I’ve got a simple one-liner to explain why I hike, but first I’ll get into the background story as to why the thought even crossed my mind lately.
Ryan and I were in the North Shore mountains this weekend. We explored the full Dreamweaver trail (details coming soon); between the first 2km and the last 2km of trail, we didn’t see a single soul. Let me elaborate, it was a gorgeous, hot, sunny day in a popular area, and we didn’t see fellow hikers for most of our hike. I know, crazy. We spent a majestic day in the trees, forded an icy cold Mosquito creek, found relics of old logging camps, and stumbled (sometimes literally) upon remaining, massive old growth trees. I was happy as could be. A little too happy, given the lack of difficulty and views. Naturally, I started questioning my sentiments.
On recent hiking trips around the Shore, we’ve been to areas that are new-to-us and secluded, but not at all remote. We’ve junctioned, braided, and paralleled trails that are often loaded with hikers and/or mountain bikers, but we’ve stuck to the route less traveled (which is surprisingly easy to do). I’ve had little desire to get above the tree line and stand on any sort of summit. And it’s definitely not because of the snow – I enjoy the snow, isothermic or not, on a hot day when I would want nothing more than to swim knee deep in the soft white stuff to cool myself down.
So what’s the deal? Why do I want to spend time in snow-less and forested areas where I can’t see much of anything? Why am I spending time researching and learning about obscure and/or forgotten trails that are hard to find and even harder to follow? Probably because they’re obscure, hard to find, and even harder to follow.
Here’s what I’ve concluded: it’s great to see people getting outdoors and challenging themselves. But driving to a trailhead and seeing dozens of cars parked in lots/pullouts is getting somewhat unappealing. The Sea to Sky corridor is overflowing with people these days – both the front country and backcountry trails. I find this a little irritating when I’m looking to get away from the city, away from crowds of people and the constant buzz. When I first started hiking, I did it because I got to see things a lot of people tend to miss out on. The first time I stood on the highest view point on the Diez Vistas trail, I was alone and the first thing that crossed my mind was ‘wow, imagine the number of people who have no idea this spot exists’.
Recently, I’ve noticed a lot of people are getting out and exploring a lot of different areas. As a result, the perspectives I once found unique are no longer that. I started hiking because I got to see things the average Joe or Jane did not. This outlook is fading with the inundation of backcountry travelers, and this is leading to a personal shift in interest. This may be a little stretched, but views aside, I find that more and more often, trips to our local mountains are not very different from being at the gym during peak hours. I put my head down, get my workout done, and I get out. The trails are losing their sense of distinctiveness and novelty, hence my interest in getting away from the crowds and getting closer to lesser-known objectives.
The one-liner to explain why I hike, one more time: I get to see things the average Joe or Jane do not.
I think Lauren Alaina sang it best:
If you trust your rebel heart, ride into battle
don’t be afraid, take the road less traveled
Wear out your boots and kick up the gravel
don’t be afraid, take the road less traveled on
Bear with me as I check out some less-captivating, but historically rich areas near and far. You may also have to bear with more female country ballads on upcoming Mondays.