I like hiking because I love nature and exercise. I didn’t always like hiking. Any time my family went on a hike, I would complain. I got tired when I walked for too long. I got bored when in nature. I wasn’t a hiker.
But that all changed when I moved to my new school. They had started a P.E. program to give kids more exercise by hiking once a week. These hikes were short, about 1 or 2 miles, so I didn’t get tired doing them. It felt so relaxing to see nature after the bustle of school. It made me understand the importance of our local greenspace, and the beauty of our local nature.
Hiking is one of my favorite things to do because it helps me connect with nature. I’m someone who feels relaxed and energized when exercising, and much of the stress that I can feel at school or with my family melts away in the expansiveness of open space. I’m a mostly introverted person, but hiking with friends helps me share my love of the outdoors and biology expertise.
When I’m hiking, I can push my limits in new ways. I remember one time when I was when we did a hike at Stevens Creek County Park. We hiked the Canyon Trail. It started with some steep switchbacks, which were hard on my inexperienced hiker legs, but eventually we made it to a viewpoint with a rock. I scrambled up the rock, and the view of the Stevens Creek Canyon was so incredible!
I wanted to share the good feeling I have after hiking with others. As soon as I got home, I made myself an AllTrails account, and started planning hikes for my family. Then, I started planning hikes for my school. This has given me the chance to work with teachers and other students, creating opportunities for me to share some of my favorite destinations with them. I had to push my boundaries a little bit in being a leader for these hikes, but found that I really enjoyed it.
I studied hiking for my school passion project and interviewed a professor who studies the psychological benefits of being in nature.
I learned that hiking:
Reduces stress and anxiety - hiking puts you in “rest & digest” instead of "fight or flight"
Restores attention - hiking helps increase working memory and attention
Produces awe - seeing beautiful nature can give people a sense of awe
Can increase feelings of connectedness to nature - studies of nature bathing show that organic compounds may even affect your immune system
Gives you physical activity benefits beyond working out in a gym or city environment
Lets you bond with people while walking
I was surprised that this list matches pretty well with the benefits of therapies and medications that are often part of the 2e life. You can get these same benefits for free by just taking a hike!
Not convinced? Try out my beginner hike brochures and see how you feel afterwards. I’ve included points of interest, detailed maps, what to bring, and what to expect to make it easy.
So if you’re 2e, I’m telling you to take a hike!