This past weekend, I manged to kill two birds with one stone. I got the best sleep I’ve had in months and made good on my goal of reconnecting with nature and getting fit . The stone: Breakneck Ridge .
My partner and I decided that the 94 degree weather on Sunday was the perfect weather for what he termed a “vigorous” hike. Vigorous indeed. The scramble up the first set of rocks confirmed three things.
- I am out of shape.
- I’d like to learn how to rock climb.
- No, rock climbing is not one of my “hidden” talents (I believe I have some…I just have to figure out what they are, ergo the “hidden” part)
The Screamer – 10-20 minutes of being lost, this is usually the person that starts to shiver before erupting into an oxygen-deprived wail that may last anywhere from a few seconds to hours. Their shouts may include a mix of both optimistic cries (“Somebody, help us!) and pessimistic sentiments (“We are all going to die!). You can count on the Screamer to relay the obvious (“This riverbed is completely dry!”) and alert the group to unknown dangers (“I heard a growl from over there!”) As frustrating as Screamers might seem, I think they serve a crucial purpose as they are able to both inform anyone in the area of a) the situation and b) the status of the group. This comes in particularly handy if you have the next type in the group.
The Frodo – For those of you familiar with Lord of the Rings, you may recall Frodo as being the brave Hobbit who carries the burden of The Precious with little more than the occasional yelp of pain or sigh of discontent. While hiking, Frodos will not complain much as they plow through uncharted territory and their lack of speaking up may add some sense of calm to an otherwise stressful situation but, you often won’t notice the Frodo until s/he has collapsed 50 yards behind the group. They’re generally not a pretty sight at the end of the ordeal.
The Guide – This type is pretty self-explanatory. Guides will often take command of the situation with varying degrees of success. I think there are a number of sub-types within Guides, ranging from the Democratic Guide who attempts to utilize a voting system within the hiking party, the Cheerleader Guide who provides frequent check-ins and updates on progress to the group, to the Vigilante Guide who will make quick decisions and spit bark and anyone who stands in the way. Of course, there are always the Directionless Guides who have no sense of what to do but continue to move the group – possibly in circles – just for the sake of doing something. In general, Guides tend to be quite useful…until they’re not.
Usefulness – Ineffectiveness/ Group Survival Rate = Eat, Abandon or Keep
Overall, my experience in the mountains allowed for some interesting insights. I recognized that I’m more of a Frodo-type and that speaking up sooner rather than later might be a good trick to learn (silently trying to conquer a fear of falling while on a hot rock only leads to burnt palms). Partnered with a Cheerleader Guide, the experience was far less stressful than it could have been were I lost in the woods with any of the other types. While it takes “all kinds” there are some folks I would prefer not be lost in the woods with. I plan to hike it again and will remember the following:
- always bring the extra bottle of water
- gym sneakers are not appropriate for settings that are not in a gym
- bring a bottle of eye wash for bugs that hit their mark
- wear pants not prone to rip on rocks
- take a before and after photo for humor and/ or blackmail purposes