The Hiking group at weighed the question, which I haven’t revisited in a while so I figured what the heck, why not post a link.

I used to have all the standard reasons — solitude, exercise, communing with nature, etc. — though lately it’s mainly an excuse to blog and drum up ideas for the hiking-column gig at the paper. That gets me out on the trail, but something interesting always happens when I get there.

It’s almost like nature can detect when I need to find something previously undiscovered, and it provides. I go places I’ve been before like Grant Ranch or Mount Madonna and find they have amazing little nooks and crannies I missed on previous hikes, or attractions I find only mainly because I’m taking a trail for the first time.

At first, the trails taught me how all the stuff in the science books and Discovery Channel shows really worked. Seeing something so totally unlikely that it shouldn’t even exist — a banana slug, say, or a wacked-out mushroom — is like witnessing evolution in slow motion. Makes the theoretical seem real.

Lately the trail teaches me how much the woods are like life itself: there’s always something cool happening around the next bend. The trick is to be able to appreciate it.