Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Cross-country adventures on peg stilts

I have been stilt-walking for fun for around 35 years, firstly on poor home-made pegs and later on various makes of bought ones. I first kept a record of my adventures in 2005. I bought 2 pairs of aluminium peg stilts from Albert & friends Circus in 2002.  They are 20 inches & 36 inches high. These records now follow:-

November 9th 2005 Flights of steps/stairs
There have been various messages on other tribes about handling steps or stairs where the steps are not against a wall, there are no hand-rails or no-one on the ground to help. From experience I can mount stairs quite easily on 20in pegs although it takes a lot of effort. On 36in pegs it was more difficult but still possible. I found I had to take frequent rests to avoid loss of balance caused by fatigue.
Coming down is far more difficult. I have found that the safest way is to come down sideways with the lower stilt 2 steps lower than the higher one. You then take one step at a time so that the stilts never cross - quite easy on 20in pegs but on 36 in pegs it is much more difficult especially trying to plant the lower stilt in the safest place. Then you only have to worry about your forewards/backwards balance.
Any other suggestions please???
1st reply
At the end of the Bolder Boulder 10K, you enter the stadium to cross the finish line, then to exit you have to climb the stairs to the top of the bleachers! After a hilly and occasionaly windy 10K, this steep climb is a bit of a challange. And when reaching the top of the bleachers, to complete your exit, you must now go down a set of stairs! If I am especialy tired, I'll ask to take someone's hand., which is a great help.
2nd reply
Confidence, baby, confidence.
It's mostly about your balance fore/aft,
so stay over your pegs and take it slow,
lift your feet a bit extra
and 'kick' the step in front before you set the tip.
You'll get a deeper step on the tread.
I do stairs without handrails or assistance,
down is always sketchier but same tricks apply-
tap your 'heel' before you set the tip and stay tall!
(don't crouch over)

November 10th 2005 Ambitions
I have an ambition to be able to go anywhere on 20in pegs that I could go on walkabout without stilts. The list includes sand and rocky sea shores, ice & snow, muddy footpaths, steep hills, flights of steps or stairs and possibly even rollerskates. Does anyone have any ambitions that they could share with me?

November 22nd 2005 Professionals versus Amateurs
To my mind, there are two kinds of stiltwalkers here in the UK and I can only assume that it is the same across the pond. Professional and amateur. The difference being those who are paid for what they do and those who are not.
As soon as an amateur gets paid for even one small gig he/she must then be considered professional.
In an ideal world I feel (and I am open to argument) that there should be a guild of stiltwalkers where all performers are registered. In this guild it should be laid down that all professional gigs be registered and advertised and where possible amateurs should be allowed to appear in support and unpaid at these gigs to gain experience before possibly turning professional. It should be an unwritten rule that amateurs do not perform where there are no professionals (i.e. professionals are given the chance to make a living before amateurs are invited) unless it happens to be a charity, educational etc., and everything else should be professional first - after all they need to make their living from the job.
Of course on gigs such as parades and charities where no payment is made, professionals would be allowed to perform alongside amateurs for no payment.
We should all get along together with the guild sorting out any problems along the way.
Now there are the thoughts of someone with 40 odd years of professional/amateur co-operation experience in other fields of entertainment (railway preservation & offshore sailing). This system works elsewhere so why not for stilts????

20th December 2005 Slippery Obstacles
We have all encountered ground surfaces that are really too slippery to stilt on. Most people seem to have a strong leg and a weak leg and it is the weak one which often will slide and cause a fall. A colleague on another site has suggested that after working at a night club with wet and slimey floors, he found that since he was just employed as we welcome feature handing out free beer tickets he could strap his stilts to the legs of his spotters using wide velcro. Then if he had to move around, 3 people moved with only 4 legs. He also found that in the dark no-one noticed and on his 4ft pegs he could stand still all night while appearing to be a clever stilt-walker.
Has anyone any other suggestions for combatting slippery floors short of refusing to work on such surfaces?

December 26th 2005 Deep Water
Had some snail-mail from a stilter who uses 36inch wooden pegs. He lives in the highlands of Scotland where the telephone is miles away and so no internet. He has asked if anyone has tried walking through deep water. He says that his pegs want to float so are difficult to keep vertical. Deep water plus fast flowing river is even more difficult. He wants to try my aluminium ones to see if it is any easier since he needs to cross this deep water to get to the road and the slime on the ford is just too slippery to stilt on at all. Any suggestions???
1st reply
hey i would suggest using weights. Like ankle or wrist weights. Heck even some 1-3 pound fishing weights would work I think. I have never tried to walk in water but this sounds like an interesting idea.
2nd reply
I stilt walk in the ocean. I use aluminum stilts though, so they don't float. It's not easy, but it's easier than most people would think. He can probably do it fine (how fast is the river though?).
Floating stilts... sounds like wearing water wings on your feet eh?
3rd reply
I would think that metal stilts would be easier than wood since wood would always try to float. I gather the river is very fast flowing and the ford is very smooth concrete with a thin layer of green slime which makes the ford seem like ice and hence unwalkable. So the deep water either side of the ford is the safe and probably only alternative. I agree that aluminium pegs would be easier.
4th reply
In 1864, when the Great Farini aka William Hunt, tried to stilt walk across the river rapids above the Niagara Falls, he use iron or steel tipped wood stilts and a hand held pike. After stilt walking the river some 700 feet, more than halfway across, one of his stilts got stuck in the rocks. Desperate after failing to become unstuck, he snapped his stilt and managed, barely, to make it to Robinson Island. His stilts were "about 6 foot long and made of ash poles fastened into two shafts of steel, which were pointed at the bottom to stick into the riverbed. His lower legs and feet were strapped to the wood. Most of the stilts would be beneath the surface of the rapids (which were at least five feet deep) and at a distance he would appear to be walkin on water." This was a repeat of a stunt reportadly accomplished by two Iroquyois Indians in 1732.
This is from the book "The Great Farini, the High-Wire Life of William Hunt" by Shane Peacock. 1995. I "high-ly" recommend it!

January 7th 2006 Stilt-skating
I have been watching some wonderful stilt-skating on ice by Russian skaters
I have tried stilt-skating with 20inch pegs on quad-skates but my balance or concentration is just not good enough and after 10seconds or so I always end up horizontal often almost doing the splits on the way down and with skates attached, I have to take the stilts off to get upright again. When going cross-country, If I fall, a nearby tree is all that is required to get vertical again but on stilts and skates this is not possible.
On peg stilts on quad skates it is easier to stand still than to move, but even standing still the amount of concentration required to stop either skate from launching into oblivion is just too much for me to handle and a fall from this set up is both very quick, sudden and heavy. I just cannot see how it is achieved by anyone.
Any suggestions

January 7th 2006 - Stilts in the circus
I have heard but not seen any pics of some circus schools who teach stilt-walking on a walking/rolling globe. Thinking about this, I wonder about the size of the globe and which diameter is easiest to use. Perhaps one of the giant globes used by unicyclists would be best - who knows.
Secondly I wonder which design of stilt would be best. When globe walking it is taught that the more foot area used the easier it is to learn so many learners use bare feet to maintain best control of a globe. Therefore on stilts would specially curved feet of drywall or bigfoot stilts be easier than pegs? Also would height of stilt have a huge bearing on the ability to successfully globe walk? When attempting this would a shaped floor or channel be needed allow only forward and backward movement or would sideways movement make it easier to manage? Bill (Stretch) Coleman has a pic on his site of a stiltwalker on a globe going up a spiral ramp many years ago, I have a feeling that this might not have happened and may be a bit of "Artistic Licence".
The main question is - Is it possible to stiltwalk on a rolling globe and if so would it be possible to ascend an inclined ramp or successfully negotiate a see-saw they way some globe-walkers do?
Any thoughts welcome

January 10th 2006 Stilts in running water
Today I tried to cross a stream by way of a vehicle ford. This is made of smooth concrete and has a thin layer of green slime in places making it very slippery. My first step into the water was nearly my last.

January 11th 2006 stilts in running water
I followed that when I went to a river ford where I had previously fallen many times during the winter with deep (5 or 6 inches) of fast flowing water. Today it is very shallow with only about 1 inch of water on the smooth concrete with very little flow pressure. The concrete looks bare but is very slippery. I could feel the stilts trying to launch in various directions but I managed to resist their movement and stayed upright until the 2nd return crossing when everything went pear-shaped and when my right stilt slid away from me I was unable to correct it and went down. At the 2nd attempt on that bit of the ford I managed to stay upright although all the way back I could feel as though I was walking on ball-bearings such was the minute sliding movement with every step. I have never felt so insecure. I must try is again sometime ...

January 27th 2006 Cross-country
Having moved house from Edinburgh (Scotland UK) to Durham (England UK) my cross country stilting has been limited. However, yesterday I found a new footpath to attempt about 2 miles from home. The path is about a yard wide in most places through old woodland by the local river. It has several fairly short but very steep up and down slopes with protruding tree roots and a few areas of smooth permanently wet and slimey rock. In 2 places there are stretches of about 30ft where there have been old landslips and the path slopes very steeply to one side (This will be difficult if wet).
Yesterday was frosty so the ground was hard and I had very little problem using my 20inch pegs negotiating the route which is about half a mile long except for the areas of slimey rock. I would not try the 36inch pegs until I was sure of the terrain and I have practiced the route regularly and successfully on the 20inch ones. I would think that during times of rainfall, the path would become very slippery and interesting.
I am looking forward to the frost lifting and things getting damp so that I can pit my wits against anything that Mother Nature can throw at me.
Watch this space!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

January 31st 2006 Decorating on stilts
Just for a change, yesterday I tried painting a ceiling on 20in pegs. WOW!! Concentrating on something other than stilting is a whole new ball game. Loss of balance and regular doses of "the staggers" while concentrating on the job in hand, together with paint tin in one hand and a brush in the other --- result .....more paint on floor than on ceiling (Did you know that wet paint on protective sheets on smooth floor can be lethal?).
I need more practice but it was fun. In the middle of the room with nothing to grasp in an emergency is not easy with no free hands = several "almost but not quite" adrenalin moments.
Has anyone tried doing a job while on pegs? I know Bill (Stretch) Coleman cleans windows while on his stilts, but then he does not use pegs and he is not looking up above his head.
Is there an easy way to keep your balance while concentrating on something else or will it come with practice?
1st reply
Watch that paint!
Working over your head is hairy on pegs,
hence the durastilts for drywall and other working environs...
Be careful!
My reply
It may be hairy but its fun.
You see so many law suits from injured workers claiming compensation after falling off drywalls and so much legislation about the use of drywall stilts in a working environment that you would think that they just forget that they are on stilts. With pegs of course you can never forget that you are on stilts!!
It has been reported on many occasions that one of the main causes of falls with inexperienced peg stilters is a third party (be it someone talking to you, an overhead obstacle or something going on that attracts your attention) affecting your concentration that causes loss of balance, hence the fall.
I was just using this third party (i.e. the paint and the ceiling) as a means of affecting my concentration to practice multi-tasking so that I can do two things at once without loss of balance.
The next job is to remove old ceiling tiles from another ceiling. This will require a hammer and chisel - even more concentration to hit chisel with hammer - and probably even more hairy while on 24in pegs.
Foolish perhaps but its fun. I really do think that it is not as foolish as getting drunk when up high as many seem to do at BUrning Man!

