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Bottom line: Have fun.

Chuck's Rules of Hiking

I made up some of these rules years ago, just to quiet my kids' complaining. You got spider webs in your hair? Good! You're supposed to get spider webs in your hair.

  1. Dress and prepare your pack appropriately to the weather and the duration and other conditions of the hike.
  2. Get dirty.
  3. Accidentally swallow a bug. (Note: See note in rule #4.)
  4. Eat something you find. (Note: Accidentally swallowing a bug does not satisfy this rule, as it is covered separately in rule #3.)
  5. Get spider webs in your hair and/or on your face.
  6. Observe. See. Hear. Smell.
  7. When you observe something interesting, try to figure out what it means (e.g. what caused that tree to take that odd shape, or how did that rock get into that position?), and share it with others.
  8. Carry out more trash than you carried in.
  9. Try to practice low trace/no trace hiking, but don't be obsessive about it.
  10. Have fun.

Exceptions

  1. No exceptions to this rule.
  2. No absolute exceptions to this rule. You can always manage to get a little dirty.
  3. Okay, you might not swallow a bug on every hike, especially in cold seasons.
  4. You might not be able to eat something you find on short hikes, hikes in heavily used areas, or in cold seasons, but at least keep it in mind, and look for something you might be able to eat.
  5. You might not always be able to get spider webs in your hair and/or face. Not in cold seasons. Not in heavily traveled areas where someone else has already broken the spider webs. And if the leader of the group takes up the rear, it's really to keep an eye on everyone else, and not expressly so that everyone else breaks the spider webs and the leader does not get any spider webs in his or her hair and/or face, although that might happen incidentally.
  6. No exceptions to this rule.
  7. If you're hiking alone, you may not be able to share your observations and interpretations with others immediately, but be prepared to do so afterward.
  8. In very rare circumstances, you might not be able to find trash that someone else left. Consider that a good thing, but don't make it an excuse to stop looking.
  9. This rule has its exceptions built in. Don't be obsessive. If you can't find a place to step other than on living soil or roots, so be it. But don't make this an excuse to stop trying.
  10. No exceptions to this rule. No matter how bad it may seem, have fun in the rain and cold and heat and tiredness. This is all part of the nature you came to observe, and it is not all sweetness and light. Accept it, and appreciate it.
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