Rhythm??

10:49 p.m. on July 5, 2009 (EDT)
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Someone mentioned that their rhythm was important to them when hiking and it got me thinking. Well, probably not thinking, but my best approximation of it.

I have no sense of rhythm. I can't dance, heck, even my heart needs a pacemaker just to keep a beat. But why would one want to have a steady rhythm in the backcountry? There is too much to see and enjoy - that requires observation, which means, at least in my experience, as great an awareness of your surroundings as possible and then bending your time to the needs of inquiry. That may mean just sitting down to watch some beavers - or ants - which you probably wouldn't notice if you kept a rhythmic pace.

Anyway, I never noticed a backcountry mountain trail, or off-trail, that allowed a rhythm, unless you mean stumbling over rocks more or less gracefully. Granted, slogging across the tundra, desert, or veldt can be heartbreakingly rhythmic (but watch for sandworms). However, forested hills and mountains don't like human rhythm.

The word "Rhythm" has its origin in flowing. Now, I flow downhill readily enough, often faster than I want; but I don't flow uphill all that well. And the steeper the hill, the less likely that the ascent is working to a measured beat.

So, when we go backcountry is it to set our own rhythm or, allegorically, accept the rhythm that it provides?

JMO, YMMV

12:48 p.m. on July 6, 2009 (EDT)
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Someone mentioned that their rhythm was important to them when hiking ...

when we go backcountry is it to set our own rhythm or, allegorically, accept the rhythm that it provides?

The answer is "Yes!"

I may be the one who you are refering to, since I have mentioned hiking rhythm several times. Rhythm is importance to conserve energy in any outdoor activity, whether just walking, or bicycling, hiking (well-maintained trail, rough terrain, cross country), skiing, rock climbing, running, swimming, paddling, whatever. One part of rhythm is keeping your body motions in rhythm with your breathing and heart beating (makes your breathing and blood flow more efficient - too many people tend to hold their breath during activities and breathe in gasps). "Flow" is part of it as well.

You can't "force" a rhythm - that to a large extent is dictated by the kind of activity and the type of terrain.

Recall that workmen in the old days before mechanization had chants and songs to aid their work - that was all about rhythm. Pounding the hammer, whether as a carpenter, driving railroad spikes, or John Henry driving that cast-iron drill to build a tunnel, pulling the double-bit saw with Paul Bunyan and the Blue Ox, picking cotton, all had their work songs tied to the pace of the work. The musical Showboat had the rhythm of riverboat work "Tote that barge, lift that bale..."

Some years ago (too long for most people here to remember), there was a Number One song on the "Hit Parade" named "Valderee" - "I love to sing as I go, along the mountain track. I wave my hand to all I meet, and they wave back to me!" The rhythm of that song was perfectly suited to trail hiking.

In addition to the breathing rhythm, the rhythm of using hiking poles, which should be matched to the stepping rhythm and breathing rhythm, actually speeds the hiking, while giving lots of time to look around and (again from the hiking song) "The blackbird's song is oh so sweet, from every greenwood tree". It gets you into the rhythm of nature. And you have more energy for the hike, getting tired more slowly.

Unfortunately, most of today's "music" isn't suited to hiking with rhythm, although that is one of the few virtues of "rap" - you can dance along the trail to that.

Oh, if you are having trouble stumbling over rocks, try picking your feet up and dancing over them. Several orienteering friends have been taking ballroom dance lessons and find it really helps them run at full tilt through the woods, over the rocks and logs.

7:03 p.m. on July 6, 2009 (EDT)
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Everything in nature has a rhythm. Even us. You may not think you have it, but you do, you just don't notice it. Why do you trip? Because your body expects the next step to happen in, you guessed it, rhythm. Not your brain, your body. when the rhythm gets interrupted, your body gets all out of wack and you blame the ground!

Ever drive down the street and notice that someone on the sidewalk happens to be walking in time to the song on your radio? They can't hear your music (I hope) They're just walking in their own rhythm, to they natural beat of their body.

Remember the Blackbyrds hit from 1975?

