Stories from the Trail

Patty Herbst: Why I Hike

Patty Herbst at the southern terminus of the A.T. on Springer Mountain.

I sometimes ask myself why I hike. Occasionally I’m asked the same question by others. As I plan and prepare for my first backpacking sojourn on the Appalachian Trail, I find myself coming back to this question – why do I hike? So, I thought about it…

Why do I hike?

One, because I can! I’m an able-bodied woman with strong legs, hips, back, and feet, with efficient lungs and heart. So first, I would say, I hike from a place of gratefulness, that I can move with awe-inspiring swiftness and ease. For me, hiking is using the gift. Each step is a reminder of the grand faculty of strength, health, and movement.

Two, I hike because I love god-made. I love nature and mingling with her… no more to be said here.

Three, I hike to shed my skin and to become new again. Breaking out of my familiar, I essentially alter my reality. I curve my perspective. It offers me exhilarating, arousing freshness. It’s powerful. It’s an immediate and stark way to renewal.

And what is driving my desire to extend my hiking experience to backpacking? For the same reasons as above. By simply adding challenge to the equation. I get to push my limits or perhaps discover them. I find the thought wildly exciting.