What do I love about hikers? Pretty much just about everything. With the exception of a couple of folks, I can tell you that every hiker that I have ever met have been unique individuals who have great stories to tell of one hike or another. Over the years the number of hikers that I have encountered has grown ten fold and for the most part that has been a good thing. I love seeing the sweaty smiling faces as I pass them on the trail. The greetings of “What’s up?” and “Have a nice hike!” stay with me as we each move past each other in our own space and time.
But what else is it about hikers? What has attracted to me to this culture of hiking and its intrepid travelers? Many things. But before we get into some specifics, what is culture?
A very simple definition of culture that I got from the Cambridge dictionary is the following and says that culture is “the way of life, especially the general customs and beliefs, of a particular group of people at a particular time”. I would think that hikers, no matter what kind, fit this definition. They are an incredible diverse group of individuals that come together and create their own dialect, customs and lifestyle. So, what are my top three characteristics or values of what I see as hiker culture?
Overall, hikers are an incredibly welcoming group. It doesn’t matter what how old you are, your race, weight, height or religion, If you are out traversing the trails, then you are a full fledged member of the group. They aren’t afraid to break bread with strangers or share what they have if they encounter someone who may not have planned a hike properly.
I have also found that hikers aren’t afraid to ask for assistance from other hikers if they aren’t sure of where they are or where they may be going. And this is the coolest part. If they can, they will help you! Out comes the map and together you will work towards a solution to get you on your way. Although both of these provide an example of a sense of community, they are on different levels.
The one thing that truly makes me proud to be part of this tribe is the respect that fellow hikers have for trails that they are walking on. Words such as “Leave No Trace” actually mean something to people who hike. I can count on one hand the number of times that I have had to pick up trash while hiking. To me, that sends a powerful message.
Now remember, this list is by no means a comprehensive one. I have chosen my top three and shared them with you.
What are the values or characteristics that define hiker culture for you?