Tag Archives: learning

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

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!

The Secret to Getting Your Honey on the Trail

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My Honey’s Journal illustrates a great method for brainstorming questions. Hear from her at cowriterpro.com

The Secret Lies with Writing

Almost all of us have had to write a term paper or research paper in school. Many of us went on to a write a thesis. You probably write in some way at work—from email correspondence to grant proposals. From Lean Six Sigma projects to financial reports. From a bill of lading to an inventory count. We have all done some writing.

So with this background you are already prepared with a plan to get your honey on the trail. You just have to write it down. You thought it was a secret hidden from you? The secret is in your own experience revealed. The plan to get your Honey on the trail is a writing plan. My Honey explores many uses for writing at cowriterpro.com.

Let’s say that you have a research paper to write for your high school physical education class. It is the only pen and paper requirement to an otherwise active outdoor class. It is 50% of your grade and you want to do well.

You start asking questions:

Who am I writing to? just the teacher or the class?
What is the topic I have to write about?
Do I get to pick or is it assigned?
When is the document due? a week? at the end of the year?
What result do I want from my reader? a good grade?
Why is this important to my reader?
How much money can I spend to get this written?
What research do I need to do to write it well?
Who can I interview who has the knowledge I don’t have?
Who has written this document before?
What medium is the writing to be done in?
How will I know if I reached my reader?
Where will I do my best writing?
Under what conditions will I do my best writing?

Ask the right questions: You see how the questions just flow? You could probably ask even more if you were really about to write the paper. And you are really about to get your Honey on the trail with you! The secret is asking lots of honest questions with her in mind and they will be the right questions. Write them down—take 10 minutes and just let them flow. Be easy on your self and just write all that come to mind.

Answer them honestly from the hip at first: Put down the answer no matter how absurd it might seem to you at the time. I had no idea how I was going to tie together all the criteria my Honey had for what she thought might be the ideal trip. I had a little bit of incredulity going in my chest at first as I pondered my answers from her perspective. She hadn’t been backpacking like I was doing it and it had been 20 years since her trip through Europe with all she owned in a back pack.

Do your homework: Go find out all you can first before asking her. If you are like me, you could just go on and on and ruin a good thing (my Honey’s eyes would have glazed over at first). Listen to what she talks about and glean all you can from conversation.

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My Princess Editor—lover of fine things…and Hiking with her Honey!

Ask her: Go to the source and verify—ask. You can’t really assume you know. I was talking to a couple a few weeks ago and in her presence he said to me, “She’d never go hiking” and she looked at him with a sudden turn of her head and said with a surprising amount of energy, “You never asked me to.” I have discovered that most Honeys will go have fun with their man outdoors if he has a plan and has done his best to consider her perceived desires and perceived limitations.

Believe her: It was so tempting for me to say to her, “It doesn’t work that way” or “that’s just how it is” or “I’m the expert, just follow along.” So many things were second nature to me and experience taught me that for me there is only one way to do many things.  Did you see that “for me” back there in that last sentence?  You are wanting a “you and her” thing and if you will make the vast majority of it a “her” thing at least to start with, you will be well along the way of making it a permanent “us” thing.

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Transforming into hiking—our favorite thing

Write the rough draft: The first “well planned” trip drew in my Honey with cords of love because she say how hard I tried to make it fun for her. She honored my effort much like going with me on any other date that I had really put some thought into. Realize that it is a rough draft. Don’t make any judgement calls during the first outing. Roll with it with the most flexibility that you can and save the learning for later. This is about trying what might possibly be an extraordinary and difficult thing for her.  Laugh at yourself when most of it falls flat.

Rewrite and produce a better second draft: Keep what worked and decide if any of what didn’t work is worth keeping. As you produce a second trip, try to implement her ideas. I demonstrated to my Honey as often as possible that I heard her. I heard her—I was listening. No pretend “uh huh” sounds—real listening. Part of what drew my current avid hiker in from the beginning was seeing me order some little thing that would fix a problem she had. Present your sequel and reveal the loving improvements to the plan.

