Hiking

[Hiking]

[Garrett County Press]

Excerpt from
Hiking
by D. Francis Morgan

From the Introduction:

“HIKE” is an old English word, which had more or less dropped out of use in this country, but survived in America. However, it has certainly been revived here now by Scouts, and is generally used to describe a journey performed on foot, with tent, bedding, food, and other impedimenta made into some sort of pack and carried on one’s back. It also involves the spending of at least one night out-ofdoors; a mere day’s tramp, however much one may carry, cannot strictly be called a hike, though it may be a very valuable way of getting fit and gaining experience for real hikes later on.

The First Class journey should if possible be done as a hike, but this is not definitely laid down in the test because it is not always possible for a Scout to spend a night out. At the same time, it is stated that the journey should preferably be spread over two days, and any Scout who can do so, should certainly pass the test in this way.

Hiking is not an activity for small boys. However skilful and scientific one may be, there is a certain amount that must be carried. It is bound to be a fairly big and heavy bundle, and this, in addition to the distance to be covered, makes hiking suitable only for those who have the necessary size and strength. The small boy does not enjoy himself and is a drag on anyone who goes with him.

Nor is hiking an amusement for the Tenderfoot, however big he may be. It requires a real knowledge of practical Scouting, and the fellow who sets out lacking this, will certainly not enjoy himself and will probably be extremely uncomfortable. The hiker has to put into practice almost the whole of the Second and First Class work. He must know how to read a map and how to find his way if necessary by compass, or even by the sun or the stars; he must be able to pitch a tent, tie knots properly, use an axe, light a fire in any weather and cook his own food: and he must be prepared to meet any emergency and to deal with any accident that may arise. Then, too, the interest of a hike is greatly increased by a knowledge of Nature and the ability to read the meaning of a track, to judge heights and distances, and generally to observe with understanding all that is to be seen by the way, for this will turn what might otherwise be a dull and tiring tramp into a journey full of incident and pleasure.

For those who have the necessary strength and skill it is a glorious experience. It is the real life of the backwoodsman and explorer. The hiker is dependent on himself, and on himself alone, and he learns to be self-reliant, resourceful and patient. He is free to come and go as he will: all ways lie open to him: and adventure may lie waiting round each corner. Time scarcely exists, save when hunger reminds him of the desirability of a meal or the approach of evening warns him that it is time to make his camp for the night. Even the weight on his back gives him a certain satisfaction for he knows that he has with him the means of supplying himself with food, shelter and warmth—all that a man really requires, with the exception of companionship, and that is provided by the friend who, similarly equipped, walks by his side.

A successful hike calls for more than the mere exercise of ordinary common sense and there is much wisdom to be acquired by experience, but the experience may not always be very pleasant. It is well, therefore, to profit as much as possible from the experience of others. The whole art of hiking cannot be learnt from a book, but the beginner can, in this way, get a good deal of help in avoiding mistakes and in forming an idea of what he is undertaking when he sets out on such an adventure. An attempt has, however, been made in this book to deal with the subject fairly thoroughly not only for that purpose, but in the hope that it may also prove useful to the old hand in reminding him of many points which he already knows and, perhaps, in suggesting to him some new ideas.

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