People sometimes rag on hiking because “it’s just walking around,” but in the woods. The anti-hiking lobby think it shouldn’t have its own name, or be a hobby at all. Perhaps they just want to bring me down to build themselves up. But hobbies don’t need bells, whistles, or bells and whistles, and the simplicity of hiking is what makes it so great.
Look, I’m not gonna go rock climbing, I’m not strong or brave enough. I’m not gonna go whitewater kayaking — same reasons, plus I don’t know how and I don’t have the patience to learn. But! Thanks to hiking, I still get to have an adventure or two in the great outdoors.
Hiking trails are designed to show you the best stuff. Someone else, who supposedly knows what they’re doing, has planned the routes and cleared the way, to make sure others have the best time. It’s like a guided tour of Nature. You wanna see some good colors? Try taking a hike in the fall. You wanna see the biggest mushroom you’ve ever seen? Go for a hike. You wanna drink a beer in the woods like a cool teen? Hiking’s for you.
And have I mentioned the summits? “Feeling on top of the world” is an expression for being happy. You wanna literally feel on top of the world? Hike to the top of a mountain (can be small, we’re not greedy around here).
Now, I will admit, there’s always that moment when I’m walking along, happy as a clam, yelling to my companions “hey, look at this weird leaf!” or “this rock is so ugly I bet all the other rocks hate him!” and then bam, it hits me. Hiking is a terrifying activity. I’m in the middle of nowhere. I have no cell phone service. I have no survival skills. I mean, what if we get lost and the sun goes down? I can’t make a fire! I often can’t even get a lighter to work on the first try!
And since, at this point, I’m letting my brain travel down Panic Road, I suddenly remember that the woods are filled with wild animals who have no reason not to attack me. In fact, I’ve been stomping around their house all day yelling things like “ECHO! …did that echo? Lemme try again… ECHO!” So like, yeah, I get it, I deserve to be eaten, or at least mauled.
That being said, I always make it back to the car just fine. At least so far. If that’s ever not the case, someone should come here and amend my review (please make it 0 out of 10).
Recognizing those very real fears on the trail might be a bit unnerving at the time, but when I’m back in the parking lot? I just feel all the more accomplished. I didn’t just walk around. I faced real dangers head on, and came out the other side. Plus, I got to see a real big mushroom.