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Mountain Hiking Tips No 4 - - Advantage Of Hiking Animal Trails
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This is Ed Westover. Today we are going to talk about making hiking easier by learning from the animals. You and I are supposed to be smarter than animals. But sometimes I wonder. Animals are smart enough to follow each other along the trails they have made. We need to remember that animals are at home in the hill and mountain country. They know their back yard like we know ours. And, like us, they know the easiest path or trail, and will follow it when traveling from place to place. Sure, if they are after food nearby they are not so concerned about following a trail. And if they are frightened by man or another animal, they look for the quickest way out. Even that is often by following a trail that they have made over time.

What does this mean to you and I if we are a hiker or hunter? If we are as smart as the animals, we will try to follow the trails that they have made. It can save a lot of wasted time and energy. You can also travel a lot more quietly, and often get to where you want to go quicker. Obviously, there will be times when the trail we are following will change direction on us, and then we will have to abandon it. But usually we can pick up another trail not too far away that goes in the right direction. If we can't find one, maybe we had better take another look at the terrain. If the animals don't want to travel that way, maybe we don't want to go there either.

We're not talking about hiking animal trails made by small animals. We are talking about trails made by deer and elk, sometimes even those made by cattle. You can follow them with comparative ease. The animals that made them follow them hear after year. They become well worn, and all the animals in the area know where they are and like to follow them.

You might think following trails is not too exciting. Sometimes that is not the case. One time my brother-in-law and I were following deer tracks in the snow along a trail high up on the mountain. It turned out that a mountain lion was interested in the deer also, but he cut into the trail ahead of us. We found ourselves following the lion, who was following the deer. We never knew if the mountain lion had better luck than we did!

The next time you are hiking in the mountains, remember these mountain hiking tips, and try to be hiking animal trails when you can. Until next time. Happy hiking. Ed


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