Reasons to Do Hard Hikes

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Reasons to Do Hard Hikes

Postby Wildhorse » Mon Sep 24, 2018 7:15 pm

A long time ago, on a difficult hike I asked my friends, "why do we hike?" It was a bewildering question.

Yesterday, a NYT writer offered an answer: to find out who we are. The article is titled, "Nietzsche made me do it." I think it is a good reason, and I love Nietzsche, even though that is not my reason, if I do truly understand my reason.

Today, Los Angeles Times offered another reason: to get "likes" on instagram. Not my reason, and instagram is not something I even do. The article is: ... story.html, "chasing likes on instagram, hikers break limbs - and need rescuing." Apparently rescues have surged because of this in Los Angeles, and, of course, the San Jacintos are part of that greater picture. Skyline is a major bragging hike.

My own reason has to do with a love of wildness and trees and rocks. I don't need to hike as much for that as I once did because now I can find it even in the city.

I wonder what other reasons people may have.
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Re: Reasons to Do Hard Hikes

Postby RichardK » Wed Sep 26, 2018 5:24 am

Why do hard hikes?

Because they are there.
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Re: Reasons to Do Hard Hikes

Postby pdforeme » Thu Sep 27, 2018 7:17 pm

Rather than answer the narrow question of "hard hikes" (10 plus miles?), I hike because i can do anything i want, all day. Or maybe more accurately go where I want and at my own pace. (certainly have to obey some basic leave no trace rules, etc). For me its the lack of a line or a turnstile or a narrow rulebook. I guess also i can do it without finding a teammate or a competitor.
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Re: Reasons to Do Hard Hikes

Postby zippetydude » Thu Sep 27, 2018 8:59 pm

What candor! While I love above all else hikes/runs/explorations with my favorite people on earth, a lot of the hard hikes end up by default being alone. Like you, I relish the fact that I can just go do it and enjoy the adventure without a bunch of logistics, even with the awesome, reliable people I know. They, too, have their own families and needs, so the coordination can prevent an adventure that could have been attained, then shared with many friends,simply by waiting to include everyone. I tend to do the hardest hikes alone, explore them so that I am confident they will be appropriate for friends, and then expand the invitation. That being said, when I am invited on a really hard hike that I have never done, I doubly appreciate the effort and prep that the guide put in to make it possible for a rookie like me to be involved.

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Re: Reasons to Do Hard Hikes

Postby guest » Fri Sep 28, 2018 7:49 am

I agree with most of the above. There's something about the raw emotion that comes from bumping against limits. Also, the single-mindedness that comes from doing something that can require almost all our attention, (which can be a great diversion from our present lives).

As some stated, being able to just "go somewhere in the wilderness", without anyone or anything in the way. We get to decide where we want to go.
I've also realized that many times it's best to go it along, if I have a tough goal in mind, and know my friends either won't be up for it, (or capable). I tend to choose "tough" ways through nature & up mtns. and many folks are opposite. And, I'm able to move across the ground w/ little impact, but some friends, (size 14 shoes!), tend to leave a bit of a path. Plus, once in my rhythm, stopping much breaks that, and it's a bit tough to get going w/ too long of a break.

I have to think that Native Americans, (& other aboriginals) continued doing tough treks even as they aged, since most people were needed to help provide, plus, I'd imagine there was some pride, where the alpha's that were fading a bit, but they didn't want to just become "couch potatoes".
Much research has been conducted on the benefits of pushing our bodies, (& minds), to exhaustion, (w/ in reason, plus, we still have to hike back down that mtn.), as this helps maintain a healthy dying & rebuilding process to remain young.
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Reasons to Do Hard Hikes

Postby Ellen » Sun Sep 30, 2018 3:25 pm

Howdy All :)

This question reminds me of hiking from the south rim of the Grand Canyon to the north rim with Sister Sally last October.

Before reaching the north rim TH, I overheard several hikers asking why they did this hike every year:

"Because it's beautiful!" one fellow said.

"Because it's challenging!" said his friend.

"Because it's a great excuse to drink beer!" I said :wink: I couldn't resist -- they didn't know I was behind them and overheard their conversation.

