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.

Lessons From The Trail

Listen To Your Body


After hiking all day, it’s finally time to go home. However, the parking area is miles away, and, being impatience, you decide to walk faster in order to arrive at your car sooner.

I’ve found myself in similar circumstances several times and have come to understand, that, when I observe myself starting to drag my feet, tripping here and there on rocks and tree roots, it’s a good idea to slow down. Though falling on the trail isn’t fatal, ones diminished reaction time due to fatigue makes it more difficult to catch or control any given stumble; thus, more likely to sustain an injury – heads up.

Lessons From The Trail

Don’t Rush


People are always in a hurry. In fact, I would suggest this is more common today than ever. Impatience is a sickness and people can’t wait to be somewhere else – anywhere other than their present location. In many instances, this may be inconsequential. However, patience can be very important in an unfamiliar environment.

Case in point: my Adventure At Paine Creek. During a grueling 7 hour hike on a mountain in near 90-degree temperatures, and without a trail – only my ears to listen for running water through the forest, below – I was struggling to make headway. Frustrated with my pace, constantly having to stop and untangle myself from vines, plants and trees, legs bleeding from cuts…there was a temptation to recklessly plow my way through the foliage – to get out as fast as I could!

But, understanding that such behavior would increase the likelihood of injury, I chose instead to remind myself to slow down and exercise caution. As it turned out, doing so provided me with an opportunity on two occasions to observe high rock ledges hidden behind bushes – use your time wisely.

Lessons From The Trail

The sounds of forest animals, echos of rushing water among mountains, wind through the trees…adventures in hiking and photography contribute to a sense of peace & happiness in my life. Accordingly, in order to enjoy such occasions, it’s important to understand and follow a few simple rules – Lessons From The Trail.


Don’t Be Caught Off Guard

It never ceases to amaze me, that, given I only weigh 230 lbs., my weight can nevertheless cause movement of boulders many times my size, often upward of a thousand pounds. While it’s not complicated to understand – a focal point of balance hidden from view – it can be difficult to react when you find yourself caught off guard.

It can happen as you navigate a field of smaller rocks, sometimes unstable and possibly slippery. In your mind, you’ve mapped out a sequence of steps to safely guide your movement across the area, ending on the surface of a large, flat rock assumed to be safe. As you place your final step, the last rock shifts unexpectedly, causing you to lose balance and jeopardizing your safety – not everything is as it appears.