Since 2010, I must confess I’ve been a bit more domesticated than in the past.
If my twenties and early thirties were about saving money to go on longer walks, then my later thirties and now early forties seem to be about thinking a little more long term than something beyond the next trail marker. The boring stuff of buying a home, planning for an earlier and comfortable retirement and so on without losing the core of who I am.
As mentioned before, I am trying (and I think succeeding) to get to a place where if I can not take off for 4-6 months at a time, 4-6 weeks seems an achievable goal.
In the mean time, I try to get out as much as I can (which, of course, is never quite enough 😉 ). Be it hiking, backpacking, camping, skiing and the occasional climb.
But, in some of the circles I run in, I get asked the question “Are you “Hiking” this year?”.
A person can hear the capital “H” in the question.
Meaning: Are you doing a pre-made route with some capital letters to designate it?
It is not even a matter of time spent outdoors. There is a cachet of “doing” the SHR, the WT, the TRT and an alphabet soup of route/trail designations the can be done during a vacation’s length of time.
Of course, I hike ever year…multiple weekend trips and often spend most of my hard earned time off on outdoor excursions. Last year, looking back at trip reports, I went on twenty-four trips that ranged from simply a weekend overnighter to a couple that were one week or more. I have not tabulated the days out as I am too lazy, but that’s probably about 60+ days on trips that were overnight. Not bad for a full time IT monkey. 🙂 Throw in the day trips, and I guess I can’t complain too much about time spent in the outdoors.
Now, I realize there is a large difference from a multi-week trip with resupply vs a multi-day trip with even one large food carry. There IS something wonderful about a long journey that is addicting and an aspect that I miss at times.
But if it is about time out there, then yeah, I’ve been “hiking” if not “Hiking”. Even if my average was “only” ten miles per day, (and I suspect it is higher, even counting the trips with a past partner), that’s at least 600 miles per year on overnight or more trips. Or more than an end to end trek on The Colorado Trail. A single trip on The Colorado Trail for three weeks in one year would not be enough for satisfy my outdoor needs. I could not backpack just once in a given year even if I did a longer trek. Even when I was doing a typical cycle of thru-hiking (work hard, save money, go hiking), I still needed to be out there on a regular basis.
As for the “Hiking” vs “hiking” idea , a trend I’ve noticed is that if a person is out for ~100 miles in a week, the designated trails and routes get more notice. The alphabet soup of acronyms makes it a “Hike” status.
Not that I do not enjoy the designated routes of even a week in length. My time on the Uinta Highline Trail was rather nice if different than expected. It meets the criteria for a “Hike”.
But a trip with more mileage and nights out with no road crossings in the San Juans one year, or the Winds another , receives less web traffic. It is “merely” hiking. Perhaps if I came up with a clever acronym and had a GPS waypoint set to download I could bump these trips up to “Hike” status? 😉 Being serious, and truth be told, I often enjoy making my own route vs the designated one that is more popular.
So what does all this mean? I’d rather be out there frequently than take one trip a year. I think there is much emphasis on the “Hikes” , and all the culture around them, rather than simply enjoying the outdoors.
My “Hikes” were important times in my life. But as the years go by, I think consistently getting outside when I can is going to be more important to not only developing my outdoor skill set but the overall quality of my life.
Years from now, I don’t want to just say “I went “Hiking” back in 20xx” while attending hiker gatherings.
I’d rather be able to say: “I can’t wait for this year! I am going to the Grand Junction area next month for a solo trip. And then a past partner and I are off to the Badlands together a couple of week later. And, a big trip is planned solo for two weeks in Wyoming. No, not a specific trail…a route I am making up by looking at maps.”
I’ve been “Hiking” in the past and suspect I will do so again in the near future. But, the fact that I am hiking, camping, skiing and backpacking solo, with friends and/or a past partner now and in the future is much more important and satisfying in the long term.
I’d rather celebrate the outdoors itself than the outdoors lifestyle. Be it “Hiking” or hiking.
It is good to celebrate “Hikes”. But there is more to the outdoors than a few long trails done and calling it good.