January 31st 2006 Adventurous stilting - Ice
Having found that stilting on ice using any sort of rubber feet or even bare wood is near impossible, I decided to look into the problem. I found that Clopin The Clown regularly stilts on ice rinks. I contacted her and she told me that she uses nails for grip. I have experimented and have found a solution.
Taking a pair of my welded steel caps that I use for my quad-skate to stops, and drilling a hole in each corner of the bottom, then bolting in 5 short bolts and sharpening them to a point gives me superb grip on ice. The only trouble is that if you walk on concrete or any other road surface before going on the ice you may blunt the points so that they are not so sharp and may tend to slide around a little. Also you may damage the rubber matting used around ice rinks to protect skate blades.
It is all worth the effort if you can walk tall on sheet ice in safety when other people are falling around way below you. Feeling safer that an ice skater on ice is fun and a great feeling
This morning dawned bright and very frosty. I went out for some exercise with my 24inch pegs with the neoprenen-rubber quad-skate toe-stops as stilt feet. The ground was hard and several times walking was difficult where many footprints had churned up mud which had frozen hard. Eventually I came across an area of sheet ice and decided that not having attempted sheet ice and not practiced falling for some time, I should try it again. In the past when I tried walking normally smooth sheet ice, with not being able to keep vertical over both stilts, falls were all too frequent
Remembering all the falls I have had on ice, the adrenalin was pumping hard before I even got onto the ice, so I had to have full concentration. I decided to use very short steps - maybe only 4 or 5 inches at a time. I stepped onto the ice and brought the back leg forward to only just in front. I could feel the stilt wanting to slide but i put my weight on it and moved the next stilt forward. The adrenalin was pumping so hard that I was shaking all over, but I was still upright and a thrill ran though my body. I found I was looking down rather than forward but trying hard to concentrate fully and stay straight and vertical. I continued this very slow and methodical walk and after about 20 steps I came to the other side of the ice and stepped off onto firm ground. Success!!! Stilt-walking on sheet ice is possible if very slow with very short steps.
Having leaned against a tree for some time to regain composure and allow the adrenalin to subside. I headed for the return trip. Again full concentration and short, short steps. Again a successfull crossing. I was thinking "This is fun!!"
After another rest, I set off for a third attempt. I was about halfway across when a friendly dog bounded up to me. He did not even have to touch me, the break in my concentration was enough and I was down beside him while he licked my face. The fall was very quick, but I managed to get my knees together and landed on them and no damage done. The dog just carried on its journey, and I crawled to the nearest tree to haul myself vertical again. Now I know just how insecure rubber feet on ice can be. Having fallen once, the adrenalin was up again, but I decided that more practice was needed, so off I set again. This time I had several "nearly but not quite" moments especially where I had fallen because I had melted the ice slightly and I found that a thin layer of water on smooth ice is even more difficult that just smooth ice, but I made the crossing safely.
After several more successful crossings that dog appeared again, but this time he charged right into me and I went flat, knees together. No damage to knees but a bleeding chin and a few bruises - and the dog? Gone again.
I sat on a tree stump for some time to make sure that the dog had gone and then being on the wrong side of the ice, set off for the last time, on the way home -or so I thought! This time having stiffened up and being slightly un-nerved, my concentration was lacking and after only 3 steps one stilt took off sideways and I was down again. Use the tree again to get vertical I HAD to try it again, only to get to the point where I had gone flat and the water on ice was just too much to handle. Both stilts took off in opposite directions and I was on my knees again. This time, feeling tired, I took them off and walked home for a hot bath. Endurance about 2 hours. A fairly successful but also eventful morning ---- Cannot wait until tomorrow to try agin

February 1st 2006 Adventurous stilting - Ice
Bright and frosty again this morning. I was out at dawn. It was very cold and I took a while to stretch and warm up. The path down to the woodland I am using is quite steep and is tarmac surfaced. Yesterday it was no problem being dry. This morning was different with a thin layer of white frost. I did not realise that white frost on a smooth surface could be so slippery. With my 24inch pegs I was no more than 20 yards from my car before I was grounded when one peg launched into oblivion without warning. I think that I had not prepared myself for slippery frost and was walking normally and perhaps taking too long a stride because it was the front stilt that launched and I attempted the splits, lengthening my stride by some 4 feet. I crawled back to the car to use it to get vertical again, then set off again but this time concentrating fully on the path ahead and using much shorter steps. Even with the concentration I had many difficult moments, several times only staying vertical by stepping off the path onto the grass.
Back in the wood, I found the sheet ice again and proceeded to cross it taking the short, short steps as yesterday. I made several successful crossings before deciding to lengthen my stride. This was my undoing as I only managed 3 longer strides before I lost my footing and fell flat. I am now convinced that pegs on ice is possible so long as concentration is 110% and I take the shortest steps possible. I must practice taking longer strides to try and find the maximum length of stride possible without falling. I am thinking the 12 to 15 inches is all that is possible with my weight vertical over the stilts.
I then did several more crossings with the short steps and then headed home, finding the frosty footpath just as slippery going up as it was coming down.
An interesting morning with a lot to think about
1st reply
What about rigging up some sort of sleeve with serrated teeth you can slip on quickly when you're anticipating ice? Just a steel tube with holes on either side, combined with detent buttons near the ends of your stilt's feet should do it. Perhaps you enjoy the challenge of skill over engineering. Everyone has their reasons for doing various things. I like to figure out ways to make a process more efficient. (I'm also not too big on hitting the ice, as we've discussed)
My answer
The problem is that when you go cross-country you come across the unexpected and part of the thrill and my adrenalin rush seeking is overcoming the unexpected. My ambition is to be able to go anywhere on 20 inch pegs that I could go walking on the ground no matter how difficult the terrain might be. I already have spare steel caps to fit the stilts with sharpened bolts (1 in each corner and 1 in the middle) that I have used successfully and safely on an ice rink, but thanks for the suggestion anyway.
I can already go up and down very steep and slippery country paths in both wet and dry conditions, and coming upon sheet ice without warning is just another obstacle to successfully negotiate and to practice on.
Eventually I may pick up enough courage to go rock-hopping on some seaweed covered rocks along the beach - but not yet!!!!!!!!!!

February 3rd 2006 I learned about stilting from this
Transcribed from Larry Dobson's web site [www.stiltman.com]
HOW I TORCHED IN THE TORCHLIGHT PARADE

During Desert Storm, Mother of All Wars against the evil villain, Saddam Hussein, patriotic fervor was being whipped up by a large militant march in Seattle's annual Torchlight Parade. As a former Peace Corps Volunteer, I felt it my patriotic duty to make a protest statement as 11 foot tall Uncle Sam. I was leading a processional of Returned Peace Corps Volunteers wearing native garb and carrying the flags of the countries they served. I wore a pair of very heavy wooden stilts, strapped to my feet and hips, with large rigid shoes. (See enclosed picture, sam.jpg) By lifting off my toes and swiveling my hips, I was able to avoid tripping on irregular ground, but I could only clear a rise of about a 3". I had hoped to finish building my sleek new light-weight aluminum stilts, which solved this problem with articulated feet and slide extensions, but time ran out, and I figured city streets would present no insurmountable obstacles.
We set off under glaring streetlights between two military marching units, from the Seattle Center to Pioneer Square, a two mile walk, through packed crowds of revelers. They loved us! We were the only alternative to the cold surgical war machine. We had served our country making Peace, not War. At last we were getting public recognition and appreciation!
After awhile, I became rather giddy from the large cheering crowds, long walk and heavy stilts. When I realized that we had fallen behind the troops ahead, I quickened my pace to catch up, leaning boldly forward, rocking swiftly off my toes in long goosestep strides. Passing into a major intersection of several streets, I waved triumphantly to the huge crowd - it looked like thousands! As a performer, as Uncle Sam representing the best of his country, I was intent on personally engaging every one of them, on replacing the "Ugly American" image with a Peaceful, Loving alternative.
Suddenly, my clumsy wooden feet, 10 1/2 feet below my preoccupied brain, slammed into the Mother of All Road Turtles in mid-stride......time went into slow-motion........I tried every recovery tactic I knew, but I was plummeting to the concrete at breakneck speed! I couldn't bend at the knees, so I stretched to reach the ground with my hands, using my arms as recoil springs -- SPLAT! The crowd was stunned..........but not as much as my arms and wrists, which were in major shock. Medic-1 immediately came to the rescue and heroically whisked Uncle Sam off to the hospital, with siren wailing and long red-&-white striped legs sticking out the open ambulance door. How ignoble I felt! I had let down the Peace Corps; my bold Peace Offensive had flopped. Isn't that just like politics - one day you're looming large and invincible, the next moment you crash and burn!
No matter how I protested that they should leave me alongside the road to recover, the surgically-efficient crew leaped into action. They stifled my protests with an oxygen mask and plugged me into a bevy of monitors and quickly delivered a crestfallen Uncle Sam to the hospital emergency room, while curious nurses gawked at my extremely long legs protruding from the gurney.
After trying in vain to persuade the hospital to release me, while the befuddled nurse was away trying to find out what to do about Uncle Sam refusing to sign their forms, I ripped off the mask & probes, grabbed my stilts & hat, and dashed for freedom. After the shock wore off, I was left with a compression fracture in my left elbow, which totally healed in a couple of months. I quickly finished my new stilts, but I was never invited to participate in the Torchlight Parade again. Politics can be a downer. Oh well, been there, done that.....but I'd sure like to know if anyone captured it on film!
February 5th 2006 Stilts safety & falling
I have read in many places the many ways to so called "Fall safely". The general census of opinion is that on pegs of up to 36inches the most comfortable and least damaging when wearing heavy duty knee pads is to drop onto the knees and sit back onto the thighs, keeping the hands away from the ground. What do you think?
On duras, Big Foot or plasterers stilts is this still the best way to fall???
1st reply
I always try and find someone soft to land on. "Are YOU soft?!" In my experience, half the time, you are bouncing off the ground before you even realise you have fallen.
Seriously, it's a timing and control issue that i find I can only demonstrate to students. I don't like going to my knees, even with kneepads, so I kinda twist, tuck a knee and roll across the thigh onto the hip and back. way less impact.
My answer
I agree its all timing and control. However, on 20 in pegs with knee pads dropping onto my knees is the most comfortable, even when missing the top step of 3 or 4 steps and hitting the road at the bottom and having done it now maybe 200 times or more, I am yet to sustain even a bruise. Yet once when I fell sideways when I hit a patch of smooth black ice that I did not see, I got a badly bruised hip. The only problem I see is that the shorter the stilt, the quicker you hit the ground and the less time you have to attempt control. It also goes to say that the higher the stilt the longer time you have to control a fall, and the more time you have to get an offending stilt vertical and avoid a fall all together
It may be way less impact, but you are normally unable to protect with padding your thigh hip or back unless you are wearing the cumbersome Ice Hockey skaters protection. So I feel that a fall that way could be more damaging
2nd reply
I bought a pair of padded motorcycle shorts I wear under my levis. They aren't as thickas the hockey style, so definitely wouldn't help as much when slamming your hip or butt into mother earth, but my ass doesn't look rediculously large. Hmmm, vanity or hospital stay? Maybe I can find something that'sa compromise- I saw a site offering snowboard shorts, maybe that would be the way to go.
December 14th 2006 Adventurous stilting - Strong winds
This morning was blowing a gale so I headed out to a moorland (about 1,400 feet above sea level) where there is a wide footpath built on an old railway trackbed. When I got there the wind was blowing really hard across the path with strong gusts every few seconds. I would think that it was a comfortable 40 mph with gusts up to 60mph.
I put on my 20 inch pegs and set off along the path. The first quarter mile from the carpark is partially protected by fir trees which gave me a chance to get used to stilting in a cross wind, but at the end of the wood the path opens out onto high moorland with only heather growing and the wind threatening to blow me away. I progressed steadily leaning into the wind but having great difficulty staying upright when a gust caught me. After about 300 yards the path crosses a deep gully which is crossed by a wide wooden footbridge with smooth wooden decking. This I crossed without problem and carried on along the track for about a mile when it started to rain. I have found that strong cross winds I can cope with but horizontal heavy rain in that wind is a different problem so I turned round and headed back. Quickly getting soaked and having difficulty seeing due to rain on my spectacles, I battled back along the track finding that the wind had moved round a few degrees and it was now a head wind. When I got back to the bridge, the wood decking was now wet, and I found very slippery. Struggling to stay upright I took very short steps , attempting to keep the stilts as vertical as possible. Suddenley a huge gust hit me head-on and whipped the stilts out from under me and I went down heavily. A few seconds to get my breath back, using the railings I got upright again and carried on over the bridge slipping and sliding all the way, but managed to get off the bridge before another gust caught me. The path back to the car was now soaking wet and had turned from a good surface into a slippery mud surface. So the last half mile was extremely difficult to cope with. I experienced many "nearly but not quite" moments and was glad when I got back into the shelter of the trees.
Total distance on my new stilt feet about 3 miles. Total time just over 2 hours. One heavy fall but no injuries. If it stops raining I might try the 36inch ones this afternoon
December 16th 2006 Adventurous stilting - strong winds
It rained all the rest of Thursday and most of Friday but yesterday morning there was a hard frost but still a strong wind blowing. I went back to my moorland path and found a gate post high enough to be able to use to put on the 36inch pegs. I spent some little time getting used to the extra height while being sheltered from the wind by the trees and then set out onto the high moorland.
I found the extra height in the strong cross wind rather precarious. Much more difficult to maintain vertical stability but a lot of fun and much more time in which to correct a stagger before coming to the point of no return. I stood on a patch of smooth ice which was a puddle on Thursday without noticing it and the instant launching of that stilt nearly caused a quick fall but the puddle was just a couple of feet wide and the slide stopped when the stilt hit dry ground. I spent an hour struggling against the stong wind, but now feel much more confident with the higher stilts. I must use them more often
That is the end of my 2005 & 2006 records


2007

24th January - Adventurous stilting - Snow
I was out this morning on an old railway that is now a public footpath at 1400ft above sea level. There was a strong cross wind with driving snow - almost blizzard conditions. The path was icy with about 2 inches of snow on top. I used my 24inch pegs and stilted along the path for about 2 miles and back again. Staying vertical was quite a job due to the strong cross wind, but I managed it without mishap. I found that the snow compacted onto the stilt foot and turned to hard ice so that when I came across an area that was just frozen with no snow, the stilts slid uncontrollably (ice on ice) and nearly caused me to fall.
An interesting morning with a lot of adrenalin.
1st reply
This weekend, my 4 year old nephew wanted to see me walk on my stilts, so I strapped them on, and walked around inside a bit, then headed outside. We recently got a couple feet of snow, which has melted down to about 6 inches on the grass, and the sidewalks are clear. I walked up and down the sidewalk till I got bored, then I decided to go for it, and stepped into the snow. It was very unstable, and I had to make absolutely sure to pick my feet up so the ends of my stilts were clear of the snow before I stepped. I managed to stay upright for about 15 feet or so, at which point, I stepped back onto the sidewalk. Since I had just put my stilts on to show my nephew, I hadnt put my kneepads on, so I didn't make any further attempts. Maybe one of these days I'll try it again.

