Expedition hikers

Expedition hikers – hiking in extreme places and under extreme conditions, where quitting is not an option

By Frits Ahlefeldt, Hiking.org

Drawing of two expedition hikers, in extreme weather
Expedition hikers, mastering the extreme

Hiking in remote locations, to the top of the highest mountains, around Alaska or across wind blasted deserts. Expedition hiking is one of the most extreme kinds of hiking. It is a place where you need to be able to survive, with what you know, and what you got, like you where out in space

Expedition grade gear

Expedition hikers care more about if their hiking gear is easy to repair and long lasting, than its weight. Expedition tents, cooking gear and clothes are much heavier, than the (as expensive) ultra light, thin stuff the ultra race hikers use.  Because expedition hikers most often can’t rely on a support team to step in and replace things, or get them out if something goes wrong.

Know-how, stamina and persistence

Expedition hikers combine a number of abilities and skills that it takes many years to master. Knowing both the techniques, the limits of the gear and the alternative options if something fails. But maybe most important, expedition hikers need to know how to keep sharp and keep going, even though the going gets worse than unbearable.  And even if it means you have to let go of what you know and what you thought you should, and were able to.

Dyke trails against extreme weather

Creating new types of hiking trails to protect us from climate change

Drawing and text by Frits Ahlefeldt

Drawing of a dyke climate coastal climate trail
Climate trails are both good for us, for taste, for biodiversity and for protecting against extreme weather and flooding

There is a lot of things to like about climate trails, they can give more people better access to nature, help thrive, health and active lifestyle and wild food can be grown along them, for everybody to enjoy. And climate trails can also stop storm surges under the extreme weather, predicted to hit coastal areas all over the world, much more often in the future

Extreme weather often means extreme water

Extreme water can come from several places

By Frits Ahlefeldt, Hiking.org

Drawing of different sources of extreme water, from above, from the ground, from the sea and from inland
Flooding by extreme water from above, from inland, the ground or / and the sea

We need to know more about extreme water to protect our communities, cities and trails. Basic is that the water most often come from one or several of sources simultaneously:

  • Water from above – extreme snow and rain can flood a place sudden and fast.
  • Water from below – when water rise from the ground the result can come sudden or slow and have devastating consequences, rising ground water often cause mud-slides and even make houses pop out of the ground. Worse – there is nowhere the water can drain off to. So the effects can be long lasting and are very difficult to prevent
  • Water from the sea – Sea surges and storm floods can cause huge tsunami like waves, that can destroy and cause destruction and erosion in hours, that under normal weather would take many years
  • Water from the landscapes and rivers – places can be flooded from extreme weather days away, as rivers rise and the water start pushing through the terrain, destroying anything that stands in its way

Coastal trails, green villages and climate change

Building coastal communities, resilience and health at the same time

Text and CreativeCommons drawing by Frits Ahlefeldt

Drawing of a green coastal village in extreme design
Extreme green coastal village illustration by Frits Ahlefeldt

The coastal areas are challenged by climate change, both from rising sea levels and from new magnitudes of extreme weather that can cause more damage to coastal areas in a few hours than many years of normal weather. Building a new type of coastal hiking trails can help both villages thrive, protect against climate change and support better thrive, health and life quality for both locals and visitors

In the old days locals would walk the coastline on well build trails in bad weather, looking out for both ships in trouble and signs of less friendly pirates or other approaching the coastlines.  Those rescue and coastal trails have helped protect the local villages against threats coming from the sea side throughout history.

Today the same trails can be upgraded to work as a guard and defense against the effects of climate change. This can be done in multiple ways, but there is a few basic things that will be part of any coastal trail that can also protect against flooding.

The basic concept is to combine coastal trails with dykes in sensitive places, that can stop the waves from reaching inland. The good thing about combining the dyke with a hiking trail is that local hikers will come aware of any weakened points in the dyke on their walks, and can help both to report (using simple phone apps )  and keep the dyke in good condition.

Making this kind of climate defense will  empower and help build local communities so the locals will be able to take action in critical situations and not be left behind, waiting for uniformed professional outsiders, without any local knowledge, to eventually arrive and try to rescue them from the water.

Keeping the coastline and coastal trails in the commons

Another good thing about combining coastal trails with climate change defense is that these public access trails will keep the critical coastal areas closest to the sea in the commons, so that everybody can enjoy walking along the sea and get all the health benefits of this activity – and at the same time it will make it possible to avoid that the water will break through at any ill kept, not monitored, private property under a storm. Making it possible for the water to break down the defense and reach far inland from just a single small gap.

Climate trails – a cheap solution building up local strengths and communities

Protecting the  land with such climate coastal trails could be one of the cheapest and most efficient ways of securing huge land areas from storm flooding and protect them against the changed and more extreme weather patterns that experts believe will hit coastal areas hard in the near future.

And it would not only be something that would benefit the local communities under extreme circumstances, but it would also make these coastal places richer, healthier and more welcoming to visitors all the other days.

Hiking between green villages

Building green communities by walking

drawing of a green village in letters
Green village with hikers illustration by Frits Ahlefeldt, CreativeCommons license

Text and CreativeCommons drawing by Frits Ahlefeldt

Walking can build up local, sustainable communities by connecting them along foot trails as a linked network of green villages. Something that benefits both the environment, locals and visitors (and  tourism)

Whenever and wherever we build trails we strengthen local communities and relationships. People start to know each other and appreciate the places they live and visit more when they can get around on foot, meeting, and experiencing  their local villages in new ways.

At the same time people will use their cars less often, prefer to shop more locally and start buying more from the farmers they now know building new relationships through the new trend that is known as “relational eating”.  In this way building a network of foot trails can strengthen villages, turn them more green, less polluting and much nicer to live in and visit.

This is something that not only strengthen the villages but also the surrounding landscapes as people starts to relate to the landscapes, visiting and walking between local villages.

In most places this is easy, as many of the old trails often still exists, from time before the cars took over. So one of the best ways to build better local communities  is to (re-) connect the local farmers, plazas and marked squares along trails between the villages, connecting them in a sustainable network of  thrive, made simply by walking.