I value the satisfaction of completing hard hikes but don't want to challenge myself EVERY TIME I go into the wilderness. I hike for pine tree therapy and to spend time in the cathedral of the mountain goddess.

Miles of smiles,
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Re: Reasons to Do Hard Hikes

Postby tekewin » Mon Oct 01, 2018 3:22 pm

Greg Slayden of wrote this about climbing mountains. For most people, it is some combination of these:

Challenge: Climbers want to prove themselves against the mountains and give themselves tangible goals (summits) to see how they measure up.
Exercise: Mountain climbing is a great way to stay fit; those climbers who are not killed in accidents often lead healthy, active lives well into their 80s or 90s.
Social: Climbing is often a group activity and a great way to spend time with friends and family.
Wilderness: Mountains are often in wild, remote areas, and climbing is a great excuse to explore those blank spots on the map and get away from civilization.
Scenery: Mountains are visually stunning places to be, and the views both from the summits and on the way up are often spectacular.
Nature: Climbing mountains provides excellent opportunities to observe plants, animals, birds, geology, and other facets of the outdoors.
Sports/Hobbies: Climbing mountains lends itself to a whole host of fun sports and activities, such as skiing, mountain biking, backpacking, photography, trail running, fishing, base jumping, and others.
Climate: Mountaineering is a great way to increase the amount of wind, rain, snow, and overall coldness in your life, which is often a welcome respite for those from the desert or the jungle.
Inspiration: Sometimes a climber sees a peak and just somehow feels inspired to climb it, especially prominent and striking summits such as the Matterhorn or the Grand Teton.
Existential: Climbing a mountain to get to the top. Or, to quote Mallory, “because it’s there”.

I've been thinking about my own reasons recently. For me, it's because I can get more than a "full body workout". I get a "full human workout". Mountaineering (and by extension epic hikes/rock climbing/canyoneering) tests the limits of strength and endurance, often in high altitude, low oxygen environments. It tests your mental abilities in planning, problem solving, and navigating multiple types of terrain. It tests your emotional ability to overcome fear. It tests your grit. The truly difficult adventures test every faculty and stimulate every sense and every fiber of your being. Mountaineering inevitably places you in life or death situations, testing your ability to stay alive. It is a "full human workout" and I can think of no other sport or activity that pushes you on so many levels and concurrently rewards you on so many levels. Full Human Workout.

Like Ellen, I don't want to push my limits every time. In fact, I need the mental break of easier outings to prepare for the hardest ones. Aside from the workout, I find pleasure to some extent in every reason Greg mentioned in his list.
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Re: Reasons to Do Hard Hikes

Postby arocknoid » Mon Oct 01, 2018 7:50 pm

Years ago while hiking in the Sierras I came across a two-person news crew taping spring hikers. They had at least hiked up a mile or so from the trailhead to a well-trod junction, which pleased me. A spark of gumption.

The Talent asked me why I hiked and climbed mountains. I paused, then told her, "because of happiness in the mountains." She persisted, 'Could you be more analytical? What exactly do you mean by that? Happiness--of what?" and so on.

I looked in her young eyes, atwinkle with blue of sky and green of pine, and told her she did not yet understand happiness, nor mountains.
I turned, and hiked away from the trail.
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Re: Reasons to Do Hard Hikes

Postby Hikin_Jim » Tue Oct 02, 2018 12:04 am

arocknoid wrote:The Talent asked me why I hiked and climbed mountains. I paused, then told her, "because of happiness in the mountains." She persisted, 'Could you be more analytical? What exactly do you mean by that? Happiness--of what?" and so on.

I looked in her young eyes, atwinkle with blue of sky and green of pine, and told her she did not yet understand happiness, nor mountains.
I turned, and hiked away from the trail.
Well done!

Weird, but I guess I like a challenge. I recently did Divide Peak.

There was a lot of steep climbing (class 2 generally with some class 3) just to get to the summit block.

I was hampered somewhat by a desire to keep my pack with me (I was out for three days). In some places, having that pack was an impediment around brush and in tight corners.

But up I went, finally attaining to the summit block...

...and then to the final pitch to the summit itself.

I felt a real sense of accomplishment having worked out a route up the peak. Oh, and the views weren't bad either. :)

Long Valley/Round Valley/Tamarack Valley area and surrounding peaks.

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