I've been stilting since September, on a pair of basic 2' wood stilts my friend built. As soon as the weather gets better, I'm going to try some of the hiking trails in the area. I'll let you know how that goes...
My answer
Super report. At last someone like me looking for adventure. Just a word of warning. Having stilted on snow, the snow tends to compact to ice on the stilt foot, then when you step back onto something hard and wet like a footpath the stilts will slide like you were ice-skating - good for adrenalin but no-good if showing someone how to do it.
Yes stilting on snow can be very unstable since you are not sure what sort of surface is underneath. Rather like my cross-country work, step on a layer of dead leaves and underneath can be lethally slippery wet smooth rock, mud or ice.
Keep the reports coming. It is good to hear from you

3rd February - New stilt bottoms
I have enjoyed a full year of adventurous cross-country stilting mostly on my 20 inch pegs - I do not get enough practice on my 36 inch pegs due to lack of high enough seats to use to put the stilts on. After a full year of stilting on many varied surfaces my old stilt feet (ex quad-skate toe-stops) have worn down and are almost smooth and no-longer flat. At one point due to lack of replacements I cut new treads into the rubber in an attempt to improve grip. However over the past month or so I have had many falls due to the smooth feet with virtually no grip left. So after probably around 200 hours use, they are in need of replacement. I made contact with the ex-manager of a closed skating rink who happened to have some stock of spares left over. I have purchased a selection of his quad-skate toe-stops and now have enough for years of heavy use. It will be good to stand on a flat surface again knowing that I have good contact with my new flat toe-stops as feet.
Now is the time to experiment with the new feet to see how they cope with the various slippery conditions that I encounter during my treks through the woods over the mud, wet dead leaves and slippery smooth rock.
My problem is that when I go cross-country, I encounter all types of terrain from smooth tarred roads and concrete steps, across smooth concrete fords with fast flowing water to steep and narrow woodland paths with ice, snow, mud, smooth wet rock and tripable tree roots to contend with. I do not think that there is a stiltfoot that will be suitable for all these different obstacles.
I have tried metal tips ( in this case 5 bolts sharpened to a point and case hardened for durability) and found they were good on ice and mud but filled up with snow which turned to a block of hard ice and gave quite a scary trip back to my car. I would think that screws would be similar in that mud or snow would compact between the screws and cut down the grip, and probably would wear down on hard surfaces. Any metal tip causes a jarring effect when walking on hard surfaces and causes painful knees
I am looking for something that gives comfort and support when on hard surfaces but good grip on poor surfaces. My skate toestops give me the comfort and support on hard surfaces, good grip on wood and concrete, flexible grip on steep hills. Good on snow but lethal on ice, wet rock and concrete fords.
I do not think that I will get a happy medium that gives average requirements over ALL terrain.
I will keep looking.

5th February - Adventurous stilting - Performing in the rain on a wooden stage
Found this Blog and thought it might be a good talking point:-
A Memory of Warsaw
This blog began when I returned from Poland in the fall of 2004, and while one part of myself slowly returns from the warm waters of Subic Bay, another has yet to depart from the soot-stained corbelled brickwork of the Baltic Sea.
I was in Poland, performing "Blue" with H2M Theatre and Stacja Szamocin. It was a very difficult work, as some of my previous entries will attest. And I'd just experienced, in quick succession, the ancient communities of Szamocin, Gdansk, Katowice, Krakow, Radom and Warsaw, and the Silesian Museum, and Auschwitz, and the Wyspianski Museum, and so very much more, all while touring a highly physical, deeply demanding work.
The show begins, and every one of us feels it, it's the Best and Bravest we'd ever done. The pitches were just right, the energy was electric, the audience was hushed with open-mouthed wonder, the colors and the fires were superb, the sun went down just as the first torches were lit, and the stiltwalkers drew gasps.

And Then.
One of them, the White Bird,
falls on her ass.

There is a horrifying moment, when time stops, like when you're at a stoplight in your car, with cars in front and on both sides of you, and you're watching a truck coming up in your rearview mirror and you can see them not-slowing-down, and you tense to do something when there's absolutely nothing to be done but brace yourself.

For an endless moment, everyone freezes.
And then, we do exactly what we're supposed to do.

We who are nearest get her back up on her stilts (3 1/2 footers), in character, and then we realize we're supposed to be afraid of her and we dash away right quick. Meanwhile, the Bird never dropped being the Bird even when she fell, and this, I'm sure, is what saved us. Afterwards, audience told us how they thought it was all choreographed, it was so smooth.

The moment passes. The show goes on. Another stiltwalker falls, and again we get her back up on her feet. ("Yeah, when I saw that, I figured it wasn't planned," the audience member told us.) At the curtain, the audience claps in time when they stand, and this ovation is our highest accolade.

After the show, we learn that the Ambassador was not in fact in the audience, merely his Deputy for Cultural Affairs. We also belatedly recognize the reckless folly of gravel alternating with slick, rain-wet stage surfaces for our battered but brilliant stiltwalkers. That very night our cast breaks up for home, the Poles returning to their village and their cities in the south, the Americans for home, or, in my case, Portland, Canada, Berkeley, Vermont and the Philippines.

20th April - Adventurous stilting - Woodland paths and open steps
Yesterday I enjoyed 3hours of cross-country stilting on several miles of woodland footpaths which I had recently discovered. Most of the area is yellow clay but being dry for some days, presented no problem. Even the steep hills were negotiated comfortably. I made a couple of vids with my cam-corder of me stilting the steepest hill I found. This morning I went back to the area hoping for more exercise. However there had been some rain overnight and the morning was overcast with a light drizzle. The footpaths had become slimy overnight and walking on the flat areas was very difficult with the stilts trying to launch in all directions, many slides only stopping when the stilt hit the grass at the edge of the paths. When I got to the steep hill, it looked ok. However the path was unstiltable being slimy to the extreme and at the first steep bit my right stilt launched sideways twice, only just recovering before launching a third time which I was unable to correct and I went down. The rain came on heavy so I cleaned my glasses before trying the path again. Getting to the same place I was unable to get up this short steep bit and fell several times before giving up.
I then went to a local carpark by a reservoir and practiced climbing and descending steps. These steps are under trees but in the open with nothing to hold on to. The steps vary in height from 3inches to 10inches with the upright of wood ex-railway sleepers. So the tread of each step starts with about 8 inches of extremely slippery damp wood before the safety of the normal ground. I spent an hour going up and down this flight of about 30 steps, finding coming down very difficult. Even coming down sideways I was fighting my balance at each step. I expect this to improve with practice. At the end of the hour I did a short film of my climbing and descending the bottom few steps just to prove I can do it. This can be found on You Tube . Just go to YouTube and do a search for 'lampwort' where you will find all my stilting vids. Laugh and enjoy - your comments no matter how wild, funny or encouraging are always welcome.

29th June - Adventurous stilting - Deep, fast flowing waterAfter days of heavy rain, I went to one of my favourite fords over a normally very shallow stream. Yesterday it was a raging torrent about 6 -8 inches deep in the middle with the approach road covered with deep wet sand. Using my 20inch pegs with new stilt feet I spent an exhilerating half hour wandering around in the deepest part of the ford, getting used to the unusual sensation of the force of the water trying to sweep the stilts from under me. Another problem I found was the fast moving water all around me was causing slight disorientation which affected my balance. I had many slides that threatened to send me swimming. All together another adrenalin pumping exercise with great fun and a lot of apprension, not knowing if I would be able to plant each stilt where I wanted. The force of the flowing water against the stilts made each step an adventure.
Another exciting and successful day with no falls. I am getting much better at controlling major stilt slides and launches, being usually able to recover from most without too much problem. The main causes of my falls now are if my recovery stilt plant launches a second or third time, or if both stilts launch together, then a fall is still probable.  Where I was out in driving rain on very slippery mud and one point was just too steep to find a safe step and after about 4 slides with my right stilt I had a fall. In dry weather this path is difficult being very steep but when wet it is impossible to stilt on - but I will keep trying.

27th December - Adventurous stilting - Sheet ice
It has been very frosty for some days so looking for adventure, I went to a flat area I know of where there is often smooth black ice. The site is a large ash carpark and I was pleased to find the ice there as expected. Getting up on the 20inch pegs with the new mountain bike tyre feet, I set off onto the ice and promptly fell flat. Using my car to get me upright again, I tried again using very short steps to keep the stilts vertical, but afer only about 4 steps I went down again. I then took off the bike tyre feet and went back to the quad-skate toe stops. I set off onto the black ice again using very short steps and managed about 30 steps before a gust of wind sent me flying. After a long crawl back to the car, I tried that again and managed to get right across the ice to safety. Coming back to the car I had gone about 20 steps when either through loss of concentration or a particularly slippery bit I fell yet again. Enough for there today. The result of that adventure is that although bike tyre feet may be good on mud they are impossible on ice. I must devise a way of changing the feet to suit the terrain about to be walked. Stats for today. Total time on stilts about 45 minutes. 4 falls no injuries

2007 reports end here

2008

2nd February - Adventurous stilting - Mud
After my successful stilting on sheet ice, today I went to the wood and found that the frost had gone overnight and so had the ice. This was replaced by an inch or so thick, yellow, clay-like mud. I was to find that this sort of mud can be worse than ice. I got down the tarred path into the wood and crossed the area where the ice had been. The path ahead was a dull yellow in colour but I did not expect what happened next. Walking normally I strode onto the yellow path and immediatly went flat having almost done the splits. I sat there for a moment wondering "What the Hell!!!!". As I crawled to the nearest tree I found that this yellow path was slimy to the extreme. Having hauled myself vertical I moved cautiously back to the path, placing a stilt gingerly on the yellow. I brought the other stilt forward and placed it just a couple of inches in front and put my weight on it. As soon as I did it started to slide sideways. I picked it up and replanted it on a slightly different patch, again put my weight on it and stiffening my muscles managed to stop its attempt to slide from under me. I twisted my foot to try and secure the stilt then brought the other stilt forward and placed it again just a couple of inches in front and almost at once I went down again as both stilts launched sideways without warning.
Having hauled myself upright again, I went back and tried again. This getting up and falling down continued for about 20 times. Then a man came along walking his dog and offered me a hand, but even with his support the stilts were sliding in all directions and several times I nearly flattened him also.
We decided today was not THE DAY and he continued his walk while I took to the leafy and grassy side of the path and headed home. Even here I had to be very careful as there were hidden tree roots and patches of slimy mud under dead leaves.
Back at the car I was very muddy all over, but nothing hurting and no damage done. Endurance about 2 hours over 20 falls with tons of adrenalin. Must try again tomorrow

