We had a chance to meet with Leslie Rubero well know lifestyle blogger and ask her about her opinion about whether hiking can be a hobby.
RF: So Leslie can hiking be a hobby for anyone?
LR: Hiking is an affordable, fun form of exercise, and a great way to de-stress. Once upon a time, hiking was something that only the most adventurous would do. Indeed, going out into the wilderness was more ‘orienteering’ than hiking, but that has changed now. More and more people are experimenting with hiking as a form of entertainment, because the park owners and city authorities have invested in making trails that are safer to walk on, putting up signs in popular walking routes, and building rest spots in some areas too. Yes, it is still possible to hike off into the wilderness and see places that may have been deserted for many years. But for everyone who goes hiking in an old-school way there will be many more people who opt to stay on tracks that are, if not paved, then at least maintained and trimmed back. Following a signposted trail with a ranger there to keep you safe is as accessible as it gets.
Long hikes that involve walking for multiple days will require a degree of physical fitness, but shorter hikes are accessible even to those who are less fit. As long as you have sensible shoes and pick terrain that you can cope with, then hiking is an affordable hobby and a safe one for most people. Someone with bad knees, for example, may want to stick with hiking on level terrain in local parks, to begin with, and then progress to uneven terrain or steeper hills when they gain some confidence. A lot of the time, losing weight and building up leg strength will allow someone who previously struggled with walking even short distances to cope with the challenges of a good hike.
Children can enjoy going on a hike as long as they are properly attired and kept warm. It’s important that parents pay close attention to their kids, though, because children can be more susceptible to ill effects from overheating or dehydration. Where an adult is likely to notice that they are too hot or feeling very thirsty a child might get sick more quickly and not be able to cope with the temperature because their body doesn’t self-regulate quite as well.
RF: Is it possible to go hiking on a budget?
LR: Hiking is one of those hobbies where you could spend very little and enjoy it, or you could spend a huge amount on stuff like the top of the line hiking boots and jackets, expensive backpacks, branded hats, navigation devices, water sacks and more. Those things are nice little luxuries that make hiking more comfortable but they are far from necessary, and you can enjoy hiking with more basic equipment, as long as you have shoes that can cope with the terrain that you are walking on.
RF: How about joining a hiking club?
LR: If you are not an experienced hiker, and you want some guidance and some people to walk with, then you could join a hiking club. Many cities have free groups that meet on weekends to walk local trails, and these can be a fun way of meeting new people and finding out about the trails in your area. They will help you to pick routes that are suitable for your abilities, and they often have volunteer guides that will walk the routes with you, and that can support you if you need help. As you gain the confidence, you can progress to harder routes, or maybe even give back to the community by becoming a guide yourself.
For some, hiking is not a self-contained hobby, but support for another hobby. For example, people who are looking to go fishing or hunting may find that they develop a love for hiking as a way to get to places that are off the beaten track, and therefore offer better experiences for them.
Hiking can be ideal for bird watchers who want to see something more unusual, and people who are enthusiastic about other flora and fauna as well. It’s great for those who like camping and survival, and it provides educational opportunities for parents too.
Even people with disabilities can enjoy a lot of modern hiking trails. There are trails that have smooth paths that are suitable for wheelchair access, and that have rest points too.
If you’re looking for something that is less stressful on your joints than running, more affordable than a gym membership, and that offers opportunities for socializing and for solitude in equal measure, then hiking could be the ideal activity for you. Why spend money on a monthly membership to a facility that you will likely only use for a few hours a week, when you have the option of visiting new places at no cost other than the bus ride? Even city-dwellers can usually get to a park without too much difficulty, and even if you cannot get into the closed attractions, walking around and exploring is a lot of fun. You can take your camera and take photographs, or just sit and relax for a while without having to worry about the stresses of day to day life. That time recharging mentally, and taking in the sights, will do you a lot of good, and improve your physical and mental wellbeing.
Most of us do not get enough exercise. Taking the time to get moving a few times a week, and get in your 10,000 steps a day, will help you to feel fitter and stronger and more mentally refreshed, and will give you a new perspective on life as well. You only get one body. There are ways to take care of that body that doesn’t cost a lot of money. So why not make them a part of your leisure time, so that when your kids are old enough that they want to go play in the woods, you can go with them, play hide and seek, teach them about plants, climb trees, and be there while they enjoy living out their childhood.
RF: Leslie, thank you for such detailed insights and your time.
If someone would like to follow Leslie, you can visit her blog or follow her on her social media here: