My Thoughts on the Outdoors
Picking up hiking as a hobby was definitely one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
People often think I’m absolutely insane for willingly choosing to camp outside in 30 degree weather, trek up a steep mountain, or do a 6-mile hike in a foot of snow. Who the heck would ever choose to put themselves in an uncomfortable situation?
There’s just something about fighting with yourself to reach a certain goal (and then actually achieving that goal) that feels so satisfying. When you spend hours hiking up a mountain, pushing your body to accomplish something it doesn’t do every day, you begin to realize just how much you’re capable of. It’s hard to tell what your body’s limits are if you never put them to the test. Not to mention, if you’re hiking up a mountain, the views at the summit are simply jaw-dropping. In that moment that your breath is taken away by the sheer beauty of nature, you completely forget about how sweaty you are or how your legs might snap off any minute.
Before I started hiking, the most active sport I took part in was yoga. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love yoga and it can be quite challenging, but for me the practice was always less about catapulting yourself directly into challenging situations and more about accepting where your body stands and experimenting with where it can go. This of course has its benefits, but I’ve realized that when you succeed at doing something you’ve never done before — something that might seem pretty impossible at first — you begin to wonder what else you might be successful at. And in turn, you take more risks, and grow more as a person.
I also found that being outdoors more often has made me genuinely happier. I know how difficult it can be to peel your eyes off your laptop when you’ve binged Friends for five hours, but it’s really, really refreshing to be looking at something real and tangible in nature instead of a screen. I’m going to sound like a total luddite saying this, but the real world is so much better than what you can find online. Building a cabin in the woods with your friends instead of making one on Minecraft, going out and photographing nature rather than mindlessly scrolling through your Instagram feed, and actually hiking up a mountain yourself instead of watching YouTube videos of travel vloggers doing it is just so much more fun. Life is better when you are completely present and engaged in whatever you are doing, and you start to appreciate the environment a lot more as well.
The other thing about hiking that I really enjoy is the fact that it is so simple. You don’t need any crazy equipment, you don’t need to be an Olympic athlete, and you don’t need to pay a dime to hike up a mountain or trek a few miles in the woods. Nature is free, you can go on your own time, at your own pace, with whomever you want. It’s not a rigorous or competitive sport either — the only person you’re competing against is yourself. Hiking is such an easy hobby to pick up that I found it difficult to come up with an excuse not to do it.