Lately, there seems to be a lot of emphasis on hiking. Not just with me but with America. Walk into any REI or Sport Chalet and you see oceans of merchandise directed to those socializing with Miss Terra Firma. Other than the new slim-fit shirts sold for $128 at Nordys, the ever-popular safari (or Sahara) shirts that boast of repelling both the suns UV rays and mosquitoes, has hit the fashion scene. Cotton is out—polyester-blend in. Wow, who would of thunk?
Trends come and go—just like the great hiking eras of the late 1800s and the 1920s in Los Angeles, people rediscover hidden treasures, often in their own proverbial back yards.
John Denver gave voice to another great outdoors period in the 70s ushering in a love for granola, pet rocks and freeze-dried scrambled eggs. But the new wave, techno culture of the 80s squelches most camp-lovers and replaced the sleeping bag with Starbucks and the satellite TV atop the RV.
Although the outdoor recreation retail stores sell more GPS’ than backpacks, there does seem to be an insurgence of back-to-nature people hitting the trails. Many of us sit for hours at work behind the LCD screen, then drive home with ear bud in place, referring to the portable GPS in the car and finally logging onto the family PC to catch up with friends on Myspace, Facebook and Twitter. Even the local gym has TV screens in front of the treadmills…. At some point we get sick of the screen!
I’ve been guilty of “hiking while on ‘Pod.” At least the music I am listening to is a sort of soundtrack to my walkabout experience. How can John Barry not add to a setting sun on the trail? But I think most people I see on the trail are mostly interested in getting away. What is cheaper than a walk on the trail?
The Asian community caught onto hiking. They are a perfect example of the outdoor enthusiast consumer. Typically dressed in North Face zip-off pants, long sleeve shirt (UPF 30+), an explorer hat, trekking poles and friendly smiles on their face, they are living out the great hiking era of the 2000s. They understand. That makes me happy.
I too have jumped back on that Nature Valley trail. Although hiking has been a large part of my recreational life since high school, I seem to rediscover the beauty of hiking each week, educating myself on flora and fauna as well as using time alone on the trail to think, and time with others to socialize and build community.
Never once have I regretted making the decision to hike over watching TV.