Is the phrase “Take a hike!” still regarded as a negative one? Or, with so many people hiking these days, is it now kind of a fun term, with many positive associations for those who like to take a hike?

Clearly, the old-school view prevails on some trails.

On the 2012 campaign trail in Florida, GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney blew his cool at protesters chanting, “We are the people.”

“Take a hike!” retorted Romney.

It’s possible the candidate was suggesting his audience, both supporters and detractors, hit the trail. Florida, despite its lack of hills, boasts a lot of hiking trails and a lot of hikers. I’ve met up with the awesome Florida Trail Association, boosters of the long-distance Florida Trail and of trails all over the Gator State, and I’m convinced huge numbers of Floridians like to take a hike.

More likely, though, Romney used “Take a hike!” in the same way as he might angrily shout, “Get lost and die!”  Perhaps he was still frustrated over his recent poor showing in the Republican primary vote in South Carolina, a state with unfortunately negative connections between GOP leaders and hikers.

In 2009, South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford became the butt of late-night TV jokes for famously disappearing for five days “hiking the Appalachian Trail” when he was really having an extramarital affair with an Argentine woman.

Sanford had told his staff that he was going to take a hike on the trail to clear his head. Instead of taking a hike in Appalachia, he took a flight to Argentina.

Hiker-Americans unite! Tell politicians to \”Take a hike!\”

My expertise is in hiking trails not campaign trails. Still, I can’t help but offer the presidential candidates—in fact, all politicians—some advice. First off, know that hiking is far and away America’s most popular form of outdoor recreation. More than 60 million Americans say they like to hike.

Wise up, politicos. Hiker-Americans are a significant voting bloc and, if you want to reach us, try telling us about where you like to hike and why. Burnish your credentials as an “outsider” by really going outdoors. Get off the stump and meander amidst some beautiful trees. Stop running for office and start hiking.

There’s no better way to understand the real world than by hiking in it.

Re-connect with nature. Have fun with friends and family. And, I mean this in the most positive way possible: “Take a hike!”