Why we hike (Hint: It has something to do with beer and cheeseburgers)

Im a big guy. I like that the mountains make me feel small.

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.

Why I hike.

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7 Responses to Why we hike (Hint: It has something to do with beer and cheeseburgers)

  1. Very nice. All very good reasons to hike. What chicks don’t dig fat sweaty balding hiker men? They obviously haven’t a clue as to how well we treat our women, especially if they get out on the trail with us. Okay so I’m not balding yet and I’m really not fat, but I do have a bit of a gut so that should count for something right?

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  3. Found your blog through the #whywehike challenge. Very well stated! And quite amusing. I too love that I can indulge on some of my favorite foods after a long trek on the trails. I look forward to following your blog!

  4. Karl Searl says:

    Great reasons, Dave! Wonderful post. You’re so right about stress and how the trail helps you put life in perspective…very true. Although, your best point may just be the DQ in Glenn…Jill and I frequent that Dairy Queen after hikes quite often as well. In fact, when we stay up in Jackson (refer to my post on why we hike), we stop at the DQ each night we’re up there for blizzards!

    Really great post!


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  6. Al says:

    Great web page Dave. I find it very interesting. I agree with some of the other folks here that there is nothing like DQ after a good days hike. Just remember when the Glen DQ closes the other store in North Conway is open year round . Gotta have my blizzard !!!!

  7. Unplugging in nature creates a sense of mindfulness like none other — and some of the best family memories we have.

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