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Do you look at your feet while hiking?


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Home Forums General Forums General Lightweight Backpacking Discussion Do you look at your feet while hiking?

Viewing 13 posts - 26 through 38 (of 38 total)
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  • #3670251
    jscott
    BPL Member

    @book

    Locale: Northern California

    “I tried briefly looking directly at my feet and quickly realized I never do that; it actually puts the neck in a terrible position for walking”

    On a hike today on easy dirt trail I realized I look well ahead of my feet too.
    I’m thinking that I rarely look directly at my feet on harder trail either, but bring my eyes closer to them as the trail requires; that is, as it gets more challenging. Going down steep, rocky trail, my eyes are pretty fixed on the trail just ahead, however.

    #3670257
    Nick Gatel
    BPL Member

    @ngatel

    Locale: Southern California

    On a hike today on easy dirt trail I realized I look well ahead of my feet too.
    I’m thinking that I rarely look directly at my feet on harder trail either, but bring my eyes closer to them as the trail requires; that is, as it gets more challenging. Going down steep, rocky trail, my eyes are pretty fixed on the trail just ahead, however.

    I think that is how our brains and eyes work together. Whenever I stumble on a rock or root on a trail is when I am daydreaming or looking at things away from my forward path.

    #3670281
    Diane “Piper” Soini
    BPL Member

    @sbhikes

    Locale: Santa Barbara

    I look down a few feet ahead of my feet. I normally wear progressive lenses in regular life but I cannot see the ground very well with them because the magnification blurs what I can see down at my feet. So I wear a version of my prescription without any magnification. The same would be true with a large pack on my belly or chest. It would get in the way. Same thing happens with my hair, by the way. It falls in my face when I look down and then I can’t see. I have to hold it back by hand when I walk down the stairs, or with a hat or hair band when I hike.

    #3670799
    Doug Coe
    BPL Member

    @sierradoug

    Locale: Bay Area, CA, USA

    Well, I can’t find the quote, but somewhere in Ray Jardine’s Beyond Backpacking he suggests learning to glance at the trail every few seconds or so and the rest of the time looking up at the surrounding sights.

    I sometimes remember to practice this while hiking. It doesn’t apply when crossing talus or a log over a creek (as many of you have said above), and you don’t have to look down hardly at all on super smooth tread, but there’s a lot of that middling stuff out there (in the Sierra, at least) where this method helps me enjoy the scenery more than if I were mindlessly looking at the ground all the time.

    #3670800
    jscott
    BPL Member

    @book

    Locale: Northern California

    “…he suggests learning to glance at the trail every few seconds or so and the rest of the time looking up at the surrounding sights.”

    well yeah but “every few seconds” means that he spends a lot of time looking at the trail. Still, I think this is what I try to do. I don’t want to have my head down for hours at a time.

    The Sierra are rocky. You simply have to look at the trail. It’s annoying but less than a broken ankle.

    #3670811
    Roger Caffin
    BPL Member

    @rcaffin

    Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe

    glance at the trail every few seconds
    Hum …
    Around here, the rule is ‘Walk, OR look’.
    Else carry a PLB.

    Cheers

    #3670825
    David Thomas
    BPL Member

    @davidinkenai

    Locale: North Woods. Far North.

    >”somewhere in Ray Jardine’s Beyond Backpacking he suggests learning to glance at the trail every few seconds or so and the rest of the time looking up ”

    I do a similar thing when I’m teaching our kids (or formerly, au pairs) to drive.  To push their awareness further out.  To the limits of their comfort zones.  So their subconscious is maintaining lane position, but their frontal lobes are free to assess that ball rolling in the street, that dark shape/possible moose in the margin, and the slight weaving of an oncoming car.

    We tend to do that naturally with greater experience – initially focusing 50 feet in front of us, then 100 feet, 200 feet, etc.  I strongly suspect that by consciously pushing that, young drivers can steepen the subconscious  learning curve.  My 15-year-old is doing fabulous on lane position (plus/minus 2-3 inches) and speed (plus/minus 1 mph) while looking far ahead and carrying on a conversation.

    #3670841
    jscott
    BPL Member

    @book

    Locale: Northern California

    Can you imagine people hiking rocky Sierra trail…while talking on their phone? It would be like hiking drunk.

    Many times I’ve seen people walk out into the street without looking for traffic while on their phones. they don’t realize they’re doing it.

    #3670906
    Geoff Caplan
    BPL Member

    @geoffcaplan

    Locale: Lake District, Cumbria

    David

    It really is amazing the subliminal processing that is going on while we are looking elsewhere with our conscious mind.

    A couple of years back I was walking into a spectacular alpine cirque. It was a groomed trail so I was enjoying the stunning view.

