7 Reasons Why I Hike
By Alisha Linton, Girls Who Hike Vermont Ambassador
Maybe some people don’t understand why walking in the woods for hours with sticks and rocks and mud can be fun. But trust me, it’s the best.
What other sport or activity do you do where you get to take a snack break in the middle? Like come on, seriously, this is great. And me, I LOVE me some snacks. Throw some dirt on it for garnish – even better! Plus, I find that food always tastes better when you eat it outside.
2) Nature and Fresh Air
A few studies have shown that time spent in nature can improve your mood and decrease rumination (Bratman et al., 2015). What does that mean? It means that spending time outside decreases the likelihood of you focusing on all those bad negative thoughts that accumulate inside your head after a long week. My favorite way to unwind after a long week is to get out in the woods and fresh air.
Time spent with friends on the trail is time well spent – always. No matter how the day goes, everyone goes home feeling good. Weather it is catching up with old friends, or theorizing about life with close ones, the conversation is always pleasant. And even if there is some silence, it is never awkward. It is nice to just exist is the same space as other humans, taking in the same sights and smells.
There is nothing like getting lost on a trail, or having to scale an unexpected rock scramble to form an incredibly salient memory. Some of my favorite memories have occurred far out in the back country.
5) Meeting new friends
Many times, I have met new friends while hiking, and then never seen them again. Sometimes I never even got their name. It blows my mind that you can meet someone on the trail, hike for a few hours with them, tell them your life story, and then part ways. Often, these are folks you never would have associated with IRL. But your shared love of nature brought you together and let you learn something about another human.
6) Getting Dirty
Seriously, there is nothing I find more satisfying than coming home from a good long hike, dirt under my nails and mud spewed along my legs. It fills me with a huge sense of accomplishment. A bonus is how amazing it feels to take a shower and wash that dirt right off.
How often do we actually experience silence? It has been hypothesized that humans have evolved to fill silence because it makes us uncomfortable. In our hunter gatherer days of old, silence was an indication that there was a predator nearby because birds would flee and rodents would quiet in attempts at evasive maneuvers. As we moved from a hunter gatherer society to a more agriculture and industry based one, silence no longer means the same thing, but it still makes us uncomfortable. So, we have invented ways to fill that silence – humming, music, and headphones all help to fill the uncomfortable void. When I go out hiking I do not bring headphones and I do not listen to music because I enjoy embracing the stillness and the subtle sounds of nature. The rhythmic plodding of my boots, the wind the trees, the jingle of the dog’s collar, the rustling of rodents in the leaves. It is very meditative and I have never once craved more stimulation than the symphony of nature.
Now that you've read Alisha's reasons for hiking, we want to know: Why do you hike? Tell us in the comments!