On hiking

The best thing about living in Calgary is that we are so close to the Rocky Mountains. Growing up my parents took advantage of this and we hiked quite a lot. When I was really young I enjoyed the beauty of the nature around me. However, as I got older I started to see these adventures through a different lens.

Hiking might be the wrong word for it. I prefer to refer to these as forced marches. We trudged up the mountains just so we could whip back around. I started to think that hiking was just a roundabout way of getting back to exactly where you started—the parking lot.

My mother was a worry wart about bears, cougars and wolves. We had to be within sight of the group at all times. I was not good at this. I either went too fast or too slow. I understood her concern about bears but would rather set my own pace.

Eventually we hiked less and less as a family. Maybe it was my complaining. Maybe it was junior high. Who knows.

I didn’t set off for the trails again for years after that. I had no desire to walk very quickly on step paths for no apparent reason. It just wasn’t for me.

Then this summer a friend of mine suggested that we go to Johnson’s Canyon, one of the easiest and most popular hikes in Banff National Park. This time it was fun mostly because the people I went with didn’t care about how fast we went. The estimated time was not a challenge to be beaten like par at a golf course.

We stopped to enjoy the view, to rest and to goof off. I found myself enjoying the hike immensely. This was great. Maybe I had just been doing it wrong before?

I found myself planning other hikes and went out to bike a pair of hefty hiking boots. I enjoyed the view as I went along and the chance to be near nature.

There was one hike I went on this summer that I found myself hating. I was with people who were the competitive type. If you stopped to tie your shoes or take pictures they kept going and you had to race to get back to the group. When it started raining we awkwardly put our jackets on while still walking because a momentary pause was out of the question. This was the type of hiking that I hated.

I think I’ve grown up and decided that hiking isn’t that bad. In fact it’s lots of fun. Like most forms of travel you just have to be selective about who you go with.