3rd February - Adventurous stilting - Mud (continued)
Went to the wood again this morning. After heavy overnight rain everywhere was quite muddy. Got to the yellow clay path with a lttle difficulty, with stilts sliding a little at every step before finding solid ground. I shortened my stride to just a few inches and stepped onto the yellow clay - nerves jangling. First few steps were no worse than the rest of the path with the stilts sliding gently but easily recoverable. I managed quite well for about 100 yards finding that the extra water rather than thawing mud slime was making the mud walkable with care. However the path was level. After the 100 yards, there is a fairly steep incline. I got up it fairly easily and continued on the level for another 200 odd yards, sliding often but recovering well. Got to the fence at the end of the wood and decided against stilting through the field full of cattle. I rested for a while, had a drink then set off back.
Once again the path though slippery was walkable with care and I managed the 200 odd yards without any major problem but then came to the downward slope. Previous experience told me that going down hill is far more difficult than going up since you cannot see where you are planting the front peg when leaning back to maintain vertical balance. So how to do it? I decided on descending sideways so that I could see any obstacle or potential slippery bit. About halfway down the lower stilt launched without warning while the upper stilt was off the ground and I sank to my knees. Crawled back to the top and used a tree to get vertical again and tried the descent facing the other way. Again about halfway down I found myself on the ground having lost traction with both stilts at the same time. I repeated the process of getting vertical then tried going straight down having picked my route at the top. To my surprise I managed the descent without too much difficulty. Now brimming with confidence I set off back along the yellow mud. A bit too confident because as I lengthened my stride the mud took over and I took a heavy fall without warning. Hauling myself upright again, I was a bit shaken and with nerves jangling again and body shaking I gingerly stepped back onto the clay and very gently and with very short steps headed home without further mishap.
I learned about too much confidence from this morning.
Stats.  Approx 90 minutes up high, 2 controlled falls and one very heavy fall no damage done and looking forward to next attempt which will be next week

24th February - Adventurous stilting - Mud (continued)
After 3 weeks layoff due to horrible weather, I ventured into the wood this afternoon. After nearly 3 weeks of almost continual rain the river was running very high and the footpaths were very slimy. I put on the 20inch pegs in the carpark and set off for the wood again. I gingerly went down the fairly steep path which is tarred but covered with rotting leaves and a certain amount of mud. The stilts were sliding around but not more than a few inches each slide, so I had very little problem. I got to the yellow clay, stepped onto it with one stilt but could find no grip whatsoever. The stilt was sliding as though on ball bearings. So I turned round and headed for the alternative route which is lower down and closer to the river, and one which I have not tried as yet. I found the path quite narrow with the centre of the path several inches lower than the edges, once again with patches of yellow clay. With the 'U' shaped path, the stilts would only slide forwards or backwards unless I tried to plant one off-centre, then I found no grip at all. The path is fairly level for about 200yds then it climbs steeply for about 3 yds, over a rotting tree trunk and steeply down again. I managed the uphill quite well but the downhill was almost impossible with both stilts trying to slide forwards. After several 'almost but not quite' moments I was on the level again. Then I came to a flight of 6 uneven, slippery and narrow stone steps down to a stream bed with rushing water followed by another 8 similar steps up the other side. I paused and marked time while I examined the steps to decide the easiest or safest way down, not having tried to go down narrow wet rocky steps without assistance. When the time was 'now or never', I headed down the steps, one at a time and found that I managed quite well so long as I looked down and planted the stilt exactly where I wanted it. Going up the other side was no problem. I carried on for about another quarter of a mile until I came to the end of the wood, then sat on the stile for a rest. Distance in all about one mile. After a good rest I set off back but after about 300 yards a freak gust of wind caught me and to regain my balance I had to step off the path and promptly sank a full 20inches right up to my footplate. With one foot a full 20inches below the other foot, I was unable to recover and decided on a backwards fall onto the soft ground thus not sustaining any damage to my knees or muscles. I took the stilts off and had great difficulty in pulling the stilt out of the ground. Then walked back to the car since there was no-where near that I could use to put the stilts back on. An interesting day with lots of thrills and difficulties. Can't wait for my next trip.
Reply from Erik in San Francisco
We had a great time a couple of weekends ago. my daughter, who's 17, and another poweriser friend, who's 16 and I started off just bouncing down the main street of a cute town near us when I saw a gravel jogging trail leading under a bridge. We followed it and found ourselves climbing over logs, working our way up and down steep terrain, mud, etc. It was a kick in the pants, and very different than what I've been used to on these things. Much like mountain biking in that you have to look closer to where you are now, rather than where you will be in a few seconds. If you don't, where you will be is in the mud or the creek. Can't wait to do it again.
My reply
Interesting comments Erik. At last someone who understands my excitement of Cross Country Stilting. You will have to try the same route on pegs and report back. It would be good to compare experiences
2nd reply from Erik
Never done the peg thing, and don't have any. If I run into someone who has a pair, I'll trade for an afternoon.
Reply from Neph of Boulder, Colorado
I had my first real off-road stilting experience this weekend. The snow has finally all melted, and it was bright and sunny yesterday, so I headed off down the dirt trail near my house. I got bored after a little while, and decided to turn up a side path which headed up the steep hill nearby. At first, it was fairly easy going, just a narrow path with loose rocks. As the trail began to get steeper, it also got muddier. At one point, I hit a patch of steep slippery mud, and almost went down, but the trail was so steep, I was able to catch a nearby boulder, and kept myself off the ground. My girlfriend (no stilts) helped me get righted again, and up we went. I stopped to rest on a boulder after about 15 minutes, and then headed back down. When I got to the slippery part, I stepped off the path onto the grass, and bypassed the mud. The grass and loose rocks were tricky, but not as bad as the mud.

I'm still fairly new to stilting, but I've gone for hours on flat ground without a break. This totally kicked my ass within half an hour. I love it :)
I'm going to try to get up there and practice once a week or so. I've got lots of hiking trails nearby to explore.

Roy, you must be in insanely great shape if you do this regularly. When you fall how do you get up by yourself?
My reply
Hi Neph. Great to hear from you. Now there are 2 of us enjoying the challenge of off road stilting. For most of my cross-country work I use my 20inch pegs. With those, when I fall, I can use a gatepost, wooden fence, drystone wall or tree to haul myself upright again. I would think that over the past 3 years I have fallen around 200 times and have only once failed to not get up again. Because having fallen and having got up again, I have got to go back to where I fell and have another go. Knowing that when another fall is very likely causes the huge increase in adrenalin that I enjoy so much. You are wrong, I am not fit. I am an overweight 58 yr old who is trying to get fit. I am not so good on my 36inch pegs and although going on gentle cross-country routes, I have yet to try any steep or slippery ones, so as yet I have not fallen off these beauties - but I am sure that the time will come when I will. Being much higher I make a more concerted attempt to stay vertical. On the 20inch ones if I get into real difficulty, it is easy just to drop onto my knees, then after a rest I can get up and go back and try again.
 What height are you using for your cross-country experiences?
You must go back to the point where you "stepped off onto the grass to avoid the mud" and try the mud. Attempting to stilt on mud with the stilts trying to slide away from you is exhilarating - just like trying to stand still on sheet ice!
Why not get your girlfriend to learn stilting? Then you can go cross-country together and in difficult places use each other for support.
I like you pix of your mountain hiking. Just think of the adrenalin if you were up there on stilts. The Guinness Book of Records only shows 2 reports of mountains climbed on stilts and they were both hand-held stilt climbs. I think that you being younger than me and probably fitter could get your name on the record books climbing a mountain on strap-on stilts. It does not need to be a high mountain. The first record was on Snowden in Wales which is just about 4,000 feet high.
What do you think?
Keep posting your experiences and we might get some more converts
2nd comment from Neph
Hahaha.. thats funny... Somebody else had told me the same thing about the world record. If I get good enough on stilts when going off-road, I will try for a world record. :) I'll keep you posted.
My girlfriend has tried stilting, but is not confident enough to go off-road just yet.
I have a pair of 24" pegs made from 2x4s, so they are kinda heavy. I'm working on building a set out of aluminum, and I'm going to try to make them adjustable.
My reply
Try 2x2 ins knot free hardwood. You will find them lighter than 2x4s. and 2x2s are quite strong enough for any weight of stilter.
If going for aluminium try alum pipe 40mm diameter and get the welder to weld the footplate over the stilt then have the leg support attached to the side. That way you keep your weight directly over the stilt (unlike mine with the footplate tacked onto the side of the pipe which will always be unstable on difficult ground). Using 40mm dia pipe also gives you quite a large stiltfoot which is essential on soft ground.
Regards your girlfriend, I would consider around 10hours on the flat before she tries cross country. She needs to feel that the stilt is part of her and her body needs to accept naturally the different centre of balance and the extra effect of gravity. It takes time and hours of practice but it comes naturally to most people. She just has to get the practice in. She is getting there when she can sit and put the stilts on and when ready just stands up and walks away without looking for balance first or staggering for a few steps.

3rd March Adventurous stilting - Winter Madness
I am still out about about on stilts, even though it is winter. We had the gales - great fun up on the moors on the 3ft pegs. Its amazing how far you can lean off the vertical into a gale when an extra 3ft off the ground!!!!
Conditions for the 20inch pegs were fine for me except that the steep hills are unstiltable when very wet as there is just no grip at all and when I try I spend most of the time flat on the ground getting muddy all over, and struggling to get vertical again only to lie down again almost immediatly. We also had snow and ice. I find that when on snow you get a build up of hard packed snow on the stilt foot which turns to ice. Makes life very interesting and unpredictable when you get onto a patch of ice! A bit too dangerous for the 3footers, but great fun and plenty adrenalin on 20inches! But the snow only lasted 2 days, then we had heavy rain with strong winds. Another adventure a good mixture of slush, ice and frozen slush all covered with a layer of rain water. The wind was pushing the stilts around on this combination and I had no control over them. Like skating on stilts! Very, very difficult to stay upright with many collapses as the stilts shot out from under me, again on the 20inch ones.
I find winter a new ball game with all sorts of unexpected hazards, difficulties and adventures to attempt, fail at (or fall at), attempt again and possibly overcome - and sometimes after several falls decide that particular problem is unstiltable. It is a great pity that the snow & ice does not last long enough to have several days falling around as I am sure that with plenty practice I could do much better on sheet ice than one step and fall flat!
I have decided that strong wind with water covering sheet ice is not a stiltable condition. This does not mean I will not try it again at some stage as I love the adrenalin that comes with the aprehension and worry that a fall is just one step away at any moment.

I was out yesterday on my 20inch alum pegs. After heavy overnight rain things were scarey to say the least. I found my regular steep hill just too slimy to even attempt a descent as my pegs were sliding all over the place on the level path before the hill. So I dis-mounted and took the stilts to the bottom of the hill and tried stilting the area around the stream which slopes slightly in various directions. Wow! things quickly got out of control and I found myself on the ground. Getting vertical again, I took things a lot more gingerley and had great difficulty staying vertical, the mud was so slimy on top of permafrost. After several falls and many 'nearly but not quite' moments on a path just about 100yards long, I went over the footbridge with wooden decking and very nearly fell in the stream as the wet wood was lethal! The other side of the bridge was even worse with large areas of smooth wet rock with no grip at all, so having spent several periods sitting on the ground, I decided that this particular area is not stiltable in extreme wet conditions. Still I had over an hours good excercise and sustained no injuries even though I had fallen off the stilts at least a dozen times.

