Yesterday’s “why can’t I stop hiking” was huge hit among the hiking twitterati so I figured I’d expand on that theme with a challenge to everybody in the hiking blogosphere to post a short “why we hike” essay (if you post to twitter, add the hashtag #whywehike ). The trick here is to make it something off-the-cuff, the first thing that pops into your head, so you don’t have time to over-think it. Give yourself 15 minutes to write it, five minutes to double-check your work, then post.
In California, I hiked every weekend for five years without seeing a single turtle. Then in North Carolina I saw two in the same weekend.
I stopped for awhile watch one do its turtle tae-kwon do. A turtle hasn’t got many moves, what moves it has, happen very slowly. I marveled that something which moved so slow could somehow be alive in a world of so many fast, hungry predators. But having a hard shell for a skin makes up for a lot.
A turtle doesn’t bother trying to run way. It just sucks itself up into its shell and hopes for the best. I walked away thinking yeah, that guy has all he needs to get by in these woods. A half-mile down the trail I noticed something flattened round to the ground. Sure enough, it was a turtle shell.
Tough enough for everything but a careless example of our species. I mean, what else could stomp that sucker flat?
So that’s not really why I hike. But it’s why I’d rather hike.
* If you’re not a twitter subscriber, you can still see what others have said by clicking on this link.
Great challenge. Can’t wait to see what everyone comes up with. We had a laundry list of reasons for our daughter when we wrote a post about why we hiked.
Tim @ Appalachia & Beyond
After hiking around many parts of the local region of countryside, there was one area that was always the best place to go for day hike. Going there most weeks throughout the year we witnessed the same area changing with the seasons from spring though summer and autumn to winter. You don’t see this change of seasons so much in the city.
There is the snow on bright sunny winters days, the deep brown autumnal colour of the dead bracken, bright green new shoots coming through and glorious purple heather in the spring. Lots more hikers in the summer! Not to mention the grey days when it never stops raining, when you look forward to a pint of beer by the warm fire in a traditional pub at the end of the hike.
There are occasional events like seeing a cloud inversion or a broken spectre or an animal or bird that you do not normally see.
Friendships made on the trail, getting away from it all and sometimes being out there makes you glad to be alive.
Here’s one I found via twitter on the Trail Savvy blog: http://trailsavvy.blogspot.com/2011/04/why-we-hike.html
Why can’t I stop hiking?? Why do I do it to begin with? I started about 2 years ago because I wanted to see some waterfalls other than the roadside ones. I then discovered the positive effects it was having on my body and health. My girlfriend seemed to enjoy it and it is one of those things we can do together, although I have taken it a few notches further than she has at this point. It has now evolved into mountains and peaks and summits, I really can’t see enough. It is also cheaper than my replaced hobby, which was golf. If there is a trail, I want to hike it!!!!
Fat Man of the Mountains has an excellent list: http://fatmanofthemountains.wordpress.com/2011/04/15/why-we-hike-hint-it-has-something-to-do-with-beer-and-cheeseburgers/
Because it feels so good when we stop? More truth than I like to admit in this.
Keeps me away from the fridge. A guaranteed diet.
Each day has at least a few moments, sometimes a few hours, of magnificence.
It settles my mind, too often on constant overload from the interrupts of everyday life at home. After a few weeks on the trail is just on water, food and shelter.
My Why’s of Hiking
I’d have to say the outdoor addiction started with the move from Cleveland Ohio to Lake Tahoe at the age of six. Countless opportunities for me to explore from sun up to sun down, fishing, hiking, swimming , horse back riding, and much more soon became daily rituals. Grabbing lunches and sometimes a few neighborhood friends we were off in search of Big Foot, wild onions, beaver dams and many other all day adventures. Our parents wouldn’t see us for 8 – 10 hours at a time, at 6yrs old mind you, no chance of that happening today.
