Caution: Do not read this blog entry if you want to stay under the assumption that all hiking experiences are pleasant and comfortable!
Sometimes, just sometimes, hiking trips do not go as planned. Hikers if they hike long and often enough WILL most likely: arrive at a wrong destination, be hot, sweaty, and smell, have shaky legs, a pounding chest, and burning calves, feel thirst (real thirst), experience disorientation and dehydration, feel intense cold, numb fingers and toes, encounter winds that threaten to steal all ultra-light equipment, lose toenails, meet with a piercing granite boulder that will result in an emergency room visit, and my personal favorite be threatened with a gun while hiking on private land.
Last week we decided to head off on incoming storm, and climb Boulder Peak in the Owens Peak Wilderness. As a result of our available time frame, the impending storm, and unclear directions to the trail head, we decided to take a route that looked like a shortcut. Not good. We ended up at a ridge that made a 2 1/2 mile trip into at least 4 1/2 miles. On top of that, upon reaching the ridge the winds picked up and we had to turn around. In the following video from that ridge, standing is difficult, my poles flew away, and I am shouting while standing on my backpack to secure it from blowing away. Way too much fun.
To celebrate our complete failure, we headed to the theater to watch 127 Hours. You may be familiar with this true story of Aron Ralston’s amazing escape from a boulder that had pinned him, by cutting off his own arm (with a very small off-brand multi-tool knife I might add).
After this heroic escape with death in 2003 Aaron wrote Between a Rock and a Hard Place that I read several times. I really enjoyed his writing and background information. I even loaned the book to several of my students. Check out the trailer. Warning: the movie is rated R for some pretty gruesome scenes.
I won’t spoil the movie or book with a review, but I can tell you that now on every trip of ANY LENGTH, day or over-night I now will:
1. Always, always text or phone someone where I am going and when I expect to be back.
2. Always carry a small sharp knife, ultra-light rope, and an extra battery for my headlamp.
3. Carry extra water (you will know why after watching the movie)
So I just have to ask, do you have some experience while out hiking you would like to share? Please do share in the comments.