25th March - Adventurous stilting - New 24 inch wooden pegs
I recently took delivery of a new pair of wooden peg stilts, this time 24inches high with my foot over the stilt instead of hanging off the side. I am thinking that this will give me better balance and adhesion. However when they arrived I found that the stilt leg is knot free hard wood and is 30mm square. Now I am used to 50mm square or 40mm dia alum tube. I have been out on these new ones for the first time today. I was amazed how much more concentration I need to stay vertical without wobbling with this slightly smaller stilt foot.
After about half an hour on smooth concrete, adjusting straps and foot placing, found what I thought was the best position and screwed my boots onto the footplate. I then practiced for another half hour on dry smooth concrete until I felt comfortable, then headed off for the mud and hills.
After a few days of snow, now melted, my favourite path was very greasy. I set off along the level only to have a major slide after about 20ft and caused my first fall of the day. Having got vertical again, I tried again, trying tp keep the stilts on the very narrow path which is about 6 incjes wide mud with grassy boarders. The path again got the better of me after only 4 steps and I found myself on the ground again. My 3rd attempt got me to the end of the path to the point where the steep hill starts after several anxious moments, only to find that while turning round I had a major sinking, and the silt would not come out the ground. I then had a couple of minutes extreme difficulty trying to maintain balance while I took the other stilt off which brought me level with the sunk stilt. Having pulled the sunk one out of the ground, I leant against a tree while I put them on again.
Setting off back to the other end of the path, I had almost made it when an enormouse slide sent me flying again. Enough for today, I must wait for the ground to dry out a bit.
Stats for today. About 90 minutes on stilts. 3 falls, one involuntary dismount and a steep leaning curve - no injuries.
I am already longing for my next outing.
Reply from Atom somewhere in the USA
Roy that is awesome. I myself have a pair of stilts with the pole under the foot and another set with the pole to the side of the foot. I still have MAJOR issue switching between the 2 as the tiny movements you would do on one stilt do not transfer so well to the other. Sometimes I feel like I am a beginning again when switching between the 2.
Take it slow and feel it out. Your foot position is different which in turn makes your entire body work differently and you will find yourself pushing through your steps to try and maintain what you thought used to feel right. Just let the stilts do the walking and adjust as needed.
Do you have a picture of your stilts? I would love to see them.
Stay High Roy!!!!
My reply
Hi Atom, Thanks for the comments. I really had no idea that the balance required would be so different. With these new pegs I thought I would be able to stand vertically on them with the stilt under the foot, but I find that I cannot strap the stilt to my leg tight enough to be vertical. Being used to both 20inches and 36 inches, I thought that the balance on 24 inches would come naturally, but not so! I found that just moving slowly on smooth dry concrete was so very difficult for almost 30 minutes of trying just to walk. I can now walk unaided but feel very stressed out and quite unsteady with the adrenalin pumping hard. However I am looking forward to the thrill of getting these new pegs onto difficult surfaces such as the paths I stilt on with my old pegs. I will arrange a pic of them soon.
Staying High with difficulty but still having fun.
Roy
2nd reply from Atom
Roy I noticed my foot placement is different on the pegs that go under the stilts. When i have them on I tend to stand around in an A frame style. With my pegs tilted inwards to my knees a little and the pressure on the inside arch of my foot.
When I walk it is the opposite with a walk that is inverted so to say. I notice my pegs will be inches if not centimeters from each other.
Roy try this out and it may help you. Pretend that there is a rope holding both your knees together. So tight is this rope that you cant pull you knees apart. Try taking small steps like this to figure out the difference in foot placement from your new stilts to the old ones. Another great thing about this exercise is that you learn to put your knees together in a "uncomfortable situation" which will add to balance.
Then do this. Lift those knees high like you are marching! It will help with placement and you will see how you place your peg on the ground. The difference is subtle at your knees but huge at the pegs.
Hope this makes sense.

23rd April - Adventurous stilting - New 24 inch pegs (continued)
wooden
I was out again on Monday after being off stilts for 3 weeks due to holidays. I went to one of my favourite haunts at Bowlees in Teesdale. I got there early (about 6am) to avoid the dog walkers. Not having been uphigh for a while, I put on my 20inch pegs first and found I was feeling very good. I set off along the path, down one steep path, along about 400 yds of mud & bared rock both of which were slippery but not much of a problem. I then stilted up the 40 steps that had given me problems on an earlier occasion, but this time stopped to catch my breath every 10 steps. I continued along the path and through the gate with the strong spring that nearly caught me out last time. Along another 200 yds of path before reaching the uneven crazy-paving made with different types of smooth rock. I stood and pondered for a couple of minutes then thought "Its now or never" and I set off along this more difficult path. It rises then falls, followed by a couple of narrow rocky/muddy steps then gets narrow with a shear 6ft drop into the river if I get it wrong. Then there are several narrow & slippery rocky steps up before the final 100yds to the end of the path at a spectacular water fall. The last 30yds or so are lethal with the spray from the waterfall keeping everything slimy. I took my time choosing each step with care, but still having some anxious moments with my stilts sliding around very close to a sudden drop into the river. I eventually arrived at the end of the path and took a rest sitting on the wall before attempting the return trip.
Going back I found that going down these narrow rocky steps was far more difficult than going up them, and it took all my skill and courage to avoid falling in the river. By the time I got back to the smooth path, my heart was racing. I took it gently back to the top of the 40 steps. With having nothing to hold onto I turned side on so that my left stilt led the way and I went down the flight of steps sideways ( I must try and film this someday). There were several moments when I almost lost it, but I worked hard to stay vertical as I would not like to fall on steps. I had to take frequent rests as going down steps is more difficult/dangerous/unpredictable than going up. Once at the bottom, I made my way back to my car.
I then put on my new 2ft wooden pegs and when I stood up it felt as if I had never been on stilts before, such was the different balance required. I walked on the spot, lifting my knees high for a while until I felt confident then set off up the sloping car-park (see video "New Stilts" on youtube having done a search for "lampwort"). At the top I turned and came back to the car. I did this trip of about 80yds return several times while getting used to the new stilts, then attempted the steep, slippery/rocky path away from the car (also on the video). Going down was not too difficult. Even the steepest bit at the top caused very little worry, but coming back up, it was then raining and the rocky surface had become very slippery. When I got to the steepest part, I had to step backwards several times to maintain balance before aquiring the confidence to attack it and I was glad to reach the top.
Total time up high nearly 3 hours. No falls but many near ones

I then drove to my other favourite place in Muggleswick Woods. It was now raining quite hard. Put on my 20inch pegs, and set off across the road, over the stile and onto the first part of the the path that leads to the very steep hill where I have had many heavy falls. As soon as I got onto the hill, I found that the rain had made everything extremely slippery and I had only done 3 very short steps before I was on the ground. Getting vertical again, I was still feeling good and I tried again using even shorter steps and stepping sideways so I could see where I was planting my stilts. With my heart racing I went down the hill very, very carefully and gently with both stilts trying to launch with every movement. Just when I thought I had it cracked, both stilts launched together and I landed heavily on my knees, but no damage done. I waited a while to catch my breath, used a nearby tree to get vertical again, and tried again, this time successfully getting to the bottom of the hill. Coming back up the hill it was even more slippery and I fell 8 times before getting back to the car, where I decided I was getting tired, so I then went home
Time uphigh at Muggleswick about an hour. 10 falls no injuries
25th April Adventurous stilting - New 24inch wooden pegs (continued)
I was out again early this morning. First I tried my 36 inch aluminium pegs. Previously I had problems with being unable to secure to stilt to the top of my shin comfortably. I have built a new support using some half-round plastic guttering and lots of Gaffer Tape. Another problem with 36 inch stilts in the country is finding somewhere high enough to sit on to put them on safely. At Bowlees in Teesdale there has been erected some new fencing which is higher than before and is now suitable. I walked round the sloping carpark several times and when I felt confident I headed for the first steep hill next to where I park. At the top of the hill I had problems with low tree branches at face level, but once this was overcome, I managed my first steep hill ever on 36 inches without too much difficulty. On my next visit I will try the staircase on these pegs. See my outing this morning on You Tube. Do a search for 'lampwort' and then my video will be called '36 inches high'.  After a bit of practice on my 36 inch pegs, I came down to my new 24 inch pegs. I have modified the knee brace since Monday to make it more comfortable. Having stilted round the carpark and adjusted the strapping a couple of times, I decided I felt in good form and headed off for a longish walk. I set off down the steep muddy hill then went off for about 400 yards to the rock pavement. This pavement slopes gently and is very rough with high points and low holes. It is always wet and often quite slippery. I found that these wooden pegs with a much smaller foot was far more difficult to control than my 20inch pegs. After several sideways staggers to maintain balance, I successfully negotiated the obstacle. I then headed for the flight of steps. At my first attempt with these new stilts I managed to get half way up before needing to stop for a rest. I should point out that these steps are all different. The bottom one is a slab of rock the rest have a block of pitch pine which takes up 6inches of the tread of each step. This wood is always wet and is lethal being as slippery as ice and has to be stepped over for safety. The rest of the tread tends to be muddy and can be slippery. After my rest I came back down the staircase, sideway at first but eventually managing coming down straight. I then headed back for more staggers over the rock pavement ending with the steep hill up to the car. Distance stilted about 1200yards. No falls but a lot of slides and staggers.
Next time out I will try the whole staircase (the top steps are much higher than the lower ones and in some cases twice the height) which will be more difficult and then perhaps try the crazy paving to the end of the path.
You will be able to see my video of this morning's adventure on You Tube. Do a search for 'lampwort' and you will find this video later today titled ' A long walk on 24 inch pegs
Reply from ChaCha - Male stiltwalker from Nevada 
I've watched your videos and am impressed. It was by watching you that my interest was piqued. I've made a pair of 2' pegs and have just recently graduated to 36". Thanks so much for the inspiration!

17th September - Adventurous stilting - Flights of steps
In the early summer I posted 3 videos under "lampwort" on YouTube showing my first attempts at part of a flight of 40 steps on my 20inch, 24inch and 36inch pegs. Since then each day of this very wet summer, it has been too rainy to risk use of my video camera to record my successes and many failures. However,here is an update of my adventures.
I have spent many mornings at various heights during the summer practicing on these steps. Some days getting right to the top and on others not so far due to poor visibility in rain, falling or giving up on the way up or down. On the 20 and 24 inch pegs it is possible to sit down to rest on the wall up the side of the steps, but the 36 inch ones are too high (or the wall too low) to sit on so my resting must be done vertical and marking time on a wide step.
One thing I must state is that falling when on a flight of steps MUST be avoided if at all possible. When I have 'lost it' half way up or down the 40 steps, I have been unable to avoid a bruising, mainly due to the stilts being on different levels and there being a hard edge of at least one step in between them.
One morning a few weeks ago, just before going on holiday, was another soggy day with heavy driving drizzle. I first kitted up with my 20 inch pegs and set off to the flight of steps which is about 500 yards from the car park. Having to stop frequently to dry my spectacles to allow me fairly clear vision, this walk over flat muddy and slimy ground took some time. When I got to the steps, I dried my specs again and set off up the steps. In spite of the drizzle, I did very well and got to the top without a rest. I then continued my walk to the waterfall at the end of the path, having a lttle trouble with the sloping stone footpath on the way. On the way back this undulating rock footpath caught me out and I crashed to the gound as one stilt launched sideways at high speed. I was lucky to be close to a helpful tree to get upright again, so I retraced my steps for a few yards then approached the falling point more carefully. Although one stilt tried to launch again, I was ready for it and survived. I then continued to the top of the steps.
Going down steps on stilts is far more difficult than going up. I have found that I can face straight down a step with a small drop and get down without a problem although I can feel heavy stress on the knee bindings. With steps with a big drop, I have to go down sideways usually with my left stilt leading.
Having dried my specs yet again I set off down the steps. The edge of each step is a 6inch wide piece of very slippery supporting wood that must be avoided. With my specs quickly being covered with rain drops, about 10 steps down, I caught one of these slippery wood supports and promptly fell forwards, just managing to avoid hitting the wall with my face. I hauled myself up onto the wall and sat there for a few minutes shaking with adrenalin while I checked my bindings and dried my specs. I then set off again very gently and managed to get to the bottom of the steps without further problem. I then went back to the car where I had a change of clothes and something to eat & drink.
I was still feeling good inspite of my 2 falls and having been uphigh for about an hour, so I decided to go and try the same on the 24inch wood pegs.
Having kitted up on my 24inch pegs with my feet over the peg instead of hung on the side, it took a few minutes to get used to the different balance and feel of them. Then I set out to the flight of steps. It had stopped raining so there was no problem with vision. I was feeling good so when I got to the steps, I went straight up them without any problem and then headed off for the waterfall. I found the smaller feet on these wooden pegs tended to slide around more than the 20 inch ones but I managed to get to the end of the path where I rested sitting on a wall for a while.
When fully rested, I set off back. All went well until I reached the point where I had fallen on the 20inch ones. I became rather apprehensive with adrenalin rushing but pushed on. Right on the spot where I fell previously, I lost the plot and crashed to the ground. I was slightly winded but managed to get upright again with the help of the tree. I then went back a few yards as before to try this most difficult part again. This time I was really wound up with my body shaking with apprehension. This often happens when I try to negotiate an area where I had previously fallen. However I set off only to crash to the ground again. This time I examined the point of the fall, and sat on the ground while I got my breath back and I felt settled and more at ease before getting upright again, going back a few yards, taking a very deep breath and trying again. This time although the stilts slid away from me, I was prepared for the slide, and with flailing arms and a couple of staggers, I managed to successfully pass this most dangerous bit.
Having had that problem and overcome it, when I got back to the flight of steps, I descended them without too many problems and headed back to the car for more food & drink.
After a break and the food, I still felt good and adventurous, so I decided to have a go on the 36 inch pegs
I got up onto my 36inch pegs and wandered around the carpark for a while to get the feel of the extra height, then headed off for the steps. The extra height causes more stress and strain on the leg bindings when going down a hill or down steps. Having overcome the low branches (I am now 9ft tall) I gingerly descended the muddy hill to the main footpath. Just when I got to the bottom, the extra stress caused one leg binding to loosen. That caused a worrying and difficult climb back to the car where I could get support while I adjusted the bindings. Having done that I again wondered round the carpark until I was sure the bindings were tight enough while still being comfortable, then set out again down the hill, this time without problem.
The walk to the steps was uneventful. At the bottom I marked time to catch my breath and then set out up the steps. I did 4 or 5 at a time before resting. I had to mark time while resting due to the wall being too low to lean on, so the rests took longer than usual. It took me about 30 minutes to get to the top, but I felt GREAT as this was the first time I had got right up without problems. I then set out for the waterfall.
I do not know whether the extra height gives me more time to recover from a threatening fall or being so much further from the ground, I just work harder at staying upright, but to date I have never fallen off these high stilts. However thinking about the path ahead and the problems and falls with the shorter stilts, I was most apprensive and very very careful as I approached to point where I fell. The stilts were siding around quite a bit, but I was just managing to control them. I got to the waterfall and rested by leaning against a large rock.
When fully rested, I set off back, adrenalin pumping, heart in my mouth, heading for the most dangerous piece of footpath. I picked my route very carefully but just as I thought I was ok, both stilts launched together in opposite directions. I was very very lucky to avoid a huge fall by catching hold of a thick overhanging branch, and holding on to it for dear life! I planted the stilts firmly, looked down only to find I still had about 6 feet to go before I got to my falling point. I suddenly felt very tired and worried, so I held onto the branch until my fears subsided a lot and I felt adventurous again. Then leaning slightly forward and looking down instead of straight ahead, I set off again taking very short steps, keeping the stilts as vertical as possible. The stilts were trying to slide at every step, but being vertical I managed just to control their movement. I passed the fall point and onto the safer path, but not without some very worrying moments.
When I got to the top of the steps, I marked time for quite a while to recover my breathing, before trying to descend the steps. These steps vary in height and width. The ones nearest the top are quite high - around 15 inches drop with the tread only about 6 inches where as further down the drop is about 6 inches with the tread as much as 3feet. This would be the first time I had tried the top steps on the 36 inch pegs.
The first step caught me out. The drop was much more than I expected and it took a considerable amount of work to keep my balance with one leg 15inches above the other and the stilt feet about 12 inches apart. However I managed to stay upright and tried the next one with the same results, only this time one of the bindings came loose. I was stuck being unable to go up or down due to a loose binding and too high to sit on anything. It took me about 20 minutes of balance control to be able to bend at my waist and adjust the bindings without the risk of losing either some of the bindings or the stilt, or both while resisting gravity's urge to send me crashing forwards to the ground. This made me very tired, but I successfully completed the adjustment, before carrying on the descent.
I was now extremely tired, but the only way to get off the stilts was at the car some 500 yards away. I just had to persevere, resting as often as I needed. More by luck than judgement I successfully negotiated all 40 steps, then set off back to the car.
My legs were now very tired and I was having difficulty just putting one in front of the other. This caused me to trip over slight undulations of the ground and I could have fallen about 20 times without my struggles to stay upright. Climbing the short steep muddy hill back to the carpark was an expedition in itself where once again, due to tiredness I could have fallen several times.
You can probably imagine how glad I was to get back to my car and off the stilts.
Statistics:-
Distance covered on each height:- 2,000 yards
Approx total distance covered on stilts:- 3.4 miles
Total time on stilts:- approx 4 hours
Total falls:- 4
Total nearly but not quite heart-stopping moments:- At least 50
Injuries:- None

