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  • On the Trail with Kristen - Hiking the 1000 mile IAT Play all

    Hiking the 1000 + mile Ice Age Trail (IAT).
    For my written journal please check my blog:
    http://kristenwestlake.net/tag/iat-journal/
    For pictures along the trail :
    http://www.kristenwestlake.org/ICE_AGE_TRAIL_images_g58.html
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  • Adventures - Barefoot and Minimalist Running & Hiking Play all

    Vibram 5 Fingers and Barefoot Running. The experiences while running and the benefits as I observe them ...
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  • Sedona's Oak Creek Canyon - Lost and Survived Overnight Play all

    While hiking the Oak Creek Canyon's West Fork on March 13 I spent hours photographing. Going to the end of the trail requires crossing the Oak Creek 13 times which is quite refreshing in the summertime. However March is a different story.
    I saw hikers through the first three streams and then only two other pairs as I made my way up the hike and to the end. Still, lots of snow, stiff from days that allowed it to melt and then refreeze at night in the cold canyon. I trekked through the snow and the creek that ran fast and deep (also from the heavy snows that were melting).
    As I got to the end and began to make my way back, it wasn't long before I came back upon landmarks that I had seen not long before. I had limited time before dark would set in and I was doing loops, somewhere missing the place that would have me continuing in the right direction towards the trailhead and to my car.
    My GPS had stopped tracking me in the tall canyon. I was now the hiker I had heard about that gets lost and goes in circles. I felt panicked and it was getting dark fast. At 7pm when I could no longer see I sat down under a group of small trees with some pine needles to cushion me from the cold ground. I had no idea how cold it would get and I didn't want to know.
    I finally stopped wishing I had with me what I didn't have and at that point I stopped panicking. When you stop wishing for what you don't have, you can more easily deal with what IS. .. At that point I became aware of three scenarios. I knew I could easily die overnight. I had no idea how cold it would get but I know how canyons are and I was dressed for the 47 degree day that it was. It was quickly getting colder and I knew the temperatures would continue to fall. The second scenario was that I may pass out and be rescued but with hypothermia and extreme frostbite... that may be rough but I'd be alive! .. Or the final scenario and the one I chose was that I could survive it all, walk out of here tomorrow unscathed. ...
    When I knew that option three was for me, I had to survive. That was my only focus. I first visualized and rehearsed every detail of survival ... from what to do now to putting my boots on the next morning and walking out. After my visualization exercise it was all about everything I needed to do to survive. I had no idea what time it was or how cold it was.
    I was unbelievably cold and my bare feet (yes, my boots were now off and the water in the bottom of them was frozen the next morning) were colder than I could have ever imagined. ... I gave myself permission to be uncomfortable. .. Just as earlier I stopped wishing for things I didn't have, giving myself permission to be downright uncomfortable was freeing. I could be uncomfortable and brutally cold, but I had to survive.
    I meditated with my breath, I rubbed each body part and used my groin and armpits for warming areas. I learned and was guided through prayer and intuition what to do to make a cocoon out of my few fleece layers to keep my core body temperature from falling. ... I knew not to fall asleep.
    The stars were amazing and I still remember them being close enough to reach up to and touch .. or so it seemed ... but I put my fleece band over my eyes, ears and mouth to breathe warmth ... I heard the leaves russell in the wind, the water bubbling and rushing fast in the creek not far from me, late night airplanes overhead and helicopter .. and birds .. BIRDS?? .. I pulled my headband off my eyes and wondered how the morning's twilight had come so quickly.. how does one survive an overnight awake in the canyon and the time, 15 hours to be exact, pass quickly? .. See more of my story on my blog in the articles written .. I am also available to speak about my canyon survival experience. ...
    Oh, I forgot to tell you, the temps that night fell to 19 degrees!
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