Posts Tagged ‘hiking’
I always forget how much I love day-long adventures until I have one. So far in 2013, I’ve had TWO: fishing on New Years Day and hiking this past Saturday. Saturday was one of those “adventures” that is only loosely planned.
Ben had noticed a seep marked on the wicked-cool Arizona Recreation Atlas I had given him for Christmas. It’s not that far from his house so we decided to hike up to it and have a poke around. We also grabbed the metal detectors to see if we could find anything fun.
There are some enormous mesas just north of Chino Valley. Since OCTOBER we’d been trying to successfully get to the top of one. Trust me, none of the photos do the size and steepness justice!
I knew that the day was going to be fantastic when it started out by coming around a bend in the road and finding an entire herd of antelope!
From there, we parked and began climbing the hill. I was testing out a couple of new products: Merino wool base layer (thermal underwear), an amazing new hiking stick, and a new mini-backpack from REI. I’ll get the reviews up in the coming weeks.
I don’t have a lot of pictures of the day simply because MOST of our adventure was spent hiking to the top of the mesa. And while my camera takes AMAZING photos, it’s not pocket sized!
The seep was really neat. I’ve never seen cattails growing basically out of the side of a mountain. There was about 8 inches of water in the bottom of the tunnel so there was no exploring; the high was maybe about fifty degrees!
We then scaled the entire mesa to the very top. Along the way, I saw a 6-foot long snake skin, prickly pear cacti with pads at least twelve inches across, a galvanized steel pipe sticking straight up out of a rock outcropping, climbed some nasty cliffs, found pottery shards from the 1970′s, and enjoyed the most amazing views of the valley spread out below us.
I’d love to go back and do some more exploring; maybe with a pocket-friendly camera! But, based on the size of that snake skin, I’ll ONLY be doing it during the cold months!
Oh, and the metal detecting? I found a 30-30 rifle cartridge, a bit of wire, and an old Coke can. Hauled it all off the mountain too!
This was a short hike from the parking area. But don’t let the word “short” confuse you with EASY. The hike starts out from a dirt parking lot and promptly climbs STRAIGHT UP A SANDY HILL.
And this Arizona Princess really doesn’t like getting sand in my shoes! But, thankfully, my guide for the day, Andy, warned me about the sand so I was prepared with my boots and sticker gaiters.
From the top of the hill, the vistas all around are simply breath-taking. So much so I didn’t actually TAKE any photos! But, from the top of the rise you can see Echo Peaks to the west, near the confluence of the Paria River with the Colorado. The dark line of the Vermilion Cliffs lies farther west, while Navajo Mountain stands behind, to the east.
It’s well worth a pause just to look around and enjoy. But we were in a hurry, so it was a quick stop to catch my breath and then a rapid plunge down the far side to the overlook itself.
Needless to say, the views of the Colorado River below are nothing short of stunning. The water was a lovely blue-green that just invited a lazy paddle. Of course, while it looked like it was RIGHT THERE, the water is actually nearly 1,100 feet below. Yikes! I’m not usually bothered by heights, but it did make me a bit queasy.
It wasn’t the best time of day for photos, but the views were just amazing. And we managed to hit the overlook in a lull between crowds of people. The hike is 1.5 miles round trip but it is up and over a pretty considerable hill. It was cool enough that I wore a sweatshirt TO the parking lot but toasty enough for me to leave it in the car.
I look forward to going back when I have more time to sit, enjoy, sketch, and get some better pictures!
After a few minutes enjoying the view, it was back in the car and back to Andy’s where he made Navajo Fry Bread. Yum!
It’s next to impossible to go camping without also going hiking. Or at least walking in Nature! I nearly gave up walking anywhere other than on pavement because of how much I hated getting stickers, prickers, thorns, and other pokey-scratchy things in my socks.
(In fact, this was one of the reasons I didn’t want to go deer hunting with ESP Boss when I was in high school!)
Then, my ESP Boss gave me the best invention EVER: hiking gators! Gators (also spelled “gaiters”) are traditionally used to prevent snake bites. Snake gators cover the legs from boot laces to knee and are made of a hard material to prevent fang penetration. Snake gators are hot and stiff.
Hiking gators, on the other hand, are just enough to cover the boot top and your socks and can be worn either with pants or shorts. Mine were marketed through Cabellas (they’ve since stopped carrying them) and are of a heavy duty canvas with an elastic top that goes around my ankle.
I wear my gaiters every day when I’m out camping. I also wear them when I’m weeding my garden to keep stickers out of my socks and to keep bugs from crawling up my pant legs.
My camping tip for the week is to invest in some hiking gators. If you find a pair you really like, go out and buy a second pair. That way, you’re covered if you lose one or if your favorite gators aren’t being made anymore.
I did some research, and it seems like these Hiking Gaiters through Amazon.com are pretty close to what I’ve got.
Readers Weigh In:
- What is your must-have item when you’re camping or hiking?
I’m the first to admit that I am not a hiker with a capital ‘H’. I prefer to do my hiking by either walking Lily around the campground or leisurely strolling through the forest on my way from the campsite to the lake. However, when I do decide to go trekking, either on a path or cross country, I always carry my walking stick.
Why Carry a Walking Stick?
- Balance assistance on rocky terrain, crossing water or washes, going up or down hills
- Reduces stress on joints by offering extra power and balance, reduces shock on knees going downhill and takes pressure off of your back and hips going uphill
- Helps burn more calories
- Can be used to clear spider webs, hold back brush, flip rocks, look for a geocache, etc
- Is a deterrent to being bothered by animals and people
The first thing is choosing the walking stick that is right for you. There are lots of choices available. You can get composite fiber, wood, aluminum and plastic sticks. I’ve got an adjustable aluminum stick with a rubber tip and a handy strap that goes around my wrist.
Whatever type you use, pick something light and strong – light because you will have to carry it and at least strong enough to not break and to stay in one piece when you put your full weight on it.
Length is also important, which is why I’ve got an adjustable stick, I adjust the stick to what feels good for that day. For trail hikers, an adjustable stick allows you to alter the length as you go uphill and downhill – keeping the correct angle between your shoulder, elbow, and wrist.
Two recent studies have shown walking and trekking poles to be effective for reducing the exertion felt while increasing the calories burned by hikers and walkers. The study conducted at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst showed that using poles lets hikers lengthen their strides, put less strain on their knees, and generally feel more comfortable. The hikers studied did not expend less energy, but the increase in stability made long treks easier.
The Cooper Institute of Dallas, Texas assessed the NordicWalking method of using two poles for fitness walking. They found an increase in calories burned and oxygen used by 20% compared with regular walking at the same pace.
And, of course, being able to go on longer hikes means that you can burn more calories!
When you buy your walking stick, either a single or pair, remember that this is a very personalized purchase. Buy a stick that you like and that you know you’ll use. I recommend actually visiting a store for this purchase. Hiking sticks can be expensive so you want to buy something you’ll use and being able to test it in a store really helps!
Do you know where to go hiking in your area? Are you looking for a level, well maintained path where you can really clip along or are you looking for a strenuous straight-up and straight-down path? EatStayPlay.com has the answers for you!