8:32 p.m. on July 6, 2009 (EDT)
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I don't normally reply to forums like this, but I can't resist talking about rhythm. It is one of the very few things that are actually different about people. No known animals display a true sense of rhythm. (If you know of one, please tell me!) But that does not mean that people are "better" because of it, nor does it mean that having or using rhythm "must" help one become a better person or give a person more energy.

I never think about rhythm when I hike. It's too much work. I just walk, look, listen, smell, touch, pause to study something in more detail. Trying to, or just "letting it happen", keep a walking/walking poles/breathing rhythm distracts from what is all around me.

Having said that, clearly there are those who love to live in or with a rhythm. Hiking at a certain pace, breathing evenly and deeply in time to their walking works well for them. They feel it gives them more energy.

Neither is right or wrong, or even better or worse. Some claim that having a rhythm when hiking saves energy. Being a scientist/engineer, I have to say (and I don't mean this in a negative way): prove it.

On a related note, there are those who obsess with staying hydrated. I don't bother with that either. I drink when I'm thirsty. Again, not right or wrong, just different.

Rhythm is a fantastic thing. It can entertain, sooth, coordinate, mask effort (like on railroad gangs), and is used to communicate. But it is not for everyone. Some people are perfectly happy just slogging along oblivious to any rhythm.

I'm happy slogging, but I'm also happy playing or listening to jazz.

9:06 p.m. on July 6, 2009 (EDT)
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10:15 p.m. on July 6, 2009 (EDT)
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PaulS said: "Rhythm is a fantastic thing. It can entertain, sooth, coordinate...."

 

Yes....coordinate! I also believe in the rhythm method.

I think it has the most benefit to hikers, or any other athlete, etc, who are trying to push the boundaries of their abilities.

You wouldn't think that putting a funny looking helmet on a bicycle rider would make much difference, but for top bike riders who are trying to shave tenths of a second off their time it makes a huge difference. No need to wear that funny looking helmet for a casual loop around the park with friends though, it makes no real difference in performance.

When trekking long distances a steady rhythmic pace helps coordinate the bodies breathing, heart rate, perspiration, and so on. This is more efficient and thus uses less energy, leaving you with more reserve power at the end of the day so you can hike past those younger less experienced hikers who are now exhausted from powering up those steep ascents by taking giant steps.

It does however require practice, as does other techniques like the "resting step" which is a technique I like to use on long, steep ascents.

If your just going for a casual 10 or 15 mile day hike you may not see much benefit from a rhythmic pace, if you are trying to knock out 120 miles of rough terrain in five days you may find it makes a big difference.

On long treks you are better off with a rhythmic pace instead of going fast till you're tired, then walking slow till you're rested, then going fast till...well you get it.

Give the well conditioned, experienced turtle plenty of rest, plenty of water, 4-5,000 calories a day, and a pair of trekking poles and he will eventually pass the young sarcastic know it all rabbit!

Just my opinion, but I'm pretty sure I'm right, ask all the rabbits on the AT, BMT, FT, PT, MTST......sometimes I stop and give them a cliff bar just to rub it in. In a nice way!

10:45 p.m. on July 6, 2009 (EDT)
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... No known animals display a true sense of rhythm. (If you know of one, please tell me!) ...

I never think about rhythm when I hike. It's too much work. I just walk, look, listen, smell, touch, pause to study something in more detail. Trying to, or just "letting it happen", keep a walking/walking poles/breathing rhythm distracts from what is all around me.
...

Lessee, now. You are saying that your heart has no rhythm (an irregular heartbeat? Seems I heard about that in my Wilderness First Aid courses), and your breathing has no rhythm (it's random? I think I also heard about irregular breathing in my WFA classes, especially when it is at high altitudes).

And you seem to be saying that runners and cyclists have no rhythm in their pace. And that animals travelling at a steady pace have no rhythm.

Maybe you are saying that animals do not respond to music. Although, there was a recent article in Science about a demonstration that certain animals do in fact respond to rhythmic music.