Fine tune parts of your document at a time: Don’t try to produce a masterpiece the first time or two or twelve. Work on bits and pieces. We did a romantic fireside meal to introduce her to rehydrated food eaten crosslegged on the tent floor. I packed lots of amenities in the truck that wouldn’t be on a backpacking trip. I focused on making everything else pleasant when I set up the romantic nest by the fireplace in an outdoor picnic pavilion. This way the one new truly backpacking component would be introduced in a likable way.

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Cozy and comfortable—ready to eat a rehydrated meal. Learning one component at a time.
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Jetboil—boils 2 cups of water in two minutes. My favorite stove.

 

Let it go: Most writing has to just be considered done at some predetermined point. You can always keep rewriting and tweeting. You can succumb to the ideal you have in your head and never have a good time unless it is like you pictured it or like it was on your best trip ever out with the guys.  You thought that everything just gets better “When you put a girl in it.” That is true but let go of the preconceived ideal because you are creating a new and you don’t know what that is yet. The ideal you will create together will be so much more beautiful and rewarding that what you could see at first.

On the cabin porch just before heading back to Nashville
Combining indoors and outdoors

Our journey has produced some of the greatest memories of my life. We have laughed, loved and lived to an extreme I didn’t know was possible. We have combined outdoor and indoor facets of grand adventures in ways I hadn’t dreamed up. We have enjoyed simple, slow and short events as well as longer trips with epic qualities. We are headed toward trips in the future that we will both declare to be epic life adventure list trips.

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Make your list this week. It is an easy step that will set your mind planning and unlock the secret. When will you start your “writing assignment” so you can “publish” meaningful hikes with your Honey?

9 Ways to Decorate Your Camp Site

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Decorating Diva 🙂

What? Decorate? Who knew? Come on guys – tell me the truth. How many of you knew that pitching a tent was considered decorating? Or maybe I’m just the only guy that didn’t get this. My Honey and I used to fight or at least be at odds over setting up camp almost every time.  The tension was thick and when we camped with friends they would notice it too. We loved the whole of the outdoor adventure so much that we would smooth it over each time and move on to happier things.

One particularly awful fight over the campsite arrangements resulted in nearly ruining a perfect full moon night. We managed to still enjoy some parts of the evening but the next day, we packed up and hiked back to the car. We were almost ready to give up on the whole camping component of hiking. It was bad.

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Happy moment preserved! Warming by a fire built deep in the sand.

We drove to the nearest town, found a place to cool off from the heat and sort out our angry feelings. How can two people who love each other so much and love these adventures fight so heatedly over setting up camp?  What was wrong with us?

An idea occurred to my Honey about how to explain to me what she was feeling. It must have been a Divine whisper in her ear because it was so good. And I’m happy to give her big kudos for how she laid out this concept.  In a nut shell – she explained that she needs to nest – she needs to decorate. She went on to explain that she believes that since she is the artsy creative woman that it is her responsibility to make it pretty for me.  I tried not to let my mouth fall open as I listened to her as she carefully and respectfully fleshed out her point of view.

I am very practical when it comes to basic shelter and I value speed only second to staying dry. However, I wanted peace and fun in setting up camp more than I wanted to set new speed records for making camp. I want things done fast so we can move on to more fun but all fun was at risk with my current method…so I was very interested in her discourse.

She on the other hand is like a cat trying to get settled in a small card board box. You’ve seen it I’m sure. You can read about ours in Clivethecat.com my Honey’s blog. The cat circles and circles passing up many perfectly good comfortable positions until the magic one is reached. No one watching the cat can tell why or when the cat will settle down (I’ll tell you in a little bit just how very good her criteria actually is).

This difference between our views gets the infamous credit for why we are so often at odds when it’s time to set up camp! It was a moment of great relief as I began to understand what is going on in her magnificent mind.

As I asked questions and we talked more and more we fleshed out many criteria for nesting – decorating the campsite, if you will. There are more but here are 9 of them:

1. Is the location for the tent level? Sliding down into a crumpled fetal position over and over will really ruin a good nights sleep.

2. If it is just a very slight incline, which way should the foot box point so that our feet are just slightly down hill and not our heads.

