Hikers have a broad range of abilities, interests and enthusiasms. The company they choose to keep on the trail reflects that diversity. Hiking with companions has so much to offer.

If you’re accountable to someone other than yourself, you’re more apt to walk the walk. When you’re facing an early-morning start, weather that’s hot and humid or cold and rainy, general malaise or low spirits, having someone you can depend on-or who depends on you-makes a difference.

Making an appointment with someone to take a hike, keeps you accountable for actually doing the hike. All too often in our busy lives we give up what’s not critical to our work or family responsibilities, and cancel something like a hike because it has no immediate benefit or practical purpose that we can see.(I understand this attitude-and have struggled with it myself. However I hope my book, “Hike Smart” and 25 years of my speaking out refutes the notion that there’s more to hiking than putting one foot in front of another.)

These gals have been hiking together for 25 years, they told me on the way to Rainbow Falls in Devils Postpile National Monument.
These gals have been hiking together for 25 years, they told me on the way to Rainbow Falls in Devils Postpile National Monument.

I’m convinced men and women are wired differently. Women can talk on the trail AND observe the scenery, while enjoying every moment of the hike. Women multitask, even on a hike.

Contrary to the teasing we get, men can walk and talk at the same time, though men also like to hike along in what I call companionable silence-together, yet a little separate, wordlessly enjoying the presence of another while simultaneously appreciating being alone with one’s own thoughts, too. Men without women have been known to go primal on the trail, enjoying the simple pleasures of sweating, scratching and burping…

Finding a hiking companion means finding the right companion. Look first for a hiking companion toward your spouse, another family member or a friend. One presumes you have ready access to these individuals and have something in common with them. Time on the trail can enhance your relationships. Hiking offers a great opportunity to spend time with someone you care about.

Choose your companion carefully. Not every city friend is a good trail buddy. For truly happy trails, a good hiking companion should share the same fitness goals, pace, and nature appreciation orientation as you.

Hike on.

John McKinney