Take a look at this photo:
There I am, nearly six years ago (yikes), at the end of the Door Trail at Badlands National Park in South Dakota. There are a couple of very significant things about this photo.
- This was my very first solo hike ever. It was day five of my Road Trip. The first four days I was concentrated on getting west as fast as possible (with a two-night stop in Chicago to visit a friend), and on the fifth day, I finally arrived, early afternoon, at my first National Park. I was chomping at the bit to get out on the trail, since hiking was the focus of my trip. I was also scared about my first solo hike, but comforted by the fact that I had picked an easy intro hike, and the fact that the beginning of the Door Trail (which is less than a mile out-and-back, the first bit of which is handicap-accessible) was crowded with people in sundresses and little children. Yes, I looked at them and thought, if they are doing it, then I certainly can. But that’s all right.
- I was doing this all wrong. Seriously. Can you pick out what I was doing wrong in this photo? You’d think that, since I had been hiking before, and since I had done all this research, I would know what I was doing. But nooooo. Of course, on this hike, it was really fine, since it was so low-key. Mostly flat, pretty well populated (at least the first half), short. But I look at this photo and remember the mistakes I made. Can you see them? (Hint: one of them you can’t see, but you might be able to guess.)
On Friday, we’ll talk about the things I did wrong on that hike, and on the one that happened right after, that make me cringe at my own naiveté (or, in some cases, overconfidence or laziness). Make your guesses in the comments!
© Her Side of the Mountain, 2010.