Hiking exposed: just a walk in the park

I just want to let everyone know that I went hiking this week. Yes. Me. Hiking.

I thought I had never been hiking before, not being an outdoorsy sort of girl. Lo and behold, I discovered that the athletic types have been trying to pull the wool over the eyes of the rest of us all these years. In fact, I have been hiking all my life.

If you – like me – are more of an indoors sort of person, or one who would rather amble through the cobbled streets of Orvieto than haul ass up Mt. Helena, I have news for you:  hiking is walking OUTSIDE.


Scary, serious hiking

You already knew that? Well, I didn’t. I thought hiking involved wearing special clunky boots and wearing a backpack-y sort of thing and eating raisins from a little box for energy. I thought it involved mandatory sweating and/or threat of frostbite and you could expect your makeup to get messed up either way.

This is not necessarily the case. Last Monday, while visiting my dear sister Penny and her husband Dick in St. George, Utah, for the holidays, the three of us plus my son, Chris, went hiking at Mt. Zion National Park. Going into it, I have to admit that I was a little scared. Even though they promised we wouldn’t actually climb the mountains or anything, I didn’t think I knew how to hike. I was just wearing my tennis shoes and normal clothes, plus a rain coat. I didn’t even have a snack in my pocket.

Pen and me

Pen and me

Well, we bravely set out on a track that turned out to be populated primarily by Asian tourists with their toddlers, and we walked until we couldn’t see the parking lot anymore. Long before we got tired or hungry, my sister said it was time to turn around and walk back to the car. I said, “Did we just go hiking? Was that it?”

Penny assured me that, yes, we had just gone hiking. Granted, it was an easy hike. A very, very easy hike, but a hike nonetheless. I was stoked. So we drove to another parking lot to go on another short hike. However, when I saw that this one involved an incline greater than five degrees, I decided to let Penny and Chris tackle the challenge while Dick and I hung out watching tourists take photos of each other in front of pine trees and a little stream.

Lest you think I can’t walk up a hill, I would like to return to my earlier comment about how I have been hiking all my life without knowing it. I definitely hiked up a steeper hill than the one at Zion when I was in Italy in October. After taking the tram a good way up the hill from the train station in the Umbrian hill town of Orvieto, it was still a challenging walk up the cobblestone streets to the magnificent cathedral at the center of town. (BTW, I do understand that walking up the hill to Orvieto is not as challenging as hiking in ALL of Zion National Park. I’m not that stupid. I’m just saying it’s as strenuous as that one little spot appeared to be.)



So, I was hiking BIG TIME and I didn’t even know it. We hiked up to the cathedral, then over to some shops selling ceramics and further on to a café where we had some wine and a great margerita pizza. If hiking is just basically walking outdoors, then I have been hiking my ass off all over Europe. I think I will start telling people when I plan a trip that I will be hiking wherever I am going. Where’s your next trip, Kate, someone might ask?

“Oh, I am going hiking in the South of France,” I may reply. After all, if I go there, you can bet I will be walking from a cathedral to a shop with Provencal fabrics to a patisserie. Can I help it if I’d rather hike to a museum or gelateria than to a spot where 2,000 year old water is leaking out of a rock?

That sounds like I am dissing Zion and Nature. I am not. In fact, here’s a link:  www.nps.gov/zion.  If you are going to Utah and have the opportunity to visit, this has to be one of the jewels in our crown of national parks.

My son Chris, naturally wonderful at Zion

My son Chris, naturally wonderful at Zion

Like all natural wonders, it’s nearly impossible to convey the beauty of a place in a photo. You just can’t get the scale. I have to say, it’s like that taking photos of amazing European landmarks, too. Don’t you find that trying to show something huge and amazing in a little photo is almost too difficult to even attempt to do? Even looking at a professional photographer’s stunning shot of, say, the Grand Canyon, is nothing like the fall-to-your-knees-with-your-mouth-gaping-open-catching-flies reaction you’ll have in person.

So anyway, I just wanted to expose hiking for what it is so you will no longer be intimidated by those fit types who brag about doing it. Honey, you are hiking from your car to the front entrance of WalMart, if that’s what you want to call it. Now I’m going to hike on up to the living room and watch the episode I DVR’d of “Fashion Police” last night. Yay!

About katemahar

Freelance writer and event planner by trade . . . mother/daughter/sister/friend . . . passionate traveler . . . compulsive reader
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