Lessons From The Trail

Watch Your Step

Everyone enjoys daydreaming now and then – humorous thoughts, events from earlier in the day or something planned for tomorrow, the face of a beautiful woman…

That’s what happened to me on my last hike to Hen Wallow Falls, near Cosby, Tennessee. I was on my way back to the parking area, after enjoying the 90-foot tall waterfall, following a downhill trail with many small rocks – and, a significant amount of mud from recent rainfall.

Rather than paying close attention to every step, I allowed my mind to wander to pleasant thoughts of a lovely lady from Lisbon, Portugal. A second later, my feet were airborne and I landed on my keister in the mud – D’oh! 😂

Lessons From The Trail

Spatial Awareness

We walk alone in fields, pass through doorways, stand in crowded elevators and wait in lines. Point being – we’re all familiar with our own presence and girth, in a variety of different settings, and generally don’t give it a second thought. However, to stay safe when hiking, some situations mandate a heightened sense of awareness.

In order to get the shot I want when photographing waterfalls, for instance, I sometimes access areas which are inherently dangerous – such as narrow, elevated ledges. Of course, I don’t do so haphazardly – I first closely observe the environment, width, footing, stable handholds within reach, etc.. Perhaps most important, though, is that I remind myself I’m wearing a backpack!

Few scenarios are more startling than attempting to turn around on a ledge, only to have the added bulk of ones backpack bump into a rock face or trees – creating an unbalanced sensation of being pushed forward. It’s difficult to regain ones composure in close spaces when balance is compromised – understand the space you occupy.