I hike, but sometimes I don’t. When don’t I hike? TL;DR: When I don’t feel like it.
I head out into the woods based on one simple inspiration: I want to. A lot of folks hike for fun, for health and exercise, to relax and connect with nature, or to push their limits. I do all of those, but that isn’t why I don’t, or rather maybe it is by inverse.
I don’t hike when I feel like those inspirations are being infringed upon. For instance, about a month ago I went for an early morning headlamp hike of the Pine Mountain loops here in Cartersville. These short loop trails are just beyond the suburbs, are well groomed, and I’ve hiked them literally hundreds of times, including many times in the dark. That morning was like any other morning I had hiked Pine Mountain, but something felt off. Nothing was unusual at the trailhead, it was a nice pleasantly cool morning, but when I got out of my car and put on my daypack something just felt wrong.
So I left.
No crazy news reports came out later and there wasn’t some spidey sense emergency back home. I went to work and had a normal day. I’ve been back a few times at the exact same time for a normal morning hike. So, why didn’t I hike?
I didn’t feel like it. Something told me it wasn’t a good day to hike. I wasn’t relaxed and felt like I wouldn’t become more relaxed. I felt like I wouldn’t get what I wanted out of the hike.
Second example: Last spring, my gf and I had planned to hike the Coosa Backcountry Trail off of Vogel State Park with a spur out to the Blood Mountain shelter and back. In total, these 20ish miles with nothing super strenuous we could easily do in 2 days. Figured that’s a nice short hike to fit into a 3 day weekend. That weekend came, drove up to Vogel State Park, pitched my hammock tarp into an A-frame to sleep at a campsite with plans to walk out into the woods the next morning. Then the torrent came.
We woke up to a drizzle that turned into a torrent within the hour. I went to the office and used their wifi to check the weather to find big globs of angry red on the radar. 45 degrees (7* for the Celcius world) and severe weather, no thanks. It would be one thing if I trail bagging or if the rain would let up in a few hours, nope. We did have everything we needed for a cool rainy hike, but this was supposed to a fun. It wouldn’t be. Instead, we bought more time at the site. After a trip to Walmart to grab a couple camping chairs and some comfort food, we pitched her tarp near the fire ring and spent the next two days tending a wet fire and hanging out. It was fun and relaxing.
Last example: When I shuttle people to the AT I almost always get the same question. “When are you going to hike the AT?” I’m not, or at least I’m not planning to right now. The biggest reason is that I just started a really cool job and don’t want to take the time away from that yet. Good news is I think after a few years here I can reasonably ask for a hiatus and come back to my cool job. Also, I don’t want to hike the AT. I think I want to hike the CDT, or at least hike that first. I also want to hike the Hot Springs Trail. I’ve hiked a lot of green tunnel (which I really do love), but I want to see that terrain more foreign to my experience. So I’m not going to hike the AT because I want to connect with a different kind of nature.
So that’s it. Sometimes I don’t hike. There are my reasons why and some examples 🙂 Have a good one!