We all have our reasons for hiking. For Carolyn Burkhart, it is the connection she feels to the wilderness. For author Cheryl Strayed, it was a way to rediscover who she was.
But not all of us are long-distance hikers. For the majority of hikers, hitting the trail is a chance to get away from the rush of daily life.
We asked some people with hiking in their blood where they like to hike and why.
“Any trail that got me in a wilderness setting — mountain views, forests, lakes, rivers ocean vistas, snowscapes — where the only sights and sounds were of the natural world. Pictures and memories of hikes I have been on are all very vivid and sustaining.”
Author of our Hike of the Week
“If I need to ‘go Wild,’ the Wonderland Trail, or any segment of it is a good remedy ... plenty of inspiration and perspiration to be found there, or on most trails within Mount Rainier. How do I feel when I’m done? Physically tired, likely sore ... and happy.”
Superintendent of Mount Rainier National Park
“I don’t have a particular trail that I return to time and time again, as I like to continually hike different trails. They all offer me a respite from life’s trials and tribulations. Almost all non-urban trails offer the same thing for me: a chance to be out in a natural environment away from the craziness of the civilized world, away from the noise of technology and 24-hour news and other modern “conveniences” that often produce more anxiety than solace. Being out in nature is truly healing.”
Hiking guidebook author
“Being outside has always been an escape for me, and these days hiking is an important for my mental and physical well-being. It is a break from the stresses of daily life, where I can reconnect with myself and nature. While I love the opportunity to explore more wild landscapes, sometime the close-in trails offer escape when I need it most and only have a few hours or half a day to be out. Whether I go a quick couple of miles or spend the day slowly wandering about, after a hike I feel centered, more at peace and focused and better able to see the important things. My problems seem smaller among the large trees.”
Washington Trails Association director of communications and outreach
“For many years, in fact most of my 67 years, I have considered the Carbon Glacier Trail to be a unique place in the world. I can remember hiking to the glacier before I was 10. Having hiked the trail hundreds of times in all months over the last 60 or so years it has never been a boring or tiresome experience. Even though the Carbon River Valley and the glacier don’t change significantly on the large scale there is constant change taking place, more than a person can absorb in a single hike or even a single lifetime.”
Former trails foreman at Mount Rainier