    Suddenly I stopped dead in the middle of the path, and I wasn’t sure why. I looked around to see what had caught my subconscious attention, and spotted a single wild strawberry nestling under a fern. Given that our closest relatives are basically fructivores, it seems that we still have some primal ability to recognise edible fruit even when our attention is elsewhere.

    The strawberry was delicious – thanks for asking…

    #3670928
    David Thomas
    BPL Member

    @davidinkenai

    Locale: North Woods. Far North.

    Hiking with a real birder is such a treat – they pick up one such minor visual and audible clues and show me so much more than I’d see on my own.

    I was inspecting a hydro-generation facility and another guy along was AMAZING at spotting wildlife.  He’d see a black bear on every hillside.  I could too, once he pointed them out, but would have noticed zero or one of them on my own.  I’ve gotten better and twice have said, “Manfred, there’s a bear!  Shoot it!”  Yes, BPL’s Manfred.

    On last summer’s father-daughter trip to Denali NP, we took the park bus out to Eilison Visitor Center and one of the fathers along (is the land manager for the Borough but trained to and would love to be a wildlife biologist) was calling out bears and caribou and fox and golden eagles all day long.  Normally the 40 tourists might notice one critter the whole trip and the bus driver points out two dozen.  Marcus was calling out WAY more than the driver did.  Which means stopping the bus and training binocs and cameras on it.  Everyone else on the bus was loving it (that’s why they’re there) but I think the bus driver resented it being a longer day for him.

    Pattern recognition is why I go to a doctor on Pill Hill in Oakland who’s older than God every 2 years for a visual body scan.  When he says “let’s biopsy that” or “you’ll die of something else first”, I believe him, because unlike my wife, my primary-care doc and the young derm guy in Anchorage, he’s never been wrong.  Now that Siri can understand my voice and the USPS can read my handwriting, machine learning and pattern recognition will be the next big advance in medicine (in, you know, countries that spend on meaningful ways for medical care).

    #3670929
    David Thomas
    BPL Member

    @davidinkenai

    Locale: North Woods. Far North.

    Geoff: More germane to your example, my sister worked for Wells Fargo for 43 years.  Back when she was handling actual money, she’d be counting a bundle of a hundred $20 bills (something they do with EVERY stack of bills they get and every stack of bills they turn in), as fast as she could, and stop at one bill.  She knew WHY she stopped – something wasn’t right about it, but it would take quite a while to consciously figure out WHAT is was about the bill that stood out to her subconscious.  She’d KNOW it was counterfeit because it happened a few times a year and it “felt” the same, but her subconscious had figured it out in a tiny small fraction of a second while her conscious mind took vastly longer to compare and contrast with other bills.

    There’s a point towards the end of doing a 1,000- or 2,000-piece puzzle when there are a few dozen pieces left that I love.  I’ve been staring at these pieces and the larger picture for many hours and I go into this Svengali mode and it feels like my arm, not my brain, is reaching for a piece knowing exactly where it goes.

    In a dozen years of coaching math, I’ve had 4 students who had the two breakthroughs I’ve gotten many students through, but then had a third and then they’re seeing THE most efficient perspective on a problem AND resolving the answer faster than you or I could simply read the question.  As middle-school students.  Problems that most STEM college students couldn’t figure out.  And their response time is as if you’d been asked “What’s 8 times 7 ?”  It looks like magic to anyone who didn’t spend several hours a week over many years putting really challenging problems in front of them.  80th place nationally, on one hand, isn’t super spectacular as an individual but for three such students to come from a tiny Alaskan town (and the fourth, Xiling, will do much better now that he “ages in” as a 6th grader) suggests to me that there is vast, untapped, human potential.

    Kenai/Soldotna has about the same (free) population as ancient Athens.  They had Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle.   We should expect to produce as many highly creative individuals.

    #3670947
    Geoff Caplan
    BPL Member

    @geoffcaplan

    Locale: Lake District, Cumbria

    David

    When you think about it, pattern recognition would be a big driver of natural selection.

    The hominid who could spot that those stripes in the grass was a tiger would have much more chance to reproduce.

    I know what you mean about maths intuition. There was a guy in my year at high-school who won second place in the Moscow Maths Olympiad, plus I went to a college that’s internationally know for excellence in pure maths. These people are on another plane.

    But if you think about it, the brain’s ability to keep us upright while descending steep broken ground and day-dreaming about our next meal is almost as impressive, even if it’s not exceptional.

    #3670952
    Paul Wagner
    BPL Member

    @balzaccom

    Locale: Wine Country

    David wrote: ” Kenai/Soldotna has about the same (free) population as ancient Athens. They had Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. We should expect to produce as many highly creative individuals.”

    Words to live by! Nice work. Nice post.

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