This post is mostly meant to inspire you. When you’re inspired and cant wait to get out there, I suggest you read “Everything you need to start hiking” next.
For the longest time I didn’t really enjoy the outdoors. I’d rather get on a flight to another European city for a weekend-trip than spend the night outdoors in a tent.
A few years ago, my wife and me bought proper hiking boots and a day-pack, a simple thermos and some cups.
We’d pack sandwiches in lunch boxes and take our time walking circular hiking trails through old forests, beautiful beaches or through the breathtaking scenery of our marshlands.
I had always thought that rainy days are for staying indoors (Netflix and chill) – instead I discovered that sometimes they were the most enjoyable days for being outdoors.
I had always thought that sleeping in a tent would be incredibly uncomfortable and hikers must have issues with personal hygiene (no shower, no bathroom) – only to discover that actually you can stay safe and comfortable if you have the right clothes, the right gear and the right skills.
This is the reason I started this blog. I want others to be able to find the basic knowledge you need for safe and comfortable hiking and benefit from it as I have.
Here are the top five reasons why I love hiking.
What I like the most about hiking is the contrast in air quality between our cities and nature areas. Just being able to breathe the fresh air that is unpolluted by city transport is very beneficial.
I suppose the reason is that we humans as a species have spent most of our evolutional time breathing air that is much cleaner than our citites today.
It’s only over the last 150-200 years that we’ve had massive growth in city populations, the industrial revolution, personal cars coming into our lives. This has changed our living environment dramatically.
We now spend most of our time indoors, often with artificial ventilation. And the time spent outdoors in the city can be in an environment that is rich with many kinds of air pollution by city transport etc.
No wonder we suffer many different illnesses that are so often caused by not moving enough, not sleeping enough, not eating right and bad air quality.
When you spend time outdoors away from the polluted air of our cities your body and mind will feel healthier and more relaxed.
Don’t get me wrong. I like going to the gym and doing yoga. But you also need fresh air to be a healthier and happier person.
It’s such a simple thing, but most of us don’t get enough.
We live on a beautiful planet with so much natural diversity and varied landscapes. Nature is beautiful.
Even if you walk the same beach every weekend it will be very different every time. The water rises and fades, the shoreline changes, sand-dunes shift and even just subtle changes in the light can make a tremendous difference.
I used to think that nature photography is incredibly boring and preferred to work with beautiful people in the controlled environment of the studio.
Now I like photographing birds just as much. I just wasn’t paying attention.
Nature is amazing and we are all a part of it. Hiking helps us to see appreciate nature and also really internalize that we need to do everything in our power to make sure we don’t ruin this beautiful planet.
Walking is great for your mind and your body.
The health benefits are obvious – doctors in Scotland “prescribe” nature walks. It helps you to sleep better, it burns calories, it exercises your heart, your lungs and your muscles.
A fitness model and trainer that I know always tells her clients that the gym is a place for shaping your body in a certain way for aesthetical purposes – if you just want to be healthier, lose some weight – eat properly and walk as much as you can every day.
I have to agree.
Walking can also be a kind of meditation that balances your mind. The rhythmic repetitive movement of the body is very similar to chanting. As I hike, my mind becomes much clearer and calmer.
Hiking alone can help you turn inwards, think things through. Just not speaking much for a few days is a powerful mental exercise. You will learn many things about yourself.
It’s no coincidence that different religions have the tradition of a pilgrimage.
A pilgrimage is a kind of meditation designed to help you reach an inner peace through abandoning our usual busy lives and concentrating on the simple task of walking, the spiritual.
Hiking skills are in essence survival skills. Having the know-how, you need for hiking can help you in so many other situations as well.
Many countries are trying to educate their public about what to do in an emergency when normal services, such as water supply and electricity are unavailable. If you know how to hike and you have gear and basic supplies at home, you will not have a terribly hard time in this situation.
Of course, urban crisis situations are different from a peaceful hike through a national park.
But it is still good to know how to obtain and purify water, have the means to cook food without having electricity etc.
I think these skills are incredibly valuable and can actually save your life in certain situations. Or it will make you a more efficient traveler.
Last but not least, hiking has a very low carbon footprint. You may need to go by car or by public transport to the starting point of your hike but walking (or hiking with a bicycle, or a canoe etc) is a very planet-friendly activity.
Of course, you need to make sure you’re not causing any damage to the environment you are experiening.
This is why the “leave no trace” is so important”.
And this is why I deplore the whole bush-craft nonsense that so many blogs and YouTube videos promote. Imagine the damage to wilderness areas if all the hikers out there started breaking trees to create “shelters” and making fires.
Hiking holidays certainly have a lower footprint than flying across the world to stay in a resort, or even a city break or car trip over the weekend.
So, I encourage you to try hiking.
I hope you enjoyed this blog post. Have fun out there.