The Best Way
To See the Countryside
is to go Hiking in it!

Since you can't see that awful much from the road, go Hiking and see it all!

There's nothing that matches the sheer joy of living that you get when you tramp down a mountain trail on a fall afternoon! Especially, when you started out from an RV Boondocking rig parked out in open country somewhere!

It's better than sex! .... OK .... that's a little bit of an exaggeration, but walking through far country is still one of life's 4 great pleasures. The other three being beer, chocolate, .... and SEX! :-)

Even for me! I love my Big Red Truck and my Black Motorcycle. But, their purpose, is to get me to the mountains, to go Hiking!

But you say, you're too old, too stove up, too heavy, too tired? Well guess what sparky? Hiking does great things for every one of those maladies. The more you hike, the better

you're going to feel. I swear it's so. It not only heals a worn body, it heals a worn spirit! Kind of a magical medicine. Better than anything those snake oil salesmen used to sell in the old west!

Bull Feathers you say? I've got a bad back and can't walk says you? Baloney says I! Something more than 25 years ago, I broke my back in the U.S. Army. (The reason for my Disabled Vet status!) So, I claim to have some knowledge of the difficulties experienced with 'sore' backs!

The best medicine for that sucker is activity. Sometimes you've got to just 'Cowboy Up' and work through it, but each day that you do, you'll get stronger. If the bones in your body are screwed up, the only thing that's gonna hold 'em together, are strong muscles. Now don't go makin' cracks about that muscle between my ears bein' kinda soft!

The only thing that's kept me moving for the last quarter of a century .... !!!? .... sounds like a long dang time when I put it that way don't it? Anyway, the only thing that's kept me going .... was to keep on going. If I sit around too long I get real stove up. If I keep walking, I stay loosened up and mobile. You can gain those stronger muscles with the easy activity of Hiking! That's the conclusion reached by the self taught, highly educated, medical experts at Goin' RV Boondocking! :-)

But, you shouldn't just wander off into the bush in shorts and a t-shirt. A little preparation here, will pay you back, on down the Hiking trail somewhere. There isn't a whole lot of Hiking equipment a person needs, but some careful preparation will deal well with any "eventualities". Don't you just love it when I use them BIG words!!

Wish I was surer what they meant!

So, what kind of preparations should you make to go wander the high lonesome? And what kind of backpacking equipment should you get? First off, tell somebody where you're going, and when you plan on gettin' back. That way, if you stub your toe and need a mite of assistance to hobble back down the trail, you'll not need to wait so long for somebody to come a lookin'.

We had a saying back in the army: Train hard - fight easy. Little better circumstances here in the civilian world, but the principle still applies. If we properly prepare for the worst, the worst will be easy to deal with! Even though you may only be planning on taking a two or three hour hike, plan on the unexpected eventuality, of a three day ordeal. That way, if it should happen, you'll be in good shape.

How many times have you heard of someone going out for an afternoon stroll, getting lost, and not getting found for three days? No big deal if you have yourself squared away for water, shelter, clothing and some goodies to chew on! When all your tramping around is making your backbone rub a hole in your belly, you'll be glad you hauled the weight of that water and groceries!

I'm not talking the whole house including the kitchen sink here! Just the necessities of Water, Shelter, and Sustenance!

Carry a water jug or canteen, a water filter, a light nylon tarp to protect from rain. A space blanket for emergencies. Jacket, sweater, socks, TP! a first aid kit, flashlight (the new led flashlights are superb and the batteries last much longer) and some groceries.... raisins, nuts, power bars, etc.

If you want to be able to cook up a hot lunch, or a cup of coffee, there are a good number of back packing stoves you can pop in your pack and take with you hiking. Something about sippin' a hot cup of coffee, sitting under a tree alongside the trail, during an afternoon mountain thunderstorm, chewing on a piece of jerky, that makes me grin.... goofy old geezer .... probably thinkin' about sex :-)

Now I know what you're thinkin'. Under a tree in a thunder storm .... ?

Not a lone tree. On a peak. Or out in the middle of a meadow. I was talkin' down in a canyon. Low. Lots of taller trees, up higher, an the mountain itself! .... I may not be the brightest, but I ain't crazy!

If you're willing to haul the weight, and just can't be away from 'em, you can also take your MP3, your PDA and your cell phone! Truth is, cell phones OFTEN work well, way out in the bush. When you get up high on a mountain, you often find you can get service, when you couldn't at the bottom. It's a line of sight / transmission thing. Many people have been able to make emergency contact, while Hiking fairly deep in the wilderness, using that %&#@ infernal, Cell Phone!

Me I don't hike with any of the music box gizmos. I want to hear the music of the wind in the trees, the roar of a waterfall, the birds, a coyote howl or the thump of an Elk as it crashes off through the woods.

All this will fit in a day pack or as we called it in my military days, our rucksack. The weight really doesn't add up to that much. A good pack will carry it comfortably and having it along will take a load off your mind. If something unexpected happens, you're ready!

