It of course, in blunder, Colorado, in a boutique café festooned with prayer flags. As two scruffy-chic climbers wrapped up recounting their weekend adventures, the taller one admitted that Sunday contained “just” a short hike in the Indian Peaks Wilderness instead of a ballsout multi-pitch climb.
“You mean an ‘approach,’ but, like, without the climbing at the end?” his friend interrupted. They both snorted. Then they left to go clean their cams or do pinkie pullups or something.
Sadly, such derision for the greatest outdoor discipline of all time is not rare. In fact, it’s common. In fact, hiking is often treated as the fallback, the annoying younger sibling, the safety school.
Like most backpackers, I possess a multi sport heart: I ski, climb, and paddle whenever I can. But to me, nothing remains as blissfully uncomplicated, varied, and deeply rewarding as walking. As an evangelizer for it, I seethed a bit in that Boulder café and the few other times I’ve heard people knock backpacking as uncool. Hiking, after all, is the original outdoor pursuit. Why can’t it get a little more respect?
On some level, I get why it’s easy to denigrate hiking as nerdy. Climbers see their heroes dangling in retail-store wall art. Skiers get movie theaters packed with wannabes&nbs