But that is not what rhythm is all about in terms of hiking, climbing, skiing, other physical activities. If you have to "try" to keep a rhythm, ya ain't got that rhythm. If it is distracting you from all that is going on around you, you are fighting your body's natural rhythms, like heart rate and breathing. What I was refering to (and yes, I am a PhD scientist and an active member of CSICOP, so a certified skeptic), was allowing your body to self-synchronize muscle motion with breathing rate and heart rate (no, it is not a one to one correspondence, rather multiples).

There has actually been a lot of physiological research on the question of this synchronisation. I don't have time right now to dig out the references, but there is always Google.

1:29 p.m. on July 7, 2009 (EDT)
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I pointed out this thread to Barb last night, and her response was, "Why do you think that the infantry marches in step when moving long distances and has their rhythmic marching songs and chants? It's not just discipline and morale!"

We watched part of the Tour de France Team Time Trial this morning. It was really apparent how the fastest teams were using the pedalling rhythm to keep up the pace.

1:52 p.m. on July 7, 2009 (EDT)
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As long as you think of rhythm as a natural flow, we've all got our own rhythm. If you're thinking about it and forcing the issue that's not rhythm. Just do what comes naturally and makes you happy. Then you'll find your state of flow.

If I was a Zen master I'd say something like, if you focus on the rhythm, you lose the rhythm. Just be. Or something profound. I'm no Zen master though.

Now I have "The Happy Wanderer" in my head. That's okay though, I may be one of the few people who genuinely likes that song. The Muppets rendition is a little dark, but funny. I loved that show as a kid.

2:22 p.m. on July 7, 2009 (EDT)
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Fascinating how the written word can be such a poor means of communication. I'll try to be more clear and concise.

1. I was talking only about hiking. Not marching or any other sport.

2. I agree that having a rhythm when hiking can help some people perform better, and can help some people enjoy it more.

3. I have seen no proof that getting into a rhythm when hiking will benefit everyone. It depends what your definition of "benefit" is. If it's reaching maximum performance then get those rhythms sync'd. If it's enjoying the hike then for some people, just hike.

4. I am not saying the human body does not have rhythms that work better when they are in sync, only that some people have no interest or need to try to get everything in sync. Their attitude, like mine, is why bother? I'm fine with how I hike.

5. As for Zen, again, it is great for some people and some sports or tasks. But not for everyone nor for all tasks.

6. Perhaps my rhythm or flow, again we talking about hiking only, is to always be ready to be interupted by something in nature so it can be enjoyed. That's why I'm out there afterall. Not to keep pace, but to keep peace. Hey! That's almost Zen-like!

2:57 p.m. on July 7, 2009 (EDT)
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It also depends on what one means by rhythm.

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/rhythm

Rhythm

1 a: an ordered recurrent alternation of strong and weak elements in the flow of sound and silence in speech b: a particular example or form of rhythm <iambic rhythm>

2 a: the aspect of music comprising all the elements (as accent, meter, and tempo) that relate to forward movement b: a characteristic rhythmic pattern <rumba rhythm> ; also : 1meter 2 c: the group of instruments in a band supplying the rhythm —called also rhythm section

3 a: movement, fluctuation, or variation marked by the regular recurrence or natural flow of related elements <the rhythms of country life> b: the repetition in a literary work of phrase, incident, character type, or symbol

4: a regularly recurrent quantitative change in a variable biological process <a circadian rhythm> — compare biorhythm

5: the effect created by the elements in a play, movie, or novel that relate to the temporal development of the action

6: rhythm method

I don't think rhythm has to mean doing the exact same methodical thing over and over. Hey, if you're enjoying your hike and at peace, that's all that matters.

5:57 p.m. on July 7, 2009 (EDT)
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Alicia, nice go at the Zen, I'm impressed!

PaulS, I agree that it matters what your definition of benefit is.

Everyone has to hike their own hike. Most people are out there to enrich their lives. On short casual hikes I don't think it matters much if you have rhythm or not, especially on level trails

As a matter of technique I think it does benefit everyone under certain conditions such as longer hikes in steep terrain. One factor in setting a rhythm is often the "pause" or slight hesitation between steps, which is most useful on steep ascents and / or in rocky, rough terrain.

