Useful Things Learned Hiking

Did I ever mention on here that I am writing a hiking book? Well, I am. I have a contract to write a DC area guidebook on hiking for a major travel publisher. By September 15, approximately one month before our departure date and about two weeks after I hope to have jetted over to Sweden, my entire manuscript plus maps and photos is due. What this means is that Jeff and I spend every single weekend hiking, checking off one by one the eighty hikes that will be in this book. So if you’ve ever noticed that our Sunday evening posts aren’t all that fabulous, well I apologize, but come Sunday we’re pooped—not to mention rank smelling.

And though spending every waking moment of our free time out on the trails isn’t exactly awesome for checking things off the RTW to-do list, it isn’t completely wasted time. In fact, we’ve learned a list’s worth of stuff.

1. The gear is good to go. Do we have a comfortable and safe way to carry the camera? How will my clothes hold up to the heat and humidity of the tropics? Can I layer effectively to stay warm without taking anything heavy? Is that Light My Fire Spork going to cut my mouth or be an effective tool? No way to know but test them out, and that’s where hiking has come in. Back in March, I layered up clothes I planned to take and set out for 10 miles of hiking. Verdict: Impressively warm. This past weekend, I donned two other outfits and went out in the near 100 degree temps plus stifling humidity and hiked nearly 20 miles in each. Verdict: There’s not much to be done when it’s that hot, but if I have to wear clothes, these are the ones. Every hike Jeff slings the camera bag across his body, wearing it along with his backpack and snapping away at everything from frogs to waterfalls. Verdict: Comfy, easy to access, and secure even when we’re scrambling over rocks and tramping through water. This weekend, we threw the sporks in the bag and used them to make peanut butter sandwiches and prepare and eat Jamaican chicken. Verdict: Not just a cool piece, but functional too.

2. We’re not going to be the kids holding up the trekking tour. No, we will be the kids laughing in the face of Dead Women’s Pass on the Inca Trail. Okay, maybe not, but we’ll certainly be in shape for the many adventures we plan to take. When Jeff and I stood at the trailhead of our final hike—what would be miles 32-38 for the weekend and miles 41-47 if I also include my Thursday hiking—I can say that neither Jeff nor I were certain our legs would carry us all the way to the ridge and back. But not only did we do it, we did it in less time than what a hiking club that focuses on uphill hikes told us it would take. So if you’re thinking about joining one of our trekking tours, you better come prepared. Otherwise you’ll be seeing nothing but our dust.

3. We really do like each other. When we’re hiking, it’s Jeff, me, and that’s it for up to 12 hours per day. No friends or family members are around to provide conversation. No TVs, iPods, or computers offer diversion. There’s no one to talk to but each other, and though we’ve been doing this all-day, all-weekend hiking for 2.5 months already we’ve yet to run out of things to talk about or become sick of being together. Woohoo! We just might make it around the world for a year without killing each other.

4. Squatting, no problem. Though I will always hold the porcelain pot dear to my heart, I can do without it. I have the squatting thing down. Aren’t you glad to know that?

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