According to an article by Leon Neyfakh in the Boston Globe questions have surprising power to improve our lives.
In this fascinating article he explains that learning to ask the right question is as important, if not more important, than answering questions correctly.
Check it out.
We are pleased to announce that a chapter written by Bruce and me addressing the question, "Are rational decision making models the most effective method to train novice outdoor leaders?" has been published in the text, Controversial Issues in Adventure Programming available from Human Kinetics. We take the position of "yes" on the issue while colleague Shayne Galloway takes the "no" position.
It is edited by good friends and colleagues Bruce Martin and Mark Wagstaff.
Take a look and let us know what you think.
For the last few years I have had a ritual of hiking up Ampersand Mt. for my birthday. It’s a nearby peak a little over 3300 feet high. It is the first mountain I ever climbed having first hiked it in 1958 with my Uncle Rad, sister Esther and her best childhood friend Paula Howe. It has a gentle one and half mile approach and then a notoriously steep one mile 1700 ft ascent to the summit. I've probably hiked it over twenty times and it is a classic Adirondack hike with great panoramic views from the summit.
The view from the summit of Ampersand Mt
The question I pose to you is, for a hike like this, or any other for that matter, how do you determine when you should take a rest break? Over the years I have used a number of different means to help try and answer that question. When I first started hiking I took a break when I got tired. In 1970 I learned from Paul Petzoldt that taking a break when you are tired doesn't make sense. You're much better off taking a break BEFORE you get tired. When I got more experience hiking I used time as an indicator of when I might take a break. Early on I would generally hike an hour and rest ten minutes. I quickly learned that when leading groups and carrying heavy packs that was too long a time span to go without a break. I found that hiking twenty minutes with short breaks seemed to work better. I found it was extremely helpful to have pre-determined break times. It allowed people who were not as strong, in as good physical condition, or mentally tough to have something to look forward to. They learned that if they can just make it the next twenty minutes or maybe even the next five minutes that they would get a break. It seemed to work pretty well.
Another view from the summit of Ampersand Mt
Another view from the summit of Ampersand Mt.Two things have had a big impact on the evolution of my thinking regarding breaks; technology and having kids. Technology brought altimeters to the masses. Today most outdoor leaders have a GPS. With this technology we can more accurately use distance or elevation as an indicator of when we may want to take a break. I learned, with my two boys by my side, that elevation is a great indicator of when to take a break. I remember the epiphany like it was yesterday. It was Easter weekend and the weather provided a nice early spring day. It was around 1990, my two boys aged 10 and 7 and I camped on the shore of Taylor Pond in the Adirondack Park and decided to hike up Catamount Mt. We drove the short distance to the trailhead and headed up the mountain. There is a short approach and then you start up a steep two mile hike with 1500 feet of elevation gain. As kids typically do, my boys were asking, "How much farther?" and "When is our next break?" My typical response when my college students asked that kind of question was to give them one of two standard responses, "Five more minutes." or "Just around the next bend." Having recently received my first Casio altimeter watch I got the idea to try something different. I put the watch on my oldest son Eli and said, "When we gain 100 meters in elevation we'll take a break.” That ended all the questions and we ended up have a great early spring hike up one of my favorite mountains.
Flash forward to this April when, for my birthday, I hiked up Ampersand Mountain with my great nephew and niece aged 10 and 9. Now I have a GPS with a built in altimeter. How did we determine when to take breaks? I told them we'll take a break when we travel 1.5 miles or gain 400 feet in elevation whichever comes first. We didn't take a break on the approach until we hiked 1 and a half miles. Then we started taking much more frequent breaks as we gained elevation quickly. It worked great... We'll at least the rest breaks worked great. Late season ice prevented us from summiting but that's a story for another time.
BOTTOME LINE: Take breaks BEFORE you get tired. You want to have a reserve of energy in case you run into an emergency situation. Use time, distance, and elevation gain to help determine when to take a break.
Jack Drury's Leading E.D.G.E. Blog
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About the Author
This blog was created and is maintained by Jack Drury with contributions from Bruce Bonney. Jack and Bruce have been working together since 1984 providing professional development in four areas:
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