“You know, like nunchuku skills, bow hunting skills, computer hacking skills… Girls only want boyfriends who have great skills.”

- Napoleon Dynamite

You may be wondering what a quote from Napoleon Dynamite is doing in a website about hiking. Admittedly, the connection may seem somewhat tenuous. But look a bit deeper……..OK, way, way deeper………..and you will realize (or perhaps not) that, to paraphrase Napoleon, ‘Mother Nature digs skills’.

By arming yourself with certain basic skills, your chances of prospering in the wilderness are greatly improved. Your safety, comfort and enjoyment will all be enhanced simply because you will be better prepared to deal with a wider range of potential scenarios.

For example, when you are ambling along manicured trails, the sun’s shining and you are camping at established sites, the only skill you will probably require is the ability to locate your vehicle at the trailhead car park. On the other hand, when conditions turn nasty and you are hiking in challenging off-trail terrain, then your comfort and more importantly your safety may ultimately depend upon your ability to assess and adapt to whatever Mother Nature throws your way.

Any fool can be uncomfortable in the wilderness. By learning the necessary theory, and most importantly putting that knowledge into practice (there is no substitute for experience), the hiker can focus more on the wonder of their surroundings and less on the distraction of having to compensate for any gaps in their skill set. Appreciate rather than worry. Enjoy rather than endure.