WordFood - how we feed or starve our realtionships

- Julia Hubbel

Julia’s ability to get this group of type-A executives to engage in true networking was incredible. She is truly skilled at motivating the group to engage and interact with each other, and her openness and honesty really come through.

— Shelley Stewart, Jr.,
Senior Vice President of Operational Excellence and Chief Procurement Officer, Tyco

August 29, 2013

WordFood to Fool Ourselves

The State of Colorado is one of the most gorgeous in the lower 48, and among our great gifts are the fourteeners, the many fourteen thousand foot mountain peaks that dot our landscape. These magnificent mountains provide terrific opportunities for tourists and those of us who live here to enjoy the high country, whether we’re out for a day hike or pushing ourselves hard for training.

Lately, after a long time away from hiking, I’ve dug into my basement and pulled out all my gear, added some cool stuff to update my collection, and started a weekly program of one big hike a week in the high country, usually midweek, such as a Wednesday or Thursday. Since I’m training for Mt. Kilimanjaro, this is a serious practice because the only way to get ready for a long hike is to, well, hike. That means breaking in your boots (absolutely positively of the utmost importance) getting familiar with your water supply system, learning what works and what doesn’t, finding out how often you need to replenish your body on a long hike.

These hikes have been instructive. Those of us who have lived here a long time all know that going up into the high country means being prepared for anything at altitude. That means absolutely anything, any time of year. Ask any resident who’s been caught up  high in a t-shirt in a snowstorm, in flip flops, and been intensely grateful that another seasoned hiker had enough gear to save his life. He was sure it was going to be a a beautiful day all day based on the morning’s weather. Sure.

So last week I was on my first hike up Gray’s Peak. I parked at I-70 and climbed the road to the parking lot. The point is to hike the miles, not necessarily to summit. By the time I made the parking lot, it was about 10 am. After a food and bathroom break, I noted the gathering clouds, and figured I had about an hour of hiking before I’d have to turn back. Sure enough, I made it to the sign that said I had 2.7 miles to the summit, and the clouds really started to gather.  There I picked my break rock for lunch, a big bottle of chocolate milk, and decided to head back.

As I made my way down I passed two couples. Couple number one was college kids. Tank tops, no backpack, flip flops, short shorts. I pointed upwards and said kindly, “Might want to watch the clouds.” The young man snapped at me, “Nothing’s going to happen for another two hours!” O-kay. Next I passed an Asian couple, similarly dressed. Said the same thing, politely pointed at the sky, they just looked at me like I was a dolt.

About half an hour later I barely made it under the  lip of the ladies’ bathroom in the parking lot to avoid the pouring rain, hail and snow that was pounding the trail and everyone’s cars- and those two couples up the hill 60 minutes up the mountain. I took out my down vest, my rain pants and jacket, my neoprene gloves, tightened up my Goretex mountain boots and blithely- and completely dry- headed down the mountain.

We fool ourselves all the time with thoughtless WordFood. No worries, we’ll be fine up there. No problem, we won’t need a jacket. Today as I hiked down James Peak, I passed two young women in extremely light workout wear headed up the mountain. I had just been rained and hailed on. Neither was carrying any protection, including SPF.

As people move to Colorado, Montana, Arizona and other mountainous places, they see these spots as playgrounds. Fine. But they are also deadly. Those two couples and the young women I passed could easily get wet- and with a good wind whipping through the hills they’d lose heat fast. With body heat plummeting they’re ripe for hypothermia. Suddenly a day hike isn’t so fun anymore.

These people probably think I’m an old fuddy duddy when I note the clouds or ask if they have a jacket. But it’s our tax dollars and our rescue teams that have to scrape them off the mountain in worsening conditions because folks fooled themselves into believing that the Colorado high country was a walk in the park.

There are excellent guide books and resources available everywhere in Colorado and in every state that has mountains which provide a list of things you must always have with you. Never ever head into the hills without adequate supplies of food, water, sun protection, footwear and warmth. Yes, the mountains are breathtaking. And they are utterly unforgiving of those who don’t respect their power.

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