Tag Archives: trail

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

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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: 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—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!

Component hiking-getting used to the backpack

Hiking the Volunteer Trail in Mt. Juliet
Hiking the Volunteer Trail in Mt. Juliet

The spot we chose for this bit of fun practice was Long Hunter State Park. We made our plan, packed the backpack and drove to 2910 Hobson Pike, Hermitage, TN 37076-4027. It is an easy trail that is about 11 miles long if you go all the way to the camp site at 5.5 miles. It runs along the edge of Couchville Lake with the water on your left or generally toward the west.

We use I-40 E and take the Mount Juliet exit (226). Then we head south on Mt Juliet Road (before you turn off of it the name will change to Hobson Pike). Watch on your right for some signs that make the way pretty well and turn left on Bakers Grove. Just about the time you get your truck straightened out you will need to turn left. This will take you about .5 miles to the trail head.

One of my favorite sources for info in our area is Cloud Hiking.  They have an awesome map of this trail and a really detailed section by section description of what to expect. If you are into blazes (I use them religiously) the trail we took was blazed white and the day loop is orange.

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The lake shore is very rocky in places. This made for a great place to eat out lunch.

In the parking lot we pretended that we were going to be gone overnight, went through the check list of activities in our heads and loaded our packs…well I had a large pack and she carrier a little day pack for this practice adventure.  After a bug spray experiment, we hiked the first .5 mile or so to the intersection where the day loop goes left. It circles around counter clock wise for 4 miles back to this intersection. It is only .7 or this day loop, however, to a great picnic spot with a nice view of the lake. You would only have to carry your picnic basket a total of 1.2 miles each way.

Go to the right like we did and it is 5 more miles to the camp site. From the parking lot to the camp site and back is 11 miles. Add a mile of the pavement out and back for a pretty decent practice 1/2 marathon that I used when getting ready for the Music City Marathon. The reasonably level trail makes the practice much more fun for me than the blacktop.

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Some prickly pear beside the trail.

In the camp site at the end of this 5.5 miles I’ve camped with some buddies a couple of times. I loved the abundant dry cedar dead wood. Both times there were plenty of fallen limbs for a decent fire. Nice benches and a fire ring make for some nice amenities in an other wise primitive camp site.

My Honey and I used this trail to do a little component backpacking on this trip. We have a couple of epic trips we want to take but like writing or anything else, you have to start at the beginning and prepare.  My Honey works out this idea in the world of writing at  cowriterpro.com. We needed to work out a lot of kinks in backpacking—one at a time. We have learned that to try too many new things at one time is a disaster.  This day hike was about getting used to a backpack.

Since I had always hiked with the guys and everybody packed to be self sufficient with only the occasional sharing of some kitchen supplies, I was experimenting with just adding her things to a complete pack. My Honey carried a few things in a hydration pack and got used to the idea of and the practice of getting anything else she needed out of the big pack.

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Just a hydration pack today

She was accustomed to carrying a large bag with most day use things handy in that bag no matter what was on her back.  So we practiced by eating a meal and by setting up a hammock camp for a quick nap and then loading it all up again.  It was a good learning experience for both of us and we just had a good time being outside together.

We learned that we both have to carry a real backpack. I can take a larger portion of the weight but she has to have at least a 30 liter pack too. Even if we got a 90 liter pack for me, it might all fit but the weight would be more than I could carry and still have fun…pack mule doesn’t work well as my middle name!

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My Honey soaking up the sun and resting her toes by Couchville Lake

We soaked up a lot of sun and had lunch on the rocky shore of Couchville Lake. We reclined luxuriously together in a hammock under a dense canopy for a little nap. We got some good exercise, practiced a component of backpacking and headed home when it got dark.

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Stopping for the simple details that make it special

Mission accomplished. Next trip-new lesson-repeat. we don’t really care how long it takes to master all the skills and get on with the epic trips as long as we are making progress. We build concept and skill on concept and skill. We are up to a week of camping—hiking combos from base camps and/or two nights in a row of primitive backpacking…and enjoying our progress.

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Pondering your path—what big thing do you want to do? From hike the grand canyon to making an elaborate quilt filled with childhood memories to a long vacation through the castles of Europe…what component could you practice first? How could you make an enjoyable small project be a step toward completing the whole?

As Jesus once said, “Is there anyone here who, planning to build a new house, doesn’t first sit down and figure the cost so you’ll know if you can complete it?” Then break the plan down in pieces and practice them one at a time.

Longing for the Spring

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Justin, Andrea, Loral and I at the Trail Head in Spring of 2015

It’s hot in Tennessee right now and I am enjoying it but really missing the Spring…I’m a bit nostalgic actually about a particular spring when we got to take a trip in 2015 with my daughter Andrea and her husband Justin. They are leaving Tennessee soon to go to Texas to seminary and they will be missed for so many reasons including the hiking.

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Me and my Honey—the monkey and the snail

I’m remembering a fun afternoon hike we did on House Mountain in Corryton TN. Justin gets all the credit for how well it turned out because he picked the spot. We were layered up a little because it was chilly standing still but a bit warm while climbing. The route changes elevation pretty quickly—I’m guessing about 1000 feet up over about .8 of a mile. The extra layer came on and off every time we stopped to see a pretty view or just to stop and visit.

