24 October 2010

Turns Out ... Hiking Is Not Walking on Pavement

Hiking in Harriman Park today, we came across four college-aged or maybe twenty-something guys out backpacking. Their second day out, and they were tired. They weren't really sure where they left their car, except they knew they took an exit off the Palisades Interstate Parkway that said Seven Lakes Drive. And they had no map.

Zeke was a little frustrated at the delay while we showed them our map, helped them figure out where they left their car, and told them what trails they could take to a point where a girlfriend could pick them up.

An important lesson: If we're out in the woods and there are other hikers in trouble, we always stop to help. Even if their trouble amounts to going out unprepared.

Harriman Park is so close to New York City and its suburbs that it gets a lot of hikers who park their car and then wander into the woods without thinking about it. In the past, we've given other hikers water and food, band-aids and antibiotic ointment, and information about the trails.

Another lesson, implied, but (unfortunately) subject to fairly frequent repetition: if you're going to go hiking, you really ought to bring along food and water and waterproofs and maps, along with a first aid kit and the ability to read the map and find your way back out.

Also: I've seen people talking on their cell phones while stopped along hiking trails, but today, for the first time ever, I saw someone walking along and texting on an iPhone. An expensive piece of equipment to smash on a rock if she trips while not paying attention.

Which brings me to my final point. Going into the woods with a cell phone does not equal going into the woods with proper equipment and some skills to go along with it.