In my opinion, hiking and backpacking is not a sport (unless you are entering a walking competition such as Race to the Kings). If you are comparing your pace or endurance against others then I personally feel that you are missing the point.
For me, walking gives me the opportunity to discover things in the world that fascinate me while at the same time I am nurturing my mental and physical health. I love walking with people who enjoy good conversation, and a bit of adventure. I enjoy taking a few moments to have a go on a rope swing over a river, and I also like to stop and take videos and photos of animals and flora. A good hike should be enjoyed and not rushed. If you take your time to absorb your surroundings you will end up creating a library of beautiful memories and a sense of peace that seeps naturally into your daily life.
Try a multi-day backpacking trip
When I first wild camped, it was really quite scary. I set up my tent on a vista in the middle of February and an owl perched in the tree next to my tent and hooted all night! I remember thinking to myself that I must be absolutely crazy, being out here on my own in the middle of nowhere. Every time I heard a twig or the tent flapped uncontrollably in the wind my heart would flutter. Then I woke up at dawn and the view over the open fields below with the sun breaking through the clouds was enough to take your breath away. As I sipped a hot coffee to warm my bones, I felt alive. It was right there that I knew that backpacking was for me. There’s a sense of empowerment and freedom from walking for a few days with everything you need to survive on your back. I love the fact that you can go anywhere and sleep where you choose in reasonable comfort.
I rarely get lost nowadays
I love hiking as I have learnt to read maps, use a compass and navigate using technology. The more experienced I become, the less I plan my adventures. During the lockdown, I have simply decided on a final destination and then figured out the route as I walk. There is something quite exciting about seeing a footpath sign and deciding to explore and see where it leads. If you are in doubt then apps such as OS Locate will always tell you where you are.
Hiking gives me an outlet to be creative
For me, the creative process is one of the best parts of hiking. When I was a kid I would take a sketch pad and venture off into the countryside to draw a derelict barn or the landscape. I remember sitting under a tree at the age of 12/13 years old with my Sony walkman plugged into my ears while I was lost in my drawing. Nowadays, my creative flair is found during the video creation process. When I capture a butterfly in slow-mo, or a sequence of shots fit perfectly together then I am in “the zone”. For me, hiking gives me that opportunity to escape into a world that I adore.
In a nutshell
Walking is the best form of life therapy for me. The best ideas just come to me when I am out for a walk and I always return home in a much happier frame of mind than when I left. Walking is the best free medicine ever invented!