Did you know that the popularity of hiking groups and clubs is growing?
Do you know that hiking groups and clubs are forming for almost every demographic you could think of?
A quick google search of the topic reveals that there are groups for:
- Groups that rise early to hike up mountains to see the sunrise
- Community-based groups that explore local trails
- Groups for slow walkers
- Groups for women only
- Groups for advanced adventure seekers
- Groups for singles
BOOM, I found that in a three-minute search.
You should have no problem finding a hiking group to join. Deciding which one to choose, now that might be a little more difficult.
The first step to joining is finding a group near you. Google and Facebook should help you find your group. All you need to do when you see them is send a message inquiring about where they meet and their hiking schedule. I found my local group on Facebook.
My first time out with them, I was not sure what to expect. I was a little nervous. I wasn’t familiar with the meeting area, so I left quite early. Stopping first at the Tim Hortons drive-through for a coffee and then heading out. I went way too early, which was great because I found a fantastic beach on my way. This left me with about 30 minutes to stop, sip my coffee, and take in a fabulous sunrise.
The meeting spot was actually pretty easy to find. The group arrived on time, and after some quick introductions, we set off. The trail we took started with a slow wander down a logging road, crossing under power lines as we gained elevation. Soon we were meandering through beautiful woodlands, crossing streams.
Taking in the views with mountains rising up around us. It was over too soon; the trail looped back to its starting point. Afterward, we all met for a chat and a coffee on a local coffee shop’s outdoor patio. It was a great experience, and I highly recommend it.
Still not convinced that this is for you? Here are three reasons you might want to give it a try.
Reasons, All Three of Them
Reason 1: Safety – It’s more than you think
The number one reason for you to consider joining a hiking group is safety. If you are expecting me to go on about bears and mountain lions at this point, I am afraid I am going to disappoint you. Wildlife is a valid safety consideration, but let’s admit that we wouldn’t be hiking if we were that scared.
There are lots of other things that can go wrong on a hike. Accidents can happen at any time; you could twist an ankle, get stung by a wasp, get lost. I will stop here because the point isn’t to scare or demotivate.
Lots of people hike solo and are fine. Quite often, there are others on the trail if you should need help. But, if you prefer having company or are nervous about hitting the trail solo. A hiking group is your solution to a worry-free enjoyable outing.
Reason 2: Education – Access to an Information Treasure Trove
A local hiking group has a wealth of knowledge about trails in your area. My desire to learn about new trails led me to seek out a local group and boy-O-boy; they did not disappoint.
Joining the Pender Harbour Hikers opened up a new world to me. I had no idea of even one-tenth the trails they showed me, not to mention lakes and incredible waterfalls.
This was valuable to me not only as a hiking enthusiast but also as an amateur photographer. One other thing I have found indispensable about joining a hiking group. Large groups tend to have a lot of knowledge about gear. If I had a question, there was often someone who had an item I wanted and was willing to let me try it. That or they knew someone who did. There were also opportunities to buy second-hand gear at a reasonable price.
Reason 3: Inspiration and Motivation
The final reason in these top three is – motivation and inspiration. A hiking group is a huge source of encouragement. Not solely to get out on the trail in the first place; it goes far deeper than that. You will find that there is always someone who will urge you up that incline. Left to your own devices, you might skip and opt for an easier path. With a good group, you will never walk alone unless you want to. Even at that, no one gets left behind. There is usually a headcount if the group starts to get too spread out.
As for inspiration, my first week in, I met a couple who were training for a backpacking trip in Ireland. I learned of another member who hiked for months with a full backpack. She did this to prepare for the long and challenging Sunshine Coast Trail. I later met her; she was tiny in stature and over sixty years old.
Meeting these fabulous people inspired me to challenge myself. Later that year, I summited Ben Nevis via the Carn Mor Dearg Arete.
The Most Important One
Safety, education, and inspiration; are the top three reasons to join a local group. That is not to say that they are the only reasons. There are more for sure. If these three are not enough to convince you of the benefits of a local hiking group, then lean in and listen.
In all seriousness, if you take nothing else away from this post, take this.
Most community hiking groups have a lot to do with the upkeep of trails in their area. They volunteer their time to removing windfalls, making trail markers, signs, and kiosks. Those contributions in and of themselves are valuable enough. But, there is more; many groups take time to remove the trash dumped in the forest.
I am not talking about picking up beer cans and plastics, although they do that as well. I am talking about the big stuff; mattresses, appliances, and even abandoned vehicles. I know that the following is true of my local group.
So joining will also allow you to give back to the forests, mountains, rivers, and streams that we all love so much.
That’s it, folks, that’s the post.
Now go out and find a local hiking group and give them your support.