Campus Life, Lifestyle

Dear hiking … it’s complicated

Hiking and I go way back. Our first union occurred early in my childhood days, filled with long summer hikes and bruises and life-sustaining bags of trail mix. “Come on, Katherine, just a few more minutes and we’ll be at the gorgeous view! And then we can eat the snacks!”

The view was mediocre. Pretty, I guess. But worth the trek? I didn’t think so. The only thing with the potential to hold my attention was the beautiful combination of raisins and peanuts and slightly melted M&Ms.

I would describe my relationship with hiking as rocky — pun intended — or unfortunate or “I hate it.” In one lifetime, the words “it’s complicated” would have been featured front-and-center on my Facebook page. I go back and forth on the subject, sometimes hiking with reluctance, sometimes with minimal desire. That’s about as close as I ever get to extreme excitement for the experience.

Walden Pond
Walden Pond. Enjoyment of hiking grows with age and provides a tranquil escape from the bustle of urban life. CONOR KELLEY/ DFP FILE

But hiking is growing on me. As a child, being told I had to hike would be enough to ruin my day, or create a full-blown, endless stream of complaints. Now, I tolerate it and even sometimes appreciate the nature around me.

I must concede, feeling enveloped by endless trees and climbing up rocks has a sort of rustic camping feel that is semi-enjoyable. Now, it’s a nice escape from the city, and can genuinely be a great way to relax, think and just get away. Although, if you told me when I was 10 that I would one day write this sentence, I absolutely wouldn’t believe you.

As someone who grew up in the woods, I admittedly have some wonderful childhood memories of hiking — even if that sentence makes it sound like I was raised by wolves.

When I was in elementary school Girl Scouts, our troop once took a trip to the woods behind our school to build fairy homes. We gathered loose twigs and leaves and made tiny little houses for the fairies that we believed lived in the patch of woods sandwiched between an elementary school and a construction site.

This childhood love for woodland fairies transformed into a middle school love for hearty wilderness living, inspired by everyone’s obsession with “The Hunger Games.” There was absolutely nothing more fun than prancing around the woods with a side braid and a golden Mockingjay pin, pretending you were Katniss Everdeen.

So, I appreciate all that you’ve done for me, hiking. I really do. You gave me beautiful views — even if I didn’t care for them at the time — and city escapes and fairy homes and the perfect District 12 backdrop.

You also gave me trail mix. And for that, I am eternally grateful.

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