Thoughts on Slow Hiking?

petergierlach Member Posts: 17

Hi all,

Over the past few months I've been practicing something I call slow hiking.

I've noticed over the past few years I've become too obsessed with metrics. Distance, pace, elevation, photos, etc. It's almost as if my watch at the map app have become more important than the hike itself. Hikes started becoming another way to be productive or simply accomplish a task.

I've found that, as I've gotten older, my hikes have become super planned out and manicured. I would only hike summits and ignore smaller nature preserves nearby, I'd focus too much on photos and miss out on the little intricacies of the environment.

Since noticing this, I've been slowing down my mindset. Recently I decided to go back to doing what I did as a kid: wandering in patches of woods with no real plan whatsoever. Hiking shorter distances, paying more attention to my environment, not worrying about pace or getting epic views (of course, I still love views lol). Basically I'm just trying to be more mindful about my hikes and get out of my head a bit. Focus on the experience for the sake of it and not rush through just to say I hit a summit or completed a trail.

In the age of digital tracking technology and social media, has anyone else felt this tension between enjoying the hike for the sake of it and making it "productive"? What have your experiences been like with this mindset? Have you also felt the need to be more mindful and calm about your hikes? Or have you also felt some weird external pressure connected to your adventures?

Maybe it's just me, lol.

I think it's an interesting conversation and I'd love to know what your experiences have been!


    MARK SIREK Administrator Posts: 306

    @petergierlach There's the old saying, "I hiked from Georgia to Maine and didn't see a thing!" I am a big advocate of making sure to frequently stop, and look up and around, and listen to where I am. Oddly, it did take some serious practice to turn it into a habit!

  • mdarnton
    mdarnton Member Posts: 2
    edited August 2022

    Like you, when I lived in the country I most liked to just go out my back door and explore the wilderness behind my house.

    I'm a bicyclist, and your idea is similar to my ideal bike trip. When I was a kid in the 50s my whole family would pile in the car on Sunday afternoons and drive without a map on backroads to see what there was to see. Later I took a whole car trip like that with my father, destination driving 250 miles only on country unpaved roads knowing that we had to average SSW (three miles south for every mile west) to get to our destination.

    If I get to do another bike tour (73 and some arthritis is making this uncertain) that's how I'm going to ride. Basically I'm thinking exploration rather than making some definite goal. Nose off the grindstone, see what there is to see.

  • woolyFKT
    woolyFKT Member Posts: 3

    Interesting. I was there a few years ago.

    While I don't use SM, I had strava since 2007. I found myself trying to beat times trailrunning, cycling, etc which defeated the purpose of being out there for me.

    While I still use a watch I don't post anything anywhere and just take private joy on beating FKTs in the Greens and Whites without letting anybody know and enjoy what I do. Mind you, I don't look up before what FKTs are, but once in a great while I compare my times. Mostly this happens when I miscalculate time and I am late to pickup the kids...

  • quiggleryan
    quiggleryan Member Posts: 46

    Hey man,

    I loved your post! I thought it was great and I think that there is so much to get caught up in and we tend to forget about why we are out there and what it means to us. I love to reflect on each day when I am on the trail. I love to take a notebook or just take notes on my phone and reflect when I make stops and when I eat and when I’m at camp at night! It has changed how I view the trail and remember the days on a trip! Thanks so much for sharing!

  • Naomibro
    Naomibro Member Posts: 92
    edited September 2022

    You Get it! yeaaah !! you are there to enjoy and be someone NO ONE else can be.

    Perhaps you confuse method (plan, safe food and clothes) with methods (speed). Ya go home trying to remember where you were!

    It's necessary to plan; what happens is ok...

    While you have to plan ahead and have contingency plans--- just show up. First World folks tend to be very organized, but we cannot ditch traits either.

    If you are tightly wound and have to have metrics. it's also ok. Who cares? Someone keeping score or is that teensy voice inside your analogue head saying: "it's 18 minutes to, time to hook em." Ok. look at your watch and go. That's you. So what? Most only think about selves NOT you anyway. That little mind voice is powerful.

    Perhaps keep a journal, it may satisfy The Need.

    Take an embarrassing amount of Selfies, look up, breathe, go as slow as you want (No one is watching!) and have too much fun. Eventually, you will not care either.