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What a gorgeous view…and the scenery is not bad either:)

House Mountain State Natural Area is the official name and there is a great write up on it at backpacker.com. The entire loop is 3.7 miles but we took the middle trail to the ridge line and back down because of time for a total of 1.6 miles.

It is just NorthEast of Knoxville and depending on where you are in Knoxville it could be as little as a 20 minute drive. You take I-40 E out of Knoxville to Rutledge Pike then left on Iduema and then left on Hogskin parking on right.

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Starting a hike together—this day on the trail—soon on the highway going west

We loved the rock features and the views. I have to take my Honey back again to do the complete trail and honestly I need to go again to see the scenery. I was having such a good time talking and laughing with family that I don’t actually remember a lot of it. Sometimes these trips where you can’t remember the trail are the best kind. I was there for the fellowship and the trail just made a good setting for it. To focus on the relationship when we are hiking with someone else especially family is something we have learned to do.

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You never know when you will get to do it again—so cherishing the time together when you have it is a must!

 

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.

Details of the Trail

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Delight in the Details—cold clear water…SPLASH!

When I mainly hiked with my guy friends, we would plan mileage and time frames that would really push us—sometimes punish us. We seem to have a better estimate of our physical ability than was real. Getting deep into the woods was so important to the experience…so we would fly though the woods over many miles because we we always short on time. There was usually a cheerful shot out in the human caravan where Von might say, “Man, it would be awesome if we had enough time to actually enjoy this!” And we’d bat around ideas about how we might be able to do that. Or in a particularly tired moment Ralph might let out a pithy quip, “I’m not in any hurry, where’s the fire.”

I was about to do a close up when I realized that everybody was home!
I was about to do a close up when I realized that everybody was home!

Did we have fun? You bet we did! Did we miss a lot of the details? Well, that’s true too.IMG_3308 (1)

Over time, we developed a better sense for what we could do comfortably. And with better knowledge of the trails we planned in more time. Randy would point out, “This will be like a different trail when we do this in the winter.” He point across the valley at an enormous Hemlock tree and say, “Come here, this is beautiful—look at that!” The details were so varied from one season to another that it was a new unique experience but we still missed so much of the beauty.

Mushrooms so pretty they could be flower
Mushrooms so pretty they could be flower

How do we see more details? My Honey changed the pace. My buddy Walt told me, “She will change your life forever!”

IMG_3436 (1)Most of my hiking now is with my Honey and we go much slower. As a direct result we both take in great detail. She and I see things the other does not and share them. We stop and take lots of pictures and examine the little things as well as imagining how there must be 1400 different shades of green on a mountain side. I can’t wait to hike some more with my buddies and share this new skill.

Is Papa Smurf home?
Is Papa Smurf home?

Recently when we were at Fall Creek Falls State Park in Tennessee, we met Wes and Olivia and became new friends. Olivia said, “I used to hike fast until I started hiking with Wes—he sees every detail.” He responded, “It’s the details of the trail that make it worth while.”

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Wearing his bright yellow boots!
Wearing his bright yellow boots!

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Are you happy with what you get to see when you hike? Could you hike the same trail again more slowly just to see the details?

Frozen Head State Park – Tennessee

 

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We rolled in around 5 pm to Frozen Head State Park – Tennessee

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The Ranger’s office was closed but Ranger Joe saw us studying the map, stopped his mower, jumped down and came to see if he could help.  He let us in to use the bathroom and he answered our questions. He said, “Emory Falls is the best short hike for this time of day”. “It’s a 3 mile round trip.”

I asked where there was a good primitive campsite at the highest elevation where we would have a cool summer night. He pointed out Tub Spring camp because it was around 3,000 feet in elevation and it had a real spring. So even in the summer when the seasonal water was gone, there would be water at this site. “We hope to go there this summer,” I told him. He headed back to his mower and we went to follow his advise.

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So happy to be out of the car and on the trail.  We were coming back from Knoxville so we had our hiking legs cooped up for a couple of hours.

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Debord Falls at about .6 miles down the Panther Branch Trail. Down in volume from the spring time but still fun to see.

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My Honey reaching for a bit of refreshment! I love that she has unleashed her desire to be in the water. We plan to always take water shoes and bathing suits from now on. It would have been fun to wade in and splash around a bit.

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Having fun under Debord Falls! Kind of like a photo booth…with water.

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A cairn marking the way for something. It was in the middle of the creek no where near the trail. Maybe someone wanted the water to know where to go when it comes back after the next rain.  Cairn proved to be valuable for me in Yosemite in the granite fields. There is no sign of a trail so you just look for the next Cairn.

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Back out to the Panther Branch Trail for .4 more miles to Emory Falls.

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Love this root art along the way!

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My Honey looking up at me from the bottom of Emory Falls.

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Pausing for a moment of worship.

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Back at the truck we found new beauty unfolding.

One more example of seizing the moment. We had just a few hours but there was a trail near by. We wanted to do so much more but we will go back. We had heard that this is like the Great Smoky Mountains Nation Park but without the crowds. The elevation is about half of the Smoky Mountains but the trails, bridges and water falls are just like the Smokies. If you had blindfolded me and started me on this trail with our knowing where I was, you could have told me it was a new trail in the Great Smoky Mountains Nation Park.

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Seize the day, seize whatever you can 
‘Cause life slips away just like hourglass sand” Carolyn Arends