After an event in the forest two weeks ago and walking with my grandma on a shortcut through the forest I was one more reminded that walking in terrain in a skill, and some people do it with an almost supernatural grace while others suck. Badly.
I walk on forest paths daily with my dog, I got outdoor hobbies and always been raised close to nature. I can handle terrain. I can walk all day long through hard terrain, I can chose an effective path, I don't get lost and if I feel like it I can move silently and discretely though the forest.
I'm good but my grandma grew up in the forest, for real, before modern society reach there, north of the polar circle. They didn't have any roads to her village and the closet settlement was an hours ride away at winter, when you could cross the river on ice. In the summer it was a two hours walk after rowing across the rapids in the rive, a river far to rapid for anyone be ever be able to learn to swim in it. All my life my grandma was a great at river fishing, and spent each fall picking berries in the treacherous swamps and the forests.
When I was a kid and she was in her sixties she could move trough thick of the terrain with a determined, graceful effectiveness where normal people wouldn't dare to even walk. Threading upon the stones in the rapids while fishing even through she has ever learned to swim.
Then we got the opposite people. City born and raised who never really gotten used to nature.
Most writers get the risk of getting lost in the forest right if people don't know how to find their way in unknown terrain. Few writers capture how much people who isn't used to walk in terrain suck at it. They trip, they fall, they swear, they get bruised, they get caught, and they get exhausted and dehydrated. They're loud, they're noisy, and when they chose a path they fail miserably at it. Neither planning ahead, nor seeing and not recognizing the places ahead they should be avoiding. Often ending up splashing though cold swamp water, when they just could have followed the stony ridge a few feet away.
If you belong to this group I got a few advice to give you the necessary basics.
- Lift you feet. This Might sound like a no brainier but it isn't. If you used to move on a flat surface you just lift you feet a comfortable minimum. If there underbrush or the ground isn't level, or you waking through sand or snow you got to lift you feet, all the time, a lot more.
- Plan ahead. Stop for a few seconds. Take a look at the terrain before you. Identify where you cant go, where it will be hard to go and where you will have an easier time.
- Take you time. If you are not used to the terrain you will have to move more slowly then usual or you will hurt yourself, strain you ankle or falling on you face. Stop to rest I you feel you need it.
- If your not 100% sure of something, like finding your way back, don't get cocky or hope for the best. Be sure.
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