If you didn’t grow up hiking, you may have unappealing stereotypes associated to the activity. If you are one of those people (like I was), I encourage you to dip your toes into the water, and see if you can combat your own assumptions. Go on one hike and pay attention to how you feel afterward, you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
I grew up in a family of 10 people, to be more specific, I grew up with 6 sisters, and just 1 brother. All of us females were athletic, yes in the sense that we all played sports growing up, but certainly were not considered outdoorsy. Our parents were too tied up with working to support a family size of 10, and maintaining the house/taking care of us to take us out to explore the outdoors for fun. I started going hiking around the age of 18 years old with a couple of my siblings (once we were able to drive and take ourselves to a hiking spot). After first hiking, I regretfully questioned myself as to why I had never tried hiking before; I loved it. Of course I must say, that I am much more motivated to hike when the weather permits as being sunny and on the warmer side. But now, it’s one of my favorite things to do on a day off; not all-day hiking, but maybe a couple to a few hours. Luckily my significant other adores hiking, so it’s a great way for us to do something together that we both enjoy.
Why Would Walking Through Dirty Nature Be Fun?
One beautiful thing about hiking is that it is FREE. Of course, more and more you’re required to pay for parking, but that can constitute buying a year-long pass to park rather than paying a relatively high fee every time that you need to park. Some places are still free to park which is awesome if you can snag a spot there! But hiking itself is free! Nowadays, just about everything costs money, but with going on a hike, it’s just about free to be there for however long you want.
Another great thing about hiking that differs from walking around the block or neighborhood is that you’re physically challenged. Most trails will have inclination at some point (especially if you’re hiking a mountain), and sometimes there isn’t good traction, either due to mud if it’s too wet or if the path is too dry that it can fall apart causing you to slip in a different kind of way; these obstacles make it fun. If you ditch the traditional path and want to follow a path of rocks, you’re free to do that too. The challenge keeps it fun and interesting. You have to be paying attention or else you might trip over a root, or god forbid, fall off of the edge of the cliff. You also don’t have to commit to the hike if you don’t feel up for it anymore; you can turn around at any point!
Think of hiking this way: you’re getting exercise and your steps in for the day. You’re burning more than you think, especially if you’re hiking for extended periods of time, and even more so if your route includes much inclination. Take your dog for some company; you’ll be giving him/her some great exercise too, and the chance for them to get out, have fun, and explore a new place and have some interaction with other hikers and their dogs; dogs LOVE hiking.
With whoever you choose to go with, you’re getting quality time with them. You can choose to have a deep conversation, small talk periodically, or not talk much at all to just enjoy their presence(s) and the experience of the hike itself. I wouldn’t recommend going alone in terms of safety, so whoever you choose to go with, make sure that they do in fact enjoy hiking or are open to trying it, otherwise a hike with someone complaining might overcast your experience.
Mentally, hiking is wonderful. You’re getting out, and doing something again, free, healthy both mentally and physically, quality time with your dog and/or person(s), and experiencing something fun. Seeing beautiful sights is fun; and most hikes have lookout points (if it’s a mountain, usually that requires hiking up a little bit to see a pretty view). It’s nice to set goals when starting the hike with whoever you’re with in terms of how far/how long you’d both/all like to hike for; that puts you all on the same page, and gives you a goal to strive to easily achieve or to push yourself to reach. While hiking, you’re putting your mind elsewhere, giving you a break from whatever stressors are in your life to enjoy the beautiful earth, and take care of yourself. Hiking is a great self-care practice.
So, open a new tab on your computer or phone, and look-up nearby hikes that look interesting to you, and ask someone to join you! Pack healthy, satisfying snacks, especially if you plan to be hiking for an extended period of time, and certainly pack cold water! If you’re hiking up hills in the heat, you will really crave cold water…my partner and I have made that mistake before, and we actually had to cut our hike short so that we could go back to the car and drink some water, LOL. Dress comfortably and appropriate for the weather. In the summertime, I recommend wearing exercise/running/basketball shorts, SOCKS, tennis shoes, and either a tank-top or a light t-shirt. If you plan to be there for longer, bring a backpack that contains snacks and cold water. If you plan on going on a light/quick hike with someone, just bringing yourselves and a water bottle(s) is perfectly doable.
You don’t need to be super outdoorsy to enjoy hiking, I certainly am not. I like hiking, but I don’t want to sleep outside in nature, and that’s okay! Expand your horizons, and give it a try, I really do think that you’ll be pleasantly surprised. 🙂