Drop the tech and take a hike

Hi Folks.  National Take a Hike Day is Saturday, November 17, 2018.  I invite you to join me in taking this challenge farther than asked by my friends at the American Hiking Society in their article Why Technology Should Take A Hike, beginning with posting this picture on your [whatever kind of] website.

click for full size view

It’s a good article loaded with source-cited research results about:


  • Amount of time Americans spend on average looking at a screen (phone, tablet, laptop, PC, TV) every day — ELEVEN HOURS — and its effects on bio-psycho-social health.
  • How little time we spend outside — LESS THAN 5% — and its effects.
  • Technology addiction and impacts on mental health crises in this country, including extreme fatigue, stress and depression.
  • How brain scans of tech addicts compare with alcohol and drug addicts.
  • The BIG POSITIVE effects of time outdoors on bio-psycho-social health (in my view, it’s all one thing, not three).

Our lives have become centered around devices, and the moment you grab your phone because you thought you heard a buzz – you’ve lost control.  – American Hiking Society

I hope that most of you reading this are the choir members hearing this preachment.  But this thing is not about just you.  It’s a challenge to get the message out to others, and, more importantly, get some people outside.  Get out!

Their challenge asks you to pledge getting out for at least an hour on Saturday.

Enjoy at least 60 unplugged minutes to explore the Great Outdoors and celebrate the natural beauty of our world.

MY challenge says flip the thing on its head.  Instead of spending one hour outside — preferably away from the house, ideally on a hike — look at that ELEVEN hour statistic and bash it.  Commit to no more than one hour using any kind of technology screen.  Unless it is truly unavoidable, would it really matter if you actually just did not use that phone at all for a day?  Isn’t that what voice-mail is for?

I remember back in the dark ages when we didn’t have answering machines, voice-mail, or any kind of portable phone, certainly none with SCREENS, and nobody had any sort of personal computing device.  (My first electronic calculator cost $100 … a high-tech version that did some basic trigonometry stuff.  It was built like a ’57 Chevy.  I was not allowed to use it in class.)  HOW DID WE SURVIVE?  (Maybe we — as a culture — didn’t survive.  Look at the Oval Office.  Who are we anyway?)

You will not die if you turn off your phone and you may really like its not killing you slowly for a day!

As for me, I commit to not using any computer/phone/tablet/TV devices for any reason at all for 24 hours, from midnight Friday to midnight Saturday, AND to spend at least four continuous hours outside, and another hour after dark.  But not just “outside” …

I’m going for a snowshoe hike on trails in the Saranac River Public Use Area (map) of the Sable Highlands Conservation Easement, on Goldsmith Rd. in Franklin County, NY, eleven miles from Balsamea.  It’s one of my favorite nearby haunts.  You can come, too.

Campsite on the North Branch Saranac River, Sable Highlands Easement, Feb. 24, 2014. The river is in the space between the two foreground trees and the evergreens.

There’s likely a few inches of snow on the ground there now.  Tonight and tomorrow we’ll get another 5 to 9 inches.  So it may be snowshoey enough.  Otherwise, I’ve got boots made for walking in anything.

Same place. Oct. 4, 2013

Same day.

First time I had a campfire there.  As I say, “There is no solitude in a forest. When in doubt, have a campfire.”

Now and then I come up with a use for one of these selfies.  This one?  It throws some nice color into the place.

Same place. Ice formations in the river. Jan. 26, 2014

Nature makes fine sculpture.

Slightly upriver of the same place. Feb. 24, 2014

Another point on the river. Sep. 23, 2014

Please read the AHS article and take a look at the Tech-a-Hike challenge, and share it.

Are you going to share it and do the minimum one hour outside?

Will you join me and make it a
no-screen-time day and four hours outside?
If not, how much?

One more note:  I support the American Hiking Society (AHS), and recommend it to you, not just for hiking information.  They lobby legislators and rally people and organizations for wildlands conservation, access improvements, proper attention to ecological concerns, and they campaign to improve the health of individuals and society through nature-immersive activities.  Being an AHS member is one of the things I do to help counteract Trumpism.  (If you like Trumpism, I’d love to hear your top three reasons for it.)