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  • Writer's pictureElderberry 1

Is it a hike?

A while back I was talking with an acquaintance who mentioned that they'd seen a picture I'd posted from a recent hike. When we'd first met we'd talked briefly about hiking being something we both enjoyed and that there were quite a few trails in the area. Later, seeing the picture I posted, she said, "you said you liked hiking, but I didn't realize you were a serious hiker." She then said she wasn't really a hiker, she just liked to go on walks around outside.


The picture was from a summit hike, the views from the top were amazing, stretching for miles and miles in every direction. We'd done it in November, so it was pretty chilly and snowy, which made the pictures look rugged and dramatic. In a lot of ways it's the kind of thing people think of when they think of hiking. A lot of what you see if you do a google image search for hiking is someone (often young, fit, and beautiful) standing at the summit or a mountain or looking out at a stunning view with their backs to the camera so you can see the fully loaded, 70 liter backpack they've hauled up to this alpine peak.


Images like these can be inspirational (oooohhh, I want to go there) and can also be intimidating (that looks hard, I don't have all that gear, I don't have enough experience, I don't look like these people doing this stuff so it's not for me). But a hike doesn't have to be a 14er to be a hike. My acquaintance said she wasn't really a hiker because she just liked to go on walks around outside. But walking around outside is kind of the definition of hiking?


hiking

/ˈhīkiNG/

noun

  1. the activity of going for long walks, especially in the country or woods. "she enjoys hiking and climbing in her spare time"


I'd actually quibble with the idea that a hike has to be long. Short hikes are hikes. Long hikes are hikes. Summit hikes are hikes. Foothills hikes are hikes. Forest hikes, desert hikes, mountain hikes, beach hikes-- they're all hikes. One of most regular hikes is short and pretty flat. I probably hike it a dozen times a year or more. It's my go-to when I want to be outside but don't feel like planning or driving far or don't have a lot of time.



It's in some foothills. There are no trees. I can see mountains, but I can also see the city, so in no way is it remote. It's in an open space close to neighborhood so you're close to houses, people walk their dogs on the trails, and at various points you can see the cars on the road. I never carry a 70 liter backpack (I actually never carry a 70 liter backpack even when I'm backpacking). It's still a hike.


Hiking is about getting outside, breathing some fresh air, connecting with the natural world. It doesn't have to be this many miles, or that many feet of elevation gain. It doesn't need to run you ragged, push you to your limit, or cover you with mud-- unless you want it to. And it definitely doesn't have to do that every time to "count."

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