21st October Adventurous stilting - Mud (continued)
Early Thursday morning I went stilting for the first time for a couple of weeks. I was wanting to try out the new stilt feet made from mountain bike tyre which I fixed fore and aft on the stilt foot. I had a great time and found the new feet gave me much more confidence (maybe too much!) than with just the toe-stops. I went to another path I know where I have not dared to go before due to its being so very steep and made from yellow clay. I found this new path fairly difficult but with several near disasters I managed to get to the bottom without mishap. Coming back up was much easier, so I tried going down again and managed a little more easily this time.
On Friday morning I went out again and went to the same new steep path. There had been a little rain overnight and quite a heavy dew. As usual, I checked my route before mounting the stilts and all seemed fine if just a little greasy, so I noted that I would have to be a little more careful today!
Once on the stilts, I went down the old path first and had no problem so I went to the new path. WOW - it was very slippery. I set off very gently going down sideways and had several minor launchings. I had got about half way down when suddenly the lower (left) stilt just took off with me and slid about 2ft down hill. I could not recover and headed for the ground backwards. I attempted to twist round to my knees but only managed about half a turn landing heavily on my left hip and lower ribs. I lay there for a while before crawling to a nearby tree and hauled myself upright. I was quite sore and when I set off again I had a pronounced limp and I was shaking with the adrenalin rush.
I decided I would not try the site of my fall again today as the shakes would not allow me to plan each step carefully and the clay was so very greasy, so headed back up the hill. This time going up was very difficult with several slips and slides back down the hill and a lot of recovery work needed to stay vertical. For once I was actually relieved to get back to the top.
Today I am still stiff and sore. This is the worst fall I have had for several years, but I cannot wait until I am fit again so I can go back and master this most difficult of hills.
I am planning to change the stilt feet again and this time put the bike tyre across the stilt foot side to side, on top of the fore & aft tyre to see if it will increase my safety and restrict the sliding and launchings that I get when going downhill sideways.
What do you think?
Still enjoying my adventures.
Reply from Shirl (mer) from the UK
Hi Roy
I love the way you don't take the easy way through,
Wow you are amazing and so inspiring,
I'm going to head for the hills.
Your stamina and perseverance are awesome
All the best
Shirl
My reply
Hi Shirl.
Many thanks for your support.
I hope you do head for the hills. I am sure in my own mind that going to steep or slippery places in the hills, getting into difficulty and recovering from potential falls while staying vertical is good practice for recovery when the day comes that you have a major slip/slide while performing in public.
I enjoy the thrill of finding somewhere that is probably not stiltable, and experimenting to find a successful attempt. If I fall, then I get up and try again. The extra adrenalin rush that I get trying to stilt over somewhere I have fallen already and am likely to do so again is mind boggling. I LOVE IT!
Please, go to the hills and enjoy the challenge.
Waktall safely
Roy

12th December - Adventurous stilting - Winter Madness (continued)
Snowy & icy this morning. I am off for some excitement. I am taking my 20 inch stilts with me to find somewhere steep or slippery for some extreme fun and to see if I can stay vertical and not fall over. High adrenalin rush - great fun. Can't wait to get out there.
Back home after 2 hours
Had a great morning. Went to my regular haunt - a steep narrow path in a wood. The path had been well used since the snow and the slushy footprints were frozen solid with a thin covering of new snow.

I had great difficulty keeping my balance. The outcome of every step was unpredictable with many minor launchings. I fell at least 20 times when trying to stand on steep lumpy icy footprints. The adrenalin rush was so great that at times my whole body was shaking with apprehension. At one point on the hill I fell 7 or 8 times and was unable to get past it due to the ice, so I headed back up the hill and found I was still falling when there was no grip available.
A super morning. Stats: 75 minutes on stilts. At last 20 falls. No injuries.
Looking forward to my next expedition


16th December - Adventurous stilting - Stilting in the dark
I tried a new approach today. I went out in darkness down a rutted uneven cart-track. Wow! The unpredictability when you do not know where you are placing your stilt. Pot-holes, lumps of sticking out rock to trip over, patches of slimy mud. You just do not know if you are going to be safe until you put your weight on the stilt, and if it launches for whatever reason, the fight to recover from the risk of a fall all gives me the rush I seek as an adrenalin junkie!

A great night out. Up high for over an hour. No falls but many "Nearly but not quite" moments.

I had been told that stilting in the dark is dangerous, but having been told that I just had to try it for myself.

I must try a steep hill in the dark - could be extreme fun or extreme danger.

20th December - Adventurous stilting - Winter Madness (continued)
I was out today for about an hour. I went to one of my regular very steep hills, but after a couple of days of rain, the surface of the path was very muddy. I always walk my route on foot before kitting up, and this time I considered the yellow slimy clay with mud and dead leaves on top would be probably lethal. So I carried the stilts down the hill to the footbridge at the bottom where I then kitted up. Over the bridge are 2 paths going in different directions. Both are gentle slopes but are quite narrow yellow clay. I had a look at both of them before I kitted up. One was extremely slippery with the path sloping to the right. The other (which I chose to try) was also slippery but much flatter.
Having paced the bridge a couple of times I set off along this untried path. The first 100yds is through shrubs and silver birch then it opens out as it begins to climb towards a pine forest. The first 100 yds was quite slimy and I found I was fighting for balance all the time, but when it opened out I got the full blast of a strong cross wind. This made it even more difficult and had only gone about 5 steps when a sudden gust sent me flying. I crawled back to the trees, hauled myself upright and set out again, this time being wary about the wind. With much difficulty I got up to the pine forest. I had been up high for about half an hour. I held onto a tree to catch my breath then started back, only to find the path was much steeper than I thought when walking up it. Two steps and I went flying again as both stilts launched together. I crawled back to the pine trees to get upright again and set off very carefully this time with very short steps, watching every step. It was very, very difficult with much sliding around and several minor launchings. I had almost reached the birch wood when a major launch put me on the ground again. I crawled to the nearest Birch, got upright and went back to where I fell to look to see the cause of the fall. Having satisfied myself that it was lack of concentration I attempted to turn round to head for the bridge, and without warning went down on my knees. After another crawl to get vertical, again I went back to that place and examined it more fully. I found that the path for a very short distance had a hump in its centre with steep sides. No wonder it caused problems. This time I was very careful as I turned round and made it back to the bridge where I got off the stilts properly.
Time up high about an hour
4 falls no injuries. Can't wait to have another go.

27th December - Adventurous stilting - Mud (continued)
I have just been back to my old hill where I fell heavily around 2 months ago. Having been attempting to stilt on ice first (see posting under ICE) where I had to use my quad-skate toe-stops to enable my staying vertical at all, I arrived at the hill with the quad-skate toe stops on the feet. I found while walking my route the frost had made the path surface hard but with sticky mud just under the surface. I put on the 20 inch stilts and set off down this very steepest of hills, finding the grip quite good with only very gentle attempted launchings. I got to the point of my heavy fall 2 months ago and the adrenalin started pumping and apprehension set in. Very gently I placed the stilts going down sideways as before as it is far too steep to try going down forwards. Suddenly the lower stilt launched down the hill and I staggered, arms flailing wildly to try and stay upright, but I was unable to control the slide and had to drop onto my knees. Using a nearby tree, I got vertical again and continued down the hill avoiding the place where I fell. With my heart pumping hard and whole body shaking gently, placing the stilts safely was very difficult. After several more "nearly but not quite" moments I reached the bottom, and set off back up the hill. All went well until I reached the spot where I fell and I found that the spot was actually so steep that it was unstiltable and placing a stilt anywhere on the path was causing a launching. So I avoided the area and went up the grass, then back onto the path and back to the top.
A great day at 2 different sites with 2 different obstacles. I really enjoyed the adventures. Total time up high about 2 hours. 6 falls but no injury. I cannot wait to go back and try again. Watch this space....
29th December - Adventurous stilting - Mud (continued)
Yesterday morning I went out to my favourite steep hill. Inspecting my route as I always do before stilting, I found that the overnight heavy rain had made the path quite slimy. I chose my 20 inch pegs, kitted up and set off. The level path was a bit unpredictable with every step producing a small slide. When I arrived at the hill, I chose my intended path. placed one stilt on the slope and immeadiatly did the splits as the lower peg launched down the path at speed. I hovered at the point of no return for a few moments fighting balance and trying to find a secure position for this lower stilt before dropping to my knees. Oh dear! Just too slippery to contemplate today. So I packed up and drove the 12 miles to Bowlees in Teesdale. The sloping carpark is covered with dead slimy leaves and the footpath over to the flight of steps is a mixture of mud and smooth flat rock. Once again I chose my 20inch pegs and wandered round the carpark finding plenty of grip with the mountain bike tyre feet. I then set off along the path and found the mud squelchy and slippery and the rock wet and slimy. After several "nearly but not quite" heart stopping moments I got to the steps only to find they were under repair with some sheets of wood covering the treads. I stepped up onto the first step and promptly fell! The wood covering was slimy to the extreme and totally unstiltable. Having got vertical again I made my way back to the carpark and headed home for breakfast. Duration about 1 hour uphigh 2 falls no injuries. Looking forward to my next escapade.
End of 2008 Reports

2009

7th March Adventurous stilting - Winter Madness (continued)

Yesterday, I was out early after a period of deep snow followed by heavy rains then several days of frost.

