Have you ever looked up at a mountain and felt very small?
Have you ever climbed to the top of a peak, looked down and felt invincible?
Do you crave that feeling you get when you are miles and miles away from your computer screen, your car and your “to do” list?
Or does being away from all the work simply cause you more stress?
When I quit my job, with it’s nice paycheck and cushy benefits to write trail guides and spend my days meandering through the woods mapping out new areas I thought that life would be idyllic. Eat, sleep, hike, play with my kids, write about hiking, wake up and do it all over again. A career in the outdoor industry seemed so perfect.
But then something happened, hiking became a job. A chore. Selling trail guides became not a quest to help other people out as our original intent, but a necessity to put food on the table. It wasn’t all that different than the career I had left behind, only as my own boss I could make my own schedule. And my ability to work hard didn’t always guarantee a paycheck.
Last spring, I lost my passion for hiking. Ironically it happened just as I was about to launch this website. I knew that I had to find myself loving the trail again. Because I’m happiest when the wind is blowing my hair on the top of a mountain.
So, I stepped back. I did the minimum amount of work that I needed to do to keep Just Trails up and running for a few months. I brainstormed and I focused on my own connection with the wilderness. I started hiking not to earn a living, but to learn about me.
I learned that I hike for many reasons and if you’re like me, I’m sure that you can relate to some of them.
- I hike to think. I’m a serial entrepreneur. I have a million ideas and thoughts and not enough time to execute all of them. But 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 letting the good ones come to fruition and the bad ones melt away like a snowflake hitting the trail. I think that hiking has this effect on most people, not just me. We all need to take our thoughts to the trail.
- I hike to relax. My life is loud, busy, crazy, chaotic and beautiful. I don’t have time to soak in the bathtub sipping on a glass of wine, plus I’d rather relax in a hammock next to a babbling brook anyway. I take an easy hike to relax, to get a little bit of exercise, to get my head straight and to solve problems.
- I hike to bond…To immerse myself into the natural world, to get to know my children and my husband on a deeper level and to connect with friends. Have you ever noticed how much better a conversation is in nature? Without the distractions of cell phones, traffic, and human engineered noise.
- I hike to learn. Have you ever hiked past a fascinating rock feature, or a bird, or a wildflower, or a plant and not known anything about it? I’m not an expert on any of those things, and quite honestly I’m not an expert on anything at all. But, I love learning the name of a wildflower or recognizing the song of a bird. Nature is one huge textbook, there’s so much to learn.
- I hike to be humbled. If I’ve learned anything since putting my words, photos and thoughts online it’s to have thick skin, to know that not everyone is going to like me and a lot of people will disagree with me (and some in not very kind ways). It keeps me humble knowing that I’m not really all that awesome. Going to nature is the same way. I love the wilderness, but I know that when I’m climbing a mountain my legs will burn, my lungs will struggle to breathe, the sun will burn my neck and the wind will chap my cheeks. I know that there are threats and risks, it’s humbling to know that as soon as I leave the safety of my home Mother Nature is in charge.
- I hike to push myself. I can’t push myself on a treadmill. I simply cannot do it. I get bored and hop off the second the incline becomes too steep or the pace too fast. But it’s harder for me to quit when I’m on a mountain trail. Maybe it has to do with the time investment of an outdoor adventure or 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.
- I hike to be thankful. Have you ever stood in the middle of the wilderness and been filled with gratitude almost to the point of tears? Gratitude to the earth, gratitude to people who had the foresight to preserve wild spaces, gratitude to your strong body for getting you there, gratitude for the sunshine warming your body or the gentle breeze cooling it down? I have a lot to be thankful for, sometimes I need a trip down a pathway to be reminded of that.
Why do you hike? What it is about lacing up your boots that makes you smile? I’m curious what hiking does for YOU! Leave us your reasons below or on our facebook page, of course!