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Following in his Footsteps

Hiking in Winter Requires Teamwork
Hiker Follow Each Others’ Footsteps to Save Energy in Snow

One of the keys to efficient hiking in more arduous winter conditions is energy preservation and I’ve found that you can tell if a group is working well together when everyone places their boots in the footsteps of the hiker in front of them, packing the snow a bit better for the next hiker in line. You can observe this process in its purest form when breaking trail in snowshoes or kicking steps up a steep slope. There’s an aesthetic simplicity to it that I find appealing.

The one year anniversary of my father’s death is coming up in a few weeks and I have been thinking about him again when I have been hiking in the mountains. I feel close to him, especially above-treeline, surrounded by a sea of white snow and the high peaks. Like me, my Dad loved the mountains and their snow-covered majesty. He loved basking in the sun on an alpine mountain top and gazing at the high peaks surrounding him. I think those moments provided him with a deep sense of well being and peace.

When I reflect on my father’s memory, I think about the ways in which he shaped my life. Despite my father’s many accomplishments and honors, a successful marriage and family, he led a very simple life based on a foundation of hard work and helping others. While we differ on the methods we’ve employed, I feel those two values have been the guideposts of my life as well. Where he led, I followed, in his footsteps.


  1. Excellent post Philip! A great tribute to who sounds to have been a great man. You have done commendably and I have no doubt from getting to know you, though it may be only through your posts, your father has every reason to be very proud. I don’t think it is inconceivable that you can get a good feeling for who a person is through such a medium so I believe my assessment to be most accurate. Thanks for sharing it….I too had a father is miss dearly so I understand how you feel.

  2. I say a little prayer of thanks on every hike – to my mom who taught me to love the outdoors, to God who’s made me strong enough to be able to hike and to the earth which I love and which gives me strength & comfort every time I’m out there!

  3. Beautiful reflections – thank you for sharing.

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