For years, I didn’t really understand what hiking was. I grew up on a farm and a walk was going down the shoulder of our gravel road for a mile or two. We didn’t really have hobbies like hiking and bicycling because we had our hands full doing farm work. When the work was done, we didn’t really linger outside.
When I went to college, I met my husband. He was a city kid who had gone to high school in the Black Hills of South Dakota. He was an avid hiker, a runner, a bicyclist, a canoeist, and loved doing anything outside. Chris opened up a whole new world for me. I had run track in high school but didn’t really understand the concept of running for fun. I certainly didn’t even realize (!) that there were such beautiful hiking trails in almost every corner of the globe that could take you to a different place – a place of peace and joy – with only a few steps.
Hiking was actually one of our first dates. Chris had invited me to be his date at a wedding in the Black Hills. The day before, he took me hiking on the Cathedral Spires #4 trail and -- despite the fact that my feet hurt, my legs were knotting and I was gasping for air half the time – I was hooked. The majestic beauty of the Hills combined with the easy conversation and comfortable silence made for a wonderful way for us to get to know each other better.
We loved hiking so much that we made it the focus of our honeymoon, hiking in the Colorado Rockies for a week. We went back when I was 6 months pregnant with our son.
After Ryley was born, we sometimes traveled to the Black Hills with my parents, who wanted grandson time and were happy to watch him while we took a little time for ourselves. We most often used the opportunity to take a hike. We would take a picnic lunch and set up in some pretty spot for lunch. We usually had some goal in mind, such as Harney Tower on Black Elk Peak or Mount Rushmore. Then we would head back to have a celebratory dinner with the family. It was great to spend one-on-one time out in nature – with no baby to focus on, no distractions of TV or Internet, and no schedule we needed to keep.
Thus was born the concept of a date hike.
Over the last 25 years, we have hiked trails in Ireland, Hawaii, Montana, Vancouver, Montreal, Colorado, California, Washington, Oregon – the list goes on. Usually we take our son, Ryley, and make it a family activity. We’re written about many of these hikes in our blog.
But at least once a year we take a date hike. Sometimes it’s a short hike that’s not too hard and sometimes it’s an all-day affair using headlamps and GPS. It’s always a time to connect, to enjoy a shared experience, and to escape our busy world for just a little while to focus on each other.