3. Is the site free of roots, rocks and sticks?

4. Is the site free of poison ivy and holes that might be homes in the ground?

5. What is the view out of the tent door? Can we see the moon? the campfire?

6. Which way will the wind blow better through the tent in the heat and blow around us in the cold.

7. How does the site look and feel over all as one approaches it from a distance (this one is the one that sound most like decorating and almost completely escapes my comprehension). How does it feel when we are in it? Does it feel like home to her?

8. Will the heat and smoke from the fire cause any damage to our equipment?

9. Which way will the shade travel? How will that effect the temperature inside the tent and should we put up a shade tarp to protect from the afternoon sun?

This is all part of decorating to my Honey.  I suggest that you ask Your Honey what she is thinking because she might know more about this than you think. My camp site architect sure has ideas that make it better!

So happy together!
So happy together!

We used to fight and now we plan.  The fight method: I’d start to set up and she would ask a question. The answer could possibly lead to a slightly different angle or location of the tent or cooking area. It might really be a good idea or she might just be asking for a concession. We would try to process this conversation while tired most of the time and sometimes in the dark.  This would go from frustrating to maddening inside me until we would just fight over every detail. The plan method: Now we spend 10-20 minutes discussing all the influencing elements and then we build the camp. If we are exceptionally tired and/or it is dark, we have concluded that I whip up a camp quickly and we make adjustment in the morning.

So, there you have it…making camp IS decorating?

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What are some more things that you can share that are good decorating tips?

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.

Collaborative Camping

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Yesterday, I got to tell you about out first night in a tent. I described how we got used to night noises and the fun day we had afterwards to balance out our emotions.

I saved the lesson about collaborating for today. We fought and made up prior to the test run in the tent and here is how it went down…and back up.

I thought that I was the teacher. I expected to explain the parts of the tent and the process and she would watch and learn. I would do most of the work to set up the tent and she would help as I guided her. My experience included setting up many different kinds of tents. I wanted to be appreciated for my knowledge, demonstrate my skill and have a little assistance on the task.

So when I said, “Would you help me?”, it didn’t really mean give me advice. Now, my Honey is an out loud verbal processor. She takes in data and turns it every which way, asks questions and offers ideas that occur to her from this process as they occur. In this environment, where I thought I was the authority, I was not prepared for this method of learning.

She began with “why this?” and “why that?” Then went on to “what if we did?” and “maybe we could try?” I was beside myself. I could not comprehend how there could be so much to talk about on such a simple process. In my opinion, I certainly did not have anything to learn and she would not stay focussed on my “right way to do it” long enough to learn. She was busy figuring it out in a way that worked for her. I did not realize at the time what she was doing and was quiet offended.

We had a little “intense fellowship” that spoiled the tent set up to be sure. She stopped talking altogether and I grew even more miserable with the silence. I did really want a conversation but I wanted it about how I was doing it so she could learn my method. What was I to do now? Within a couple of minutes I just stopped working, stood up straight and gently asked why she was silent. She said that she did not want to irritate me, but she had an idea worth sharing. I adjusted my attitude like a coal miner washing the soot from his face after a long day underground. I asked if she would please share.

What happened next was a God thing. She pointed to a place in the tent’s fly where the fabric was not tight and flat. She asked if it might leak there and wondered if maybe there was a clip or buckle or tie or something we could use to pull the fabric tight. I had my best attitude on and crawled in the tent to look. I expected to demonstrate that it was just the nature of this design. I stared completely stupefied at a clip right where she thought it might be nice to have one. I had never seen it before! I am still wondering if God just put it there to help me learn a lesson about communication and to save our future outdoor adventures from unraveling. I clipped it in place and eagerly crawled out to hold her close. I thanked her for her contribution and promised to work on being collaborative about learning to hike and camp together even when I felt I was the uncontested expert.

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Guys, your lady might want to just watch and assist as you guide her; she might want to just rest while you apply your trade; she might, however, be like my Honey and want to have her thoughts and ideas valued and appreciated by you. If you are not sure what approach is best for her, just ask. I know my Honey appreciates it when I consider what will work for her.

You might find that collaborative camping finds culmination in considerable cuddling…like it did for us that day.