What is Hiking?
Hiking is an outdoor activity that involves walking within a natural environment such as a mountain, forest, or lake. Hiking is popular worldwide as it is a great form of exercise without putting too much pressure on the body. Since the Covid-19 pandemic, more people have started hiking as it allows them to get outside, get fresh air, and get exercise.
Types of Hiking
- Day Hike: This is a hike with shorter distances- around a mile or two, with no need to bring any gear or supplies besides footwear and water.
- Overnight Hike: This is for more serious hikers and will require bringing meals and some light camping supplies. The main difference is that hikers will spend the night outdoors.
- Weekend Hike: This hike will require more planning and supplies, mainly in the form of food, water, and shelter.
- Distance Hikes: Distance hikes will last longer than a two or three-day weekend hike. Planning is much more critical because of the long duration out in nature.
- Fast-and-Light Hikes: These hikes take place during a single day and are often in the form of events or competitions. The goal is to cover a big mile trek in a short amount of time, which also means bringing less gear.
- Trail Runs: While these are more of a run than a hike, trail runners need to carry calories and water as their body will become depleted while exercising
- Thru-Hikes: This is the most extreme type of hike on this list and oftentimes the hiker will spend months living outdoors exploring trails and nature. Planning thoroughly is extremely important before going, and only the most advanced hikers and nature enthusiasts should consider these trips.
There is no set date as to when hiking was created, as people have been walking as a form of transportation for as long as humans could walk. Before industrialization, people relied on nature for food, water and other resources. Hiking became extremely popular in the United Kingdom, as many authors would write romantic poems about beautiful landscapes they would come across on their walks. Hiking was also popular in the United States after colonization, as there was much unexplored and untouched land.
Not every piece of gear on this list will be required for every hike. The most important thing is to plan effectively.
Here is the essential hiking equipment you should have:
- Hiking boots/shoes
- Emergency and hygiene supplies
- Extra food
- Extra water
- Extra clothes
- First Aid Kit
- Kitchen Supplies
- Navigation tool
- Sleeping bag and sleeping pad
- Stove and fuel
- Sun Protection
- Repair Kit
- Water bottles and water-treatment supplies
- Weather appropriate clothing
Here is the common lingo and slang in Hiking, typically referred to as trail lingo:
- Alpine Start: Getting an early morning start (midnight - 3 am)
- Alpine Zone: The zone above the tree line at the top of a mountain
- Cairn: Man-made small structures and towers made of rocks and stones
- Shuttle Hike: When going on a one way trail, leave one car at the start and one at the end of the trail
- Triple Crown: Hiking the Appalachian, Pacific Crest, and Continental Divide trails
- Wetted Out: Once your waterproof gear is no longer waterproof
- Death March: A long, boring hike with no views in 90 plus degrees
- Sweep: The last hiker in the group and the one that ensures everyone stays together
- Bear Burrito: Hammock
- Blaze: Mark on a tree indicating there is a trail, comes in a range of different colors
- Bomber: Item of gear that is extremely durable
- Break Trail: During winter, the lead hiker will need to walk through fresh snow. Others will follow their footprints
- Cache: A supply of food, water, or supplies hidden away to be retrieved later
- Hikers Midnight: 9 pm, the time which hikers are usually sleeping
- NPS: National Park Service
- Scat: Animal dung
Three of the most popular hikers of all time are Grandma Gatewood, Andrew Skurka and Buddy Backpacker. Grandma Gatewood was the first woman to solo hike the entire Appalachian Trail in just one season when she was 67. Andrew Skurka is known for completing an eleven month hike from Quebec to Washington State. Buddy Backpacker is the youngest person to ever complete the Triple Crown at the age of 9, which includes the Appalachian Trail, Pacific Crest Trail, and Continental Divide Trail.
Some other famous Hikers you should know include;
- George "Billy Goat" Woodard
- Earl Shaffer
- Bill Irwin
- Heather Anderson
- Bill Bryson
- Jennifer Pharr Davis
Events and Competitions
There are many different types of competitions and events designed for hikers depending on age, gender, skill level, difficulty and length. Some of the challenges require hiking one mountain, while others include an entire range of mountains with many different peaks to hit. This list will focus on competitions and events held in the United States, but many other countries host additional hiking events and competitions.
Here are the most popular tournaments in Hiking:
- Six-Pack of Peaks Challenge: Participants must hike up six different mountain peaks around the United States within a designated calendar period.
- 52 Hike Challenge: An online based competition that inspires participants to hike once a week for the entire year.
- AMC Four Thousand Footer Club: Hikers must reach the summit of the 48 different peaks of the White Mountain range in New Hampshire.
- Carolina Mountain Waterfall Challenge: Participants must hike to all 100 waterfalls located within the Carolina Mountain Club.