Open main menu

Hobby, Passion, or Therapy??

I was thinking about this on the trail the other week... Is hiking an occasional hobby a few times a year, a real passion that consumes a lot of your time, or a driving need that affects your well being?

Nothing wrong with any of the three or other approaches. I find I am in the latter outlook on life and attitude are affected by extended absence from the trail. This was never more evident than a funk I dropped into while healing a broken wrist.  My wife has often kicked me out of the house to the wilderness when she sees grumpiness setting in, but an almost six month absence with the wrist was much worse. Even took a break from checking in on Trailspace which is my only social media interest/outlet. I guess I'll have to learn and grow from this in case I encounter medical issues down the road that prevent my regular excursions. Until then I'm just thrilled to be back on the trail again! 

I question at times whether it is a major tenet of my ethos or an unwholesome addiction. The desire to be out there is overwhelming even if I've only been home for a few days. Had a stretch this winter where I was needed at home and didn't get out for a while other than day hikes. Bad madness!

Frau Stranger also notices that life makes more sense in the trees. We've talked about living in the woods as a possible solution. Having our own little trails might be nice when I get too old to climb mountains :)

Yeah there's certainly some kind of battery in me that is only recharged when I spend time in the woods. 

All of the above, plus work place. Take it from me, as you age, the significance o the outdoors will not diminish.  Stay in shape....

Right hikermor.  All 3 plus a vocation.  Nature is also my religion.  I learned it from Native Americans.  Last Saturday I was at the Nevada Art Museum in Reno and there was a special show of Native American art, dance, and customs.  I had a conversation with a local Native artist who is western Shoshone.  He talked about the influence of morphine after an accident had on his art and his outlook.  I had a similar experience for 8 days in the hospital.  It was like a vision quest, and the experience that helped me find my spiritual path. 

it's a regular thing and a passion, but i wouldn't say a driving need. i can get a lot out of a good hard day in a canoe or on a bike, for example.  

I don't go out there just because I like it.  I have to go.  PCT tomorrow. 

I agree with the trust. All 3 for sure. been a rough year for me with time away also ( for moving and getting a house on the market to sell, which turned out to be way more work than I imagined)

the new house is very convenient to one side of the Smokies now: only 28 minutes to the western side of the park, so there is a silver lining in that regard

everything isn't fully developed yet in my plan but I've decided I'm not waiting much longer for a lifestyle change that allows me to be out even is short and nothing is guaranteed.....I think I want to make up my own game instead of playing the game of others

I also chose an outdoor vocation and couldn't have done anything else. Field work is still my favorite part of the job even when it comes less frequently... I still need the recreational wandering on a regular basis to purge mentally. I don't get that from my job as I'm always thinking about the project at hand so no time for my mind to wander. That's the key for me...those days in a row of tiered level paying attention to what I'm doing and where I'm going and another parallel level of free thought to wander wherever it wants. I have passed 50 and am in the best physical shape in the last 20 years...exercising and eating right to keep me under pack for as long as possible. 

Patman...I was typing so didn't see yours. Glad to hear the busy move is settling down. Sounds like a great location! 

We recently moved to be within very short walking distance of National Forest and it’s 400 square miles of designated wilderness with two mountain ranges and numerous canyons, We go in there at least three times a week so what does that tell you. Not going to put a label on it but it is a natural draw, something I started doing solo when I was four years old.

Now I like a fine house shelter too and it makes a fine basecamp for reading and other pursuits we like to indulge in but the wilderness immersion is non negotiable.

For me it is all of the above.  I don't have the God thing in me; however, being in the wilds is where I feel the most connected to this universe.  So like Ppine, I share at some level the reverence aboriginal Americans have for nature.  I always had a fondness for the outdoors. But it has become far more for me.  A severe head injury as a young adult took most of my sanity, and now the wilderness provides reprieve from my demons, and helps me reset my mindscape to something closer to resembling being normal. 

Alas as Patman notes, we eventually age past the ability to get out there.  My physical health has aged faster then my will, and degraded to the point that a stroll along the beach takes effort, not to mention trying to get up a steep trail.  Living on the door step of nature at the end of some road in a forest will not suffice for me.  If some arrangement of that order fills the above needs, it probably will be too physically demanding for me to sustain.  Beside my wife is not the rustic type.  Thus I face the specter of losing access to the backcountry and all the implications that advent will visit onto my day to day life.  At some level I feel like Toni Kurz, hanging in mid air on his rope.  But the view is priceless!


