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Have you ever wondered why people like to hike so much? What is it that is so intriguing about walking through the woods or on a trail out in nature? If you are not a hiker, you may think that this activity could be boring and a complete waste of time. With all of our modern-day inventions, you’d think that people having fun hiking would be a thing of the past. However, once you experience an unforgettable hike in an amazing location, you may be hooked for life!
People like hiking because it gets them away from the noise of the world. It’s a fun, easy, and cheap activity that can be very rewarding both physically and mentally. Being in nature makes us happy and allows us to clear our minds, reflect on our lives, and re-charge our batteries.
We are not designed to sit at computers all day or in cubicles, offices, or other places where we lead sedentary lives. Hiking allows us to get away from it all and experience the simplicity of life.
Have you ever added up the time you spend on your phone during the day? What about watching TV? Gaming? Surfing the web? We spend hours each day involved in these activities and I’m no exception. I have my own addictions that keep me occupied more than they should.
It’s not that these activities are bad, it’s just that many people do not balance these activities with other activities that could be more beneficial to their well being.
These beneficial activities include things like exercise, reading, learning, meditating, preparing healthy meals, and of course hiking.
Some people are more concerned with who got kicked off the island or who got kicked off that dancing show than they are about their own well being and growth.
One way to get away from it all is to GO HIKING. Put yourself out there on a trail in the middle of nowhere, put your phone away in your backpack, and get moving.
You’ll find that out on the trail, you are forced to clear your mind. You aren’t distracted by the many things that normally consume your life like TV, music, the internet, and all the other modern conveniences.
It’s like taking a step back in time and the only distractions are the birds chirping or the squirrels shuffling in the brush as you pass by.
When I go hiking, it’s like I have left the world behind for a while. I try to let go of my problems and anxieties. I focus on being in the moment.
I take notice of everything. I force myself to notice things that I would normally just pass up. Maybe it’s green moss on a log or maybe a leaf on the ground that doesn’t look like the others.
Because if you just go tromping through the woods checking your watch, looking forward to getting back to the car, you really aren’t accomplishing anything.
The point is to slow down and allow your mind to focus on the simple things in life that we take for granted; be amazed at the natural world.
It may sound silly but just give it a try. Take a hike and see how much you can notice. Don’t think about a TV show or texting your bestie. Instead, focus on something that you wouldn’t normally take notice of.
Doing this on a regular basis will give you a new appreciation for the world we are living in.
Why Hiking is Awesome
Hiking is something I have always done. As a teenager, growing up in rural Kentucky, I would set out on my own, hiking through the woods or across the farm. I did this for no particular reason other than getting away from the stresses of being a teenager.
After school, I would set out hiking and it would feel awesome to be the only one in the forest hearing the sounds of the tree leaves blowing in the wind or the stream cascading across the rocks.
This was my happy place and it sparked a love for nature inside me that is still just as strong now as it was then.
Now, in my early 40s, I go hiking for much of the same reason. When I step foot on the trail, I feel as though It’s just me and nature and I can let my thoughts come and go. I can be me without feelings of judgment or the need to fit some predefined mold.
I seek solitude when I am on the trail and when you seek it, you will likely find it. Of course, you can’t go to a highly trafficked trail and expect to have solitude.
Hiking is awesome because it is a great way to recharge your battery. Many people like to do other things to charge their battery like watch sports, play games, or exercise.
However, for me, there is no better way to recharge and to re-focus your priorities than being humbled by the sights and sounds of nature.
Benefits of Hiking
Besides clearing one’s head and allowing one to recharge, hiking can offer many other benefits as well.
- Provides great exercise that isn’t boring that allows you to burn fat and improve cardiovascular health
- Allows time outdoors which can help increase sun exposure and Vitamin D levels
- Provides a great way to clear your mind and focus on the moment
- Gives you time in solitude which is important for understanding yourself better
- Lets you discover and explore the amazing natural world we live in
- Decreases levels of stress that can be exacerbated by the fast-paced world we live in
- Improves your mood and increases your overall state of well-being
And there are so many other reasons that could be on this list and it may be different for each person.
It also depends on where you hike and what you expect to get out of it. I know that when I go hiking, I am looking to get lost in nature and to focus totally on the moment and the appreciation that I feel for living on this earth at this moment in time.
That’s deep, but it’s true. My hiking time is ME time and it’s like meditation to me.
When I go hiking, I usually am off to myself so that I can enjoy my time in solitude and benefit from some of what the natural world has to offer.
Why Would Someone Think Hiking Is Not Fun?
We live in a time where many people would rather play video games or watch virtual reality than spend time in actual reality. It’s easier to view a hiking trail from a computer than it is to actually get out on the trail and experience it firsthand.
It’s understandable that everyone is different and will like different things but what makes hiking such a bad thing for many people?
- It’s too strenuous
- The weather is too hot or cold
- Bugs are biting – mosquitos is a real problem in many areas
- It’s boring
- They’d rather be shopping or viewing man-made structures instead of nature
It comes down to personal preference. Many people will not like hiking simply because they have never been to an epic hiking place before.
If you have never hiked at some of the most amazing places such as the Grand Canyon or Half Dome in Yosimite or The Narrows in Zion National Park, you may think that hiking is just walking in the forest through a bunch of trees.
This may be the case if you live in certain areas in the world but once you hike one of these epic adventures, it may change your opinion on hiking forever.
