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The Doldrums and Hiker Identity


I start to feel like a bad hiker around this time every year. It’s been about two months since I’ve even thought about hitting the trails. I don’t hike above 85° here in the US South. It’s just too hot and humid. Instead, my gear gets a good airing out from mid-June to mid-September.

Still the picturesque Instagram collages and YouTube trail videos roll in. Through the height of summer I longingly watch my friends explore the backcountry for thrills, challenge, and sweeping views, and sometimes this gets me down. Sometimes I feel like a bad hiker. Sometimes, I feel like I should be out there year round, embracing the suck.

And then I don’t feed that.

I consider myself a hiker and a backpacker. I’m approaching 3000 miles walked on trails, and that’s something no one can take away, not even me. I’m also more than a hiker, so when weather isn’t my kind of favorable, I embrace my other “labels.” I’m also a family man, gardener, engineer, writer, outdoors advocate, and a musician, to name a few. I see my hiking off-season as a chance to focus more on my other hobbies. I don’t need to be a hiker with a capital H.

I don’t miss the outdoors enough to brave triple-digit afternoon temps, and that’s fine. I’ll happily vicariously enjoy my friends adventures until that first cool morning breeze returns.

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