Hiking events

GARDEN CUTTINGS: Why hiking is good for the soul

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At Mystery Falls, near Rock Glen, the highlight is the cool waterfall, hidden from it all.

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Near Squamish, British Columbia, Chief Stawamus, known to locals as the chief, rewards a three-hour hike with arguably the most incredible sight on the planet.

The Alum Cave Trail in the Smokey Mountains near Gatlinburg, Tennessee offers incredible views, culminating in a dusty, monster-sized cave.

I think I’m slowly becoming a trail snob. I am far from a regular, seasoned and experienced hiker, but I find that the more I walk, the more I want to walk.

Hiking is good for the soul. A great way to build strength, stay fit and improve mental health.

For this lover of plants and trees, a walk in the woods is probably as close to heaven as I will ever get on Earth. Towering trees give an immense sense of stability and strength. Tiny wildflowers reveal their fleeting beauty only to be replaced with a fresh sweep a few weeks later, making each trail worth repeating over and over again.

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Hiking has obvious physical health benefits. Starting with a brisk walk will begin to increase your heart rate to improve your fitness and endurance. Over time, walking will naturally become faster, steeper and more difficult, further improving cardiovascular health.

Hiking is one of the best ways to build muscle. The leg muscles of course, but also the muscles of the back, stomach, arms and neck. Walking uphill exercises the quads, glutes, and calves, while hiking downhill positively impacts the ankles, knees, and hips. As a tall man who is increasingly bothered by lower back pain, I find hiking to be the best pain reliever.

Other physical health benefits of hiking include improved balance, weight loss, and increased bone strength and density.

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It is common knowledge that hiking relieves stress and improves personal well-being. Whether you are seduced by majestic trees, humbled by a breathtaking sunset, or soothed by a rushing stream, all experiences in the forest will increase the level of happiness.

Spending time deep in the woods, preferably without a cell phone, in solitude or in the company of friends, is sure to combat the stresses and pressures of life.

Hiking improves relationships and encourages healthy conversation. Whether it’s a solo hike to let off steam or a lively conversation with friends, it’s impossible to end a hike in a bad mood.

Be it resolved that I do more hiking. The bike too. For me, last week’s four-day escape to the Smokey Mountains was a serious reminder that I needed to spend less time in a chair and more time putting one foot in front of the other. I will start by going to local hikes such as the Howard Watson Nature Trail, Mandaumin Woods and Perch Creek Habitat Area.

Joining the Lambton Outdoor Club is also on my to-do list. Their mission, “Promote, organize and enjoy outdoor activities, in accordance with good conservation practices” seems more than pleasant.

Visit their website for upcoming events and membership information.

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