Hiking Buddy Application

Note:  This is not actually meant to be a method of  judging people to be fit or unfit as hiking partners, it is just a slightly tongue-in-cheek idea I had after some conversations about What Makes a Good Hiking Buddy (an undefinable concept).  It might be a good way to get to know people before you hike with them though?

I put my answers at the bottom for fun.  Also if any of this seems oddly specific, it’s definitely in honor of one of my favorite hiking partners 🙂

  1.  Do you hike a lot?
    A. I don’t remember the last time I went a whole week without hiking.
    B. I hike when other people invite me or I am traveling.
    C. I guess I’ll look at the Grand Canyon or something.
    D. Ew, exercise?
  2.  How important is keeping up a quick pace to you?
    A. I love to time myself and try to beat my best time.
    B. I like to be able to hike fast enough to go farther and finish ambitious hikes.
    C. I love me some extended breaks.
    D. I literally couldn’t care less about speed.
    E. I gotta take my time and “my time” is a lot of it.
  3. Do you like bagels?
    A. Yes
    B. I can’t eat gluten or a bagel killed my family
    C. Why does there need to be another option?
  4. How do you feel about hiking in the rain?
    A. I love rain, especially on certain types of hikes.
    B. Maybe on occasion I’d choose to hike knowing it would rain.
    C. I can deal with it, but I won’t be happy.
    D. Why would you ever make me go outside in the rain?
  5. How prepared are you for cold?
    A. I know myself and own several warm layers.
    B. I can make it work for a day.
    C. I kind of hate the cold.
    D. I might die if you take me somewhere it is snowing.
  6. What happens if we end up hiking in the dark?
    A. I love night hiking sometimes, even on purpose, as long as the terrain isn’t terrible.
    B. Sounds like a scary but fun adventure.
    C. Uh… I’d rather not.
    D. I am legitimately terrified of the dark.
  7. What kind of snacks do you like (select all that apply)?
    A. Dark chocolate
    B. Clif bars
    C. Bread and cheese
    D. GORP
    E. Fruits (fresh or dried)
    F. Jerky
    G. Elaborate homemade meals
    H. I can carry cupcakes in my pack without smushing the icing
    I. I exist entirely on performance foods for runners
  8. How many hours can you hike in a day and still have fun?
    A. 0-4
    B. 4-8
    C. 8-10
    D. 10+
    E. What is a day?  I really like to challenge how long I can go without sleep.
  9. How much do you like to plan your hikes?
    A. I’m awful at planning.
    B. I’ll plan whatever is necessary for reasonable levels of safety.
    C. I like to do a lot of research, even about things where there is little danger.
    D. I will be pulling out some excel spreadsheets and maybe a powerpoint.
  10. What do you do if you feel something is unsafe?
    A. Macho man through it and say nothing
    B. Have a conversation with my partner and try to change strategy
    C. Let my partner carry on without me and go back
    D. Complain and never hike with the person again
  11. Which of the following skills do you bring to the table (select all that apply)?
    A. Recognizing and treating hypothermia and heat exhaustion
    B. Wilderness first aid
    C. Basic navigation
    D. Evaluating avalanche safety
    E. Communicating with European tourists (or locals when you are a tourist) using an elaborate system of hand signals
    F. Being self-sufficient on a backpacking trip
    G. Cooking things at camp that taste good even when you haven’t walked 20+ miles
    H. Actual mountaineering skills
    I. Taming chipmunks
  12. Do you like multi-day trips?
    A. Let me live in the woods for months.
    B. For a couple/few days.
    C. I’ll camp by my car.
    D. I like beds.
  13. How do you feel about singing while hiking?
    A. Bring on the sing-a-longs!
    B. There’s a time and a place.
    C. Ugh, shut up!
  14. What kind of nature knowledge do you have?
    A. I carry a magnifying glass so I can study moss.
    B. I know the names of all the birds and flowers.
    C. I can tell the difference between a false morel and a morel.
    D. I can find a few edible plants and recognize poison ivy…?
    E. What’s a squirrel?
  15. How do you feel about dogs?
    A. I only ever hike with my dog and my dog is perfect.
    B. I like to bring a dog that gets me tangled in trees constantly.
    C. I don’t have a dog, but BRING YOUR DOG I LOVE DOGS.
    D. I’ll be happy for the company if it can keep up.
    E. Kind of not that into dogs.
    F. I am terrified of dogs.
  16. What’s your biggest pet peeve in a hiking partner?  ___________________________________________________

 

My answers are: 1. A  2. B  3. A  4. A  5. A  6. A  7. A,B,C,E  8. D  9. B  10. B  11. A,C,D,F,I (definitely not G)  12. A  13. A  14. D  15. D  16. People who can’t handle unexpected problems, tied with the smell of tuna

I’m super interested to see your answers, if you want to post them below!!

