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  • Writer's pictureEmily Duane

discovering hiking

Our second stop on the quest to give context to my areas of interest/expertise and why I love writing for the outdoor industry is with my second-favorite activity: hiking.

forced family fun

We lived in southern New Hampshire and my family often hit the trails at Pawtuckaway and Monadnock. Nothing huge, nothing gnarly. Eventually, once I hit my teens, I stopped. Bugs, dirt, parents. Alllll set with that nonsense. I was too busy with dance, colorguard, and chorus.

late bloomer

I didn't really get back into hiking until my late 20s. I had been dating someone and he started hiking. I tried hiking with him but didn't really enjoy it. He'd charge ahead on the trail, pause to wait for me, and then took off the moment I caught up. (PS: that's a dick move. Don't do that to your hiking companion unless you discuss it ahead of time.)

it takes two

There are two types of hikers: destination and process. He was a destination hiker, all about getting to the top. Bagging peaks and bragging rights.

I'm a process hiker. I like to look at the rocks and admire how sparkly they are, or see leaves that are bigger than my face and get excited about it. I take my time. I take pictures. I am not motivated by sweeping vistas. It's not that I don't enjoy them, but they're just not my primary reason for hiking.

hitting the trails

I didn't really start hiking regularly until I was single again and moved back to New Hampshire. At first, I did it to prove to myself that I could. It was aspirational. Hikers made it look so cool and badass, and newly single, I desperately needed to feel cool and badass. So I hiked.

I didn't do anything too wild. I liked hiking to the fire tower at Pawtuckaway - the very same hike I did growing up. I liked the one-mile loop trail in the woods at a small park near my apartment. I liked Mount Major. But then I started venturing north.

from aspirational to inspirational

I participated in a women's weekend run by the Appalachian Mountain Club. We stayed at Joe Dodge Lodge and enjoyed a day of kayaking and a day of hiking. That hike? It was up into the basin of Tuckerman Ravine on Mount Washington, and that was it for me. I felt so empowered.

false summits + scrambling

Mount Chocorua was one of the first memorable solo hikes that I completed. It was autumn, the leaves were poppin'. I read up on the trail ahead of time, so I knew that there would be a false summit and a short scramble to the real summit. That false summit still broke my heart, and I discovered that I detest scrambling (and still do to this day), but I DID IT.

big mountain goals

New Hampshire has this thing for 4,000-footers. There are 48 of them. I didn't get around to hiking all of them. I don't even think I did half a dozen. But the hikes I did, I loved. Cannon was probably my favorite... until I did a sunrise hike up Mount Jefferson and looped in Mount Washington, NH's tallest peak standing at 6,289 feet. Holy moly, my body was dead after that one, and I still had to work a shift waiting tables after that 10-mile loop.

Anyway, long story, but yeah... hiking. It's the best. Being outside, moving my body and breathing fresh air are my primary motivators. Views are nice, but have you ever taken a moment to enjoy the flecks of mica in a rock and let that be enough?

Hikes don't have to be "epic" to be great. Seriously.

Stay tuned for how I continued my love affair with the outdoors by adding front-country camping to my dance card.



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