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Hiking vs. Walking

When I tell people I love to walk, particularly walking in the countryside, they often say, "Oh, right. I like to hike, too!"

I try to hide my irritation. To me, "hiking" implies something relatively unpleasant, such as, "Whew! That was quite a hike!" or "Why don't you go take a hike?"

Okay, I know I'm splitting hairs here. The dictionary defines a "hike" and an 'extended walk," which certainly describes what I enjoy. And while I appreciate a degree of challenge to my walks (I like to work up a sweat and to get my heart beating faster), I don't want them to be too exhausting.

"Hikes" also seem vaguely military in their expectations, such as only stopping to get a quick drink of water. Whereas, on "walks," I see nothing wrong with stopping at a pub to get a leisurely beer, or pausing to dangle my feet in a passing stream.

Finally, when I hear the word "hike," I think of a punishing slog up a high mountain. I don't want to climb high mountains. Leave that to the twenty-five-year-olds who wear special oxygen tanks and program their phones to relay their location coordinates to nearby air rescue squads. For me, a walk should be enjoyable, and almost effortless.


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