You’ll see three kinds of hikers on the trail: The ones who seem to float on their tippy-toes from the crest of one granite stone to the next; the ones who seem to swim up through the leaf and boulder strewn path like fish gracefully navigating invisible waters; and those who look miserable — jolted with every step as the stutter and drop and climb, gracelessly jarring knees and ankles and backs.
One of the main tenets of outdoor survivorship is that it is essential to observe your environment. Closely. But observation is only half of the required skill. The other half is an unbiased interpretation of the data you are being given.
Wilderness mishaps and death stories are filled with cautionary tales of people who blindly ignored obvious signs of risk and danger. And, when I say blindly, I mean they made the types of decisions that cause people – those safely listening in their armchairs and far from the buggy, evening woods – to gasp, agog, and say, “What were they thinking?”