Andy Kerr

Conservationist, Writer, Analyst, Operative, Agitator, Strategist, Tactitian, Schmoozer, Raconteur


Suggested Citation: Kerr, Andy. 2000. Oregon Desert Guide: 70 Hikes. Seattle: The Mountaineers Books. p. 25.

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If you're not in shape, get so before you visit the Oregon Desert. Backcountry walking requires basic fitness.

What's your average walking speed? With day pack? With backpack? If you don't know, take time to find out before you hit the Oregon Desert. The mileage, elevation change, and terrain are noted for each exploration, but you must estimate the time and decide whether the route is easy, moderate, or strenuous for you. How many miles can you (and your party) walk in a day, both comfortably and uncomfortably? Remember, the air is thinner, as you may be hiking a mile or more higher in elevation than at home.

As you walk, pace yourself. Remember the tortoise and the hare.

Of course, you need good walking shoes. This guide doesn't insist on "sturdy boots." The right shoe varies for each individual. Some need the arch and ankle support of the sturdy boot. The heaviest "boot" the author ever uses is a boot-like cross-trainer. These can be waterproofed, but you should also carry dry socks. However, what works for someone else's feet may be podiatric hell for another's. Only you and your feet can know. If you are a new hiker, practice in all kinds of shoes and socks, after having read up on the subject (see Recommended Reading).

Though the author has quite nice legs, he never walks in shorts in the desert. Walking in ankle- to waist-high sagebrush and other scratchy vegetation calls for long pants. Trails are rare.

Just as in town, as you walk, pay attention. Loose rocks on talus slopes can be quite treacherous.