There’s a saying in hiking that goes ‘Hike Your Own Hike’ which essentially means the experience you have on a particular hike is uniquely yours rather than trying to fit into someone else’s expectations. Many people hike to escape the pressure of their daily lives, to return to a more natural existence away from technology and the daily grind. For others it’s an opportunity to get out into nature to enjoy the natural environment or just for the sake of it. And for others it’s the physical challenge.
When I hike long distance, and solo, I do so for a number of reasons. These reasons differ from when I’m doing a hike with my wife Gill and include:
- The logisitics
- I’m one of these weird, but very common people, who love the planning component of hiking. I typically start out planning a hike two years in advance and while at this stage its more of an extremely high level thought process it focuses me on what’s happening. As I head into the final 8 months prior before a hike the planning becomes much more specific.
- I find that doing long distance hikes gets me to my fittest by the end. Health-wise this is borne out by the before and after health tests I get done for each trip and anecdotally I just feel better.
- Yes I love being out in nature and in particular my favourite environment is the Australian arid and semi arid regions. Having said that I’m not the sort of person who enjoys just sitting and looking at a vista for hours on end. My limit is at most 30 minutes and for me that’s a long time. In my case the landscape is a backdrop to my experience, and while I enjoy it and savour those occasional moments of sheer splendid beauty, its not my main focus.
- The solitiude
- Humans by our very nature enjoy a degree of interaction and heading out on a long distance hike for 6-8 weeks, solo, is a challenge for that. When I did my Bibbulmun Track Hike in 2018 I was on-trail, rest days included, for 36 days. During that time I estimate I spent a total of 8 hours talking to other people which is a far cry from what I would normally do given my job involves a degree of stakeholder engagement which means I spend much of my day talking.
- I find I love the high levels of solitude that a multi week long distance hike affords me. I have to ability to ‘get in the zone’ and let my body take over as I cover my average 32 km days. I dedicate just enough mental capacity to keep me on-track and safe, and this is almost a subconscious process as I scan the trail for proper footing as well as dangers like snakes and drop offs.
- Long distance solo hikes afford me the ability to think and think deeply which is something that the distractions of day to day life prevent me from doing. For me this is the main reason I do long distance solo hikes.
There are as many reasons to hike as there are hikers so ultimately it comes down you ‘do you’ and don’t try to live up to others expectations about what a hike should be.
There’s a saying in hiking that goes ‘Hike Your Own Hike’ which essentially means the experience you have on a particular hike is uniquely yours rather than trying to fit into someone else’s expectations. Many people hike to escape the pressure of their daily lives, to return to a more natural existence away from technology […]