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516 Trail Sense


Early in my mountaineering days I was on a month long trip in the mountains of Wyoming. Coming down from a pass the trail made long switchbacks across the slope. I was the last in the group and was struggling to keep up. It was hot and my pack weighed too much for my small sized body frame. I was not having fun as I watched my new friends scurrying down the trail ahead of me. Everyone was going to have to wait on me.

Coming to a switchback, there was an obvious shortcut down the open slope. I took the shortcut and saved a few hundred yards and a few minutes. I then began looking for other shortcuts. Suddenly, I was feeling better. I felt like I was catching up with the group. I picked up my pace as I shuffled my large boots down the trail.

Everyone was waiting on me as I arrived at the bottom of the slope. After a few minutes we began talking about hiking techniques and walking softly. My shortcutting actions led to the impromptu lesson.

Since that day, I don't remember ever shortcutting another switchback again. I learned my lesson.

On the cloudhiking.com site, I was working on the map and adventure guide to Twin Sisters Trail in Rocky Mountain National Park. The trail has many switchbacks which prompted me to recall this old story on one of my adventures.

I laughed as I remembered how daring I though I was, sliding down a short steep slope to avoid having to walk a few hundred yards to the switchback and back. It would have in reality, been much harder for me to have stayed on the trail!

Always stay on the trail and have an awareness of your impact on the environment.

Happy trails sense.

Trail Sense


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