Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Essential Skill: Walk with Weight

An unfortunate situation to prepare for in today's world
On the morning of September 11, 2001, powered transportation completely stopped in the greater New York City area. Cars, cabs, buses, subways, trains and planes all shut down because of a terrorist event. The images of people walking home from lower Manhattan wearing their work clothes (along with dazed expressions) made an impression on me. We take our transportation for granted--that is until we lose access to it. Americans tend to work in urban centers and commute an average of 16 miles one-way. Are you able to walk that far? What about doing it carrying your work bag? How about carrying your bag and your child?

Walking is a basic movement and one that defines us as a species. We can go places with our feet that are impossible to reach with any other form of transportation. Backpacking in the wilderness connects you to nature in ways that aren't possible with motor vehicles.  The health and social benefits of daily walking are well-known, but being able to walk for a few hours with a moderate load could also save your neck. Evacuations never happen until they happen to you; then it's too late to prepare yourself physically for it. Chemical plant explosions, wildfires, tornadoes, nuclear leaks, gas pipe ruptures, oil spills and terrorist attacks are occurring more often than we would like. While driving to escape these events may be an option, road congestion might make walking to safety the preferred option.
Backpacking with kids and pets can also be a lot of fun
Along with the need to evacuate somewhere, comes a need to take supplies and prized possessions along with you. The American Red Cross recommends that we all have emergency kits prepared for our families with water, food, medicines, blankets, flashlights and a radio among other gear. Combined with a few choice heirlooms and possessions to keep children comforted, a minimal bag might weigh 30 lbs or more. Can you carry this walking at least 10 miles?  I suggest that you give it a try.
The real tragedy is in not preparing for the known knowns.

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