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When You Strike the Trail

Category: I Trailing

For any journey, by rail or by boat, one has a general idea of the
direction to be taken, the character of the land or water to be crossed,
and of what one will find at the end. So it should be in striking the
trail. Learn all you can about the path you are to follow. Whether it is
plain or obscure, wet or dry; where it leads; and its length, measured
more by time than by actual miles. A smooth, even trail of five miles
will not consume the time and strength that must be expended upon a
trail of half that length which leads over uneven ground, varied by bogs
and obstructed by rocks and fallen trees, or a trail that is all up-hill
climbing. If you are a novice and accustomed to walking only over smooth
and level ground, you must allow more time for covering the distance
than an experienced person would require and must count upon the
expenditure of more strength, because your feet are not trained to the
wilderness paths with their pitfalls and traps for the unwary, and every
nerve and muscle will be strained to secure a safe foothold amid the
tangled roots, on the slippery, moss-covered logs, over precipitous
rocks that lie in your path. It will take time to pick your way over
boggy places where the water oozes up through the thin, loamy soil as
through a sponge; and experience alone will teach you which hummock of
grass or moss will make a safe stepping-place and will not sink beneath
your weight and soak your feet with hidden water. Do not scorn to learn
all you can about the trail you are to take, although your questions may
call forth superior smiles. It is not that you hesitate to encounter
difficulties, but that you may prepare for them. In unknown regions take
a responsible guide with you, unless the trail is short, easily
followed, and a frequented one. Do not go alone through lonely places;
and, being on the trail, keep it and try no explorations of your own, at
least not until you are quite familiar with the country and the ways of
the wild.

Next: Blazing the Trail

Previous: What the Outdoor World Can Do for Girls.

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