This pause also has the benefit of possibly making your hike safer in rough / steep terrain because it gives you a split second to locate a safe spot to place your next step. A safe hike makes for a happy hiker.

I think most people tend to start doing these things instinctively, at least to some degree, with a bit of experience whether they realize it or not. Some do not, you sometimes see them sprawled out in agony on the side of the trail. So maybe we could also say that a rhythm can be pacing your hike so you do not exhaust yourself.

Listen to your body, have fun!

7:40 p.m. on July 7, 2009 (EDT)
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Here are some better actual Zen sayings:

If you try to aim for it, you are turning away from it.

Every day is a good day.

If you want to climb a mountain, begin at the top.


It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end. (this one's by Ursula K. Le Guin though)

I admit that I don't get #3, but it seemed appropriate for the site.

7:55 p.m. on July 7, 2009 (EDT)
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I think some zen sayings are designed to get you to stop and think, a mental exercise if you will. At least I hope that is true, 'cause I don't get some of them either. Also it could be the opium maybe.

9:38 p.m. on July 7, 2009 (EDT)
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I've also heard "it is better to be where you are then to get where you're going", or "the journey is more important than the destination". I really try to live by that.

I'm planning on writing a book titled "Rhythm is Music" and have to incorporate some the ideas from this forum.

Thanks, glad I stopped by!

9:58 p.m. on July 7, 2009 (EDT)
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"A journey begins with a single step"

Good luck with the book PaulS, thanks for stopping by and getting us to think some about rhythm!

7:43 a.m. on July 8, 2009 (EDT)
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Bill S.,

Of course a structured rhythm is enjoyable to some. I know that many fly fishermen take the aggressive, high-efficiency, Type-A attitude that they must catch X number of trout, or the day on the water was wasted. But, IMO, that is not "fishing", that is "catching."

In the same way, perhaps, peak-baggers collect peaks and thru-hikers collect trails (or mileage). For some, it is not the journey, it is the log at the end that fascinates. And if that is what they enjoy, then it's wonderful.

Personally, talk about "efficiency" in the context of enjoying a hike leaves me cold. It harkens to performing a "Methods and Time Study" for ambling. If we are "happy wanderers", shouldn't we wander (and wonder)

wan·der Pronunciation: \ˈwän-dər\ Function:verb Inflected Etymology:Middle English wandren, from Old English wandrian; akin to Middle High German wandern to wander, Old English windan to wind, twist

Date:before 12th century

intransitive verb1 a: to move about without a fixed course, aim, or goal b: to go idly about : ramble <wandering around the house>

2: to follow a winding course : meander

3 a: to go astray (as from a course) : stray <wandered away from the group> b: to go astray morally : err c: to lose normal mental contact : stray in thought <his mind wandered>transitive verb: to roam over <wandered the halls>

Wandering doesn't suggest marching to a beat. Wandering is about "being" in the present. Thru-hiking, peak-bagging, etc. is only about the future - measuring miles-traveled against an arbitrary scale of efficiency and ultimate destination.

Everyone has a different reason to enter the backcountry. One's desire to wander (see above) or meander, is no more, nor less, "correct" than another's desire to achieve through bodily exertion some personal goal. It is all good. One has an emphasis on the body and its rhythm, the other just wants to "be here now".

8:55 a.m. on July 8, 2009 (EDT)
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PaulS, thanks for stopping by. Good luck with the book. It sounds even more ambitious than tackling rhythm in hiking!

Overmywaders, I agree that your examples of "structured rhythm" are all about attaining the quantifiable goal versus having the experience. I don't see those goals as rhythm though, just benchmarks. If you're trying to force something (ex. catch X fish no matter what, hike X miles no matter what), you're not in rhythm, in my opinion.

