Sunday, March 1, 2009

Finding the time

This is always an issue, isn't it?  There's never enough time in the day.  I have started doing a few things that allow me to get out and at least get an hour or two in on the trails.  

I work from home, so I've tried to set aside an hour for lunch.  I live fairly close to some decent trails.  I can often get in about 2-3 miles in an hour, or if I take the little guy(s) with me, I try and limit it to about 1 mile.  It's a good way to break the day up and a great way to start getting into hiking shape.

Another thing I've done, is to walk or ride my bike to the grocery store with my backpack.  I load up on a few items, throw 'em in the backpack and head back home.  Sometimes, I will even take the long way to get a few extra miles in.

I travel quite extensively, and have found that I often will have at least a couple of hours here or there to get out, even if it means getting up at 5:00 AM or so.  There's a wonderful site, Trails.com, which allows me to find trails near where I'm heading.  I will also try and seek out the local REI or other outfitter and get some local trail beta.  Some examples of places and trails I've been lately include:
  • Las Vegas, NV - I did the Lava Butte scramble (picture below is from the top using my BlackBerry) and attempted to find the Bowl of Fire
  • El Segundo, CA - I hit the Los Liones trail
  • Santa Fe, NM - I did a the Hyde Memorial Loop in the Sangre de Cristos














I often look for trails that can be done in 1-2 hours, which allows me to get in around 3-5 miles, depending on elevation change.  With the short distances, I'm usually very comfortable going only with a trail description and maybe doing some of my own routefinding, and not needing to bring my compass and a map.  

My recommendation is do what you feel comfortable with, but remember, it's not terribly difficult to get lost in the wilderness and there are many stories of people getting lost only a short distance from where they started.  Remember to always look around and find landmarks that can help you get back.

If you are going to be hiking early in the morning, sometimes I get to the trailhead before 6:00 am to give me enough time, you need to be prepared with lighting.  My first choice, is to hike by moonlight, but this requires cooperation with the moon.  Second choice would be to have a good head lamp (see my gear list on the front page) or a flash light.  

Finally, I try and plan at least 1 good trip a year with the family and possibly 1 good trip a year that really challenges me, maybe with some good friends.  This year, if all goes well, I'll have two good trips with the family (Ponca, AR and Rocky Mountain National Park, CO), 1 good trip with my son and maybe my wife (short backpackpacking trip) and 1 good guys trip (possibly Yosemite / Sequoia / King's Canyon National Parks).  

As always, I'll keep you updated on what happens.

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