Hiking: Making new connections

The world is very connected now because of phones, tablets and computers. This allows people to be almost constantly connected to their families, coworkers and even strangers. While modern technology can help to improve efficiency, broaden knowledge, and widen social networks, it also has increased screen dependence, particularly on mobile phones. Hiking gives everyone an opportunity to disconnect from the screens and all of their related issues and make different connections instead.

Getting outside to one of our many trails allows people to connect first with their area’s unique natural features. Hikers can observe beautiful seasonal wildflowers, glimpse many types of native wildlife and learn about the unique geology. Hikers who are reluctant to completely disconnect from technology and who are curious about the plants and animals they encounter on the trails might like to use the iNaturalist app to identify unfamiliar specimens by simply uploading a photo via their phone. Mobile phones also can provide help in case of an emergency.

Hiking also provides opportunities to expand social networks by connecting with people in the community. Since anyone of any fitness level can participate in this activity, local trails attract seniors, families with children, solo hikers with dogs, fitness groups, long-time residents and out-of-town visitors. Speaking with strangers on the trails can range from a simple “hello” to detailed recommendations for other trails to explore.

Finally, hiking is a chance to reconnect with oneself. Many people find the freedom to release frustrations and think about personal challenges out in the woods, away from daily routines and pressures. Hiking is a peaceful way to clear the mind in order to perform more effectively when returning to the real world.

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