Also, as an admitted sometimes peak bagger I disagree with the idea that just because you have a goal (to hike X-mountains in winter or every trail in X) that it means you're not also enjoying and appreciating the actual experience. For many, we like to have the end to journey toward; but still know it's the journey that matters (with apologies to Le Guin). I don't think it's mutually exclusive.

I don't think rhythm means you go a certain speed or not. I think you can be in rhythm moving along at a good clip or stopping to smell the flowers. I think it means you're in a natural flow with yourself and your surroundings.

As long as you're happily wandering or hiking and not bothering anyone else, it really doesn't matter.

It's been an interesting discussion. Thanks for starting it.

I'll leave it with this Zen tale.

One day Chuang-tzu and a friend were walking along a riverbank.

"How delightfully the fishes are enjoying themselves in the water!" Chuang-tzu exclaimed.

"You are not a fish," his friend said. "How do you know whether or not
the fishes are enjoying themselves?"

"You are not me," Chuang-tzu said. "How do you know that I do not know
that the fishes are enjoying themselves?"

2:49 p.m. on July 8, 2009 (EDT)
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Over,

I prefer to have energy left over to take lots of photos (take another look at my Africa and Antarctic reports in the News section of Trailspace), and energy left over at the end of the day to enjoy laying out on the ground to take in the night sky (remember the "Fire in the Sky" song?). I see far too many people out there arriving at a campsite so exhausted they can barely bring themselves to prepare a freezedry dinner, much less the gourmet meals Barb and I prepare.

Time and motion studies, as with every dogmatic, rigid practice are actually contrary to efficient use of your personal resources (says the Old GreyBeard dogmatically).

9:33 p.m. on July 9, 2009 (EDT)
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There you go again, Bill S, saying something I'm not sure I understand. What does "Time and motion studies, as with every dogmatic, rigid practice are actually contrary to efficient use of your personal resources" mean?

10:03 p.m. on July 9, 2009 (EDT)
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Bill S. is of course more than capable of answering this, just wanted to add my two cents.

Time and motion studies, also known as Economy of Motion in some disciplines, is a way of developing human (usually) movements that are as efficient as possible in order to accomplish a given task(s) with as much speed as possible.

I'm sure Bill S will correct me if I'm wrong, but that's my understanding.

Some times these practises are most efficient for a group, but not the best for each individual, not everyone fits a rigid mold.

Like me, I'm a misfit of sorts, I'm left handed, I learn best by doing then reading (go figure). I tend to be extremely focused to the point of sometimes missing the obvious, I do not believe in failure until it has already happened and my friends are laughing.

I'm getting better at the last two as I get older, but it is difficult for me to fit a large scale mold.

Maybe that's one reason I prefer to be self employed and like to hike solo.

12:20 p.m. on July 10, 2009 (EDT)
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The basic idea of time and motion studies is a good one - by observation and experiment, figure out what combination and sequence of actions is most efficient in terms of energy expended, time required, etc. The application, however, is something different - trying to force everyone into a fixed, rigid mold. Trout is correct in his example that what works for the majority right-handers does not necessarily work for lefties. For example, if the process involves pushing a button, it is easier and faster to place the button on the right for a right-hander, but a leftie has to reach across his/her body to get the button. In bicycling (I am watching the Tour de France right now) and other athletic activities, some people genetically have more fast-twitch muscle cells (hence are good sprinters), while others have more slow-twitch muscle cells (hence tend to be better at endurance, such as time trials). Light-weight riders tend to be better at climbing the hills (Contador) or at sprints (Cavendish), though there are exceptions (Boonen, Hushovd). "All-around" riders are generally not very good at any one specialty.

Time and Motion studies generally produce good results for robotic and other machine processes, since machines can be very specialized.