What else might a fella or a gal need for a normal, everyday Hiking adventure? A few things come to my worn ol' mind.

First thing is a hat! Amazes me how many folks run around with no protection on their brain box! Out here in the west, where you're usually pretty high, the sun will cook your noggin, well done, in a short while. Put something over it!

Same goes for the rest of your hide. Suntans may be fashionable, but the skin cancer that goes along with it ain't good for much. Ever wonder why them cowboys are always covered, head to toe? It's 'cause we learned the hard way, this country, though beautiful is tough on a critters body. You need reasonable protection to live in it! Long sleeves and long pants make sense to me. To heck with fashion.

Something else are sunglasses! Did you know that excessive exposure to UV light can increase the incidence of cataracts? Using high rated, UV blocking sunglasses will reduce that threat by a significant amount.

Cowboys are fairly rugged, but we still don't care much for bein' the main meal at a bug supper! Throw some "Cutter", "OFF", other bug repellant in your warbag!

In a lot of the Northern Country, Yellowstone, Glacier, much of the Northern Rockies, Bears are not an unusual occurence. Two things can be used to deal with that furry little problem. (did I say little?)

First, avoiding a too close encounter is the best thing. The heavy majority of Bears would rather not have a gol' durn thing to do with you in the first place. The problems usaully arise when somebody, somehow, manages to actually get too close, without Yogi realizing that they're there. When he's startled, it sort of gets him cranky, and that's when you have trouble. Often happens on breezy days when your footsteps are muffled or your scent is blowing away from him.

So .... when you're hiking in Bear Country, hang a small bell on your pack! The ding ding ding can be kind of nice on it's own, and it ensures that you make enough 'noise', so that you'll have a hard time inadvertantly sneaking up on Ol' Yogi. Some folks put the dinger on their walking stick.

Speaking of walking sticks, they're a good tool to have along. You need not be a cripple to put a Hiking staff to good use. Crossing the mossy rocks of a gurgling stream, navigating the loose shale of a slide, rain slick steps carved into a mountainside or just a slippery slope of some sort, you'll be glad you have that Hiking stick to brace yourself. Carve your own or pick one up as a National Park souvenier!

Next, a good can of Bear Repellant, hung on your belt is a good thing. The stuff really works, and has changed the attitude of many a bad tempered, honey thief, at pretty close range!

That said, know that the incidence of Bear Trouble is awful low, considering the millions of miles covered by all the people out Hiking throughout the year! Take some precautions in advance, pay attention when you're out on the trail, and you'll be fine!

By the way, if you go off into the bushes to do a little irrigating? and Yogi is having a pic nic lunch out of your pack when you return? Let him have it. It's not worth the hassle to argue with him about it!

A poncho or rain gear! No reason to stay in camp, just because it might rain. Having decent raingear will allow your hiking to go on as planned! I know it sounds wierd to some folks, but singin' in the rain is a memorable thing to do! .... Keep away from the lightning though! That's one time you won't want to be singin' "Baby, Baby, light my fire"!

Don't forget your boots! This ain't the place to scrimp! Buy the best Hiking boots or shoes you can. I remember the agony caused by low grade, ill fitting footgear. Another saying in the Army: No feet, No Army. Take care of your feet with top quality footgear, including socks. Take care of your feet, and they'll get you to the end of the trail.

Don't go out Hiking and get lost! Good trail maps and the know how to use 'em are indispensable. If you don't yet have the know how, find somebody to teach you. Good topo maps, and guide books are available at any good sporting goods store. To support the map of your Hiking area, carry a compass and, if you're into technology, a GPS. Just be aware of a couple things. The GPS gizmos are still only accurate to maybe 20 feet .... good enough for our purposes, and they're battery powered. Don't hang everything on a battery. Have the map and the ability to use it!

Never saw the battery on a map go dead!

**** SIDEBAR ****
What should you do if you get lost? First, sit down and slow down. Relax. Panic is not gonna save the day. If you just can't figure out where you are, you can't get to where you want to be!

If that turns out to be the deal, all is not lost. You left your plans with someone, right? They'll come looking.

All you need do is make it easy for them, and stay healthy until they arrive. Move out of the trees into the open, where you can be easily spotted .... weather permitting of course.

Pitch your tarp for shelter from the sun or rain. Don't go getting sick from exposure!

Munch on some jerky and brew a cup of coffee. Then sit down and read a paperback, while you wait for the cavalry!

*********************

A couple of other things I always have along when we go Hiking are a notebook and a camera. Many times, as I walk along, ideas come to me that I need to put down on paper, before that sliver of a concept is lost to me forever! Taking a shower and Hiking are the best places to think!... and riding a Motorcycle! :-)

The camera is self explanatory.

Check out the internet, guide books at the local book dealer, or maps at the nearest Forest Service Ranger Station and you'll find a whole slew of places to wear the rubber off a good pair of Hiking boots. You may even replace a few lbs. of excess stuffing with some good lean muscle!

RV Boondocking and Hiking .... fit together like fingers in a glove! .... My Yamaha fills the glove on the other hand!

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