The Great Skirt Hike

Through Twitter I was introduced to a hiking team of two women (very funny women) who have set goals for a healthier lifestyle which will also enable them to complete a dream hike to Machu Picchu, an ancient city built by the Incas at 8000 feet above sea level on a mountain ridge above the Urubamba […]

Written By Clayton Kessler

On October 7, 2009

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Through Twitter I was introduced to a hiking team of two women (very funny women) who have set goals for a healthier lifestyle which will also enable them to complete a dream hike to Machu Picchu, an ancient city built by the Incas at 8000 feet above sea level on a mountain ridge above the Urubamba Valley in Peru.

Before you read Beth and Jills’ humorous interview below, here are a few of their quotes from their hiking website.  You can also follow them on Twitter.

“Having a goal of losing weight is stupid.”

“There is less of a chance of falling off the wagon because our not-stupid goal involves a punishing 4-day climb and expensive (and probably non-refundable) plane tickets.”

“This is not for charity, for our breasts, or for the children. This is an 100% selfish endeavor.”

“Our training isn’t even that extreme. We’re giving ourselves a year. It’s more of a test of our ability to STICK TO THE M-F-ing plan than our ability to hike Machu Picchu without an oxygen tank. This is about overcoming apathy and ADD and making changes to our lives that we will truly live with. Forevah.”

How and where were you introduced to the outdoors?

Beth: I was raised in East Tennessee, in the foothills of the Smokey Mountains. My mom (also an Appalachian native) let me eat dirt and run around in the woods as a child, which gives me a certain degree of comfort, freedom and a connection back to those simpler, but perhaps not so tasty times.

Jill: Every summer my parents shipped me and my sibs off to sleep-away camp. My fondest childhood memories and all my “firsts” took place at camp…that’s first kiss, first cigarette, first beer and a few other first things unmentionable in the blogosphere. I’d go for eight weeks and then would cry all the way home when camp was over. It was at summer camp that I learned the outdoor skills necessary for survival on The Great Skirt Hike.

What has been your favourite hiking / biking trail or outdoor area?

Beth: I love anything with waterfalls, but Vickery Creek is probably my favorite so far. The creek powered a mill back in the 1800’s, and there’s a cool spillway dam, which pretends to be a waterfall and has a great little place to dunk your head when it’s hot out. It’s a beautiful escape from the city – just about 30 minutes from downtown Atlanta.

Jill: My favorite hike so far was the East Palisades Trail along the Chattahoochee River in north Atlanta. The Palisades trails feature expansive views of the River. For both visitors and residents alike, when thinking of Atlanta it’s easy to forget that “a river runs through it”. The river hikes are challenging and beautiful with trails that feature many nooks and crannies if you want to stop for a bit and take a swim or just enjoy the view.

Please share an outdoor story related to one of the above areas.

Beth: Our hike on the Cherokee Trail at Stone Mountain marked the first time anyone in our crew of social misfits joined us. We took dorky pictures and videos and had a lot of “running with scissors” moments as we scaled the rocks. The summit at Stone Mountain is pretty amazing, especially when you get there with friends.

Jill: After one of our first hikes to the top of Stone Mountain, a/k/a The Rock, we were walking down to the parking lot and there stands a man in blue medical scrubs. As we got closer I noticed that this man was totally hot and he smelled awesome. As I passed him, almost on reflex, I said, “you smell so good!” He said “thank you”. Then Beth and I spent at least 20 minutes talking about how the guy smelled and how his scent gently wafted through the air and how gorgeous he was.

Beth: Seriously, that guy smelled so good, it’s like it was his special gift. We still talk about it from time to time.

Have you ever been lost in the wilderness? If so please describe this adventure and any lessons learned.

Beth: I’m going to let Jill handle this one.

Jill: I proudly say, “YES”! There’s this thing called “JPS”, the Jill Positioning System. The JPS is flawed on city streets and highways. The only time my JPS works is out in the woods. Beth can manage the city, but the BPS does not work so well out in the woods. Usually, between the two of us, we can find our way out. This one time, we were totally lost on one of the Chattahoochee River hikes when the trail pretty much ended. We found ourselves hiking along huge rocks and sides of cliffs…not at all how the trail was described. We eventually figured that the best way out would be to climb straight up the edge of the cliff and meet up with the trail. I was so proud of us when we got ourselves back on the trail. For my birthday my friends all chipped in and bought me a GPS for trails (and geocaching which we’re totally looking forward to.) Lost NO MORE!

Can you share any unique encounters with wild animals? (the city has some pretty wild animals as well)

Beth: No wild animals, but we do carry Swiss Army Knives (from Switzerland) just in case.  We also do a lot of walking in downtown Atlanta which sometimes has more aggressive predators than the woods.

Jill: There was this one time we were at Stone Mountain and a bird crapped on me. It was wild.

If not previously mentioned, have you ever completed a thru-hike or multi-day backpacking trip and what nuggets of wisdom did you glean from it?

Beth: We would be in the advanced beginners league if there were hiking competitions (are there hiking competitions?). The Great Skirt Hike is our approach to living healthy – which includes cross training and eating healthier. Our ultimate goal is to climb Machu Picchu and enjoy the hike – so there will be multi-day backpacking in the near future as we prepare.

What is your favourite outdoor website?

Beth: I don’t have a favorite yet. The Backpacker Magazine site is cool and I aspire to be awesome like that someday. But it’s a little intimidating to the newbie looking for a little advice. I like the Livestrong site – it has something for every level of experience, videos, forums, a good calorie management system and lots of info on other stuff if you are cross training.

Jill: I like REI, Slackpacker and GA State Parks. The Georgia State Park site is very useful and informative. I like REI because they have stuff and I like stuff and shopping for stuff. And slackpacker…well who can’t get behind a hiking site called “slackpacker”? They just seem cool like us.

What is your favourite outdoor hiking gear store?

Beth: I love Outdoor Divas, and I want a Nu-Muu desperately.

Jill:  There is only one outdoor hiking gear store…REI…my Zen temple.

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How To Light A Fire Without Matches

Step 1.

Fluff the fatwood by scraping the stick with the edge of your striker. If a hunting knife is available, use the BACK of the blade to fluff.

Step 2.

Practice getting a spark to land on the pile of fluffed fatwood by using your ferro rod and the edge of your striker.

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