First of all, I want to apologize for not posting for several weeks. It’s been a whirlwind of emotions in my life for the last few weeks, I promise to divulge on the details another day.
Today I wanted to share my reasons for hiking, and for hiking alone. I’m frequently asked why I love hiking so much. But I’m told, much more frequently, that I should have a male friend with me on the trails. I love answering the first question but I get irritated with the fact that I am constantly having to defend myself and my own abilities.
Here’s my rebuttal to that statement:
Yes, I am a woman. Yes, I hike alone. No, I do not bring pepper spray or any other kind of weapon. What I do bring is my own confidence. I am strong, independent, and entirely capable of taking care of myself. I trust my instincts and listen to them. I actually prefer hiking alone much more than with a companion. When you’re hiking with someone there always seems to be a constant need for conversation, when you’re talking you’re missing out on your surroundings. Those animals scatter at the sound of our voices. Alone, I am free to amuse myself with my own thoughts. I can stop when I want to and enjoy the scenery, the sound of the birds, the rustling of the leaves, and the creaking of the trees at my own leisure. I seem to miss all of this when I have company on the trails. People ask me constantly if I’m scared, and truly, I’m not scared. I revel in my own ability. Every trail that I complete leaves me with a huge sense of accomplishment and I am proud of myself. For years I worked so hard to be quiet and small so as to fit into everyone’s lives. Now I am no longer quiet, I will stand up for myself, I will continue to enjoy my own presence rather than shrink from it. I will not allow people make me feel small and feel the need to depend on others to enjoy the beauty that nature has to offer. I am strong. I will not let other’s fears deter me from facing my own. I used to be terrified of being alone, even in the safety of my own home. These days, I face those fears and I enjoy every minute of being alone. Finally, I am free to be myself.
I am free. That is truly what I love about hiking. I am entirely free from the tangled web of society. My phone is off and the rest of the world no longer matters. All of those troubles seem small and maybe even a little clearer when I’m out there. Often times, when it’s hot, I hike in just a sports bra and shorts, showing off my tattoos that my parents hate. It’s all of these little things that add up that force me into a mold so that I can function in society. When I’m hiking, those inhibitions are gone. I get to be myself, with no worry about the impressions I’m making. Let’s face it, nature doesn’t judge you… Unless, of course, you’re trashing the place.
I found this quote the other day, it sums up everything perfectly for me…
I was finding that sometimes, even when you’re in the mountains, it’s hard to keep perspective if you don’t stop for a moment and let the mountains fill you up. I had to remind myself what the mountains do for me, how they fill me with pureness that I can’t find in civilization, how they make my head stop spinning, how they ground me when I’m feeling lost and confused.
–A Journey North, Adrienne Hall