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November 2023 Issue
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More walking, more sunrises

Photo: Richard Sykes

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Letter of the month

More walking, more sunrises

This was my second year doing the Walk1200km challenge. Last year I did 1359km, this year, 4025km. 

I started out this year with the aim of joining the 3000km club, but part-way through the first quarter I thought if I really put my mind to it, I could do 4000km – and I did. The key for me was dividing the year into quarters and being focused on keeping close to the quarterly totals of 1000km and weekly targets of about 80km. The benefit of quarterly and weekly targets is that it didn’t matter if I missed one or two days of walking in a week, there were still plenty of days and weeks to catch up, so long as I didn’t let things slip. Keeping the progress tracker chart on my kitchen table kept me focused the whole year. I only logged dedicated walks and would often do two walks a day so I didn’t get too tired, although I did do quite a few 20 to 40km walks when needed.

The walking year has been great.  I’ve seen more sunrises and sunsets than ever before and managed to keep my usual winter weight gain at bay. I’ll be back for the walking challenge in 2024, but with a more modest target, leaving more time for the other activities I enjoy.

Thanks, Wilderness for keeping the walking challenge going. And most of all, thanks to my partner Lianne for all the walks, laughs and cheese scones that kept us going. 

– Richard Sykes

Richard wins a $100 Real Meals voucher from Readers, send your letter to the editor for a chance to win.

I did it!

I finished Walk1200km a couple of weeks ago and thought my chart might be amusing to readers and other participants. I have the old design progress tracker which has a space for monthly ‘Rewards’. Mine are all hiking- or food-related – twig stove, apple donut, hiking saw, almond croissant!

– Kari Fairweather

– Congratulations Kari! – AH

Accessibility in the outdoors

I’m not sure it’s accurate to say the outdoors are out of reach for a quarter of the population simply because a quarter of the population has a disability (‘Accessibility in the outdoors’, September 2023). Disability is a broad term. It can encompass conditions that impact a person’s ability to participate fully in a world that is set up for an ideal of ‘typical’ functioning. That could include mental health conditions, neurological differences, and a large range of physical disabilities (many of which don’t dis-able people entirely from accessing the backcountry).

– Bee Clark

A lot of ‘wheelchair-accessible’ tracks are in fact not very wheelchair accessible, as I have found out a number of times. Not everyone can afford an off-road wheelchair. Off-road hand cycles can open up trails and they can get past the anti-motorbike barriers.

– Damiana Day

Wear visible gear

I read with interest Carol Foote’s letter, ‘Actually, you may get shot by a hunter’ (September 2023). 

I am a hunter, which also entails tramping. I would suggest all hunters and trampers wear high-vis clothing, even if just a bright cap. 

It bugs me that people wear camo clothing in the hills; you cannot be seen. If you are hurt and call for help, rescuers will find you sooner with bright clothing.

– Jim Kroening 

On slow hiking

I so loved the article ‘Snail’s pace’ (October 2023)! I enjoy taking in the details when I walk, including sounds, scent, textures and colours. I think slow walking is a great meditation practice. 

– Nancy Bramley-Thompson

I hike slowly due to respiratory issues, and because I like to take in my surroundings and enjoy the experience. As I’ve aged, I care less about what others think of my slow snail pace. Slow and steady is my motto. 

– Lara Bloxham

Hydration clarification

Nick Ryan wrote an excellent letter (‘Drink up’, September 2023) regarding my article on hydration (‘You need much more water than you think’, August 2023).

However, Nick might have slightly misconstrued one of my basic rules to staying hydrated when he wrote, ‘Unless I’ve misunderstood biology, I think the author’s advice should state that pale yellow urine indicates you are getting enough fluid, not the other way around.’ 

I wrote that dark yellow urine means you are dehydrated, and implied paler yellow means you are not 100 per cent hydrated. Perhaps   I should have stated as well that clear, pale urine is the only strong signal you are fully hydrated.

– Shaun Barnett