I reluctantly admit that I enjoy social media as much as the next person. Thanks to social media, our world is more connected than ever. We see all those cool foods, your awesome life, and all the great places that people visit. Social media has played a huge role in the growth of hiking and popularity of those must see destinations.
I love the fact that people are getting outside to see the amazing wonders of nature. I hate the fact that people are too focused on the destination so that they can take their Instagram poses for proof of an epic life. As the owner of a small adventure company, I can't tell you how many emails and messages I have received from people asking me to take them to the top of mountains and to the base of waterfalls just so that they can get "there" or so that they can check another box off their "list". I honestly hate it.
I hate it because people have become so focused on the destination that they miss out on the journey. Hiking isn't about the destination, but about the steps it takes to get to there. The challenges, the laughs, the struggles, and the sometimes tears that are shed to make it. Why do so many of these new hikers allow themselves to be robbed of the experience leading up to the destination? The answer? A picture.
If you're hiking just to take a picture at a destination you are robbing yourself of the journey. You are missing out on the best part. Why hike and only think about the destination? That's like going to your favorite restaurant and not even taking the time to taste the food because you're just thinking about getting back home to sit on your couch and watch Netflix. I hiked the entire John Muir Trail, but no one wants to hear what lied at the end of the trail, they want to hear the tales from the trail! The best stories ever told are the ones that describe what it took to make it, the ones that tell of the blood, sweat, and tears, the ones that tell the sometimes exaggerated tale of the sights, sounds, and comradery.
It's not about what's on your list, it's all about taking an opportunity to enjoy and soak in whatever time you get to spend in nature. Trust me, there is nothing unique to seeing your legs sticking out of your tent, nothing unique to seeing you jumping at the summit of that mountain, and nothing unique to see an over the shoulder shot of you looking out at the world. What is unique are your stories of the journey, but you wont have anything unique to share if you're too focused on the destination.
- Chris Duarte