Why Do I Hike (part 1)

Updated: Apr 17

I am reminded of popping kernels as the first drops strike my tent. The intensity increases, drowning out conversation. There is no one to listen to. I am alone at the edge of a forest on a mountain crest.

Our Home

The rain is easing. Though the walls of my tent are gray there will be no picturesque sunrise. Time to boil water for coffee.

I shove my sleeping bag aside and sit cross legged. A few minutes later 12 ounces of water sits atop a hissing flame.

I am interrupted by the snap of canvas and a cascade of water pelting a shower curtain. Just the wind blowing moisture from the trees? Later, as I sip coffee, my thoughts turn to a strategy of breaking camp during a morning storm.

Less than an hour more and I am walking. A chilled dampness begins to seep through my pants. Cool moisture runs down my neck. When I hoisted my backpack I forgot to place the hood from my raincoat over my head.

Hiking poles help maintain balance as I hurry to descend the mountain in hopes of escaping the wind. I am soon rewarded for my efforts. This crunching gravel from my boots is a sound which seems in harmony with the near still forest in early summer.

When I am hiking I am a part of nature. On my back I carry only the essentials to remain comfortable. I am prepared for a range of temperatures and moisture in the summer amongst the western North Carolina mountains.

I embrace the unpredictability of nature as a gift from my home planet. Earth is the history of humanity. To spend time in nature is to reconnect with the environment which made us who we are.

Nature is beautiful and perfect. It was not created by humanity. We are merely one of its products, yet also its most destructive force. Nature is a world full of fragile ecosystems.

Life In Nature

On an afternoon in July, deep in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, just after pitching my tent, an echoing rumble arrives. The stream I will use to collect water is a quarter mile down a side trail. As I consider whether or not to risk it, I turn and see her. A deer.

She considers me, just briefly, before lowering her face to the ground. I cautiously approach for photos. The sound of shredding cloth as she rips weeds from the ground. The deer remains a bit longer and then walks away, unconcerned by my presence.

The rain arrives, forcing me inside my tent. I will have to wait to refill. I lay back under the relentless chorus of crackling popcorn. It is early evening. Nature is dictating my schedule.

An hour later, maybe, I wake to a gentle rustle of leaves above my tent, followed by a hushed plop of droplets. I am hungry. Time to collect water.

About The Author

My name is Jerry. Trail name is Monsoon. In addition to running a hiking club, I also own and operate a coffee shop & bookstore. Check it out here.

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