I am a city girl, I don’t do bugs, and my allergies are serious. Hiking was not part of my vocabulary and everyone I knew would agree. I knew my love for hiking was real when I found myself on the REI website reading blog posts on what type of gear to buy for hiking. What is gear? What is hiking really? I mean, I’m frugal. We can even say I am cheap. I don’t pay for Netflix or Hulu (not sure whose account I’m using anymore). I don’t like to spend extra money on anything I don’t have to. All that is to say, when I spend money on something, I know that it’s important to me. Suddenly hiking was a real hobby and I had hiking gear.
Hiking: The activity of going for long walks, especially in the country or woods. - Now that doesn't sound so intimidating after all 🙂
I went on my first solo hike with a drawstring bag, a bottle of water, and sunglasses. I went exploring on the trails of Sope Creek all alone. For an hour I did not see a soul. It was a foggy morning, with an eerie feel. As the fog clouded around the Paper Mill ruins, I sat near the creek and listened to the water creep by. I followed the trails and spent some much needed time with myself. While exploring, I felt a number of emotions. I was surprised that lonely wasn’t one of them. Weirded out by the extreme quiet, peace, and calm. At times, I felt like the black girl in a scary movie. Was someone going to jump out of the bushes and jump me? Was someone with a chainsaw going to chase me up the hill? I must admit I watched a lot of Jason growing up! Lol. I didn’t grow up hiking or venturing into the woods. We went to the neighborhood park and played in the backyard, but hiking and camping was not a piece of our family culture. Until a couple of years ago, my friends would never think to ask me to go hiking. It just wasn’t a part of my life. As I walked through the forest on my own that day, I had time to reflect in solitude. I thought to myself, this is amazing.
Where to start:
- If you want to get your feet wet – Search the internet for trails and state parks close to your home. In Atlanta, there are several great trails within 30 minutes of my home. It makes for a great quick getaway.
- Hike with a friend – If you can, try hiking with a friend or two. Most of the time I’m exploring on my own and other times I pull a friend along. It’s always safer to have someone hiking along with you.
- Get some hiking gear – I started with the REI’s Ten Essentials List and it’s helped me choose the basics.
- Share your itinerary – Let someone know where you are planning to hike and when you plan to return. Quick tip, you can share your location via the Google maps app for up to an hour. For more remote locations, you might want to purchase a GPS system and a compass. If you are hiking alone, you must take precautions for your own safety!
- Representation Matters Outdoors – Stay tuned for my future stories on exploring outdoors and check out other websites showcasing representation in the outdoors. I recommend Melanin Basecamp or my friend Carrie’s blog on outdoor adventures – Scenic Affairs.
Whether it’s a 30 minute walk in your local park or a day long trek in the woods, just make sure you spend some time in the healing outdoors.