Tom Mangan over at Two-Heel Drive has offered a challenge to his fellow hiking bloggers. On the surface, the assignment is simple — take 15 minutes to write a short piece on “why we hike.”
I don’t know if 15 minutes is enough time to list all the reasons, but here goes:
— I get to spend time with my son. I’ve never liked the phrase “quality time.” It makes meaningful interaction seem like a chore to be crammed into a schedule, like mowing the lawn or balancing the checkbook. Hiking time is real time. We can walk for hours and not say a word.
— I believe in trail magic. There’s nothing better than coming off a mountain and having a complete stranger hand you a cold beer. Sharing is caring.
— I love beef jerky. The only place it’s cool to eat it nonstop is on the hiking trail.
— I love the physical challenge of a long, steep hike. Especially when it’s over.
— I love the moment when you break through the treeline and the world opens up in front of you.
Everyone knows ladies dig fat, balding, sweaty hikers.
— I love the feel of the ground under my feet. A muddy trail feels different than a ridgewalk, which feels different than rock-hopping a stream. Best of all: the soft, needle-padded paths between peaks like Field and Willey. Hiking is an incredible sensory experience.
— On a hot day, I get to show a little leg.
— I’m susceptible to stress, and I have an inner dialogue that never seems to stop. Left unattended, it fills my brain with white noise, like static on the radio. A day in the woods dials me in. It puts me in the moment. The bullshit worries of daily life are put in proper perspective — ie, you realize they are bullshit.
— I like eating blueberries picked right from the bush in the middle of a hike.
— When I climb Mt. Chocorua, I’m walking in the footsteps of my grandfather, who used the mountain as a playground.
— An encounter with an animal in its natural habitat is nothing like seeing one in a zoo.
— I love the Dairy Queen in Glen, N.H. I can eat there guilt-free after a hike in the White Mountains.
— I love that, despite my affinity for burgers and Blizzards, I’ve lost 50 pounds since I started hiking again three years ago.
— There are few better experiences than standing atop Mt. Lafayette on a sunny day and seeing a glider whoosh past you in the valley below.
— No TV. No Facebook or Twitter. No cellphone, no laptop. No talk radio, no telegraph, no singing telegram.
My 15 minutes are up, and I feel I’ve only just started the list.
The truth is, there’s always a reason to hike. I just don’t always know what it is until I start walking.
You can see how other folks answered the “Why We Hike” challenge by searching the Twitter hashtag #whywehike or going to this link.