Island Life The DaIly News, Fiday, June 1, 1997 23
Take a hike for the health of it
During Anne Golden's first
political try for the Senate, she
organized hikes as part of her cam-
paign instead of the regular fried
fish and johnny care parties at the
beach. At one of her hikes, a person
said to me, "Olasee, it would be
great to form a "hiking club." To
me, hiking is a natural way to see
the Virgin Islands environment.
Hiking also makes a lot of sense in
today world because we live in a
Stress seems to have become the
buzzword of the 90's and will con-
tinue to be a major factor in the way
we handle our problems. For the
past few years, many companies in
the United States and elsewhere in
the developing world have started
recreational programs for employ-
ees to combat stress. In fact, some
companies' recreation activities are
As with the home, the work
place is also stressful. You know,
the pressure of getting something
done before the deadlines, personal-
ity conflict between some individu-
als on the job, and the list goes on.
Psychologists have found out that
turnover has slowed in businesses
that have implemented recreational
activities for workers.
Research also shows that pro-
ductivity has increased and employ-
ees feel better about themselves. On
the local level, Ms. Shirlese Taylor,
senior accounting/buman resources
liaison at the Virgin Islands Indus-
trial Park on St. Croix contacted me
a few weeks ago about conducting
hikes for employees.
Ms. Taylor implemented a pro-
gram at the Industrial Park whereby
employees are encouraged to walk
daily around the park complex and
hike at least once a month. She is
also thinking seriously about form-
ing a hiking club at the Industrial
Park which would be the first of its
kind for a company in the Virgin
Islands. Employees at the Industrial
Park know that hiking is a great
way to exercise. You even do not
have to spend money at a local gym
to keep in shape.
Hiking is not only a good physi-
cal therapy, but also spiritual by
putting you in touch with nature.
Can you imagine as dawn approach-
es, a white-tailed tropical bird sig-
nals his companion with a pre-flight
posture. Then, with a few quick
steps and powerful downstrokes of
his long wings, he leaps into the air,
trailed by four others of his kind.
This is the kind of adventure
hikers see in nature that can never
be seen from your car window. On
hikes especially in the mountains of
St. Croix, you can feel and breathe
the fresh air and see nature at its
best. Annually and Will Bays are two
special places where you hike from
700 feet above sea level down to
the coast. You see, when you hike,
you will discover the joy of walking
for hours not to mention the incred-
ible sense of accomplishment.
However, the most important
thing to consider when planning a
hike is footwear. Feet are your
transportation, therefore walking
shoes or hiking boots are important.
Open-toe shoes would not do, but
your running shoes or high-top type
athletic shoes will do fine. Short
hikes and smooth terrain, or walk-
ing shoes in good condition are
fine. For long hikes, drinking water,
sandwiches, or high energy snacks
Clothing should be loose and
comfortable. A hat, sunglasses if
needed, first aid supplies, camera,
binoculars, and other items that you
think are important should be in
your backpack. For hiking through
forest trail areas like on St. John or
on the northwest side of St. Croix a
knowledge of plant identification is
important. Some plants are poi-
sonous on contact by absorption,
ingestion, or inhalation.
The cowitch vinelike plant that
has oval leaflets in groups of three
and hairy spikes with dull purplish
flowers are poisonous. The seeds are
brown with hairy pods. Contact with
this pod and flowers causes irritation
and blindness if it gets in the eyes.
Yet, this plant can be used medici-
nally if you know what part to use.
Fruits of some plant species are
also poisonous like the manchineel
trees that grow along our coast. The
same for insects and other animals
that you are not familiar with.
If one is interested in forming a
hike club, you can contact Ameri-
can Hiking Society at (301) 565-
6704. Leave No Trace Inc. (800)
332-4100, The Sierra Club, (415)
977-5630, Buteau of Land Manage-
ment (202)452-7794, Outdoor
Recreation Coalition of America
(303) 444-3353 or the web site
"Outdoorlink" at http://.www.oca.
corn is a place to start on the inter-
net for hiking information.
Olasee Davis, who has a master
of science degree in range manage-
ment and forestry ecology, is a St.
Croix ecologist, activist and writer.