Saturday, November 26, 2011

Be Careful or You'll End Up on Your Butt

After the post Thanksgiving stuffing, my husband, kids, parents and I took a hike on the Appalachian Trail in Maryland to Weaverton Cliffs, north to the Ed Garvey Shelter and back. The leaves are off the trees and ankle deep on the trail. I forgot that freshly fallen leaves are slippery when I almost fell on my butt; however, I managed to catch myself before falling on the edge of a rock. That got me thinking about what are the hazards of hiking after the leaves have just fallen.
  • Hiking on freshly piled leaves is liked walking on a newly polished floor with high heals; the wax provides a perfect opportunity to skid out. The waxy, protective coating on leaves is similar, particularly going down hill. To prevent this, I stepped from rock to rock because of their textured and abrasive surface. Furthermore, while hiking down hill, I took smaller steps and used my quad muscles as brakes.
  • The ankle deep leaves messed with my depth perception and where the best spot was to place my foot on the trail tread. The rocks and tree roots played peekaboo, tricking me with my involuntary decisions to make the right choice.
  • Often times when I hike, I rely on the trail tread to lead me in the right direction and check for blazes at turns and intersections. However, I found myself looking for the white blazes a lot more because the trail tread mimicked the forest floor.
The winter is one of my favorite times of the year to hike because the views are expansive through the woods and the trails are a lot less crowded in the DC area, except for the occasional burst of southwestern air that infiltrates our region in the winter. This causes people to stop hibernating and leave their dens to seek the fresh air of the trail.

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