Why I Love to Hike

This
picture right here I think explains it all, but I’ll try to put it into
words. 

 

To
be honest, I’m not really sure of all the reasons why I hike. 
However, I do know that when I’m not hiking,
I find myself wishing I were.
  I find
myself scrolling through the
outdoor and
backpacking sections of Pinterest,
and I’m hard pressed to leave a Walmart without browsing through the camping
section.
  My internet searches include “best
hikes in Colorado” and “bucket list hikes”.
 

 

Every
time I return home from a hike I become that much more of an enthusiast. When
you get serious about long distance hiking it becomes a lifestyle. I’m always
thinking about that next trip, no matter how far off it may be. 
I’ll be planning:  what do I need, what the hike itself will be
like, how will I get there, what’s the best route, what time should I leave, etc.,
no matter how far off the trip may be
.

 

One
of my favorite hikes is a 26 mile trek up Pikes Peak, 13 of which are uphill.  
My next adventure is hiking Rim to Rim of the
Grand Canyon this fall.
  For some people the
idea of facing such obstacles, especially voluntarily, seems crazy, but to me
it’s exhilarating.

I really like hiking. There are lots of
reasons why, but I think the most important is mental. My life is stressful. 
I have a lot of responsibilities at work and
home, and it’s hard to find the time to do everything I need to do.
  Hiking provides a sort of relief.  For as long as the hike takes I can’t be
bogged down by the other challenges I face. I don’t see this as “running away”,
but more like mandatory “relaxing” time because I don’t get any other way.

When I hike I’m actually able to relax. 
My
life is loud, busy, crazy, chaotic and amazing. I don’t have time to soak
in the bathtub sipping on a glass of wine. 
In any event, I’d rather “relax” next to a babbling brook anyway.

 

Hiking is meditative.  When you’re hiking the only things you
really need to worry about are your destination, water, and when to eat, so it
allows your mind to focus on other things. 
When I hike I have time to think and problem solve. 
I
tend to fall into a trance where I explore topics from the past, present, and
future.
 
Most days I have a million ideas and
thoughts that go through my head and not enough time to fully explore all of
them. When I’m hiking I’m able to think through solutions to problems. I’m able
to come up with creative ideas and I’m able to think through new ideas.
 

 

Hiking’s
an excellent time for self reflection. 
I’m
always trying to be a better person than I was yesterday, and time on the trail
gives me the opportunity to analyze myself as a person, mom, leader, etc., and
find room for improvement.
 

 

I
also hike to get extra exercise and
to push myself. While I work out on a
treadmill 7 days a week,
I
just can’t push myself on a treadmill. I’m already at the steepest incline, and
watching television as I work out bores me.
 

 

A
mountain trail requires real commitment. 
Maybe it has to do with the time investment or maybe it’s just a matter
of pride. It doesn’t really matter, when I have the desire to climb a big
mountain I’m going to do it.
  The more
challenging the more exhilaration I feel when it’s accomplished.
  And think about it, what other exercise can
you do for 10-12 hours continuously?

That being said, it goes beyond exercise. I
don’t get the same satisfaction from my daily 5-10 mile morning workout than I
do when I put on the serious boots and a pack. I think it is a feeling of
self-reliance. There is nothing like checking your watch one last time at the
trailhead and letting your eyes take in the adventure that you are about to
plunge yourself into. Whatever’s currently going on in your life can be pushed
aside (or explored) once you’re on the trail. 

I
also like the sleep that occurs after the exhausting myself on the trail. I’ve
always had a difficult time getting to sleep, but I find it’s a bit easier once
you’ve physically exhausted yourself. 

 

No
matter how many times I hike a path, I’m never the same person at the end of
the trail I was when I started. 
There’s
always something new I find that wasn’t there before or something I learn about
myself through my musings.
  Different
flowers bloom in the different weeks of summer, and I’ve discovered “new” caves
and creeks on trails I’ve travelled dozens of times.
  The opportunity to see wildlife is a
spontaneous and ever changing gift.

 

I
love what my body can do and what hiking does to my body. 
A few weeks ago I was hiking and saw some
Bighorn Sheep traversing the ridge next to me.
 
They were truly amazing to look at: robust creatures using their toned
and defined muscles to jump from rock to rock.
 
After a long hike I notice muscles I never knew I had, and that gives me
a sense of satisfaction.
  In other words,
hiking time = toning time.
 

 

I’ve learned if you can climb a mountain, you
can do anything.
Reaching the top of a mountain is an impressive physical,
mental, and emotional accomplishment. And it’s motivating.  
There’s a challenge to it all, and in the end
you can travel farther and accomplish more than you think.
 

 

Uphill treks like Pikes Peak only leave two
choices: reach the top or turn around. Reaching the top only requires the
perseverance to keep putting one foot in front of the other. At the end of a
long hike with the scouts I remind them of all they’ve accomplished that
day: 
How far they’ve come since they set
out that morning.
  It’s a life
lesson:
  When life gets tough put one
foot in front of the other and just keep going.
 
As long as you don’t stop, eventually you’ll make it to your
destination.
  And feel amazing once you
get there!

Author: Laura M Clark

Mom, Solo Colorado 14er Finisher, Outdoor Enthusiast, Traveler, and Girl Scout Leader with an MBA in International Business and Marketing. I value adventure, growth, courage, wisdom, integrity, accountability, and family. I enjoy yoga, wine, whiskey, traveling, reading, and the outdoors. I strive to be the person who inspires and motivates myself and others to succeed.

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