Does anyone else derive similar benefits from a long drive down a twisty road through the woods? I'm finding that even a quick drive down a country road with a turn or two provides a sensation that is in my opinion close cousins to the trail-bound rush.

There are solutions to living right next to wilderness but not living rustic so don’t give up. Although we are there and there is no commerce close by we can drive to Whole Foods market in about 10 minutes, a hardware store about the same and Prime does deliver here, anything one wants, two days and lay it right at your feet. It has the ambience of living and driving in the country, two lane blacktop and lots of amazing neighbors and the convenience of escaping the madness and din of the lower city. Nothing like fresh mountain air. One big reason we wanted to be in less than 10 minutes walking distance from wilderness is my eyesight is getting bad. I might loose my license soon and wanted to make a move while possible to be in a good place physically and mentally.

I think to keep a healthy mind one needs to regularly meditate but unlike my Buddhist friend I believe it to be a waste of time to sit and constantly do the ohm mani padme hum thing. As a child I learned to do it naturally both in nature examining a scene, a great mind clearing event, or simply by rhythmic walking, the meditation of the trail. Great ideas come from that.

Pillowthread I like your evocative prose on twisty dirt roads.

I don't get the same relief from windy forest roads but certainly enjoy them. I definitely enjoy work days when I'm negotiating back roads and one lane gravel gets a lot closer to hiking when the trees are touchable on either side of the vehicle... 

pillowthread said:

Does anyone else derive similar benefits from a long drive down a twisty road through the woods? I'm finding that even a quick drive down a country road with a turn or two provides a sensation that is in my opinion close cousins to the trail-bound rush.

 yes Definitely. Just riding thru the mountains calms my spirit and relaxes me to a much much better place in my mind. Riding camping Hiking all seem  to elevate me to a functionaly more receptive person ( unfortunately by nature I’m a very intense person and it requires a tremendous amount of energy to relax) these so it for me. I’ve even noticed and shared with others that at the 40 miles away form were their sphere of existence is you can feel a physical or spiritual release of pressure followed by joy.

ive had this happen so many times and simply cannot explain it except that it is like you have left all of your problems and worries. Bad part is you feel them build right back up as you return, however your mind is usually in a much better place. Till ya have to escape again.

yeah riding does it!

I think many of you in each way touched on what it is to me....Its a combination of all three...My closest friend explained it to their significant other, When I met Denis he had just got back from three months being in the woods..They even say when Iam pent up I need to take a few days  and recharge... One of my good friends is hiking the CDT right now...He served 24 years in the military with Ordinance disposal and has sought the comfort of the woods in the past 5 years as his therapy...I never thought about it till a few years ago many of us are using it to recharge and keep life simple....If I could change anything and the people I meet it would be more time in the woods..I need to recharge I been dealing with family things the last two years and I need another long trip to just get grounded again....

Well that is an interesting article, and a lot more interesting than my work this afternoon on budget spreadsheets.  Thanks for the break!  I do think the dropping of electronic connectivity (he says on his laptop with cell phone right beside it) is an ever-more important component of the sanity wilderness brings.

Adding a question to this trips with others provide the same "therapy" as your solo ones?  I find I need time alone with my thoughts on a regular basis to replenish and reorganize things, so try to slip a solo trip in almost every month regardless of other hiking plans.  Not to say I don't really enjoy my backpacking trips with my wife of 25 years, or the chance to catch up and chat with someone like Patrick when our plans line up.  It all works out to additional time in the hills which can't be bad for me!

Break from politics today on the PCT helped a lot.  The through hikers are in town. 

WYeah Andrew  I think we all kinda knew this already . But They flat out lied about it being cheap!

They left out all the new addictions. Here let’s list a few

#1 gear gear and more gear I want more gear, I gotta try it I just have to!

#2 suddent desire to find more trails 

#3 I suddenly hate my job it’s keeping me away

#4 I need a more money so I can get a Jeep or a more fuel efficient auto to take me further 

#5 I wish I could be a hermit ( the suddent desire to walk out on your responsibilities)

think we we all figured it out before all the scientists and doctors. Ah hell let them have the credit I’m heading to the hills! See y’all there!






Mental Health Plan

Workout Plan

Let's not forget the simple pleasures of enjoying our coffee, undisturbed, and everything revolving around a camp fire.


I have a campsite in my back yard.  I drink coffee out there all the time. 

August 14, 2020
Quick Reply

Please sign in to reply