“Hiking is an outdoor activity, which involves walking in a natural environment.”
(This definition of hiking sounds so prosaically, don’t you think? I suppose that there are no words good enough to describe hiking and the feeling behind it, but I will use one more definition, just to be professional.)
WHAT IS HIKING?
Hiking is popular all over the world, as a hobby for sport enthusiasts. This outdoor activity, enjoying the fresh air and mountains is a part of mountaineering, which consists of walking, trekking, and climbing mountains. Apart from bringing many health benefits, hiking is also an excellent way of recreation. There is no better season than autumn for enjoying the mountains. If you are a hiking lover, you’ve probably asked yourself how it all began. Who were the first hikers, when did hiking become pleasure, which were one of the first conquered peaks….
An excellent way of recreation
Mountaineering is a very broad term because it is not limited with rules or ideologies. It is an integral part of physical education, but not a sport because there is no competitive element. Mountaineering increases and extends knowledge, physical ability, resourcefulness, adaptability and the ability to live in the collective.
Where did this outdoor activity originate?
One could say that hiking as an outdoor activity was developed during the Stone Age, about half a million years ago. Just about when mankind learned how to stand upright and walk. Hiking and walking – once a means of hunting and surviving and today – fun and recreation. It is pretty hard to say when exactly that happened.
There is of course something which can be categorized as the next level in hiking. That are accomplishments such as the first ascents on mountains like K2, McKinley, and Everest.
Here are some of those Mountaineering milestones:
1874 – Grove, Gardiner, Walker, Sottajev and Knubel reached the summit of the highest mountain in Europe: Elbrus
1913 – Karstens, Harper, Tatum and Stuck reached the summit of the highest mountain in N. America: Mt. McKinley
1953 – Norgay and Hillary reached the summit of the highest mountain in the world: Mount Everest
1985 – Dick Bass reached Mount Everest and became the first person to reach the summits of the highest peaks of each of the seven continents.
No one knows the exact year that marked the beginning of hiking. It is possible that the Iceman climbed the Alps about 5000 years ago. If we need an evidence for the beginning of hiking, then, the first recorded trek was that of the Roman Emperor Hadrian to Etna in 125. There were a few expeditions to various mountains during the thirteenth century. Between the 1400s and 1500s, many people of the Inca Empire trod to the Andes for religious reasons.
„They are believed to have climbed the Llullaillaco peak, which is at a height of 6,379 meters. Perhaps, they also accomplished the feat of climbing Aconcagua, the highest peak of the Andes. “
Important mountain expeditions
No major expeditions took place in the seventeenth century. An ascent to the snow mountain Titus was recorded in 1744. A number of important mountain expeditions took place in the later years. It can be said that some of them are key events on the timeline of hiking.
1874 – A team of mountaineers reached Elbrus, the highest mountain in Europe
1882 – W.S. Green climbed the Southern Alps of New Zealand
1897 – The highest peak of the Andes is recorded to have been climbed
1898 – The Grand Teton of the Rocky Mountains of North America was ascended
1913 – Mount McKinley was climbed
1953 – Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay reached the summit of Mount Everest. That is one of the most important events in the history of mountaineering. It was on May 29th
A couple of expeditions to the Himalayas took place in the nineteenth century. Gurkha sepoys trained in mountaineering activities were of great help in the exploration of the Asiatic mountains.
Walking in the countryside
Well, according to many articles about hiking, the idea of taking a walk in the countryside for pleasure developed in the 18th-century, and appeared because of changing attitudes to the landscape and nature, associated with the Romantic Movement. Isn’t it a good thing to live in our century? We can enjoy fresh mountain air and not be labelled as poor. On the contrary, there is no higher power and fortune than the one you gain by walking through the nature. But hey, that’s just my humble opinion. I just hope there are many of you out there who think the same. On the other hand, nowadays, hiking is a multi-billion dollar industry with millions worldwide going hiking every year.
Sources & Internet sites:
Dr.Željko Poljak: “Hrvatske planine“ , Golden marketing-Tehnička knjiga, Zagreb, 2007.