My comment that T&M and other rigid prescriptions are contrary to efficient use of your personal human resources means that you have to adjust, in humans, for individual differences. In sports, you can do individual studies and improve the performance of a given individual. Hiking is a good example of this. Many people sort of stumble along the trail or cross-country, wasting a lot of their personal energy. Generally, for most, the best thing is, as the guides on Kilimanjaro say, "Polepole" (often written as if it is 2 words, but it is actually a single word - one of the few things about Swahili I know). The literal meaning is "slowly", but it really means keeping an even pace, not rushing too fast, picking up your feet to clear the rocks and other obstacles on the trail, the pace picked to keep your breathing and heart rate at a pretty even pace, rather than the "hare" practice of rushing fast, then stopping to gasp for breath, then rushing again. The rhythm of the hike is the even pace while moving, keeping your heart rate and breathing in an elevated, but not excessive range (technically, staying in your aerobic range), and stopping periodically to recover a bit, including hydrating and snacking. By following this, you can hike farther, in less time, with plenty of Kodak moments, and feel rested and comfortable at the hike's end. A good criterion for pace is that you should be able to carry on a normal conversation (hard to do when you are hiking solo, unless you are talking to yourself or on the cell phone).

An important part of this, to repeat, is that it is individual pace, individual rest intervals, individual rest duration, an overall rhythm that works best for the individual hiker. When you first start to develop your own pace and rhythm, it seems forced sometimes (because you never did it before). But as you find your own rhythm, it becomes natural and subconscious.

I have found that with some hiking companions, I have a hard time keeping up, while with others, I get bored and more tired from the overly slow pace. With the ones I have a hard time keeping up, I usually find that if I just go at my own pace, I am soon passing them at their rest stops and end up at the end of the hike first, and much less tired. But you have to develop your own individual rhythm.

1:49 p.m. on July 10, 2009 (EDT)
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Bill,

We can have different views on this matter; what you describe as rhythm may be fine for a "hiker" or "backpacker" or "hillwalker", who wish to optimize their "experience". However, some of us are none of the above, just people who hike or hillwalk. For us, the experience is part of life, not an isolated event, though perhaps no longer a frequent event, but part of the overall melange of experiences that make up our existence. We aren't looking to set records (personal or otherwise), bag peaks, etc. -- we just want to get out.

So you and I have differing views, that is fine, valuable even.

Your statements regarding hikers who are too slow or fast I can certainly appreciate. However, many years ago I was taught that, no matter what, your speed must be only as fast as the slowest member of the team. The instances you recorded have the team broken, members separated. This results in such things as blind hikers deciding to break from the group, straying off the trail, lost for days, incurring SAR at great cost in time and money, and starting a brush fire.

8:03 p.m. on July 10, 2009 (EDT)
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OMW,

I don't think we really have different views. You cite blind hikers deciding to break from the group. That indicates lack of respect and responsibility for group members. That is not what I was talking about. Before you start a group hike, you have to have an agreement and understanding among the members of the group on how you proceed. Is it a team, or several teams, or each person on his/her own?

Remember, I lead group hikes and conduct workshops that involve large and small groups. The policy and process are made clear at the start (no, don't leap at the conclusion that a static, rigid, formal structure is set up with no allowed deviations - well, except when I lead Sierra Club and Boy Scout groups, those organizations have some pretty rigid rules, though strangely, neither says anything about pace set by slowest member - but that is a rule I set for my groups, plus stop at every fork in the trail to assemble the group and make sure everyone goes the correct direction).

I will have to say I do not understand what you mean when you first dismiss the concept of optimizing your experience in the outdoors, then you say that the experience is part of life. I certainly did not say that rhythm has anything to do with setting records (though if you want to set a record, bag a peak, whatever, there is a personal rhythm that will make achieving that record/goal/peak a lot easier). I did say that if you set out on an activity, such as a random hike that is aimed at nothing more nor less than striking out on foot and returning safely, uninjured, and exhilarated by the fresh mountain air, gurgling streams, and sight of deer, squirrels, and yes, mountain lion, bears, and rattlesnakes and all the other critters out there, including the ants and spiders, there is a natural rhythm that will make that experience even better. You should read Thoreau, Abbey, Whitman, Muir sometime.

But if you prefer tripping over rocks and falling on your face or butt or into a stream, well, that's your choice. There is a rhythm to that, too.

