Marathon hiking. Not to be mistaken for trail running. I have a few friends in the outdoor industry who are trail runners so I know the difference.
It’s become a trend. “Hikers” solo racing to complete a long distance trail in record time. Uh wait…aren’t they called trail runners?
Anyway, more and more I am seeing this trend grow and aside from breaking a record, or almost breaking a record, I’m not seeing the benefit of this type of “hiking.” It’s like the rest of our life and culture. We move at a fast pace everyday. We want things our way, yesterday, by going out of the way instead of all the way to get something. We’ve lost the meaning of slowing down and taking it easy.
Heading out to the woods to hike, whether overnight or a day hike, as you have read, is my way of disconnecting, slowing down, getting away from the overly fast paced culture, and enjoying nature. There have been times a short three mile hike has taken me a few hours as I’ve stopped to take in a view from a mountain top and ponder my thoughts.
With marathon hiking there is some aspect of the trend being missed. Like fog settling into a valley rolling like waves only to reveal mountain peaks and a bright blue sky above. Springs roaring down a hillside after a summer rain. Fern growing over a foot tall, bright green, spread for what seems like acres of carpet on the forest floor. A small herd of deer feasting on acorns from large oaks that have stood for centuries. A fawn in the crowd raises it’s head for a moment to glance in your direction curious as to why you’re in his house. Or sitting by a lake side watching blue gill and carp swim along the shoreline without a care in the world.
And yes, before you say anything, I get the whole HYOH thing. It’s how I hike. I applaud the few who have accomplished such a challenge as to become one of the fastest if not THE fastest to hike a long distance trail. But what I’m seeing are thru-hikers who post each week how many miles they put in as if it’s a competition.
Here’s my question; what are you missing on your journey as you seek to hike as many miles as you can in one day? For many thru-hikers you started your journey for deep personal reasons, to take time to ponder life, but at the same time you’re racing the trail to beat other thru-hikers you met at the last town. But then again, you are out to HYOH.
My point is, this hiking season seems to be buzzing much like our daily life, fast paced, instead of a journey from A to B with no agenda and plenty of time to take a break and examine our life.