When it comes to hiking and backpacking, my most used and beloved (and iconic) piece of gear is my hiking staff.
Write in Front of Me
“You wouldn’t part an old man from his walking stick?” – Gandalf, “The Two Towers”
I’ve always been a “tripod” ever since I was a kid hiking the woods behind my suburban house. I would quickly pick up a downed length of basswood or cedar and adopt it as my hiking stick and off into the trees I’d go. It wasn’t long before I felt unable to venture into the woods for a hike without having one. That is still so today.
Hiking Stick Grips (Photo credit: Randy Cox)
Somewhere at a roadside stand along the Blue Ridge Parkway about 1978 I found a walnut hiking staff carved by a local man vending summer tomatoes, corn, and mountain sourwood honey. I think I paid ten dollars for it. That hiking stick kept me stable during my trips into Pisgah National Forest, Linville Gorge, Shining Rock Wilderness…
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As backpackers and hikers gear up for another season in the wild, it seemed appropriate to revisit this post.
Write in Front of Me
Photo courtesy Jim Dollar @ Flickr
Daniel Wood left journals from hikes he had taken. Among those pages I discovered this document. I testify it was written by him. He requested whoever discovered it would post it online for all Appalachian Trail hikers and backpackers.
A Backpacker’s Code
I realize that choosing to hike this trail is a fulfilling, but serious endeavor. In setting foot here, I choose to be responsible not just for myself, but for those I meet on the trail. While I may never find myself in such a situation, I owe it to myself and others to hike responsibly and stand ready to help another backpacker should the situation arise.
I realize that I am to be responsible to myself first, and self-reliant to the extent of my backpacking and camping skills. If I do not have the basic skills of the art I will seek out seminars…
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Stubbs provides great insight and wisdom which is crucial to upping your odds for a successful Appalachian Trail hike.
Stubbs Rambles On
Originally posted on The Trek on January 17th, 2017
There are numerous reasons why people quit their thru-hike, and some of them are preventable. Here are several examples of reasons why people fail their thru hike attempt and how they can be avoided.
1) A Negative Mindset
I met a hiker in the beginning who was extremely negative about EVERYTHING under the sun (Including the sun, actually). You would try to help guide her into thinking about things on the bright side and she would find a way to turn it around in hopes of making you feel bad for her entirely hopeless situation.
Prevention: A bad mindset when you’re constantly in a funk about everything will force you off trail as early as day one (unless you’re as stubborn as the hiker I just described).
Think Positive – The key is to try to rewire yourself to become more positive…
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Remembering Jack and Wayne along the Appalachian Trail!
Write in Front of Me
This is neither Jack nor Wayne. It is the Real Hiking Viking. But, when I look at him it reminds me of the wonderful wildness that was Jack and Wayne, and they looked very much like him.
The story you are about to read is true; photographic existence of the parties mentioned has yet to be discovered.
Straight up and down; then straight up and down again! Georgia trail maintainers seemed clueless about the need for switchbacks on the Appalachian Trail, which made the footpath through the infamous Georgia gaps more of a roller-coaster endurance test than a pleasant trail. Fortunately for backpackers and hikers tracing the AT through the southern Appalachians Jack and Wayne were there. Or maybe not.
Jack and Wayne appeared with a shock – all laughs and boisterousness – on day three of my hike. The rigors of the trek had thinned the crowd into…
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Filed under Adventure, Appalachian Trail, Backpacking, Comedy, Dreams, Hiking, Laughter, Living, Outdoor sports, outdoors, Walking
The Great Smoky Mountains near Gatlinburg, Tennessee (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Increasing the Chances of Finishing Your Long Distance Hike
Lest I dig down further into the essentials of preparing logistically for a long-distance hike, I feel compelled to back up and share what, in my opinion, is the prime essential determiner which increases the likelihood of a successful hike along the Appalachian (or any!) Trail – developing mental preparedness.
For an in-depth read about this topic, please see: Long Distance Hiking: Mental Preparedness
Filed under A.T., Achievements, Appalachian Trail, Appalachian Trail Conservancy, Apprehension, Backpacking, Courage, Decision making, Earl Shaffer, Fear of heights, Focus on goals, Foot travel, Hiking, Life changes, Long distance backpacking, Outdoor safety, Outdoor skills, Outdoor sports, The Appalachian Trail, Timothy J. Hodges
The tower was a medieval-looking structure – a tripod constructed of massive timbers which looked like over-sized telephone poles. Wrapped with ropes the thickness of my upper arm, the structure rose into the grey afternoon sky. There were climbing holds stapled along the legs at various points, and climbing ropes draped from its height. There was a platform on top where one could stand and look out over the Connecticut countryside. My first impression was that it looked like a siege weapon from a Lord of the Rings movie, only missing a few attendant orcs. It was at once challenging and forbidding. And the closer I walked toward it the more uncomfortable I felt.
It was the afternoon break during a conference. Participants could snooze, chat, read, play ball or –as was my case — check out the “ropes course.” But this was unlike any challenge course I had seen. Instead of cables strung between treetops there was this lone structure in a field, tended by a staff of three whose task it was to ensure the safety of climbers who would ascend belayed in harnesses.
I was the first to arrive, and wandered below the three-legged device. I looked up and felt slightly dizzy. No one had come to climb the tower yet, and I had no intention of trying to climb it. My plan was to hang out and watch more valiant souls do it.
Being curious, I peppered the climbing safety team with questions, such as who made the tower, how it was used, and how safe it was. Admittedly, deep down, I had always wanted to address my own long-standing fear of heights. Sure, I’d had limited encounters with vertical space, such as clambering up the Forehead of Mount Mansfield in Vermont and scaling Katahin in Maine. But those, while risky, never involved as much anxiety as the notion of climbing this tower seemed to.
After a few questions, one team members offered a candid comment. “Even kids love climbing this thing,” she said. OK, I could understand how fearless children, restrained with rope and safety harness, would not hesitate to tackle this over-sized Tinker Toy. But then came the clincher.
“They even climb it blindfolded!”
Filed under Achievements, Anxiety, Apprehension, Camp, Climbing, Climbing tower, Competitiveness, Courage, Fear of falling, Fear of heights, Outdoor safety, Outdoor skills, Outdoor sports, Rope climbing, Timothy J. Hodges
It seemed like a bit of retro viewing when I noticed “Fear Factor” was back on television. Contestants competed for money by escaping from cars submerged in water, diving into gallons of cow blood for cow hearts (you heard right!), and engaging in an Indian-Jones-like stunt involving a bus, helicopter, and boat in an attempt to “blow up” a floating barge.
Clearly, fear may not have been a factor for winning contestants, but the point that reality shows dealing with fear are still prime-time viewing choices.
Juxtapose that with the previous post and story about endurance athlete Gerry Duffy, certainly a man who overcame resistance and fear. I found the piece to be challenging and inspiring and intimidating all at once. I also wanted to become Gerry Duffy, and to achieve what he has. And, having finished the piece I came to two conclusions: I did, and I can.
First, on the next section, let’s deal with the “I did” part, the lessons I learned from it, and where I am with the entire fear issue right now.
Filed under Achievements, Anxiety, Apprehension, Camp, Climbing, Climbing tower, Competitiveness, Consequences, Courage, Decision making, Fear of falling, Fear of heights, Goals, Life changes, Living, Outdoor safety, Outdoor skills, Outdoor sports, Rope climbing, Timothy J. Hodges