“Although I deeply love oceans, deserts, and other wild landscapes, it is only mountains that beckon me with that sort of painful magnetic pull to walk deeper and deeper into their beauty.” – Victoria Erikson
Every mountaineer will probably be able to relate to this quote. There’s something so unique and fulfilling in the tranquillity and silent majesty of the mountains, that once you’ve been lucky enough to taste it, you only want more.
Growing up in a small village in Upper Austria, surrounded by mountains and hills, I’ve come to take mountains for granted when I was a teenager. Although I loved hiking as a child, over the years I lost the pleasure in conquering a mountain and couldn’t understand why people would voluntarily sweat like sh*t in the blazing sun just to be able to say they have climbed an enormous pile of rocks.
Hiking for me was an activity you do with other people, never alone. God knows where I got that idea from, but so it was. The idea of going on a hike on my own never even occurred to me since I was like 18 years old. And there actually lies the reason of why I quit hiking as a teenager –> I didn’t want to spend more time than absolutely necessary in the company of other people. Also, I didn’t want to be seen with a sweaty, tomato-red head and a pumping chest. In case, you are wondering, yes I did suffer from social anxiety, though I believe it was a very low form of that illness, nevertheless, it got in my way. Anyway, I simply couldn’t bring myself to go on a hike with my family and rejected them so long they eventually stopped asking me to accompany them. Years went by and I started my therapy and after a few months in I started to read “Wild” by Cheryl Strayed. ( In case you are interested in my Review click here). And in the midst of reading, I thought I want to have that feeling as well. I want to be in the mountains, completely by myself and only surrounded by trees, without any permission to interact with my fellow human beings. So, I bought myself a pair of proper hiking-shoes and went on my first ever solo-hike. I conquered the “Kleinen Sonnstein” in the middle of Salzkammergut, where after an hour of a rather steep ascent the hiker gets rewarded with a breathtaking view of lake Traunsee, the mountain Traunstein and Gmunden.
Thus commenced my love for hiking and the mountains. After Sonnstein, I tackled “Grünberg” and a few others, at this time already in the company of my beloved Australian Shepherd Hercules.
Anyway, that’s the Story of how I got into hiking and spending time in the mountains.
But, doing it more frequently now than ever before, I started to ask myself why exactly so many people are drawn to the beauty of the mountains and want to stand on top of one. Of course, there’s always the glorious view, but could that be the only reason hundreds of people in the world set out every day to climb a mountain? I believe not. Hence, you’ll find a list of some of the advantages of hiking below.
To put it all in a nutshell, spending time in nature and seeing the beauty of your home country is worth, sweating (and peeling yourself out of your sports-bra afterwards ;)) and getting dirty. Those five benefits are only the peak of the iceberg if you will when it comes to hiking.