My domain name choice or website name is not without its reasons. Along my life I have made several mistakes, hiking when needed is not one of them. Join me in this article to explore why we hike and my thoughts about it.
Oldest mode of transport
Not surprisingly it is the oldest method of going from A to B. Sure you can count the monkey walk, but then we were not really people back then. Since the very dawn of man and to after the zombies come it is the mode of transportation. In large metropolitan cities it is the way to get around town and for many other places the same is true.
My fandom of the Roman Empire / Republic shines through here of course but the Roman legions could march fully kitted around 30 kilometers a day. That is impressive, but you can imagine how long traversing countries could take. This is realized when you take part in the long distance hikes, and especially when thru-hiking or not taking a break along the way.
Your shear perception of time and traveling changes, no longer are you wondering about in traffic or staring out through a plane or train window watching the world go by. This time you have to take one step at a time to get where you want to go. Hiking long distance trails can teach you a lot about that an the purpose of hiking.
It will take months to cross certain countries. Now flying to New Zealand doesn’t sound that bad anymore does it?
Hiking for Exercise
Exercising sucks, we all need to do it to stay healthier, live longer and look better in a mirror. I always hated sweating away in a gym with machines and other people around. I never minded hiking though.
With hiking you train a bunch of muscles and your cardio. Plus another 50 things at once. But what sets hiking apart and is the purpose of hiking is that its not stressful, you can take a look around you and enjoy different parts a certain way. Even when you have driven over a road hundreds of times its different to walk the same road.
When hiking just for exercise more power to you. But I invite you to read on and perhaps be convinced to take that extra step (pun intended) and take part in longer distance hiking trail.
Spiritual hikes like the Camino’s
In Spain there lies a city called Santiago the Compostella. For centuries this has been the destination for people from all over the world for getting closer to Religion and yourself. Pilgrims as they called them where seeking redemption for their sins and walking the way of Saint James as penance. In the hundreds of years following the way this has not changed since. Even today you will still find a large portion of people walking a Camino for those reasons.
After popular movies like The Way with Micheal Sheen and inspirational blogs and vlogs about the Camino (Cough Cough) this has been filtered out and became more diversified for all Pilgrims, when asked why they are walking the Camino you will hear tons of reasons for it. But in a way all Pilgrims are searching for something or looking for an answer.
That is the part that sets the different Camino’s apart in my book from other long distance trails. And an attitude you will usually not find on other long distance hiking trails. I can’t express it in a sense. You will have to do it to experience it.
Seeking a Purpose or decision when Hiking
This in my opinion sort of ties in with the spiritual hikes you can take. Along my Portuguese Camino I talked to many different people and they all had a different answer and reason for walking the Camino. If you ever take part in the Pilgrim lifestyle you will get asked this on multiple occasions.
Why are you walking the Camino?
That is an answer that is both very personal in nature and something you can choose not to share. But in my opinion is important to share with the other Pilgrims. You might be walking for the same reasons and can help each other finding the answer. Its also a big ice breaker when meeting new people every day. And can help to make that first step in to often life times of friendships.
Hiking can give you the peace, quite and hurt that you sometimes need to make it to a decision in life.
Appreciation of History
There are a lot of historic walking paths you can take all over the World. From the different Camino’s in Spain to the Hadrian’s Wall Path in Great Britain. If you like history you can experience it in a way that takes you way closer to it than grabbing a ticket for a tour bus. Walking in the same footsteps as hundreds or thousands of people before you can take you back in time like nothing else.
Along the Hadrian’s Wall Path I encountered somebody that was doing the path in historically accurate Roman soldier gear. I had a brief but exciting conversation with him about the gear he was wearing and the stuff that we encountered. You will learn a lot about these sorts of experiences.
A moment that I shared with a very special German girl along the Camino Portuguese was me looking up at the moon after hiking all day. We where popping blisters while I looked up and started talking about all the pilgrims over the years that would be doing the same thing as us that night. Surprisingly she did not run away from my moment of historic reflection.
A shared hardship of walking all day is apparent throughout the ages.
Hiking is fun
Sure that is a bit of a cliche reason but hiking is fun to do. When you conquer hill after hill and doing more and seeing more than thought possible you kinda get addicted to it. When talking to other hikers, be it section hikers, thru hikers or pilgrims you see a lot of people with a broad smile on their faces. And sweat.
Hiking your own pace is important along long distance hikes, its not a race. Your not competing with anyone except if your trying to break a speed or distance record. And you see more than any other form of travel. You can walk where you can’t drive a car or ride a bike.
So I hope you enjoyed this post, it took me back to all the different places I have visited. And perhaps it can do the same for you. Comment below what your favorite hike was and if you found a purpose!
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