Friday, March 30, 2012

Why I Hike

                After being asked this question nearly every day, I decided I would finally put these words down on record, hopefully inspiring some for you to discuss your reasons for hiking. I also do this in hope that my story, like your stories, will get passed down through the generations, building hiking up for future adventurers.

Mt. Erie, Wa
I remember my first hike, years ago on Deception Pass. Well, I wouldn’t call it a hike. I remember getting shoulder rides and carried by both my parents during this hot summer day. I must have been 5 or 6 years old, but being out in the woods with my family made me happy at that young age. I felt safe, I felt a sense of adventure, and above all, I felt loved by my parents and nature.

My home away from Washington
I have always had a life where I was connected to the outdoors, from family birding trips and day hikes, to travelling to national parks around the country and visiting Yellowstone for 10 straight years, nature has been in my veins. At the age of 13 I did my first long hike across the Olympic Peninsula. Taking 7 days and carrying a pack of 55 pounds when I only weighed like 105 (long story for a later date); we explored and connected with nature. At the age of 19 I left college at worked near Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons. Having three days off a week gave me time to explore so many areas that I almost decided then and there to never go back to a city or a college. Instead, I left, went back to school, graduated and soon was serving 2 years in China with the Peace Corps. I would have to say that China is where hiking went from a hobby to an obsession.

The Great Wall of China
If you ever go to China, you will be told repeatedly that they have over 5000 years of culture. This is more than likely true, and for some is viewed as a great achievement. However, in my 2 years there, I realized that all the roads, trails and forests I was walking in, 5000 years’ worth of people have been traversed same area. It was then and there that I realized just how special the Olympic Peninsula is. Yes, there is a history of peoples here for tens of thousands of years, but the area is so rugged and underdeveloped that it gives you the sense that you are out there exploring an area untouched my humans. China did not give me that impression at all, so upon my return, I vowed to explore the mountains as often as I could.

The Grand Tetons from Jackson, Wy
When I returned from China, personal struggles and family illness took over, and hiking fell away for a while. However, whenever I would feel that life was just putting too much on my plate and I was near my breaking point, I would take a hike, and drift back into the woods where the only reality was the one I was in. Hiking became my safe place, my happy place, my place of healing. Being alone on a mountain, sitting along an alpine lake and being able to finally get away from the distractions of life to focus on getting in touch with nature and myself is my therapy. The repetitive steps trudging down a path, up a hillside of scree or wading through a river all take focus away from the pains and sorrow that life so often brings and allows you to be alive.

Finding the meaning of life, Hurricane Ridge, Olympic National Park
Hiking to me gives a sense of adventure that I thought was long since lost when I became an adult. Hiking to me is about experiencing nature on a holistic level. Mountains that appear as one become individual rocks and dirt; tall cedar trees become vulnerable strips of bark, needles and branches, all working together to form this massive plant. Much like those, hiking has taught me that my life isn’t as complex as I make it. Life is a series of small parts coming together to become what we perceive as reality, yet, just like a hike, some parts are easier than others, but no less important. Hiking has allowed me to see life for what it is and have a new level of enjoyment in every activity. Without hiking, I don’t know where I would be in life. Luckily, hiking is always there for me, and when I lace up my boots, strap on my backpack and take that first step, all the worry in the world drifts away and I get to become innocent and adventurous again.

So, that is why I about you????

See you on the trails,
Douglas Scott
Exotic Hikes

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