The Boy Scouts then came along and the door into Desolation Wilderness was wide open. Back in the day the 50 miler patch was a big deal and our troop leaders were all about doing the outdoor stuff! I’ll never forget that hike or any of my time in the scouts or living in Lake Tahoe for that matter. I remember some great trips, including a snow camping trip with moonlight X-country skiing and roofless snow forts we had to build and sleep in.
It would be many years later returning to Tahoe on my oldest son’s first 4 day backpacking trip shortly after his 7th birthday, that I would come to realize just what the “mountains” had come to mean for me. It is my one place to cleanse the soul and feel connected with that energy we all forget so easily or are forced to tune out. It would be my son’s semi forced poem above Gilmore Lake while we ran to the top of Mt. Tallac before dark, that would open my eyes a bit wider and would set the wheels in motion for Leave No Trace Adventures in 1997 and today Adventures Outdoor. The last three lines he wrote to close the poem are as follows;
I see the Rock,
I feel the Rock,
I feel Me.
The last line being the clincher for me. If only all could have that feeling just once in life and choose to seek it out!
There’s nothing like hiking a quite trail into high alpine splendor sucking in fresh clean air, visiting pristine mirrored lakes, sitting on that peak with views for miles, perched upon on a rock at Natures church as the wind finds your face in the rising or setting sun, sounds of the wind through majestic pines, listening to the deafening silence when it snows, water cascading hundreds of feet, shall I go on? If you don’t get some of this from hiking then you are doing it all wrong 🙂
Love the challenge! Found it while perusing hiking-related Tweets. Hubby and I shared our reasons on our Greene Adventures blog.
Husky Hiker joined in: http://huskyhiker.com/2011/04/16/why-we-hike-a-challenge-to-the-hiking-blogosphere/
New England Outside weighs in: http://www.newenglandoutside.com/2011/04/why-we-hike-challenge-to-hiking.html
And Life Free and Hike: http://livefreeandhikenh.blogspot.com/2011/04/why-we-hike-challenge-from-two-heel.html
Rick at Best Hike chimes in: http://besthike.wordpress.com/2011/04/17/whywehike/
I originally began hiking in high school mostly because it was cool, and my friends were into it. I have always enjoyed it, but at times in my life I had gotten away from regular hiking, and at one point was badly out of shape. I rediscovered hiking again after reaching a critical turning point in my life, and resolving arrest my downward spiral, and get back into a healthy lifestyle. I discovered that hiking isn’t something that you only do when you’re young, and later get out of your system. The more time I spend outdoors, the more it becomes real to me that I really am “going home”. In my life today, hiking is more than just an activity. Hiking trails is my sanctuary, energizing my spirit, and enlightening my soul.
I hike to keep my sanity, and rid myself of ego and vanity.
I hike to find solace and peace, a fools’-proof way for monkey mind to cease.
I hike to see so many wonderful sights, and sleep refreshed come the cozy nights.
I hike to roam and explore the back ‘o beyond, even if it’s just a gentle little turtle pond.
I hike for fun, for exercise and thrills, ain’t nothing better for the soul than chargin’ up those hills.
I hike to strip bare the longings of my soul, reflecting about it under a giant redwood or upon a little knoll.
I hike to hike, to huff, puff and sweat, I hike to pay down all that karmic debt.
And here’s another reply:
Why I hike:
In the face of existential quandary and a generally sinking mood, I challenged myself to head out of doors. As a child, I frequently hiked with my family, and despite my reluctance as I trudged along the path, had fond memories of Spencer Butte, a quick, local hike. I headed to the hill and began to walk.
Nausea was my first sensation. I huffed, I puffed, I burned my lungs to ashes. I finally made it to the top and felt a great sense of accomplishment. It was enough to encourage another trip, which then led to another and another.
Over time it has become a sort of practice. Despite my physical discomfort, I push myself and encourage inner strength. I am not my body, I say. I’ve found in it joy and simplicity. Spencer Butte is to me a cathedral.