outdoors.

One month later on another fun trail
One month later on another fun trail

Third Date—I called her up and asked if she would like to go to Edwin Warner Park near where she lived and hike. She responded eagerly which was a great sign for me. She had been there before and knew a perfect trail. I hoped she had experience there and believed it would be public enough for her to feel safe.  I was right and so pleased that she had recent hiking activity.

Exact Snack—Because I wanted to make it special, I asked her what she would like to snack on. She impressed me again when she was precise. No wishy washy response from this girl. No guessing at what she meant. She said that she would like raw unsalted almonds and organic raisins with filtered water. I had the almonds and water already. I snagged the raisins the day before the hike and was ready with my day pack.

Great First Trail—I picked her up at the gate where she was renting because the owner did not trust me with the code just yet. A few minutes later we were gearing up for a day hike in front of the Edwin Warner Nature Center. We walked and talked for a few wonderful hours. I didn’t want this to end…this might be the one. I pushed the envelope a little and asked what she did to develop a close relationship with God. She shared about her devotional life and that she had helped to lead a divorce care class. What a unique similarity—so had I! I was definitely going to pursue spending more time with her.

Healthy Dinner—It seemed obvious to me that neither of us wanted the date to end. I offered to take her to dinner and she accepted. We were starving and settled on the hot bar at Whole Foods. After we filled our dinner boxes with a wide variety of tasty healthy things, we went outside on the patio. The summer night was perfect and we talked on and on. This food choice was another sign that this developing friendship might be long term.IMG_0868

We are married now and pursuing our passions together. We are so blessed to abide in Christ together; to celebrate the outdoors together; and now to get to write together. I can hear the clicking sound of her fingers on her lap top from where I am writing my blog. She will probably beat me by publishing her blog first tonight but that is ok. I can’t wait to read her latest episode of Clive The Cat when I’m finished.

Pondering Your Path

Are you putting effort into making adventures special? Be a student of your lady—it pays off!

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.

Exploring Nooks and Crannies

Spectacular views and cozy moments come while discovering nooks and crannies—those out of the way places and small tiny spaces. IMG_1432

We keep our eyes open for places to feel cozy. Places where we can snuggle up together for a picture or take fun shots of each other. We enjoy stopping in a place just the right size to get out of the sun and rest a little while. Sometimes we stop to get in out of the rain. My Honey is really cooperative with my excessive photo snapping. Ladies, your guy might really like the way you look in all states of trail disarray. There is something meaningful about you struggling with him to get to a perfect spot. If he is like me, he will want to memorialize it by stopping time with a picture.DSC00248.JPG

She likes the overhangs that are just the right size too.IMG_2329

Take a load off and reflect on your day, your relationship, rest from the trail or just talk about the Royals in the World Series (shameless plug). Stop to see an unobstructed view.

Caves can be fun that aren’t too wet and dark. The critters that live there—hide there, the people who explore and our pets at home all like being in or under or between. Click here to find out what our cat thinks about nooks and crannies. He is very sophisticated and has clever insights.

In a cave hike we saw a bat that was so ugly it was cute. We saw stalagmites and stalactites.


This new pace I am learning to love. My normal mode is to burst down the trail or hustle through a cave with energy and speed trying to beat a time, get a good workout or beat the sun before it sets. I would only catch a glimpse of glory as I flew by. Leaping from one rock to the next as if the forest or cave floor was too hot to land on. I would say to my buddies that I wish we could slow down a little and get to look around but we rarely did.

Hiking with my honey has given to me so much meaning that adapting and going slower has produced joy. Do fewer miles and see more details of nature’s extravagant beauty. We laugh that I am the monkey and she is the snail. This is so true in the difference in our natural speeds. But as we have hit a speed closer to hers, it has satisfied my need to linger over the grand and epic sights. I enjoy the trail so much more. So stop in the nooks and crannies and let your eyes drink in nature’s visual nectar.