Hiking amongst the most scenic places in the world might just convert you into a regular hiker.
How To Get Started With Hiking
Hiking is really simple and mainly requires that you put one foot in front of the other. However, there are some basic things that you should know if you are a beginner or just haven’t done a lot of it.
The list below are things that you should be aware of before you start hiking and will help you to get the most out of your journey.
- Wear proper clothing – this includes hiking boots or shoes and comfortable, lightweight clothing
- Go hiking where paths are clearly marked – you don’t want to get lost by guessing your way through difficult trails
- Hike with a partner or in a popular area where other people are nearby – in case of emergency
- Pack plenty of water and snacks – depending on the amount of time you expect to be gone
- Carry bug spray to keep the pesky critters at bay
- Carry the lightest weight gear that you can get by with, such as a small backpack for holding water and snacks
- Put your phone away in your pocket or backpack and enjoy the moments as you surround yourself with nature
If you are just starting out, make sure your hikes are short ones. You don’t want to go hiking far off into the woods only to realize you’ve gone too far and will have a difficult time getting back.
How To Make Hiking Enjoyable
If you find yourself out hiking and are not having the time of your life, you may be doing some things wrong. For the most part, putting one foot in front of the other as you meander down the trail enjoying the sights is enough for many people. However, there are a few ways that you can make sure that you are enjoying it even more.
Put Down Your Phone
I have seen so many people on the hiking trail that are hiking while staring at their phones. It always makes me wonder what is so important that people need to stare at their phones constantly? While there are a few times you might want to look at your phone such as to view your GPS or look at a picture you just took, your phone should be packed away otherwise.
To enjoy the hiking experience, you have to immerse yourself in the nature that is around you. Staring at your phone will cause you to miss out on living in the moment and may make you miss some great sites.
One of the worst things you can do when you go hiking is to pack too much stuff. I have made this mistake numerous times as a photographer because I often go off hiking with a pack full of gear.
This will make for a long and tiring hike and make you wish you could start chucking things. Many people set out on a hike with a backpack full of gear including water, food, cameras, chairs, bug spray, extra clothes, and other equipment they deem essential.
Some of these items may be essential, especially water and some snacks but think it through before you just go stuffing your pack full of crap. If you are an inexperienced hiker, having a heavy load on a hike may rub you the wrong way and make you never attempt it again.
Bring Plenty of Water
The one thing you don’t want to be without while on the trail is a good supply of water. This is a necessity and the amount you bring will be determined by the weather, the distance you are hiking, and your fitness level. If you are going on a short stroll in cool weather, you probably won’t need as much water as you would on a long hike in the hot summer.
I have also made the mistake of not having enough water on a hiking trail. I recall a time of hiking to Charlies Bunion in the Smoky Mountains and didn’t take nearly enough water. This is an 8-mile roundtrip hike that starts at the Newfound Gap parking lot.
I had a small canteen of water but had drunk nearly all of it by the time I reached Charlies Bunion. I struggled on the hike back and began cramping and feeling lightheaded. It was in June and the weather was hot and humid. I made it back but boy was I glad to get to my van and drink some water!
Be sure and always take plenty of water when you go on a hike. It will be hard to enjoy it if you are dehydrated and struggling like I was.
Bring Plenty of Snacks
Likewise, snacks can be great to have on a long hike. Healthy snacks like fruits, nuts, and trail mix make great options and will help replenish you with the nutrients you need to keep going. I nearly always have a banana or two in my pack along with apples and nuts. These foods hit the spot perfectly when you need replenishing out on the trail.
Be sure and bring plenty of snacks but don’t go overboard. Bring snacks relative to the distance and difficulty of the trail you will be hiking.
Pack a Lightweight Chair
If you really want to enjoy your hike and you have a super lightweight chair, you may be well served by bringing it. I’m talking about a simple stool or a lightweight camp chair such as the Helinox Chair Zero. This chair only weighs a pound and can be carried in a pack or just carried in your hand.
Earlier, I wrote about the hike I took to Charlies Bunion. I would have given nearly anything to have a chair like this on that hike! I would have loved to sit in something comfortable and just take a load off while looking at the mountain views. Instead, I had to plop myself down on a rock here and there to overcome the tiredness I was feeling.
These chairs are great because they are so light but offer lots of support. You can fall into the chair and rest your legs and back at the same time.
If you want something simpler, a stool chair will do the trick too. These are a lot cheaper but may not be as lightweight as the Helinox chair mentioned above.
Go Hiking With a Friend
Hiking is a great time for solitude but it’s also a great time to connect with friends. It can be fun to hike beside a friend as you talk and laugh together. Nothing beats the time spent with a close friend and doing it out in nature makes it even more amazing.
Next time you get the itch to hike, ask a friend to come along. It will be a great experience for you both and allow you to enjoy all the benefits together. It may even make you closer friends and something you’ll look forward to doing again and again.
Hiking can be fun and many people love to make this a part of their lives. The popularity is increasing since people are seeking an escape from the modern world in which we live.
If you have never been hiking, I urge you to get out and hit the trail. You just might find a new hobby that can not only be beneficial in physical ways but also for your mind.
Those of us who have been hiking for years know that out on the trail, there is a peace that is hard to find in the cities, workplaces, or even at home sometimes. The tail offers fresh air on your face, the smells, sights, and sounds of nature and does wonders to restore your energy.