The common American spends a large portion of their time sitting behind a desk working for “The Man.” This leaves little time spent on hobbies, personal growth, exercise, creating and the list goes on… and on… and on. So, what are you doing with your valuable spare time? Don’t you wish you had more of it? Unfortunately, for most of us, what we have is what we have. Unless you have a time machine and if that’s the case, can I borrow it?
When I’m not responding to emails or dealing with the monotony of everyday work tasks you’ll find me in the good ol’ outdoors. I find nature to be extremely beneficial to not only my health but the health of anyone within a 30 foot radius of me. We sit behind desks, surround ourselves with walls and don’t experience natural sunlight to often. 4 million years ago, at the beginning of human existence, we were surrounded by plant life and felt the suns rays kiss our skin daily. Being outdoors is as natural as natural gets. It’s our home.
I live in the San Francisco Bay Area and hiking is all the crazy. No matter where you are people are talking about “hiking.” I’m here to tell you that it’s as great as they say it is and I’ve only experienced the easy stuff.
I’m not the normal hiker trekking up a mountain trail. I’m a paraplegic hiker who uses a wheelchair. I’ve learnt to put in trail research before a hike. Accessible or barrier free trails are few and far between. Sometimes they are just to easy for me. I’m still grateful for them though. I understand everyone has different limitations and those limitations shouldn’t stop anyone from hiking. AQ huge accomplishment for me may be a minute accomplishment to others. Research is important because an easy classified trail doesn’t always mean it’s easy for a wheelchair.
I pay attention to large elevation changes. Some trails have stairs or rock steps which aren’t impossible but they are demanding. Your options are to get out of your chair and crawl or have someone assist you up each step. Sometimes you hit a dead end and that’s okay too. At least you tried. Right? Ascending the mountain isn’t always the hard part. Common sense physics tells us wheels are faster than legs. This couldn’t be more true when going down hill. It can get a little wild when momentum builds on the descends. Sometimes it’s hair raising, teeth grinding, praying to any god that will listen wild.
I’ve always been one to push boundaries. I love to test my own abilities and you should to. It’s more than a personal test for me. It’s about experiencing natural senses society thinks I won’t experience again. Life with a disibility isn’t looked at through an outdoorsy lense. The smell of the pine trees, the dirt beneath my wheels, the vibrant colors of plant life, even the taste of fresh mountain water on my tongue. I need them all!
Being in nature isn’t the only positive regarding hiking. I love the community aspect of hiking. The random acts of kindness you experience on the trail are spine-tingling, sometimes even eye watering. Weather it be a friend spotting me so I don’t roll off a cliff, a hiker passing in the opposite direction letting me know of potential obstacles up the trail or simply sharing food/drink at resting points. There are so many city life experiences we all hate: aggressive lane changes in heavy morning traffic, fighting for a table on a Friday evening or even those dreadful conversations with that coworker you can’t stand. These issue don’t exist on the trail.
Look at all the amazing reasons to hike and I haven’t even talked about increasing your physical health yet. Hiking lowers your chances in contracting diseases. Ok, I must add this disclaimer: I’m not a licensed medical professional. Any health related statements were not heavily researched and are possible false.
But in all seriousness, hiking is healthy. I recently came across a video of a gentleman with the hiker handle “Second Chance.” He’s one of those incredible humans testing their self on the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT.) If you haven’t heard of the PCT stop reading right now and click this link. Welcome back and you’re welcome. What’s so incredible about Second Chance’s Journey is, it’s a a weight loss journey. At the beginning he weighed in at 400lbs. I can’t think of a healthier way to live than what he’s doing now. The PTC takes an advanced hiker 6 months to finish. Second chance is a novice. Now, what I’m taking away from his journey, no matter if or when he finishes the trail is that he didn’t let fear, social expectations or even advanced hiker advice stop him from changing his life. He’s doing it how he wants to do it. I appreciate his choice.
He’s still out there y’all. The PCT community is helping him along the way. I can’t even imagine how many brand ambassador contract are waiting for his signature. I’m cheering him on and hope you are too. You can follow him on social media here:
Facebook Second Chance Hiker
Youtube Second Chance Hiker
What’s that? You don’t think your a hiker? Guess what? We’re all hikers if we want to be. Second chance sure as hell is. For you that don’t think you’re capable of being a hiker you need to follow Unlikely Hikers. The amazing Jenny Bruso created the brand Unlikely Hikers and its blown up.
The post by Unlimely Hikers features a different person who would be unlikely to hike. It’s basically the most diverse and inclusive instagram ever created and I’ve fallen in love with the concept. Jenny even adds a worded physical description of each post for people with visual impairment. Now, that’s inclusive.
Clicks, teams and groups are part of our everyday life. Not fitting the physical mold shouldn’t exclude you from following your interests. Hey Jenny, I give you props, hugs, vibes or whatever you want to accept for creating an amazing place for people to network. She’s just so damn likeable. She shows respect to everyone including the land her featured guests are hiking on.
This wasn’t always The United States land. Natives lived off it long before my ancesters settled here. They were people who loved and respected the land much more than todays society does. Jenny adds a description of who’s land it originally belong to to each post as well.
I understand this is a heavy topic. To say the least, the way we live in todays societal infrastructure isn’t necessarily environmentally friendly. Changes are in the process and I believe the US parks departments have always and will continue to fight for protecting our environment along with respecting native lands. I understand there are exceptions but let’s not go there today. Just respect the land. Make sure you pack out what you pack in, including your poop. Stay on trail. I know, I know! There’s so much beauty to see but just be happy enough trails were created to take you to see most of it. Not to play the the guilt card but the trails I’m able to use have way less beautiful sights to see than what you’re getting to see even if you stay on trail. Just be happy and take care of the land.
Hiking also requires very little equipment. You don’t have to brake the bank to participate. Check out REI for all your hiking needs. If my local REI let me sleep in the tent section I would. Damn, I’d save a lot of money not paying Bay Area rent too. Download All Trails from the App Store. This app is jam packed with trails and information to help you along the way.
Pack some beef jerky, lace up your shoes, and hit the trail. Wait! Don’t forget water! I hope I’ve encouraged you to get on a trail. Use the little time you have when you’re not behind a desk doing something healthy like hiking. You’re not a Bay Area resident if you don’t.