Saturday, January 24, 2009

Why Hike?

Recently, after listening to me recount some hiking saga, someone asked me why I hike.

The reasons are many - the joy of physically challenging oneself, camaraderie with fellow hikers, the enjoyment of recounting adventures to family and friends. But probably the main reason is for the change in perspective.

It's subtle. Certainly there is the moment you stand on a mountain peak and realize how infinitesimal you really are. Or look back along a trail and realize how many miles you have walked that day, that week. But almost more than that is the sense of intense connection - to the earth, and everything on the earth.

The first really big peak I climbed I lay on the sun baked granite, head pounding from the altitude and felt my heart beating in unison with something so much larger than myself.

Standing in the windy darkness on a mountain top one feels almost saturated by the night, dissolved into it, connected to the very stars themselves.

And there is the almost magnetic pull that a mountain peak can exert on our hearts and imagination:

And always, the joy of the trail back home.

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