Oh, yeah, my most important personal record and goal is to maximize the number of hours and days I can escape from "civilization" and spend in the woods, hills, and among the high peaks. You do have to get to the peak to sit or lay there for a few hours to drink in the glorious solitude and silence broken only by the wind and sound of a distant stream. Or better yet, to spend the night on that peak to see the fire falling from the sky. That's the personal record I am seeking. And it requires synchronizing my personal rhythms with the rhythms of the universe.

6:42 a.m. on July 11, 2009 (EDT)
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Bill,

First, I'll clarify a point you have mentioned several times -- my stumbling over rocks :)

I like to think I do it, as I first said, gracefully and with aplomb. I didn't always stumble, but infirmities have created that situation. I have peripheral neuropathy in both feet and, slowly advancing, both hands. Sometimes my brainstem doesn't know where my left foot is, which resulted in a sprained ankle just walking in the house. So I had to wear good old-school hiking boots around the house all the time for a while. Hence the jocular reference to stumbling.

Then my reference to "experience". I put it in quotes initially to designate it as an event, an event outside the norm. Next I employed it without quotes to show that it is just one of millions of life's events.

Finally, you said:

there is a natural rhythm that will make that experience even better. You should read Thoreau, Abbey, Whitman, Muir sometime.

And my original post ended with:

So, when we go backcountry is it to set our own rhythm or, allegorically, accept the rhythm that it provides?

So, if you mean to just accept a rhythm, then I agree; however, you were, in this thread, speaking of an imposed or conscious bodily rhythm and its physical benefits. I was, OTOH, referring to going with the flow, as it were.

Have we started repeating ourselves? I don't have answers for other people, I just wanted to ask a question I thought interesting.

Regards,

Reed

6:59 a.m. on July 11, 2009 (EDT)
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Have we started repeating ourselves? I don't have answers for other people, I just wanted to ask a question I thought interesting.

I have nothing new to add, but it has been an interesting question.

Not all questions have to have hard and fast answers.

1:59 p.m. on July 11, 2009 (EDT)
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Bill,

....

So, if you mean to just accept a rhythm, then I agree; however, you were, in this thread, speaking of an imposed or conscious bodily rhythm and its physical benefits. I was, OTOH, referring to going with the flow, as it were.

....

Regards,

Reed

Reed,

Sorry I misinterpreted your comment about stumbling over the rocks to mean something more like randomly wandering and not paying much attention to where your feet were going. I missed your comment about wearing a heart pacemaker somehow.

But I thought I made clear in several places (hence repetition) that I was most definitely not speaking of an artificially imposed or consciously forced bodily rhythm. I am talking about finding your own natural rhythm and that of your surroundings. It is true that there is some training and conscious thought ("conscious" in the sense of Zen) to shift from the uncoordinated and ungraceful way that most hikers/climbers/skiers/bicyclists/... do things, fighting against their natural flow and the flow of nature around them, to letting your whole being coordinate its own rhythms and becoming one with the surroundings. The training and initial conscious thought (if you are learning it late in life or as a part of recovery) is really a way of learning to let go and, to use your term, "go with the flow." If you are brought up as I was, in the outdoors, the synchronization is completely subconscious. But folks who are brought up in the city are more in tune with the ebb and flow of the city rhythms and often have a difficult time adjusting to the Wild.

7:39 p.m. on July 11, 2009 (EDT)
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Bill,

I guess we agree then on letting whatever rhythm asserts itself without conscious intervention, i.e., going with the flow, be our rhythm.

Great. I enjoy accord much more than discord.

Regards,

Reed

4:30 p.m. on July 16, 2009 (EDT)
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Since the song has been mentioned in many of the posts above, I thought it might be nice to post the lyrics. Here they are:

Der fröhliche Wanderer or

The Happy Wanderer.

 

I love to go a-wandering,
Along the mountain track,
And as I go, I love to sing,
My knapsack on my back.

Chorus:
Val-deri,Val-dera,
Val-deri,
Val-dera-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha
Val-deri,Val-dera.
My knapsack on my back.