When I got to my favourite Bowlees area, I found that the thaw from 3 nights of frost had set it making everything very slimy with a covering layer of rotting leaves hiding the dangers and difficulties.

I first went up the flight of steps to the end of the long walk area to film a piece of path where I had fallen many times but had not filmed (in summer it is too dark to film with heavy tree cover), due to sloping uneven rock crazy-paving, narrow slippery sloping rock steps plus a liberal covering of mud just where you do not want it.
This time I had to be more careful since I was filming. I went along the most difficult part and came back finding that after practicing the steep flight of steps, this stretch was now not so daunting, and I managed it without too much trouble
I then went to a poorly defined path used as a shortcut from the top carpark to the toilets. In good weather most of the path is reasonable but the top 3 feet is very steep where it meets the other path. In good weather and in snow I have got up it without problem, but the top 3 feet is really too steep for safety and have not yet attempted to come down it as coming off the other path it is like stepping off sloping mud 90 degrees left onto a 1 in 1 slippery slope. I hope one day soon I will have the courage to give it a try - Yesterday morning, I could hardly make out the path due to the leafy covering. I picked my route and set off, finding that the surface hidden under the leaves was extremely slimy. I got up to the last steepest bit and found no grip at all and had to use the help of a tree for support to get turned round. Coming back down, every step threatened to slide away from me, and I was glad to get back to the bottom. It adds to the fun, apprehension and adrenalin rush when your walking surface is hidden from view and you do not know if each step taken will be secure or if it will attempt to launch you into oblivion! I was now quite apprehensive about my ability to cope with this type of condition.
I then went to a very short steep hill that I had been looking at for some time but had only attempted in very dry weather when I found it difficult but stiltable. I thought that this morning, feeling good, I would give it a try. It is a short cut at the wide end of the "V" between 2 paths and the right hand side is almost impossible to come down being very very steep with a couple of cross roots which are the only places of grip. I can get up it in the wet but not down it, so I went to the left side. The path is well worn and is about 4 inches lower than the grass with sloping muddy sides and protruding and sloping wet smooth rocky bits. The path is only about a foot wide and the summit is less than 6 inches of fairly flat smooth wet slimy rock, in fact there is no room to step off the path to effect a recovery from loss of balance or grip. Once on the path you are on it to stay no matter what happens. I set off with a lot of apprehension knowing that at the top I would have to turn round in a very small slippery area to come back down. I got to the top slightly off-balance, attempted to turn round, struggled to maintain balance but failed to keep or recover my balance. I was almost turned when I lost grip and balance and fell forward, sliding to the bottom. I got vertical again, went round to the other side deciding that If I could not turn, I would attempt a straight up, over and down.  I nearly fell a couple of times if it had not been for a tree that I used for support, I would have been down again. Just when I let loose of the tree, the next step had me fighting for balance and struggling for grip. I very nearly lost it again coming over the top and with balance only just maintained nearly fell again on the way down.
This bit needs more practice in slippery conditions. I MUST go back and try again.

18th July Adventurous stilting - Strong winds & driving rain
I was out on my stilts yesterday morning, just to keep the practice up between bouts of holiday. I go to my favourite area at Bowlees only to find gale-force winds and torrential horrizontal rain. Far too wet to risk stilts really but I decided to have a bit exercise and not bother about getting wet. I kitted up on my 20 inch pegs and put on a waterproof with a hood. I thought I would try without my spectacles due to the rain which would cause poor visibility. I had never stilted without spectacles before, so was a little uneasy until I was used to not wearing them. Everywhere was soaking wet with buckets of large raindrops coming off the trees. The tree branches were lower than usual due to the weight of the water on the leaves which caused me problems. It is very easy to lose your concentration and thus your footing and have a fall when trying to push branches out of your way.

The paths were wet, muddy and slippery and each step needed intense concentration. The rock pavement was unstiltable due to the strong wind which made placing a stilt safely almost impossible ( the wind blowing the stilt sideways while trying to plant it, and the problems trying to lean into the wind at the same time. I was unable to use any of my steep paths due to running water & mud which made them almost unstiltable and highly dangerous. So after an hour struggling around, I gave up and went to dry off. An interesting day with great difficulties but no falls. Cannot wait until my next chance to stilt again.

End of 2009 Reports

2010

Stilt news.
I have sold my 36 inch aluminium pegs to a circus lady who presented me with an offer I could not refuse (got my money back after 9 years use).  Sold the 24 inch over the peg wooden stilts as I was never really happy with them.
Bought a pair of aluminium pegs from Paul Weir (Daddy Long Legs Stilts) which are convertible.  Using one set of footplates I can be either on 24 inch pegs or 30 inch pegs.  They are much better stilts than anything I have owned or used previously

3rd February
My old 20 inch pegs from Albert & Friends Circus are now in the loft and not used (available for sale if anyone is interested).  I kitted up on my 24 inch pegs. Heavy overnight frost after a day of rain and snow made everything white and beautiful but very cold. My favourite stilting area had a fresh layer of about 2 inches of snow. Had a sudden and heavy unexpected fall on snow covered ice. I think I was walking too quickly and the front peg was not vertical when I put my weight on it and it launched sideways, but I was unable to recover. Falling from the extra 4 inches seems a lot further down. When I got up again my nerves were jangling and adrenlin in a headlong rush - just the way I like it! I carried on to the flight of steps and got straight to the top. It is amazing what I can achieve when the adrenalin is rushing. I carried on through the gate and along the long footpath taking extreme care as I did not know what was under the snow. The stilts did try to launch a couple of times, but I was in control and expecting the unexpected. The rough path thropugh the wood alongside the frozen river was dry with patches of black ice. The ice was very slippery and I was quite apprehensive about my progress. However, having fallen once, I worked hard at not doing it again and just managed to get to the end of the path at the waterfall. Coming back is always more difficult with several narrow sloping steps cut out of the rock to negotiate, some with ice and snow on them. I took my time and went very gently stopping at the top of each set of steps, trying to imagine if there was anything under the snow. I had one heart-stopping moment when the front peg skidded off one step and dropped 2 more without warning. I was very lucky to recover the situation and avoid a huge fall. Coming back down the flight of 40 steps took no time at all as I am managing them quite well now. Then it was gently back over the fresh snow on ice where I fell on the way out. Then I tried uphill over a leaf strewn path that has caused me problems including at least four falls on my old stilts. I was surprised and elated to successfully climb the hill back to the carpark. A great morning out in difficult conditions. A little over 90 minutes uphigh. One heavy fall. No injuries.
Looking forward to another adventure tomorrow.
No doubt you are all calling me mad, stupid, eccentric - I have heard them all. I call myself adventurous and really do enjoy what I do. If I do fall, then I MUST get up and go and try the probelm again. I wish there was someone else who has similar ambitions and gets similar enjoyment from Cross-Country Stilting.

4th February
This morning I went to another area I use, to try my new 2ft pegs. It is a steep narrow path in woodland down to a small footbridge over a steam then about a quarter of a mile on the flat before it starts climing again towards a pine forest. I have never made it to the pine forest as the path gets too steep and slippery with lots of yellow slimy clay. However there had been some rain overnight and the morning was overcast and damp with thick drizzle and and freezing-fog. The ice from previous days had not thawed and now had a layer of water on top. The footpaths had become a mixture of icy and slimy overnight and walking on the flat areas was very difficult and dangerous, with the stilts trying to launch in all directions, many slides only stopping when the stilt hit the grass at the edge of the paths. When I got to the steep hill. However the path was unstiltable being slimy to the extreme and at the first steep bit my right stilt launched sideways, only just recovering before launching a second time which I was unable to correct and I went down. I had to crawl back up the top of the hill where I could get vertical again and I sat on a fallen tree to recover before trying the path again. Getting to the same place I was unable to find a secure way down and fell a second time, crawling back up to the top to get vertical again. After recovering again, but this time with nerves jangling and adrenalin rushing, I tried a third time, and promptly fell again but this time I dopped to my knees and the plastic knee protertors carried me about 30 feet down the hill on the ice. I got vertical again thanks to a nearby tree and tried the lower part of the hill, but this was just as difficult and had only gone about six very short steps when I lost the plot agin and crashed to the floor. Picking myself up with the help of yet another tree, I headed back up the hill. Finding safe and secure places to place the stilts was very difficult and I fell four more times on the way back to the car.
I then went to a local carpark by a reservoir and practiced climbing and descending steps. These steps are under trees but in the open with nothing to hold on to. The steps vary in height from 3inches to 10inches with the upright of wood ex-railway sleepers. So the tread of each step starts with about 8 inches of extremely slippery damp or icy wood before the safety of the normal ground. I spent an hour going up and down this flight of about 30 steps, finding coming down very difficult and unpredictable as there were thin layers of black ice with little sticks protruding through it which gave a modicum of grip. Even coming down sideways I was fighting my balance and security with the stilts sliding on the ice at each step. At the end of the hour I was getting tired so the stilting was becoming dangerous with lapses of concentration. I was coming down the steps for the last time, still sideways when I accidently touched the wooden edge of a step. The stilt lauched uncontrollably sideways down 2 steps and to avoid doing the splits I induced a fall forwards.
It was then home for a hot bath.
Statistics:- 2ft high aluminium peg stilts.
up high 2 hours 35 minutes total - probably more like 1 hour 40 mins plus recovery time between falls.
Total distance covered - about 1.5 miles
9 falls - no injuries but quite wet and muddy


2011
18th January
Out this morning for the first real days stilting for 10 months.   It was wonderful to be up high again, although I was a little rusty through lack of practice.
I went to one of my regular haunts at Bowlees in Teesdale where I found mud, ice and layers of soggy dead leaves.  I first went up and down the sloping carpark on the layers of slimy leaves until I felt my sense of balance coming back, then I set off down the steep muddy path, fighting the urge to break into a run and carefully controlling the stilts urge to slide away from me.  Then I tried the bumpy rock pavement and found it extremely slippery with the stilts sliding off the bumps at every step.  I kept on walking over this difficult surface until I could control the sliding without too much difficulty then headed for the ice sheet.  This ice had been walked on and was quite smooth with lumpy footprints.  It was also wet, so grip was non-existant.  Just as I got the 2nd stilt onto the ice, I had a huge launch and fell flat.  Using a nearby picnic table to get vertical again, I had a second attempt.  With very short steps I managed about 2 meters before falling flat again.  This ice is difficult.  I crawled back to the table , and got vertical again and set off for a 3rd go.  I actually fell on the same spot 7 times before deciding that ice with a thin layer of water was probably too slippery to succeed.  So I took another path with hardpacked snow that was a little icy and successfully negotiated about 300 meters before turning back.  I came back via the 3rd route which is a narrow, muddy path with tree roots to step over.  Coming down steep slimy mud was extremely hazardous and I was very lucky not to fall several times.
These new 24 inch Daddy Long Legs aluminium peg stilts, although 4 inches taller than my old stilts are much more stable and I feel I can do much more with them.

Tomorrow I will try a different site which is an extremely long hill of yellow clay.  It will be very difficult and slippery, probably dangerous but will give me some fun.  Watch this space

19th January
Out again this morning as soon as it was light enough.   I went to my very steep hill as promised.  We had a very hard frost overnight, down to -7.  I parked on the roadside and kitted up.  I put spare shoes, a drink and some chocolate in my  rucksack and set off. I nearly fell twice on the road surface which was white frost on ice.  Getting over the stile was difficult with the wooden steps damp & mouldy making them slippery like ice.  Got to the hill without trouble.  The grass either side was white with frost and the yellow clay footpath looked dry.  I stepped sideways onto the clay, the first stilt launched and I was down!  Got vertical again with the help of a tree and tried again.  The path was stiff mud with a layer of frost.  I took very short steps heading straight down the hill with the stilts leaning forwards and my body leaning backwards.  I managed about 30 yards when all went pear-shaped and I was down again in a big way, just managing to twist so I landed on my knees.  Again I used a tree to get up and went back to the path.  I could see where on stilt had slid about 4ft.  I headed back up the hill and promptly took another huge heavy fall.  Just too slippery this morning.  I took the stilts off and changed into my spare pair of shoes.  Then I had great difficulty getting back up the hill.  Stats for the day.  Uphigh about 30 minutes.  3 big falls.  No injury.  Cannot wait to be out again taking  Cross-country stilting to the limit.

