In hiking, as in life, it is common to have do a little slipping along the way. It isn’t so much the slip but how we recover that makes all the difference.
The Quick Slip
Nothing puts your heart in your throat faster than a slip. I was trying to hike to the top of Mt. Flora the other day. The hike is on an exposed mountain and on a pretty nice angle. Everything was going fine until the first step on soft snow. My foot dropped 2 feet in a fraction of a second as my leg found itself hip deep in snow.
The noises I made could be described as somewhere between high pitched shriek of 1940’s horror movie actress combined with the vocabulary of a sailor raised by pirates. My life tried to flash before my eyes but it was such a short slip that it got stuck buffering. These short slips are scary and usually over before you even knew that they began. One second your walking, the next you are somewhere and bent someway you didn’t think was possible.
The Slow Slide
As terrifying and jolting as the quick slip is the slow slide might be even worse. While the quick slip pumps you full of adrenaline and you become hyper aware of your situation and also unable to do anything to change it, the slow slide is more of a death by a thousand cuts style of slip.
The slow slide usually occurs on steeper ground or in wet and muddy conditions. On the slow slide every step up the mountain usually results in a slow motion, highly frustrating slide back down to where you were or even below that point. While my physique is often compared to that of a Greek king it wasn’t until recently that I learned that king was Sisyphus. Sisyphus was the one forced to push the rock up the hill over and over again. That is what the slow slide feels like. Every step that you take seems to push you further and further from your goal. Sometimes it feels like the mountain is giant hampster wheel. I keep stepping and I keep sliding and I never actually go anywhere!
Wait I Think I’m Good
The last type of slide is, for me, the most common. I do this one about five hundred times a hike. This is technically and officially named: “Ahhhhhhhh!, wait, I’m Good”, or AWIG. The tell tale sign of the AWIG is the adrenaline rush of the Quick slip but instead of falling or slipping, your foot hits the ground and you realize your just fine. We don’t give ourselves enough credit for all the times we almost fall but we catch ourselves.
The shriek is still present in the AWIG and the life flashing reel starts but you don’t even make it past the previews. This always happens to me when I’m on a path that is mostly flat except for the single rock sticking up. Now a normal human would just not step on the rock. I on the other hand have a knack for catching my toe on that single rock and starting to fall. I think my legs actually get embarrassed for me and decide to just fix it before my brain can figure out what happened.
Next thing I know I am exactly where I thought I would be. My heart is beating a little faster but has barely left my chest. There are so many bumps in each path that we take and some make us slip and some we pass and barely notice. We tend to focus on all of the quick slips and slow slides because they effect our journeys. Don’t forget about all the AWIG’s that we passed just to get there.
Slipping Off Trail
Now, I know a lot of the fitness community likes to look to an overweight middle aged man for inspiration. I see you all out there wondering how you can be like me. For those of you who aren’t hikers let me explain it this way.
The quick slip can happen at any time. It is that freak injury, losing your job, a freaking global pandemic. There really isn’t anything you can do during the slip but hold on and enjoy the ride. What the focus needs to be on is how you recover. If you hurt your knee running and have to take some time off, don’t sign up for a marathon this weekend. After the quick slip you just need to make sure that you have two feet facing the same direction and on solid ground.
The slow slide on the other hand is something that is easy to spot on a hike but so hard to spot other times. It is that plateau in the gym, where you can’t reach your goal. Or having a cold and not working out for a week but then that week turns into two weeks and three weeks. The slow slide has the ability to get out of control fast unless you do something about. Because the slide is slow, sometimes you don’t even notice it. The key here is to realize that what you are doing isn’t working and it is time try something else. Realizing it isn’t working can be the hardest thing you have to do but it is the most important.
The AWIG is another that is easier to find on the trail but it still creeps up on a daily basis. Maybe it is getting lazy with your technique in the gym and then correcting it for the last set. It might be yelling at all the cars that cut you off commuting to work. Then giving yourself a pep talk in the parking lot so you don’t get fired. Each day is full of self correcting behavior and catching ourselves when we stub our toes.
Life can be a tally of wins and losses. It is easier to remember the one time we lose than the hundreds of small victories every day. Take credit of those victories and you will have a winning record in the end.
More from the Fatman
If you enjoyed this post you might enjoy some of my other Fatman’s Ramblings post. Such literary gems as “Screw it, I’m Trying“, “Hiking Alone not Lonely Hiking” “Bad Days and Bidets: Just wash it off” and much more. If you are inspired to start hiking from reading this you may enjoy the Getting Started Tips section as well. If you have any questions or comments feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow me on any of the below social media platforms. Happy Hiking!