Fitness buffs and their less athletic counterparts can both enjoy trail treks, as one motorhoming couple discovered.
By Lang Secrest, F187589
Is it possible for an avid hiker and a non-hiker to travel successfully in an RV? I have learned the answer to that question, but it has not been easy.
My husband, Ival, is lean and mean. He is physically fit and loves to hike and take part in other types of physical activity. I’m overweight and lazy, and my favorite physical activity is turning the pages of the book I’m reading.
The RV life offers the exciting opportunity to hike in new and interesting places — fortunately for him, and unfortunately for me. Ival’s favorite hikes are ranger-led treks at national parks, where he can enjoy long, hard, interesting days. However, we tend to avoid parks during the busy season, so he doesn’t have many opportunities to participate in such excursions. Since hiking is something he loves — he even bought special boots, for goodness’ sake — I decided to try to compromise so that he could hike some during our travels.
Being strong in imagination and weak in body, I firmly believe that it is not safe to hike or walk long distances alone. So, I always make sure I can keep track of Ival if he’s hiking solo. Before setting out, he’ll tell me exactly which route he is taking and how long he’ll be gone. If he’s traversing a designated mountain trail, which he did in the Chisos Mountains at Big Bend National Park, I’ll wait in the car with my book and projects while he is gone. (That time, plenty of people were on the trail, and it was a straight up-and-down path, with no risk of getting lost.) Another time, he mapped out his route at Monte Sano State Park near Huntsville, Alabama. I saw where he was planning to go, and he told me when I should expect him back. Had he not returned on time, I would have called the park ranger.
Sometimes in our travels, we encounter interesting sites that even I would like to explore on foot, but, as should be obvious by now, we can’t satisfactorily hike together. It is impossible for me to hike at Ival’s pace and terribly frustrating for him to hike at mine. So, we’ve each come up with different hiking styles. If you and your traveling companion are in a similar situation, you may wish to try these strategies:
1. The linear hike. This can take place in a walking or hiking area that has no specific end, such as a long seashore or a straight mountain trail. We’ve enjoyed this type of hiking all along the Gulf of Mexico as well as in the mountains of various states.
Start the hike together. After a few minutes of walking, agree upon a set amount of time (say, a half-hour) for your fitness buff to continue walking. At that point, separate. The avid hiker moves out at a steady clip while the slower hiker strolls along at a more leisurely pace. At the end of our designated time, Ival turns around and strides back toward me. When he reaches me, I turn around and we both head back toward our starting point. We walk together a few moments to touch base on things we’ve seen. He then resumes his faster pace and heads toward the car while I follow, maintaining my own speed.
2. The tortoise and hare hike. Use this style of hiking when you’re on a circular or loop trail. For example, at the Big Obsidian Flow area in Newberry National Volcanic Monument near La Pine, Oregon, we started out cheerfully together and soon came to an informational sign. Ival stopped to read and absorb the facts and figures while I knew I should take advantage of my energy and kept on moving. Soon, of course, he caught up with me. I suggested that he go ahead, and noticed it took only one urging.
Thank goodness another marker and overlook soon appeared, which he stopped to enjoy. I kept on plodding along, slowly but surely. Soon I heard the sound of busy feet, and he passed me once again.
As I walk along at my own pace, I catch the scenery in glimpses. Because of my natural tendency to fall or trip, I watch my feet closely, glancing up only now and then.
Ival sometimes comes back to tell me if there is a fork up ahead, so I’ll know which direction he is going. We have learned the hard way that he must tell me which turn to make, rather than assuming that I can’t miss it.
Eventually, I catch up with him at the car, where he is calmly reading. Although I’m overdue for a rest, he’s eager to drive on to another hiking trail that begins just down the road.
If you are fond of walking or find yourself looking for a change, you may wish to contact the American Volkssport Association, a group that organizes Volksmarches (organized walks) of various lengths in locations around the United States. For more information, contact the American Volkssport Association, 1001 Pat Booker Road, Suite 101, Universal City, TX 78148; (800) 830-9255; www.ava.org
In the meantime, if you happen to come across a woman slowly plodding along, be assured that my spouse is somewhere in the vicinity. Just take a moment to wave and encourage me onward.