26th January
Out again this morning.  After heavy overnight rain everything was soaking wet.  My normal area for stilting is still covered with around half an inch of soggy rotting leaves making stilting very interesting.  It was extremely slippery this morning and it took all my concentration just to stay vertical on the level path.  My favourite hill was totally unstiltable as I found out when I fell 3 times in quick succession at the top of it.  I was unable to get both stilts onto the slope as it was so slimy.  Total time up high 50 minutes.  3 falls, no injuries. 

1st February
Out again this morning bright and early.  I went to my usual spot at Bowlees in Teesdale. There had been a heavy frost overnight but it lifted with the dawn as clouds arrived.   I am still trying to get over the little steep shortcut between two muddy paths.  I had one attempt this morning.  I got half way up the hill when my left stilt slid back down this hill about 10 inches.  I very nearly collapsed in a heap but was very lucky to be able to recover.  Wet leaves on mud was just too slippery this morning.  I then went to the rock pavement.  This is usually wet and extremely slippery and I have great fun trying to stay vertical as the stilts launch in all directions.  However, this morning, being well sheltered, it was still white frost so I had no difficulty stilting over it - no fun this morning.
Finally, I found some sheet ice with grass growing through it.  At last I had some fun sliding around on the ice with the tufts of grass stopping me from losing control and falling.
Total time up high 1 hour 20 mins No falls but some good fun and a couple of dodgy moments
Heavy rain forecast with strong winds for tonight so I should find some good fun tomorrow morning battling mud and crosswinds.

9th February
After heavy overnight rain frost formed at dawn.  I was already there kitting up as I saw the grass turning white. A beautiful morning.  No wind and a clear blue sky - just the sort of morning you dream about all winter.  I went to the little hill that has defeated my efforts to date, but it was so slimy I went straight past to the flight of steps.   I had not been up steps for almost a year and am over weight at the moment which makes me breathless with very little effort.  I went up 30 of the 40 steps with little effort.  Had a rest a couple of times but did not attempt the top 10 steps as they are very steep.  Starting to come back down, I took a very heavy fall when I placed the left stilt one step down, it launched on some mud and went down a further 2 steps.  My right stilt stayed put so I did the splits and went down heavily on my left hip, landing on my right stilt, my knee having folded under me.  It took some time to get untangled as the path is quite narrow.  I eventually managed to get high enough to sit on the wall and regain my composure. On the upper steps, the tread this morning  was all mud with a layer of soggy, rotting leaves. - A lethal combination.  Every step caused a slide.  Some worse than others.  Good practice.  After a long rest, I climbed back up the steps past the one that caused my fall, turned and tried again.  This time I managed to get to the bottom of the steps without any more falls although I found each step slippery and dangerous.  Distance today about 3/4 mile up high 30 mins one heavy bruising fall and a few anxious moments.


22nd March
Got to my favourite stilting area at Bowlees in Teesdale about 6am.  Clear blue sky with sun just rising and not a breath of wind.   I kitted up using my 24 inch pegs, had a quick walk round the carpark then checked the bindings before heading off.  Down the steep muddy path without too much difficulty, along the quarter mile of flat with lumpy rock pavement then attacked the 40 steps.  I got up 30 before resting then took on the steepest steps at the top without any problem.  Then it was along the 300 yards of gravelled footpath, followed by the 200 yards of uneven rocky pathway again without any problems.  Then came the rough rocky path with oodles of mud and sloping rocky steps which have caused many problems in the past.  Carefully picking my way but finding the stilts sliding and sinking in the mud or shooting off the sloping wet rock.  I had several anxious moments recovering from near falls but successfully overcame all problems.  I got to the end of the path, sat on the wall for a rest then set off back again.  The return trip is more difficult because most of the steps encountered are facing down and several slope away from me and are uneven wet rock.  I recovered from 2 huge launchings and nearly fell into the river once and was lucky to get to the end of the difficult bit unharmed.  Then it was the long walk back to the flight of 40 steps, which I descended successfully without stopping.  Then made my way along the quarter mile of flat and finally up the steep muddy hill and back to the car.  Duration, just over an hour and still feeling great.  Best morning stilting I have had for some time.
I have been approached by a guy in New York who has been inspired by my ambitions and YouTube videos.  To help him with his quest, this morning I spent half an hour making a video of me on my stilts, talking to the camera about my life with stilts.

Then I used my new extensions for my 24 inch pegs and had a walk for the very first time on my 2ft 6inch pegs.  Total time up high this morning just under 3 hours and still feeling great.  Looking forward to the next time

24th March
After Mondays fun, I was back at Bowlees yesterday morning, again just after dawn.  It was dry and cloudless, just like mid-summer rather than the end of winter.   I kitted up with my 24 inch pegs and went off seeking adventure.  I did the long walk again all the way to the end of the path and had the usual difficulties with slimy mud and wet rock steps.  On the way back I took a different route.  Half way along I found a soft patch and sank about 6 inches.  As I pulled the stilt out of the mud, the rubber foot was left behind.   The area was very wet and muddy with water lying on top of the grass, so was unable to get down to retrieve the foot.  I had great difficulty getting back to the car with one stilt being an inch shorter than the other, and the shorter one being bare aluminium tube on the ground.  I slid, grated and stumbled my way back over bare rock and muddy path to the car.  The most difficult part being the climb up the steep muddy path with the rocky outcrops, before dismounting and going to retrieve the rubber stilt foot.  Back at the car, I fitted the 2ft 6inch extensions.  Then I had a very pleasant hour getting used to the new height.  I had a few worrying moments as the stilts slid around on the mud, but I survived.
Stats for the morning. 2 hours up high no falls.
The next job is to find a way of securing the Unicycle rubber feet to the aluminium stilts so that they will not come off when in sticky mud.

1st November
After my summer lay off while we toured and camped around the UK, today was my first time back on stilts since March.   The weather was warm and damp with periods of heavy drizzle.  I was at my favourite Bowlees picnic site in Teesdale.  I got there just as it was getting light.  Kitted up with my 2ft pegs and set off for a wander around getting used to them again.  The sloping carpark had a liberal layer of both green and rotting leaves, but I had no difficulty re-finding by poise and balance.  I then set off down the steep path and straight away got into difficulty.  The layer of wet and rotting leaves were hiding the normally dry lumps of rock in the path.  I found myself sliding in all directions as the stilts launched themselves off the slippery wet rock.   Further on the lumpy rock pavement was almost unstiltable and I nearly fell several times as the stilts slid sideways searching for grip.  I did not attempt the very steep little hill that has caused me so many falls in the past as it looked just too slippery, so I went back to the carpark and practiced on the wooden bridge (slippery and unpredictable) and the short flight of steps, before heading back to the car.
Up high just over an hour.  Great fun.  No falls but many acts of recovery to avoid going down.  Hope to be out again soon.


2012

8th January

Out this morning for the first time this year.  First time on stilts for 6 weeks.  Went to my favourite spot at Bowlees Picnic site in Teesdale, UK.
After several weeks of alternately frost & rain, everywhere was extremely soggy/slippery/muddy and sticky.  Put on my 24 inch pegs and went for a walk.  I felt good so I went off on the long walk to the waterfall -about half a mile.  I went up the staircase and managed all 40 steps without trouble and with only one rest half way up.  The rocky path through the wood was extremely slippery and caused me several worrying moments as one stilt kept sliding sideways close to the 6ft drop into the river.  I got to the end successfully and after a short rest, set off back.  Again the rocky path gave me some difficult moments but this time I had 2 dangerous massive slides that I was lucky to recover from.  When I got back to the flight of steps, I remembered the comments from a lady-stiltwalker on My Space who suggested that instead of going down sideways, I should try going straight ahead.  She said that although it was more dangerous and difficult, it looks better and I would feel good if I managed without problems.  So I set off down the steps going straight ahead.  I found the big problem is that instead of selecting where I am going to plant the leading stilt, going straight ahead, it is more difficult to see where you want to be.   I was managing fine until the 19th step, when the leading stilt suddenly launched forwards off the step and launched again on the next step.  Being past the point of no return and nothing to grab hold of, I went down hard backwards hitting the edge of a step with my left hip bone.  My 2nd heavy fall on the flight of steps in less than a year.  I lay there for a couple of minutes heavily winded, then hauled myself vertical again using the wall.  Shaking with apprehension, I climbed back up 10 of the steps to regain my composure, then set off back down making sure I did not step on the slippery piece again.  I got back to the bottom without further problem.  I headed back to the car but decided on trying a different previously unused path up to the carpark.  I had just got to the steepest part when both stilts launched backwards together and I went down again but this time landed on my knees - winded but uninjured.  I got upright again with the help of a nearby tree having crawled over to it, and carefully made my way back to the path.  No sooner was I back on the path than one stilt launched downhill again.  Expecting a problem I was ready for it and attempted a recovery by smartly bringing the stilt back so it was vertically under me, just as the other stilt launched downhill as well and I was down again.  This time I took the stilts off and walked back to the car.
Stats for morning:- A little over a mile stilted.  One heavy bruising fall plus two other falls, no injury other a bruising.  About 20 heart-stopping moments
Looking forward to my next outing as there are challenges that I need to overcome.

Stilt News
I have bought 2nd hand a pair of almost new Voltige pegs.  Having checked them carefully, I am presently practicing on the 15inch size, getting used to over the peg footplate again.  I am considering purchasing from www.unicycle.fr the alternate extensions so that I may choose between approx 15/24/37/44 inch heights.

1st June - New Voltige 15 inch pegs
Out on my new Voltige pegs using the lowest height.  Had a bit of a problem with the foot being over the peg, but soon got used to it.  Found them very comfortable to use.  Walked around on them for about half an hour, before trying them out on the little steep short cut between two footpaths.  To my surprise and amazement I managed to get right over and back without falling for the first time ever.  I captured it on film.  See it at:-
http://youtu.be/lzHfYHIbGb8

After more practice I am looking forward to trying the extensions that with take me up to approx one metre to the footplate which will make me over 9ft tall.  But that will have to wait until October when I return from my extended holidays


9th October
Got out my stilts for the first time since June.  Although I have enjoyed my extended holiday, I have really missed my stilts.
Got up early and was at my favourite Bowlees carpark by the crack of dawn.  Put on my new Voltige 15 inch pegs, wandered round the car for a few minutes before adjusting the straps.  I was not happy with the 2 x 1 inch straps round my legs, so I removed them and used 2 of my 2 inch wide velchro parcel straps on each leg.  I have also invested in a pair of footballers shin guards, which I have found now that they relieve all pressure on my shins from the straps.  When I was happy with the strap adjustment, I set off for a walk.  I found the very steep short cut between the two paths was unstiltable due to recent heavy rain. I followed one path to its end and fould I was sliding around a lot on the mud and wet slabs of stone.  However I can now easily recover from any slide of either stilt of up to 18 inches.  I stilt sliding away from me no-longer risks causing a fall.  It is only when both stilts slide at the same time, that I end up on the ground.
After using one path, I went off on the other.  This one includes the flight of 40 steps.  I managed to the top with only one rest then carried on to the waterfall at the end of the path.  The final 300 yards was extremely difficult with lots of slimy mud on top of wet rock slabs.  I had great fun sliding around with several "nearly but not quite" moments as both stilts tried to launch together.  After a short rest I returned the same way again having extreme but enjoyable difficulties on the mud.  Most of the steps I negotiated facing straight down without any problems, except I had a few short slides before the lower stilt found secure footing.  Back to the car.  Time on the pegs, just over an hour.  Plenty of fun and no falls.
 http://youtu.be/5WO6X04RxMU
I then took off the rubber feet and fitted the taller peg legs, which are approx 37 inches high.  I found I could just get on them using the roof of my car.  I set up the video camera, then pushed off to find my new balance.  This is the first time I have tried stilts with the foot over the peg that are so high, and the first time I have tried stilts taller than 24 inches since March 2011.
My first few steps were extremely wobbly.  I felt very unstable and off-balance.  The carpark, though dry is quite steep.  I wobbled and wobbled some more going up the carpark, but coming back down I nearly lost my balance several times.  So I did the short return trip again and found I was getting used to the new height.  Then I did 2 return trips going down the carpark, also on film and found I was getting my sense of balance by then.
 http://youtu.be/m0noJ1DimCI
   Had good if sometimes a little worrying fun.  Up at 9ft tall for about 20 minutes, and felt tiredness coming on.  So I live to stilt another day
















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