It’s OK to hike in the park down the street. It’s OK to walk a half-mile in the woods and call it a hike. It’s OK to take the kids car-camping in the state park and make .75 miles per hour because they keep splashing in the creek.
Sometimes I feel like regular, everyday hikers need permission to say they don’t feel compelled to sleep on the ground, explore ancient ruins or buddy up to Everest mountaineers. To read the magazines serving outdoorsy types you’d think the only things worth doing require $2K worth of gear and round-trip airfare to Tasmania.
That’s one extreme.
In the middle are regular, boring ol’ people like me who hike in state parks, wave to the backpackers and can’t remember the last time we stopped in a ranger’s station to get a piece of paper granting us permission to start a campfire. Some hikers have the nerve to buy cheap car-camping tents from China at Wal-Mart and sleeping bags containing none of the high-tech insulating fibers endorsed by people the gear industry pays to climb mountains for a living.
On the other extreme, tens of millions of Americans are getting fatter and sicker in an obesity epidemic that would evaporate if they simply took up day-hiking as a hobby. Sounds crazy, you say? Well, here’s my experience: walking in town is nothing like hiking in the woods, with all those hills to climb and creeks to cross. I have no hiking trails near the house; nor does 90 percent of the population, I’m guessing. I have to work out three times a week to stay in shape for hiking.
So, you get someone hooked on day-hiking and they want to get healthier. And as everybody with an REI membership knows, hiking is a gateway drug to those “adventures” that make the Outdoor Industry Complex all tingly. And along the way the the newly initiated will come to understand why wild places need to stay wild.
(If I keep this up I’ll have myself talked into believing hiking can change the world; or at least I’ll feel better about my blisters).
Thank you for this post. I am a day hiker and have always felt like I should denote it with an asterisk: “I am a hiker*”
But no more! I am a day hiker!
Very well put T0m. Day Hiking is totally ok, especially for us since we have so many different places to hike within a reasonable drive from home. Day Hiking takes very little planning, just some free time, a little get-up-and-go, a desire to see new & exciting things and a little imagination does not hurt. I would like to try the whole backpacking, overnight camping thing sometime, but I also like coming home at night to reflect on the day’s activities, sit in the recliner and pull out the laptop, definitely an advantage of day hiking.
Good expression of a pent-up sentiment! I think you and other fans of Gambolin’ Man will agree with why I write the blog: because, yes, I do indulge in the occasional “over the top” adventure, but mostly, my posts are lolly-gagging day hikes where you can actually experience the so-called commonplace miracles around you in slow motion epiphanies of wonder and amazement!
Well said my friend! Well said! I am proud to be a day hiker! I used to be a couch potato so in my estimation being a day hiker is a huge improvement. 😉
As someone who recently started Geocaching in our Georgia State Parks, I have found that the hikes we often must endure to find the cache has motivated me to hike for much more than the cache inside of a container. The wealth of beauty that nature has to offer is worth far more to me, not to mention the physical benefits that the hike itself is offering to my body.
With the encouragement of my wife, we have taken up hiking as a way not only to spend more quality time together, but as a way for me to lose much of my excess weight and return myself to a more healthy me.
I’m extremely glad to have found your site, and this article is an inspiration to what we are doing. Thanks.