Walking Around Puget Sound: Part 2

This is part 2 of this little story.  For part 1, click here.

img_20161125_090824The first day, google maps estimated I would walk 25 miles to get to my first Airbnb host.  I was still thinking in hiking terms, so I started at 6AM thinking there was no way I’d finish before dark.  It was strange walking around with a backpack in the dark.  I couldn’t tell if people in Seattle thought I was homeless or just walking very far home from a bus.  Eventually, though, I started to see people putting out signs for their coffeeshops or walking their dogs.  As I got closer to the water, I saw people with rollerboard suitcases obviously just off a boat of some kind and fishermen drinking hot chocolate under a shelter.  Getting out of the city center was a little strange, but eventually I found a bike path into West Seattle and got to the ferry dock.

I chose to take a route down Vashon Island because it looked closer to the coast, which usually means more scenic… right?  The ferry to Vashon was leaving in 20 minutes when I got there.  I walked past a bunch of cars and waited in a room with one high school age girl to board the ferry on foot.  I went out on deck to look at the water.  Amazingly for Seattle this time of year, the sun was out and the water was sparkling.  Seagulls were everywhere.  I stood in the wind for a while and then went inside to read my accidentally relevant book, Sarah Canary, which takes place, largely on foot, around Puget Sound.

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When I got to Vashon Island, a man who had been standing next to me on the ferry dock offered me a ride into “town” (which obviously would have defeated the purpose of this trip).  My Airbnb host was texting me offering potential routes.  So far, everyone was being much nicer than expected.  I decided to walk along the coast as long as possible before rejoining the main highway.  I walked along some beautiful beaches and some vineyards which were closed for the season.  I soon saw what everyone meant by “town.”  It was a small, beachy town center with endearing public art and lots of boutiques.  I stopped at a cafe, where I got a hard cider and charged my phone.  My host offered a route hiking through the forest on the island to her house, but I decided to stick with the highway route because I didn’t want to leave the coast yet.

Whatever the other route was like, the small highway did not disappoint.  I had been walking on sidewalks or bike paths up to this point, but now I was on a broad shoulder of a country road.  It was a beautiful combination of beach-town and rural, with VW vans with crazy paint jobs, run-down shacks on beaches, and countless farmstands. I saw this awesome statue of Cool Gary, who is apparently a local legend.

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By the end of the day, I was getting a little tired and leaning against a yacht club fence to take a break.  Still, I hiked my 25 miles before 3PM and arrived at my host’s house.  My hosts were an older couple who provided some welcome conversation and friendliness and their secluded rural home.  They even treated me to dinner because I had no other real means of getting hot food.  I fell asleep at 9:00 and slept for 10 hours, happy to be in a bed after a hard day.

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Walking Around Puget Sound: Part 1

I love walking.  I think it is the most underrated form of transportation.  Of course I love hiking, but it doesn’t have to be a predetermined trail or instagram-worthy trip to merit a walk.  Whenever possible, I walk to where I am going, even if it involves carrying groceries two miles or walking 3 hours to a concert venue.  My whole life, I have been asked incredulously, “You walked here?”  This last summer, I hiked the 2189 miles of the Appalachian Trail, and it was one of the happiest times of my life, because being perpetually on foot changes the way you see the world, and the way it sees you.

As a thru hiker (a word for someone who hikes a long trail all in one go), you become familiar with the concept of “trail magic,” where strangers help you out for no reason other than that you are on a journey.  You get tons of free food, free beer, a free shower or stay in someone’s house.  Strangers want to help you, because by walking you make yourself vulnerable.  You work so much for every meal and place to sleep, and give up a lot of freedom.

At the same time, you become more aware and grateful.  You notice small sights you would never see even on a bike.  You become incredibly affected by circumstances, whether they be weather or a stranger’s kindness, and learn to appreciate them more.  What does a free ride mean when you could call an Uber?  What does the sun mean when you can go indoors at any time?  By putting yourself at the mercy of outside forces and surrendering some kinds of freedom, you become humble and at the same time incredibly free.

And so, as a recovering thru-hiker, I thought I would do a little.  I told my coworkers and friends, “maybe I’ll walk to Olympia this holiday weekend.” (A one hour drive from where I live in Seattle.) They all responded in some way like: “Can you really do that?” “By yourself?  Aren’t you worried about getting murdered?” “Where will you stay?” and eventually some version of “No one really does that, but I guess I don’t see why you can’t….”

So the day before, I found some somewhat arbitrary Airbnb stops for around $50 each, basically did no other planning, and packed my AT backpack with a bunch of impractical things like extra sweaters, a hardcover book, a pound of blackberries, and a stuffed pink otter.  Then in the morning, I walked out my door and followed google maps toward Olympia.

You can read part 2 of this series here!