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Foraging as Training
Notes on High Altitude Training 9/5/18


From the trailhead to the tangle of deadfalls at the two waterfalls where neighboring basins drain into the heavily wooded canyon, is 4 miles.

The trail rises from 7,800 feet to about 8,400 feet, across 19 significant inclines and declines [some making a V as they descent into and out of a streambed] which are, most of them, rocky in the extreme and range from 50 to 500 paces, interspersed by 13 gradual inclines and declines constituting clearly marked and easily trod earthen trails, mostly winding through young aspen, wild rose and burned evergreen, stretching for 100 to 1,000 paces. There are three narrow footbridges, one narrow cliff-side path and two unbridged streams to cross.

Three to five mountains over a cougar attacked a bow hunter two weeks ago and has not been caught. The odds are almost nothing that a cougar or a black bear attack me, but I’m a paranoid asshole. I’m not going out like Homo Habilis. So I brought the sheath knife Manny Soprano gave me this spring. A test on the trail indicated that I could not rig it for a one-motion draw, suggesting that my ability to successfully resist this four-legged cougar would be as unlikely to succeed as my resistance to two-legged cougars back in Harm City.

I soon realized that something large and black was following me. I saw something black move out of my side vison while walking and attributed it to a burnt stump and an overactive imagination, but could not shake the feeling that I was being followed.

Was I having Harm City flashbacks?

I found out on my return that I was correct, as buzzing fresh bear shit had been dropped behind me on the trail. I stopped and found a stick as long and as thick as my arm, trimmed knots at the base and sharpened a knot at the heavy end for a spike and shouldered it. It took me 1 hour and 15 minutes to ascend to the trail’s end. On the way I gathered 5 pounds of rose hips, made a club and stopped and scanned my surroundings after every change in elevation or vegetation, about 30 times, for about 10 seconds each.

At trail’s end I took a 3 minute break and drank one of the three bottles of water in my backpack and then walked down to the trailhead as fast as I could.

Heading uphill had been great for my lung expansion.

The best cardio stress was after cresting an incline and walking along the level, as my stride lengthened and pace picked up my chest seemed to require the most expansion. These were the only stretches that required any will power to continue.

Heading downhill was easy in terms of cardio, but taxed my injured knees and sprained ankles. I rolled each ankle once and jammed each one twice as I speed-walked down over the boulders. The entire walk, when I was not picking rose hips, was conducted with both of my hands held next to my chin, one holding the shoulder slung sack, one the club.

At this stage in my deterioration such a hike is as much of an adventure as I can manage. I am convinced, though, that if I had access to such trails when I was a young man, I could have developed better cardio and better stick-fighting footwork than I did as an asphalt-scudding hoodrat.

The entire hike, 8 miles, up and back, took from 11:33 to 1:38.

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Add Comment
ShepSeptember 19, 2018 9:02 PM UTC

This just sounds extremely cool!
responds:September 20, 2018 1:19 AM UTC

It was one of my best experiences as a feral ape.
MannySeptember 17, 2018 11:53 PM UTC

Sounds like a nice walk you had. Cougars are your weak spot.

I may be able to adjust the sheath for smoother draw.
responds:September 18, 2018 1:25 AM UTC

Although it has a belt clip which I am using, the knife draws best as a neck knife. If I had a wider and leather belt instead of a narrow cloth belt it would draw more smoothly. It's a great tool. I just didn't want to use the neck knife rig on such rugged terrain. Face forward falls are the rule in these steep rockslides.

Thanks, Bro.