Although I love being out in nature and in the jungle, I have never really loved hiking. I would much rather be on the beach or in the ocean. ☺ However, having lived among a remote mountain tribe for a decade, I have had to do a considerable amount of hiking over the years.
Sometimes it has been on beautiful days with the birds singing and a cool breeze to wash my face, and other times it has been in the middle of the night down a muddy trail with the rain soaking me to the bone. Over the years on the trail, I have experienced times of inner peace, utter exhaustion, and even crushing fear. I could probably write a book about all of the experiences and lessons I have had on the trail, but here are just a few of the most important ones.
- Never follow a guy who is carrying a bow and arrows. The tribal men often hike with their 6ft long bows and arrows over their shoulders with the tips of the deadly hard wood arrows pointed out behind them at a slight upward angle. The height of the arrow tips is right about the same height as my eyes, and there have been a few close calls when I have been following someone and he stops for a second and my face comes awfully close to those arrow tips. The smartest thing to do is let someone else (who doesn’t have a bow) step in between you and the guy holding the bow. This assures you don’t accidentally loose an eye (or pierce your nose!)
- Never let a guy carrying a machete follow directly behind you. This is another important one! The trails here are very steep. They are either going up or going down with very little flat land, but the tribal guys when they hike never use their hands. They hike only using their legs (which is quite a skill), which frees up their hands to hold a machete or a bow and arrows. When they have a machete, they often hack at the trees along the trail as they go. Well, for me, when I hike going up or down the trails, I often need to use my hands to hold on to a tree or grab a root or whatever. Grabbing onto trees while hiking is something they are not used to, so if I am in front holding on to a tree as I go down, and the guy behind me has a machete just happily chopping here and there not thinking too much about it, there is a good chance he could chop my hand accidentally. So my advice is that if you ever are in the jungle with a tribal person who has a machete, have him go before you!
- In some areas of the jungle, there are lots of spiders and they make their webs across the trails. Since the tribal people are a bit shorter than I am, they can go right under the webs without any trouble. But since I am a foot taller than most around here, I get the webs right in my face! The best thing to do here is ask a tribal friend who is going before to hold a branch up over his head as he walks. This clears that way for the tall guys!
- Never hike a new trail by yourself. It is easy to get lost in the jungle and so it is always good to have a tribal person with you (even a small child). They can help determine the right trail and even tell you who has gone before you on the trail and what time they went—all by looking at their footprints!
*The views expressed by the Wild family are their own and not necessarily those of Answers in Genesis.