The charms of the Bay Area are numerous and sought-after. With its tony neighborhoods, rich cultural diversity, and a thriving business and culinary scene, the region offers plenty to do.

But for those who really want to explore the unique geography of the craggy Pacific promontories, the magnificent redwoods, or the wetlands, hiking is a must.

There are several famous hiking opportunities in the San Francisco Bay area, including Lands’ End, Point Reyes National Seashore, and Muir Woods. Closer to home, we have hiking destinations such as Rancho San Antonio Park, Windy Hill, Baylands Nature Preserve and, of course, the ever-popular Stanford Dish.

For a nearby redwood destination, our favorite is Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park. Here, a stroll along the Redwood Grove, with trees as old as 1,800 years, can be transformative as one traverses through towering giants that invite silence and reflection.

But the word “silence” can assume new meaning in a redwood forest. Imagine taking a stroll with your loved one. Silence among the redwoods calls out the surrounding beautiful abundance of life.

But even in this silence, you and your companion may find it difficult to understand each other, even if one or both of you wear hearing aids. Perhaps your fellow hiker is behind you or separated by a distance so that their voice simply doesn’t reach your ears.

Here at Pacific Hearing Service, we want to introduce a solution. It’s called a remote or companion microphone or “mic” for short.

Companion mics have become popular wireless accessories that work alongside your hearing aid. Their purpose is to direct a particular sound, such as another person’s voice, directly into the ear. Many people think of using companion mics in noisy environments, but they can also be valuable additions in the silence of the woods or any outdoor environment because they direct your companion’s voice to your hearing aids.

Have You Noticed Some Difficulties with Your Hearing Lately?

Modern companion mics work wirelessly with Bluetooth. After the companion mic is synchronized, the speaker can clip the microphone to their hiking clothes and speak normally.

Their voice is picked up by the microphone and delivered straight into the hearing aids. The concept is like the headphones and mics used by pilots and passengers in noisy airplanes or helicopters.

Other uses of companion mics include large classrooms, lecture halls, auditoriums, churches, or other large gatherings. You can also place the mic next to your television speaker, and so keep the TV volume set low!

Ask us about getting a companion mic. It can be used on your next hiking adventure or in any of numerous other settings.

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Deborah Clark, Au.D.

Dr. Deborah Clark has been with Pacific Hearing Service since 1998. In January 2008, she became co-owner working first in the Menlo Park office and now managing the Los Altos office. She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Audiology and is certified by the American Board of Audiology. She was on the board of the Hearing Loss Association of America, California State Association from 2010 – 2013, and served as Vice President.