Sunday, September 28, 2014

Different Hikes. Different Skills.

Click graphic for the Rules of Hiking
Back in the day, I was a Boy Scout (Troop 54 in Bessemer City, NC). Regrettably, I lacked the personal discipline to work my way up to Eagle Scout. I only made it to Star, which is two ranks below Eagle. Really, I just wanted in on the fun of camping and hiking.

I still enjoy hiking today. Its fun, relaxing, and a great way to stay physically fit. Many preppers and survivalists enjoy hiking for the same reasons. Many also see it as good practice for bugging out. But hiking can be more than just a fun way to stay fit. Did you know that there are different kinds of hikes, each teaching different sets of skills?

Dusting off my old Boy Scout Handbook, my memory, and my imagination, here are some different types of hikes you may want to incorporate into your prepping to expand your skill sets.

The Day Hike - This is the regular hike that jumps to mind whenever someone mentions hiking. Great for stress relief and physical fitness.

The Town Hike - Live in a small town (or city)? Hike around town on the sidewalks. Not only will you reap the benefits of exercise, but you will learn more about the layout of your town and all the stuff in it. You'll be surprised what you missed while whizzing by in your car and may discover all sorts of things you didn't realize were there.

The Night Hike - Go hiking at night. Try to be as quiet as possible and use minimal artificial light. You can pretend to be trying to escape detection by a horde of zombies, or DHS agents. This is a more expert hike, so get some hiking experience first, be familiar with the area, and make sure each hiker has a flashlight and whistle in case they get separated. Remember, this is a practice hike and zombies aren't really after you, so don't take foolish risks!

The Naturalists' Hike - Have each member of your group take a different field guide - birds, trees, mammals, reptiles, wildflowers, whatever - and see how much you can identify. This is a great way to learn about the plants and animals in your area.

The Edible Plants Hike - Take a couple of good field guides on edible plants in your area, and see what you can find. Please be careful. Edible wild plants (and especially edible mushrooms) can be hard to tell apart from dangerous ones. It would be great to hike with an expert!

The Scavenger Hunt - This could be a variation of the naturalists' hike. Create a list of things to find on the hike (a maple tree, a blue jay, a robin, a rabbit, raccoon tracks, deer tracks, poison ivy, etc.) and check off the items as you see them. A fun way to learn about nature and get some exercise.

The scavenger hunt could also be done in a town or city using wildlife common in town, as well as landmarks (an antique shop, a salvage store, a graveyard, a church, a fire station, a barber shop pole, an historical marker, a library, etc.). A great way to learn more about your town.

The Tracking Hike - There are a couple of variations on this one. For wildlife tracking, simply see how many different tracks you can find and identify. Or, for tracking people, have someone hike ahead leaving a trail, and see if you can follow them.

The Lost-Child Hike - A life-size doll is planted somewhere in a park, wilderness area, or even in town, before the hike. The purpose of the hike is to find the doll. A great way to learn about search-and-rescue.

Orienteering - Use this hike to develop compass and map reading skills. Can you navigate from point A to point B? After mastering orienteering with a map and compass, try orienteering at night. Or learn methods to navigate without a compass, such as the North Star Method, Shadowless Stick Method, Equal-Length-Shadow Method, and the Watch Method.

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