Do We Always Need a Reason to Hike?

A recurring question that friends, family, and pretty much everyone who hears about my hiking adventures (past and future) ask me, is why. Why am I doing this?

Why do I still hike after almost losing parts of my fingers to frostbite on a pretty cold hike two years ago? Why do I keep camping by myself after a scary night involving a sketchy dude roaming around my tent two months ago? Why would I spend half a year walking / suffering in the woods rather than traveling the world in a plane and sleeping in fancy hotels?

Why did I even start hiking?

I realized I wasn’t always giving the same answer, because there’s so many reasons I do what I do, but here are a few:

Reason #1: To Get to the Finish Line

I started hiking because I wanted to make it somewhere. It was in 2017 and I climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. Back then, I thought the important part of the trip was to summit and see what a peak looks like at 19,340 feet high. It was my first multiple-days hike and I discovered during those eight days that reaching the peak means so much less than the journey to get there. And those who hiked with me but couldn’t summit due to altitude sickness would confirm that theory. The trail took us to different surroundings every day, as we were ascending and gaining altitude, the nature was evolving and the volcano was showing more of its true and rough face, and it was incredible to witness.

On my way to summit Kilimanjaro, 2018.

Reaching the peak was another kind of emotion, but I know that if I had reached the peak by any other way than the several days of hiking that led to it (helicopter is an option), it would have been tasteless because the hike made it all worth it.

Reason #2: To Become a Hiking Buddha

After this adventure, I started hiking without having to go somewhere. I found myself getting addicted to the feeling of becoming just a walking body, with my brain completely focused on my surroundings, seeing and hearing things I usually didn’t.

Reason #3: To Get Myself a Pat on the Shoulder

And I hiked because I loved it and became good at it, it became part of my identity, what set me apart from others, what started to define me. I slowly became the person to talk to for advice on hiking gear, camping organization, or outdoor adventure in general. And I finally had something to be proud of. I felt that it was time to take another step in my hiking journey and go for a long-distance hike. The Appalachian Trail will be a crazy challenge, physically, mentally, and emotionally, but it’s a challenge I’m ready to face.

Hiking to get the best views, TMB 2019.

Reason #4: For no Reason at All

Truth is, there are plenty of reasons for hiking, but sometimes, hiking for no reason is what makes it so great. I sometimes hike just because I can and I enjoy being outside, on a mountain, in a forest, in a desert ,or alongside a river, because I hate being behind a computer, I hate being in an office, and I hate being in a city for too long.
A la prochaine!


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Comments 4

  • Russ1663 : Mar 4th

    Hi Sandra

    I connect with you idea of hiking just to be out there. Its quiet. I don’t listen to anything but the sounds of the earth. Where ever you are hiking today, have fun, watch the small natural details of nature all about you.

    • Sandra Visentin : Mar 9th

      Thank you!! Just being out and enjoying the moment is sometimes all that matters! But will see if it’s still how I feel after 6 months on the AT 🙂

  • Mark Stanavage : Mar 6th

    All pretty solid reasons. Personally I’d make #4 my first answer. It makes me happy. A friend I made on the trail said it’s all about the smiles, not the miles. Smart man. The closer I get to the end, when I need to be somewhere at a certain time, that’s when the fun seems to go away.

    • Sandra Visentin : Mar 9th

      Love that! Smiles before miles!!


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