March 11, 2019
It’s confession time: I don’t go bush walking half as much as I could, and my fancy new boots are still not worn in.
Once upon a time, I’d call myself a hiker (actually, I would have said, “I like bush walking” but not called myself a “bushwalker” – a subtle difference related to how high you wear your pants). But now, well…
The top three reasons why I (nearly) stopped hiking
- I got really sick. And my fitness has never fully recovered.
- Work got busy.
- Then we had kids.
Sound familiar? I bet it’s happened to you (research shows that lots of people are simply not walking anymore). Just one of the above can knock around your sense of adventure. But all three is like the perfect storm. You’re in danger of never getting back out there again. And you pretend, I’m cool with that. Because you’ve forgotten what drew you out hiking in the first place.
In the last five years, I’ve probably been on a fair dinkum bushwalk, ooh, maybe 10 times. But it wasn’t always that way.
My husband and I fell in love while hiking the Coast Track in Royal National Park. We’d already met through mutual friends but it’s not until that hike that I “saw” him, as if for the first time. Say, ahhh.
And we chose to walk from Manly to Bondi for our honeymoon. (A delightful experience, apart from Bus 144 from The Spit Bridge which wasn’t particularly romantic…). The main image on this post is me near Manly, with Shelly Beach in the background. Our honeymoon hike was part-celebration that I was well enough to walk again, but even then we had to be flexible with our planned route if I couldn’t make it through the whole day. To be honest, it’s been hard to commit to longer hikes. Even shorter hikes are more challenging these days, each of us carrying a beautiful lump of a child in a baby carrier.
So I’ve been reminding myself; why did I used to love hiking?
I love a good analogy. Here goes… Why I hike is a lot like why I cook. I like cooking. Sometimes if I’m baking chocolate fudge brownie slice and Neil Diamond is pumping, I really like cooking. But mainly I cook because I love eating. For me, cooking is the necessary ingredient for my desired outcome – eating delicious home-made food.
I don’t love hiking. Sometimes if I’m exhausted, foot-sore and drinking tepid water, I don’t even like it. But I love what it gives me. So I’ll keep choosing to hike.
Best reasons to go hiking
- Because it makes me feel connected to the natural world around me, in a way that nothing else does. I notice the seasons pass, the sun’s warmth, animals scurry, and unexpected colour amongst the green.
- There’s no expiry date. From youth to old age, from fitness to not-as-fit-as-I-used-to-be, hiking endures. Just pick the route, duration and difficulty to suit your body.
- Really interesting conversations with fellow hikers. Far from the world of small-talk, there’s time and space for genuine connection.
- Really interesting conversations with… myself. One step after the other, hiking is a moving meditation. The track leads on and on, and soon enough my monkey mind settles.
- It’s really good for your physical and mental health, without hitting the gym (bleugh) or paying for counselling.
Four easy ways to re-inspire yourself to hike
- Go easy on yourself. You get brownie points for just getting out there, so make your first hike as easy as it can be. Even a little dose is enough to trigger an “ahh, I remember I used to like this!”
- Flick through a bushwalking mag like Great Walks or Wild. For online inspiration, there are plenty of hiking bloggers – for a Sydney-based blogger whose tips and info have global appeal, try LotsaFreshAir.
- Visit an outdoor retailer. There’s something about sporks and a rack of merino tops that makes me want to get out there and use them. We’ve named a couple of our favourite Australian retailers on our Resources page.
- Learn from others. Okay, so I cheated on this one… before Sydney Coast Walks, I was a radio producer, so I’ve picked up the mic again to speak to inspiring people around the world who hike. I really want to know how they keep adventuring through the twists and turns of life. Listen to This Hiking Life to find out.
I hope at least one of these tips works for you.