By Allison Vincent
Ask two people this question and you’ll likely get two different answers. The more time you spend on the trails with various hikers, the more you realize the diversity of interest out there. For instance, musical types enjoy learning bird calls, giving them the super power of observing birds without actually seeing them. Biologists do something similar while studying frog chorus size to estimate populations of a frog or toad species. Then there are the fitness-focused hikers, geocaching expeditionists, wildflower experts, camping enthusiasts, photographers, herpetologists, and forest bathers. No matter your reason for exploring CREW trails and beyond, there are some benefits that we all experience no matter what our super power is:
1. Hiking is an activity that fulfills introverts and extroverts alike. Many people looking for solitude will easily find it on the trails. And yet there’s always a strong social connection among hikers when you reach out for support and connection. Hikers wishing to explore trails with others can readily find opportunities through social media groups, meet-ups, and organizations like the CREW Trust. Many volunteers and guided program participants say they enjoy spending time with like-minded, outdoorsy friends and go on to experience exciting adventures together. Not to mention that hiking is about the least competitive sport around which lends itself to some excellent unconditional camaraderie.
2. Hiking brings you deep into the beauty of nature and allows you to disconnect from the stress of everyday life. There are many documented health benefits from spending time in nature, including improving mental health through stress reduction. Focusing on mindfulness during a hike can serve as the eco-antidote to tech burnout. You can multiply those benefits by a strengthened connection to land preservation efforts, like those of the CREW Trust, and you have a healthier lifestyle, all starting with a simple hike!
3. Hiking is for life-long learners. Nature education can range from learning about wildflowers, birds and animals to the nuances of the water levels in a watershed like the CREW Project. Each subject may deepen your appreciation of your surroundings. That’s why we meet such a diversity of interests among hikers. Stop and talk with the next passer-by and ask what they’ve seen and what they hope to see next – they may surprise you!
4. Hiking is relatively inexpensive. Throw on an old pair of walking shoes just like Grandma Gatewood, the first woman to hike the Appalachian Trail, and you’re ready to hit the trails. It certainly helps to have a small backpack with room for the basics, such as water and snacks, but beyond that anything else is just icing on the cake.
5. Hiking heightens all the senses, especially taste. How could I conclude without mentioning how much better food tastes after a hike? Especially cake. . .yum, cake! While you’re being frugal on your hiking excursions, you’re burning extra calories, so why not occasionally splurge on some delicious flourless chocolate cake or whatever you fancy after a long excursion deep in the forest!
Whatever your pace on the trails or whatever originally brought you outside, there’s always a new way to interpret nature. Keep pace with the many opportunities at the CREW trails by liking our social media pages on Facebook and Instagram and make sure you’ve signed up to receive the monthly newsletter (sign up at the bottom of the home page of the CREWtrust.org website). The best way to stay in the loop is to become a CREW Trust member for $25 or more. We’ve also recently added QR donation codes at each trailhead for those guests who don’t carry cash. Either way, you support the trails – thanks! Your involvement with CREW is preserving land and wildlife in your community. See you on the trails!