Starting hiking was, for me, like most of the wonderful things that I have started in my life: a result of innate curiosity and a taste for adventure.
I’ve always been active and love being outdoors, but never had I been completely immersed in nature or propelled myself for miles and miles on my own two feet. It all began on a Honeymoon road trip across the western United States and a stop at Yosemite National Park.
We'd long heard of the legendary landscapes of Yosemite, and strive to make the most of our travels, so decided to go all-out and hike the best trails. Over 2.5 days we trekked 30 miles of trails wandering through the wilderness, throwing ourselves completely into it.
"nothing but you, the quiet still air
and endless trees, flowers, and
Looking back, canon-balling into the deep end was the best thing I could have done. I can say with complete sincerity that, that trip changed my life. There were moments when I was out of breath, but then, stopping, looked around and see there’s nothing but you, the quiet still air and endless trees, flowers, and birds singing.
For me, the challenge of that hike made it that much more rewarding, looking back at how far I'd climbed. It almost feels as if the Earth was rewarding me for my sweat and sore muscles with views I could only see and appreciate from where I was standing in that moment - like the Earth was high-fiving my soul! Reminding me that, things which come to you through hard work, really are the most rewarding. It was then that I knew: I wanted to hike as much as I could in as many places as I could.
Fortunately, I live in a place which is almost like an entire national park in itself. The Isle of Man is recognised as a UNESCO Biosphere for its abundance of natural landscapes, with endless trails across the whole Island. So, after that trip, I vowed to spend at least one day each week hiking in nature.
"It feels like we’re all sharing
in this blissful experience"
Personally, I find hiking in nature a very spiritual experience. Though not a religious person, there’s something mystical about being in solitude amongst creatures that have evolved over millions of years just to be as they are today. From the smallest flower to the largest mountain, I find it all so humbling to be alone amongst fascinating and beautiful living things. So, when I’m out on my own or with a few close friends it feels like we’re all sharing in this blissful experience and there’s nothing more perfect than that present moment.
Hiking in nature gives me the same feeling as meditating, or practising mindfulness, a peaceful calm and overwhelming excitement for being alive. I'm able to be completely in the present moment, focused only on the nature around me - even though my weekday worries may only be a few miles away. Finding peace in nature helps me carry over that feeling during the week. It gives me an appreciation for where I am and what I have, which I think is the real key to true and lasting happiness.
"I feel such a sense of
Not to mention the exercise! I find that any physical exercise helps to keep me from feeling restless or anxious. Particularly after hikes I feel such a sense of accomplishment, whether its reaching a higher peak, walking a little bit further than last time, or even getting to know better what my body can handle or what it needs.
Hiking gives me a goal that I can work towards, for example, my goal of completing the 100 mile loop of Tour de Mont Blanc this summer, which is no small feat, and will require a lot of training. But, it gives me a reason to make sure I get outside almost every day and be prepared for the trip. A double bonus is that exercising each day keeps me feeling great and my body in good shape.
If you want to get outside more as well as exercise, hiking is a great place to start. Hiking is accessible for anyone, no matter what your physical condition is… Really! All you need starting out is a solid pair of hiking shoes and somewhere to go. You can do it as little or as much as you’d like and you still get the same benefits.
"I've found that the greatest
experiences are just beyond my
If you’re wanting to start hiking, my best advice is to just get out there and start exploring! You can never know what you like or want until you try, and I've found that the greatest experiences are just beyond my comfort zone.
The costs of hiking vary as it depends very much on your preferences; particularly how frequently, how far, when and where you want to hike. But often, you can start within a few miles of your own front door.
If you’re hiking all year-round, you’ll of course need clothing appropriate for different seasons. If you want to travel to hike in different areas to enjoy different scenery, then there are the costs of transport, whether you’re driving or flying, of food, snacks and accommodation. But, if you want to hike near where you live, I’d recommend boots and some trekking poles (they’re commonly used to take pressure off of your knees) and you’re off!
There are groups in the UK and the US that meet up to go on group hikes to help newbies get out and enjoy the benefits of hiking in nature. If there’s one near you they can be a great way to try a new activity and make some new friends.
Looking for your next adventure? In collaboration with No Boundaries, Get Out Girl is running the Women's Adventure Retreat on June 15th - 17th. For more information, booking & additional dates, click here.