adventure journal why hiking is cool

Does it seem that hiking doesn’t get much respect?

Wait, better question: Remember that hiking film that showed at the Banff Mountain Film Festival, then went viral after all the magazines shared it on Facebook?

Me neither. But hell, a couple weekends ago, I was out on a trail in Rocky Mountain National Park trying to get a photo of a specific rock formation, and I realized I was hiking. Not mountain biking or approaching a rock climb or ice climb, or skiing or snowboarding, or trail running, or really anything above sub-gnar. But it was … fun. Fun? Yeah, it was nice.

Fact: Hiking is actually just walking, only on dirt or rocks or other uneven surfaces. Or walking where an animal larger than you can kill and eat you.

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Which doesn’t get so much love when it has to compete with more XTREME sports in the outdoor realm. Even though you can take your shirt off to do it, and it was basically responsible for Desert Solitaire, lots of Thoreau’s material, and all of John Muir’s writing, and thusly the Sierra Club.

Also, just FYI, before you get all arrogant about walking to Starbucks to get a latte, remember that hiking was the predecessor to walking. Because there were no sidewalks when your ancestors were out trying to take down a saber-toothed tiger with a spear. They hiked, then later there were roads and sidewalks for walking, and later, there was Starbucks.

Some other facts about hiking:

– Hiking has been known to increase the satisfaction level of many types of freeze dried food, as well as several flavors of energy bars, up to 35 percent.

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– Hiking was the inspiration for skiing and snowshoeing. Actually, the rage induced by postholing while hiking was probably the inspiration for those two things, but whatever.

– Hiking often happens spontaneously to mountain bikers.

– Unlike other XTREME sports like rock climbing and heli-skiing, you don’t need hundreds or thousands of dollars’ worth of gadgets and shiny things to hike. If you have shoes, a Snickers bar, and a bottle of water, you can go hiking. Also, if you only have shoes and no Snickers bar or bottle of water, you can still go hiking.

– If you do want to spend a bunch of money on hiking gadgets, you can totally do that too.

– Bears basically spend their entire lives hiking, and bears are rad.

– You can sometimes see bears while you are hiking, which can be good or bad.

– Some hikes end at rock climbing destinations, like El Capitan and Castleton Tower. If you are not a rock climber, hikes that do not end at rock climbing destinations will probably be more interesting.

– Most popular hikes are on trails. You do not necessarily need a trail to go hiking. If you don’t have a trail, you are “bushwhacking,” which is a lot like hiking, but slower and less fun.

– Hikes range in distance from under a hundred feet to thousands of miles. If you have never been hiking before, you should start at the lower end of the scale instead of, say, the Pacific Crest Trail, which requires more skills and sometimes quitting your job.

If you are interested in fun, or nature, or exercise, or breathtaking views, or all four, there’s a good chance you might like hiking. Give it a try today.


Brendan Leonard is Semi-Rad. Photo by Drew Brayshore/Flickr
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