1,514 forum posts
Wow. I was just responding to a post in another thread. Someone asked me what I was taking on my upcoming trek. I started rattling off the gear and it occurred to me. I am just coming up on my 3 year anniversary of participating in this community. I came here a pretty inexperienced beginner with not any knowledge of gear let alone any real knowledge of the outdoors. I had hiked a lot years ago in the PNW but we had NO gear back then. Just our shoes and our coats...the ones we would wear in town too. Thing is, I sure did not know what I did not know. I arrived here with the worst blisters of my life and that is when it all began. BillS was instantly helpful. I think Bill must be the most experienced mountaineer on the site since I have been around. Him and Ed. (Whomeworry). At least the ones that post. Then there is also Caleb and Tipi and BHeiser1 and Gartmen and Denis Daly and Gary and Rick and Arson and Patman and Calahan and Seth and Jeff and Wolf (Who I have not seen in a while) and so many more that were there in the beginning that took me to school. I read their gear reviews, I listened to their conversations about stuff and I began to learn some things. In that time I have been on countless day hikes. (my style is day hikes, I don't back pack). I strung about 10 day hikes together to get to Mount Everest and now will do the same in Peru for Machu Picchu. I guess I am a hiker/trekker by classification with some dabbling in Rock Climbing.
But the question I pose is, am I still a beginner? On a hike this last weekend, my hiking companion was a dead out non hiker. Not even a beginner, just wanted to get to the top of that rock. He called me an expert. And from his perspective, I am. But he doesn't know what he doesn't know either.
I would not call myself an expert. I wouldn't call myself a beginner anymore either. I would call myself barely advanced or intermediate. One reason is because day hiking you never find yourself in situations that present themselves over night. So when something happens that perhaps renders you stranded over night, you are in new territory as opposed to a packer who would be familiar with his night time gear and conditions and able to deal with that situation from experience. I am no mountaineer for sure. Not even a beginner in that category. I think it is important to honestly assess your skill set and its limitations. You can get yourself into some pretty deep doo doo if you have not made that walk through your mind and identified areas that need improvement or development. How long a beginner? Forever if you don't do that!