Let’s proclaim this year The Year of the Hiker.

Times are tough, the going is rough, the trail ahead uncertain. Who better than an experienced hiker to lead the way across rugged terrain to safety?

The value of a hiker and hiker values has never been more apparent. A good hiker has a keen sense of direction, the ability to travel solo or with trusted companions, the experience to face adversity and rapidly changing conditions.

For the Chinese, this is the Year of Rabbit. Those born this year or during one of the 12-year cycles of animals highlighted by the Chinese Zodiac/Calendar are said to be virtuous, somewhat reserved but articulate when they speak, talented and trusted.

God knows we need people with these qualities this year—and every year.

We need hikers. Curious ones. Bold ones. Hikers born in The Year of the Dog and The Year of the Dragon, The Year of the Cat and The Year of the Rat.

This is the year for everyone who hikes to share with the many who hike and the many more who do not, what it means to be a hiker. And what better way to do this than by taking a friend of family member on a hike? Or by inviting a recent acquaintance, a child or a co-worker to take a hike with you?

Share with your trail companions the health and wellness benefits of hiking. Help them achieve that wonderful perspective on the natural world gained by walking through it at two or three miles an hour. Be a good listener and know that hearing somebody out in the great outdoors is one of the greatest gifts one hiker can give another.

This is The Year of the Hiker, the year for hikers to step up and share the best pathways, to advocate for the environment, to offer trail-tested advice and to inspire our companions with our words and example. It’s a time to pare down and pack light, taking with us only what we need for the journey ahead.