The recent closure of access to the top of Tehachapi Mountain has resulted in a time of reflection, questions, and observation. During the past week community members, hikers, and outdoor enthusiasts have come forth making phone calls, scheduling meetings, creating a Facebook page, and writing letters expressing confusion, outrage, disbelief, and loss. Letters published in local newspapers are filled with personal stories requesting a reopening of the area’s icon. Some have even expressed the life goal of someday hiking to the top. Now the opportunity has been snatched away.
I often get asked why I hike, why solo, why for days on end, is it safe, why not just go to a fancy hotel, what is the big deal? The list really goes on and on. I love questions. Questions result in personal growth.
Why I hike?
…to enjoy wildlife and explore the outdoors?
…is it to enjoy the company of others and to meet new and interesting people?
…is it to experience difficult stream crossings, natural obstacles, and physical challenge?
…or is it the pleasure of carrying all you need to stay alive on your back and the acquisition of lightweight hiking gear?
For me it is all of these, but most of all it is the shear pleasure, independence, and freedom of moving from one place to another. My favorite Christmas ornament was given to me by a special hiking friend that expresses it best. The ornament simply states,
Why do you get outside and hike?