One of the greatest things about backpacking is it allows you freedom to explore. You can get off the beaten trail and see parts of nature that many people do not get to experience. Where I live here in Idaho there are numerous areas to go hiking. I can easily park my car and go on a hike and not have to worry about getting lost. Even though I am off the beaten trail where very few people travel to, I am still within a couple of miles from where I parked my car.
I can feel like an adventurous backpacker, yet in an emergency I am always with a 2-3 miles of my car and can get back to it in no time. If I begin to get low on water I can simply hike back to my car and get a cold soda out of the ice laden cooler in my trunk.
You do not always have to hike a super ling trail like the famous Appalachian hiking Trail in order to experience some of the joys of hiking. Obviously my hikes definitely do not come close to rivaling the rigors endured by someone through hiking the Appalachian Trail; yet it still provides for a lot of enjoyment.
Sometimes people may think that I have been out hiking all day, but in reality I simply hiked a couple of miles and then took a nap or read a book. When I was done I would hike back. Hiking is a fun sport. You may make hiking as complex or simply as you want. If you are doing a long distance hike in rural area you may have to set up caches of food, water, and other supplies along the way. If I was to do a long hike I would like to plan one that also took me to towns and cities so I would not have to cache my supplies. I also would be able to wash my clothes at a Laundromat, eat at a restaurant, and get strange looks from people as I walked through the town with a framed backpack on.
Out hiking you can find large tracts of obsidian lava rock glass, arrowheads, and all kinds of other cool geological features. Sometimes you find nothing, but usually you spot at least 1 animal or something that makes the trip memorable even if it was just a very short afternoon hike.
The high desert of Southern Idaho provides for a wealth of history. You can imagine being one of the first pioneers to this desert region. Out in the boonies there is nothing but lava rock and tumbleweeds. Imagine coming out with your family by wagon and then stopping in a place such as this where there was seemingly nothing but sagebrush and dirt. Your wife and kids would think you were crazy, yet that what many of the early pioneers did. Looking at landscape like this it is hard to visualize that most of the fertile farmland in my area was at one time simply rocks, sagebrush, and vast areas with nothing but the occasional insect or animal. These pioneers were hardy and brave explorers.
By going out for hikes in my area and finding old caves and Indian artifacts it makes me feel a tiny bit like an adventure traveler, although I am by no means a sturdy pioneer like my ancestors were.
Hiking can give you time to not only explore history and visualize things in a new way, but it can also help alleviate stress and help you to refocus your life. Being out by yourself with no one around is a great way to truly enjoy the barren nature of the high desert. Many people do not realize the true beauty of the rural high desert regions here in Southern Idaho. I once thought as many others do that it was an ugly landscape; however I have came to appreciate the true beauty that lies within this spectacular region.
There are also areas where I can go from desert to pine tree covered mountains. The diversity of landscape that Idaho offers is awesome because it provides someone such as myself a wealth of options for hiking. I can spend the day hiking in desert and then camp in the mountains with beautiful pine trees and mountain lakes. I can explore caves, fish in hidden creeks, and find ancient Chinese coins where the Chinese laborers use to pan for gold, and find authentic Indian Arrowheads. All of this can be found within a 20 minute radius of 1 location.
Even if you do not live in an area such as this you can still fund hiking opportunities and things to explore. Urban exploration is very cool. I would love to put on a daypack and wander around a large City such as Boston or Chicago. There is so much to see and do it would be quite an amazing vacation.
Hiking also provides a healthy activity that helps you to lose weight, maintain your weight, and to live an overall healthier lifestyle. When you begin hiking you do not have to have the most expensive backpack and accessories. Simply a comfortable pair of shoes and a regular backpack and you can start off by day hiking, regardless of where you live.
No matter where you live there is always going to be unique things you can discover that will be interesting to you. You may not be able to find old Chinese coins; however you probably will discover something I would think is cool and be envious of. Understanding our planet does not start with science books. Although education is vitally important to learning about our plant, the best method to begin your education about our Planet is to simply get out into nature and experience some of our natural surroundings.
You may choose to hike with other people, but I find the solace of hiking alone to be very comforting emotionally. I like to hike and experience new things. I am an adventurer at heart, but most of my adventures will not go down in history like those of other famous explorers such as John C. Fremont and Christopher Columbus. Although I will never be a famous explorer, I still truly enjoy hiking around my Neck of the Woods.