Two months. Seven trips. Dozens of cool photos. Hundreds of learning experiences.
I started this blog series as a way to get out on the weekends and experience something other than Lee Hills Hall. It was a way to escape work and the other stresses we go through daily, and as it comes to an end, I can’t think of any way I’d rather have done it.
As a hiking rookie, I approached my trips with poor planning at times and plain stupidity at others. That was part of the fun, though, and I managed to escape relatively unscathed. I learned and experienced so much thanks to stepping out of the Columbia shell and onto the backroads.
Here’s what I discovered and what you can take away from it.
1. Bring a camera. I lost one to the depths of Finger Lakes, but with responsible handling, you can collect images worth putting on a poster. Nature photography is an art to some, but it is also pretty easy to get the hang of.
See? Pretty. And while I might not hang onto these photos my entire life, it’s nice to have a reminder.
2. Bring a friend. I took a couple trips on my own this summer,
but the ones where I got others involved were among the best. Fellow journalism grad students Beth Castle, Margaux Henquinet and Mark Selig all came along at different points, and I’d like to think they enjoyed themselves as much as I did.
3. Use bug spray. Lord knows why it took me so long to figure this one out, but multiple tick attacks and a few other unknown bites later, I bought a can of Off! Some other must-haves: long pants (for tall grass and weeds), water, sunscreen and sturdy shoes. You’d think these are obvious, but I skipped one or two every once in awhile.
4. Get off the trail. Some of the best sights from this summer came when I stepped away from the paths the Missouri Department of Conservation laid out and did exploring on my own. Mind the borders of the conservation areas, but feel free to stretch your legs within the park limits.
5. Pain is temporary. You have to be careful, and you shouldn’t go throwing yourself in harm’s way unless you are confident in your ability to climb, leap or otherwise traverse the terrain in front of you. But keep in mind that a sprained ankle can heal, bug bites are minor annoyances and that if you stay within your limits, you won’t be able to reach new heights.