Just one hike a week. That’s all. It can be short or long. It can be alone or with friends, but it has to be done.
No excuses. None of that “too busy” or “not feeling well” bull crap. That was my mantra. This hike was my medicine and I was going to take it.
Now I’m obsessed.
I had missed messing around outside. You know how it is. Life gets in the way, you get busy and time just seems to disappear.
This was about taking back my life. Soreness and screaming anxiety in my head over projects that still needed to be completed be damned.
Here’s what I gained:
1. Reconnecting in a New Way
Once some of my friends and family found out about my mission to do a hike a week, I was surprised by some of the people who wanted to come along.
Some had been wanting to hike but were afraid or uncomfortable to go alone. Others just wanted to hang out and came along on a whim. In a way I think by me doing it weekly it became more casual and in turn easier for them to commit to the idea.
Many people have it in their head that hiking can only be an endurance sport with structured packs, tons of bug bites, and no breaks. Talking about my experiences made it more approachable.
In turn, I learned a lot more about each person and built stronger bonds through the shared experiences.
2. Buns of Steel
There are a ton of calorie counting devices out there. From wearable tech tracking your pulse to cell phone apps that estimate based on your GPS, there are a lot of ways to see how many calories you burned just wandering in the woods.
As a dedicated gym rat, I’m still astounded by just how amazing of a workout you can get while losing track of time outdoors. It’s a functional, all-over test of what you put in the rest of the week.
Hiking days are usually also “eat delicious junk food” days too. When you work that hard it’s guilt free! And at the end of the day when you come back covered in trail dust and soaked in sweat, a cheeseburger and fries is pure heaven!
I don’t live in bear country, but we do have cougars and some really rough areas. I grew up wandering these rocky bluffs and wet swamps with my sister and friends, so going alone didn’t seem like much at first.
Later, recounting adventures from my solo hikes, I found myself surprised to find that other people thought this was a risky endeavor. “Aren’t you afraid you’ll get lost? What if you fall or get hurt?”
The funny thing is, the more I hear it the better I feel about my ability to handle things. I have fallen. I’ve been lost. But I’m still here and I learn how to roll with the punches better each time.
When I get stressed at my day job or in my social life, I can dig deep into my memories and remember the mountains I’ve already conquered and that pushes me further.
4. Satisfying the Inner Explorer
Ever heard of the travel bug? Once you’ve got it it’s a dangerous addiction. You’ll feel completely content and then slowly that cloying need to be on the move will creep in and take hold.
It’ll start out as a little niggling thought in the back of your mind and grow until you can’t focus on anything else. You need to be somewhere new. I feel your pain. Trust me, I got it bad myself.
The good thing is that with just one little weekly excursion you can help calm your travel monster. Nature never stands still. Even if you hike the same trail regularly, you’ll find you start noticing all the little changes that might have been too subtle for you to spot otherwise.
I like to try and hike new trails every week. Using an app like Alltrails helps me find and save new places if I want to explore a little further.
I’m a bit of a workaholic. I take on as many projects as I possibly can until I’m so stressed out I can’t think straight anymore. Especially when I worked on projects in information technology, sitting in front of a computer for eight hours staring at code, my brain would start to feel fried on a regular basis.
And the worst part is I can’t just put it down. When I close my eyes I am still working on the same problems.
The hardest part about committing to a weekly hike was convincing myself it was necessary. Telling myself that this is only going to make me do my other work better. And that taking this bit of time was not the same thing as slacking off.
Getting lost in the woods has a way of calming your mind down and helping you sort through things subconsciously.
I didn’t think about code while I was trying to sneak up on a badger, but when I got back to the desk I had a new approach. I was refreshed and worked better and faster.
Give it a try and see if your own productivity doesn’t increase!
If this was the only thing I gained, it would be worth it.
In today’s modern world of constant updates, connectivity, and concerns, peace is priceless.
How hard is it to shut it all down and just breathe for a minute? It’s become such a challenge there are productivity apps that reward you for staying off your phone for a set amount of time. We just can’t seem to put things down.
There is a calm that comes from a person when they reach the peak. A moment of perfect solidarity that comes from reaching a goal.
Whether it’s distance, height, time, or just being proud that you showed up today, that feeling is a kind of reset for our lives. It’s a second to pause and be right in the moment.
Try taking a little time once a week to be able to reset. You’ll be amazed at the difference it can make in your life!