Hike, Make It A Wonderful Day!

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Your Choice

You have the ability to create the world that you live in by taking control of your time. So often we allow others to dictate how we will live out our days by doing what is “expected” of us whether we want to do that or not. There was a lot of stuff that some people might have expected me to do today. I hiked. Life is good.

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Priorities

I work a lot, full-time, and get two days off together every other week. There is always the pressure to “catch up” on the domestic work that I never finish when I’m going to my job day after day. Guess what? I still don’t catch up on it and my off days don’t do me a whole lot of good when that’s what I try to do. There is an old saying, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” It doesn’t do much for Jill either.

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What Do YOU Think?

We have choices that we don’t even realize. What did you really want to do today? Did you do it? Life is shorter than you know. Do what you want to do. I spent many years of my life doing what I thought that I “should” do. I was the most miserable person on Earth. Why do we put so much stock in the opinions of people who can’t make or break us?

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Easy or Hard? Just Do It.

In times past when I heard someone talk like this I thought, “You don’t understand my life. I HAVE to do these things. I HAVE to live like this.” I was so wrong. I am not a “special snowflake”, (Thank you, David.”) My life is not what a lot of people would call an easy life. I work hard and I have difficulties just like you. In the last year I have survived quite a list of difficulties, all of which are known to cause deadly stress levels. My response is to work out harder, and to play. For me, although hiking is sometimes quite strenuous, it’s play. It’s not as strenuous as my lifting and being outside underneath the trees, breathing the fresh air and beholding the beauty of nature is Nirvana. It is a true escape from grown-up reality. The outside exercise will boost my GABA and the aerobic exercise will increase my serotonin. The appreciation of nature will increase my acetylcholine and the exercise in general will boost my dopamine. Exercise will reset my brain to a “pre-problem” state. I will approach my work week with a calm that could not have been achieved by cleaning and doing laundry all weekend or running all over the place trying to do what someone else thought that I should do on any given day.

Tips for Safer Hiking

I have hiked many miles in the Smoky Mountains. I live in the foothills of the Appalachians and a lot of the hiking here is similar. There are a few things that I have learned that might be helpful to you. I would love to encourage you to get out there, with your doctor’s permission.

1-Wear synthetics made for hiking. There is a saying, “Cotton kills.” If you get wet in a downpour, cotton will cling to your skin and possibly cause hypothermia. I came pretty close to dying before I learned this truth. Don’t wear jeans to hike. If you are going to be hiking in a place where it will take some time to get back to your car, your body temperature could be dangerously low before you can get dry and warm. You can get house brand synthetic hiking clothes at a reduced cost that could save your life.

2-Carry a snake bite kit. Those rascals are faster than a speeding bullet and although you don’t think it can happen, believe me, it can. It happened to me.

3-Wear sunscreen. Duh.

4-Wear insect repellent that includes protection from ticks.

5-Wear good hiking boots that come above your ankle. Low cuts set you up for a sprained ankle.

6-Wear a broad brimmed hat with a strap around the neck so that you can have it on in the sun and off in the shade.

7- Wear sunglasses and be ready to take them off when they impair your visibility.

8-Wear functional clothing. This is not the time to be a fashion plate.

9-Have cell phones and external batteries for your phone. In some areas you need a two way radio instead because cell phone coverage can disappear in some places. It’s fairly common to lose coverage on a trail. Get a headset. You don’t have an extra hand to hold your phone.

10-Use trekking poles. They increase your calorie burn, turn your hike into a full body workout and provide incredible stability on hikes. USE TWO! One is NOT adequate. You can buy cheap ones and replace them when the tips wear out or you can buy expensive ones and change the tips. You decide.

11-Carry plenty of water. The camel back water bladder is a convenient way to hydrate. If you don’t do that, carry a back-pack with extra water, more than you think that you’ll need.

12-If you are hiking in bear country, do not carry food onto the trail unless it is bagged several times. They will smell it and follow you. If you are going out for a day hike, fuel well before you go. If you are packing out for the night, you need to learn about how to pack your food so that bears won’t be attracted to it.

13-Be very careful about where you carry your dog. Although I carry mine some locally, I will never carry her into bear country. Dogs look like food to a bear and that can ruin your whole day. Your dog will draw bears to the trail.

14-Enjoy hiking but don’t take it lightly. Read up. Buy trail books about the area you will be hiking.

15-ALWAYS get out of the woods, or set up camp, well before dark. When the sun starts setting, it gets dark quickly in the woods.

16-Make sure to carry rain protection. Even if you are wearing synthetics that shed water well, you don’t want to get soaked.

17-Do not hike on a day that there is even a chance of lightning. Been there. Done that. Just don’t. It was an absolute horror running down a 10 inch trail on the very edge of the mountain dodging lightning bolts.

With proper preparation and respect for nature, hiking is a joy that is immeasurable. Be safe. Have fun and for Heaven’s sake, don’t litter. If you carry it in, carry it out. Get Out There!

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