When I was a kid, my parents used to take me hiking. Each year, for a week at least. Sometimes two. I didn’t really care, because there were always other children around to play with and you just kind of go along with what your parents do anyway.
When I was turning from a kid to a teenager though, the whole affair started to get decidedly uncool. Why were we walking up hills for no reason? Why couldn’t I just stay in and listen to music? And good grief, why did those hiking boots have to be so ugly?
It was then that I decided that hiking was for old people only and that anybody with any sense of what was cool could clearly find better ways to spend their time.
I held on to that belief for way too long. It wasn’t until my late twenties that I decided to give hiking another shot. I was having a bit of a crappy time and desperately needed to get out of town.
Untrained as I was, I went on a trip to the mountains with my best friend and we hiked our way up and across some pretty challenging paths. It. was. awesome.
My anxiety couldn’t keep up with me, and I just mercilessly left it behind somewhere on the mountain. Coming out the other end of the trip, I felt sore but happy, and super proud of what we had accomplished. Clearly, those old people had known all along what they were doing. So what is it then, that makes hiking such an amazing experience?
Sorry Netflix, gotta go
Let’s start with the obvious: Hiking is a great way to get our lazy office bums out of town on the weekends. The good thing is, you don’t have to start strapping on the snowshoes to carry a 25kg backpack up Mount Everest. You can start with whatever you’re comfortable with. It doesn’t even have to involve any mountains or inclines of any sort.
In fact, the Oxford Dictionary defines hiking as “The activity of going for long walks, especially across country”. No hills mentioned anywhere!
Whether you’re hiking along the fields outside of town, through the hilly forest path, or up the steepest mountain you can think of, you’re moving that awesome body of yours and your body is going to thank you for it.
The exercise combined with the fact that being outdoors can be a massive stress-buster means you’ll also start feeling happier, more relaxed, and less anxious.
Oh let the sun shine down on me
While you’re out there moving that amazing body of yours, you’re also absorbing tons of natural sunlight, even if the sun is not directly burning down on your skull. Natural light is going to trigger the serotonin production in your brain, which is that happy hormone everybody is talking about. You know, the one rainbows and unicorns are made out of.
You’re moving, you’re sunbathing, your body is going into happy mode. But wait, I hear you say, walking just for the sake of walking still sounds totally boring.
The graphics out here are amazing
That might be true if you’re walking along a highway. If you’re out in nature there’ll be so many awesome things to look at that you won’t even have time to be bored. The landscape can change so quickly, one minute you’re walking along a forest path, the next you’re staring at a waterfall, and a bit after that you’re on top of a mountain with a view as far as the eye can see. I don’t know about you, but I think that shit is awesome.
Here are some pictures I took on a weekend trip to the French Alps (sounds super fancy, but I live close to there so it’s really just a 1 hour trip in the car). That white thing that you see shining through the trees there at the bottom right, that’s a glacier! And we kind of just stumbled upon it. What?!
Achievement unlocked – Feel like a hiking badass
This is the best part. You’ve been out for a couple of hours maybe, you’ve been exercising that rad body of yours, you’ve been admiring the views. Admittedly, they might have been a moment or two where you were wondering why you couldn’t have just taken the car, but you powered through it. And then, before you know it, you reach your goal! You’re up on the hill, you break through the forest, you return to civilisation. Whatever your destination was, getting there will make you feel like a total badass!
You’ve gone out and discovered unknown lands, you’ve walked to Mordor and threw the ring in the fire. Nothing can stop you now!
You see that mountain way up there? I conquered it. I hiked my way to the top and looked out over the world and felt unstoppable. I’ll never forget that day. So get out there and get hiking!