Mindful hiking, Menasha Ridge Press, hike mindfully

How to Be a Mindful Hiker

In this season of FKTs (fastest known times) and alpine starts and even trail running, it’s easy to forget about plain ol’ vanilla hiking. You know, the slow amble where you soak in the views and cheerfully step aside as others who are surely faster and fitter blaze past.

But remember our friends the tortoise and the hare. You will be the victor when Speedy McSpeedypants has nothing to show for his efforts save for sore muscles and blurred summit selfies, but you have a calm mind and happy heart.

How do you slow down enough to smell the roses? By hiking mindfully, of course! While it’s easy to brush off mindful anything as being a fad, it’s actually quite lovely. Try it for yourself with these ways to hike mindfully.

Feel the air on your skin—No really, feel it. Step out of your car and assess the situation. Is it wet? Grab your raincoat. Hot? Bring extra water. Nippy? Layer up! Then once you’re hiking with the appropriate gear, you can appreciate the sun kissing your skin and the wind tickling your scalp.

Enjoy the scenery—The reason we claim to go hiking (the views!) often pass us by as we keep our eyes trained to the ground. Blasphemy! Notice the sun shining through the leaves. Appreciate the rushing river nearby. Stare horrified at the bear ambling toward you licking its lips.

Engage all your senses—Hiking uses all five senses, if you let it. Listen to the birds chirping and the mosquitos buzzing in your ears. Feel the terribly uneven surface below your feet. Smell the rich dirt and crushed sandwich inside your pack. Taste the dry mouth that indicates you need to drink more water.

Chances are, you read this post and realized you already hike mindfully in some way. Congrats! So next time Speedy comes barreling down the trail huffing and puffing, cheerfully say, “Have you heard of mindful hiking?”

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Tanya Twerdowsky
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