I love to wander by the stream
That dances in the sun,
So joyously it calls to me,
"Come! Join my happy song!"

I wave my hat to all I meet,
And they wave back to me,
And blackbirds call so loud and sweet
From ev'ry green wood tree.

High overhead, the skylarks wing,
They never rest at home
But just like me, they love to sing,
As o'er the world we roam.

Oh, may I go a-wandering
Until the day I die!
Oh, may I always laugh and sing,
Beneath God's clear blue sky!

7:39 p.m. on July 19, 2009 (EDT)
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I always go with the flow. If I tried to make a particular rhythm, I would just mess it up anyway!

1:58 p.m. on July 22, 2009 (EDT)
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I have a 3 piece rhythm section that plays in my head most of the time. Drums, Bass, and Piano to be exact. Sometimes they have guest artists, but mostly just the trio. Honestly, these cats can really jam, but I can't always control what they play. For instance, George Garzone made an "artist in residence" performance for a three day period despite the fact that I don't listen to him regularly. I guess it comes from going to a music college, and having the "curse". All in all, rhythm plays a huge role in my life, so I accept the fact that it's always around, and probably take it for granted. It's fun to note the rhythms in nature, and most of the time I "belly breathe" like cyclists when I'm on the trail. I hope this doesn't scare too many folks, but hay it happens!

10:38 a.m. on July 27, 2009 (EDT)
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I have two general hiking rhythms depending on the trail and how fast I want to get there. I established them by doing stairs. In the high end I pick a step/breath rate (left foot inhale, exhale on right foot) that I can maintain for 30+ minutes - uncomfortably. I'm looking for something around my 80% heart rate. Something I can maintain for not a long time but something I can use to grind up hill for a summit. For all the hiking rhythms I maintain a steady step/breath heart rate. If I need more oxygen (lower the heart rate) I shorten the steps, down hill I lengthen them. The key is to maintain a heart rate using a constant step/breath rate. The only thing that varies is the step length (or height)

Unfortunately, It doesn't take long to pick up an 'ear worm' -- the endless repetition of a part of a song.

Glad to have the Wanderer lyrics posted, thanks. I take others that I break out to end the mind dulling same 8 words to replace with a dozen more different ones.

11:54 a.m. on July 27, 2009 (EDT)
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Come to think of it, when I was paddleing across Lake Chesuncook(sp?) in Maine a long time ago, we chanted "winners don't quit and quitters don't win" in time to our paddling. I admit it did help a lot, but hiking to me is different.

I do sing and beat out rythyms while I'm walking, but the music is not in time with my steps. On the other hand, I really liked being in a marching band!

7:43 p.m. on July 28, 2009 (EDT)
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Here are some better actual Zen sayings:

If you try to aim for it, you are turning away from it.

Every day is a good day.

If you want to climb a mountain, begin at the top.

It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end. (this one's by Ursula K. Le Guin though)

I admit that I don't get #3, but it seemed appropriate for the site.

Just as a side note (because I'm kind of a nerd) the philosophy behind Zen incorporates having a good understanding of what you're trying to accomplish before taking the first step. So by mentally starting at the top (the goal you're working for) and figuring out what you need to succeed, then you are better prepared to actually accomplish your goal of climbing the mountain. Hope this little bit of trivia was enjoyable.

9:02 p.m. on July 28, 2009 (EDT)
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Alicia said:

Here are some better actual Zen sayings:

If you try to aim for it, you are turning away from it.

Every day is a good day.

If you want to climb a mountain, begin at the top.

It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end. (this one's by Ursula K. Le Guin though)

I admit that I don't get #3, but it seemed appropriate for the site.

Just as a side note (because I'm kind of a nerd) the philosophy behind Zen incorporates having a good understanding of what you're trying to accomplish before taking the first step. So by mentally starting at the top (the goal you're working for) and figuring out what you need to succeed, then you are better prepared to actually accomplish your goal of climbing the mountain. Hope this little bit of trivia was enjoyable.

Excellent explanation. Thanks for sharing it.

November 28, 2014
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