#HikeYourOwnHike has been floating out there in the world lately. It is meant to be a reminder to not compare yourself to others, and to not minimize yourself or your accomplishments based on what others can do or their opinions of you.
I was asked the other day when I started hiking and it got me thinking. I mean, I went on little hikes when I was a kid, and have walked the trails in my woody Pacific Northwest city my whole life. But when did I start really hiking?
I would say it was when I was dating my ex, in that period before I got married. We started locally, and then did more on trips, when we visited National Parks. It just kind of went from there, and pretty soon, I was a hiker. According to the ex though, I was too slow. He didn’t hike with me; he hiked ahead of me. He complained that I didn’t keep up, and he just couldn’t be bothered with that… He would wait for me somewhere up ahead. The hike was a competitive thing for him, and I couldn’t compete at his level. He made me feel that I would never be up to doing a long hike, or a really strenuous hike. That I wasn’t enough. Of course, that’s nonsense.
I kept hiking after we split. Since that time I have done far more than I ever did with him. I have hiked 10-12 miles at high elevation, with thousands of feet of elevation gain. I have hiked all over the country. I have hiked with friends. I have hiked alone. I have hiked in bear country with bear spray and bells. I have hiked in rattlesnake country. I have hiked in hot weather and cold. I have hiked in the rain, and on snowshoes. I’m not the fastest hiker. I certainly haven’t been in the last year, when I was struggling through some pretty significant pain. But who cares if I’m fast? It isn’t a race. It isn’t a competition.
For me, hiking is about seeing nature, standing at the viewpoint, taking way too many pictures, and spending time with friends. It is about clearing my head, and smelling the mountain air. It is about cracking open that can of wine at the glacial lake at the top, sucking in my breath as I wade into the freezing cold water, skipping rocks at the beach and watching the sun lower over the horizon. It isn’t about miles, or elevation gain, or speed, or remoteness, although those are sometimes factors in the best rewards.
If you put one foot in front of another on a trail, you are a hiker. Don’t let anyone else tell you that your version isn’t good enough. Figure out what speaks to you and makes you happy, and don’t worry about what anyone else thinks. Find people who are on the same page, but if you don’t have that, go anyway. Life is too short and too complicated to burden yourself with comparisons. You do you. #HikeYourOwnHike