Ricketts Glen State Park, PA – what is it about hiking?

On Sunday August 9th, I went for a group hike to Ricketts Glen State Park, but after not even two miles it became a solo hike. I could not keep up. Not to make any excuses, but I was walking with two college students (one barefooted!) and their father – all three so tall that for one of their steps I had to take two or three; a lady who was able to run these difficult trails in sandals; and few others – mostly road bikers. I needed more stops to rest and time to take pictures. I walked alone for another four miles hoping to meet the group later for a round of “carbs” and surprisingly I did – we had a nice lunch together.

I could not imagine a better day for this hike. During the summer, park’s numerous waterfalls are often almost dry but this time, after recent rainfalls, they were at their fullest. It was a hot day. Water looked so inviting I went for a dip few times, with all my cloths on. It felt so good! I had an urge to splash and jump up and down like a little girl, but I was afraid that passing hikers would think that the old lady was suffering from a heat stroke.

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At times it felt like I was alone in the park. I was wondering why this natural playground would not get more visitors on such a beautiful day. It was hard to understand so I came up with an idea to look for answers in quotes about hiking. What is it about hiking? Why some people love it but other don’t?

I think quotes below explain a lot. I selected them from: http://www.goodreads.com/– great website for book lovers. Many in this selection are by my favorite author Bill Bryson whom I admire for his humorous writing about travel. His book, A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail is scheduled for its screen release on September 2nd. With a great story and stars like Robert Redford, Nick Nolte, and Emma Thompson; I am sure the movie is going to be an instant hit. (See the trailer)

“Hiking’s not for everyone. Notice the wilderness is mostly empty.”
― Sonja Yoerg, The Middle of Somewhere

“I know a man who drives 600 yards to work. I know a woman who gets in her car to go a quarter of a mile to a college gymnasium to walk on a treadmill, then complains passionately about the difficulty of finding a parking space. When I asked her once why she didn’t walk to the gym and do five minutes less on the treadmill, she looked at me as if I were being willfully provocative. ‘Because I have a program for the treadmill,’ she explained. ‘It records my distance and speed, and I can adjust it for degree of difficulty.’ It hadn’t occurred to me how thoughtlessly deficient nature is in this regard.”
― Bill Bryson, A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail

“To my surprise, I felt a certain springy keenness. I was ready to hike. I had waited months for this day, after all, even if it had been mostly with foreboding. I wanted to see what was out there. All over America today people would be dragging themselves to work, stuck in traffic jams, wreathed in exhaust smoke. I was going for a walk in the woods. I was more than ready for this.”
― Bill Bryson, A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail

“Every twenty minutes on the Appalachian Trail, Katz and I walked farther than the average American walks in a week. For 93 percent of all trips outside the home, for whatever distance or whatever purpose, Americans now get in a car. On average, the total walking of an American these days – that’s walking of all types: from car to office, from office to car, around the supermarket and shopping malls – adds up to 1.4 miles a week…That’s ridiculous.”
― Bill Bryson, A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail

““Going barefoot in the forest is a very sensuous and a pleasurable experience. For some of us it is almost a mystical experience. I know that I dreamt of it long before I ever durst try it. It is also an experience that brings into question our entire relationship with nature in a way that disturbs and challenges our ideas about ourselves as civilized beings.”
― Richard Keith Frazine, The Barefoot Hiker

“It had to do with how it felt to be in the wild. With what it was like to walk for miles with no reason other than to witness the accumulation of trees and meadows, mountains and deserts, streams and rocks, rivers and grasses, sunrises and sunsets. The experience was powerful and fundamental. It seemed to me that it had always felt like this to be a human in the wild, and as long as the wild existed it would always feel this way.”
― Cheryl Strayed, Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail

“I walked slowly to enjoy this freedom, and when I came out of the mountains, I saw the sky over the prairie, and I thought that if heaven was real, I hoped it was a place I never had to go, for this earth was greater than any paradise.”
― Daniel J. Rice, The Unpeopled Season: Journal from a North Country Wilderness

“When I awoke it was daylight. The inside of my tent was coated in a curious flaky rime, which I realized after a moment was all of my nighttime snores, condensed and frozen and pasted to the fabric, as if into a scrapbook of respiratory memories.”
― Bill Bryson, A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail

“The hardest part was coming to terms with the constant dispiriting discovery that there is always more hills.”
― Bill Bryson, A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail

“In Massachusetts and Vermont, there had been plenty of mosquitoes, but in New Hampshire, they had reinforcements.”
― Jennifer Pharr Davis, Becoming Odyssa: Epic Adventures on the Appalachian Trail

“Lots of people leave Pennsylvania limping and bruised. The state also has what are reputed to be the meanest rattlesnakes anywhere along the trail, and the most unreliable water sources, particularly in high summer.”
― Bill Bryson, A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail

“Black bears rarely attack. But here’s the thing. Sometimes they do. All bears are agile, cunning and immensely strong, and they are always hungry. If they want to kill you and eat you, they can, and pretty much whenever they want. That doesn’t happen often, but – and here is the absolutely salient point – once would be enough.”
― Bill Bryson, A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail

“What on earth would I do if four bears came into my camp? I would die of course. Literally shit myself lifeless.”
― Bill Bryson, A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail

“To tell you the truth, I’m amazed we’ve come this far,” he said, and I agreed. We had hiked 500 miles, a million and a quarter steps, since setting off from Amicalola. We had grounds to be proud. We were real hikers now. We had shit in the woods and slept with bears. We had become, we would forever be, mountain men.”
― Bill Bryson, A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail

And finally the one that says it all:
“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity”
― John Muir, Our National Parks

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